Home Service Sunday 7th April 2024

Prayers of Approach

God, whose light shines in the darkness, shine on us today. God, made known to those who met Jesus, touch us through the experiences of our lives.
We come in more sombre mood today; the excitement of Easter past, we return to normal life.
Let us stir ourselves to remember that we are children of the resurrection as we approach our Lord with senses alert to the new life and lessons he has to share with us today.
Living God, may we open the doors of our churches and be people of welcome. May we open the doors of our homes and be people of hospitality. May we open the doors of our lives and be people of faith. May we open the doors of our hearts and be people of compassion, that we may witness to your love and your generosity.
We come as those with doubts. We come as those in need of forgiveness. We come as those slow to proclaim you as our Lord and our God. We come as those longing to hear your words of peace. So we pray: Lord Jesus, come to us as you came to Thomas, and set us free to worship you without hesitation and without fear.


Hymn Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord (R&S 234)

Readings Acts 4:32-35

John 20:19-31


In today’s gospel reading the risen Jesus greets his disciples in a locked room and gives them the Holy Spirit. The absent Thomas however says he will not believe without evidence but when Jesus appears again a week later Thomas responds to Jesus with a declaration of devotion to him and acknowledges Jesus as his Lord and his God (the first disciple to do so). How are we to respond to the announcement of the resurrection? It makes demands and it offers reassurance.
In the reading from Acts we hear how the first Christian communities responded. Let this help us to reflect on what responses and actions are appropriate for us today. The believers who held everything in common lived a life together that contrasted with the powers of accumulated wealth and private ownership. The abundant life promised by Jesus, enabled by the Holy Spirit, is real life, life together, here portrayed like a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, prepared for all.

Hymn Jesus, Lord, Redeemer, once for sinners slain (R&S 240)


The Sunday after Easter day can sometimes feel a bit of an anti-climax. All the excitement of Easter is over and we go back to work or our usual routine as if nothing had happened. In some church traditions it is even referred to as ‘Low Sunday’ and often attracts one of the lowest church attendances of the year, as if we are all jaded and depressed, suffering ‘withdrawal symptoms’ with the come down from the highs of Easter.
For Jesus’ disciples however it was a period of high anxiety. Even after Jesus’ resurrection and his first appearance to them in the upper room they were still meeting in secret behind closed doors for fear of the authorities. And if it seemed too good to be true that Jesus was risen all the more reason to keep a low profile rather than shout it from the rooftops. For Thomas it is doubly difficult, he has yet to meet the risen Christ and so, despite the claims of the other disciples, has no reason to believe such outlandish assertions. It is a position we ought to sympathise with very readily today with so many scams, false claims and ‘fake news’, and with photo-shop, voice editing and ‘deep fakes’ can we even believe our own eyes and ears? To be absolutely sure, like Thomas, we need to experience things for ourselves.

So many things just seem too incredible to be true – yet some of them are! How about these (admittedly trivial) facts, for example.

1. All elephants walk on tiptoe. (True, because the back portion of their foot is made up entirely of fat with no bone.) 2. If you cut the head off a cockroach it could still live for a month. (False – it’s a week.) 3. People with ginger hair require 20 per cent more anaesthetic before surgery than people with hair of other colours. (True) 4. Rats laugh when they are tickled. (True) 5. Their DNA means that identical twins will have identical fingerprints. (False) 6. Your feet have half a million sweat glands that can produce over a pint of fluid every day. (True) 7. Tigers have stripy skin underneath their fur. (True) 8. Although they usually live in Antarctica, penguins have successfully been introduced to the North Pole. (False) 9. Doctor Who’s home planet is Skaro. (False, it’s Gallifrey) 10. If a flounder fish lies upon a chessboard it can quickly change the colouring of its body to match the pattern of the chess board. (True)

Before we are too quick to dismiss Thomas and his doubts we need to remember that we are constantly encountering things that are hard to believe or imagine. It is often hard to know if what you are being told is true. Sometimes things that sound really plausible are in fact just made up, and sometimes things that seem totally unbelievable are really true. Thomas had exactly that problem when he was told something that seemed really crazy. He just didn’t know how to believe it. Thomas’ doubt however led to an even deeper faith through his own experience, enabling him to declare unequivocally, ‘My Lord and my God.’ How can your doubt help your faith, and what helps you to believe?

Hymn Jesus stand among us, in your risen power (R&S 388)

Prayers of Intercession

Compassionate, risen Lord, present among us, we praise you for placing the mission of your Church into our hands, though we are hesitant, though we feel inadequate, though we make mistakes. When we are cautious, make us confident. When we fall down, pick us up. And when are tempted to opt out, draw us back into your love, that we may share, celebrate and model your peace and your patience.
We pray for a world in need of peace: peace between warring nations, peace between conflicting political ideologies, peace between peoples of faith.
We pray for a world in need of love: love for people who have lost their self-respect, love for friends who have become alienated, love for relatives who have lost their affection for each other.
We pray for a world in need of hope: hope in the midst of despair when all seems lost, hope when evil seems to be winning, hope for a better future for everyone.
We pray for a world in need of joy: joy when there is cause for celebration, joy where there is a reason to give thanks, joy as a means of sharing in the wonder of creation.
Crucified and risen Lord Jesus, breathe your Spirit of peace into lands torn apart by violence… into communities divided by the gap between rich and poor… into nations divided by creed and culture… into creation destroyed by greed and cruelty… into families fragmented by broken relationships.. into lives scarred by addiction… into minds tormented by memories and guilt… into bodies diminished by illness. Lord Jesus, breathe your Spirit into our hearts and the hearts of all who cry out today. For your love’s sake. Amen.

Hymn Christ is alive, let Christians sing (R&S 260)


Father, your Son Jesus did not reject Thomas. Help us to value questions and questioners, and not to reject either when they are awkward; to discern what kind of evidence is appropriate and trustworthy in different situations; and to have the courage ourselves to be questioners and seekers of truth. And bless us with your presence in Christ through the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Prayers and some other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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