SUNDAY WORSHIP

Wesley is now open for worship on Sunday mornings at 10.30 a.m. and the service will be available on Zoom. For details of access please contact

circuit@northlancsmethodist.org.uk or Jenny Macking
The service on Sunday, April 25th will be conducted by

Web services for April will be prepared by the following people
April 11th Sister Vivien Ward
April 18th Rev Andrew Champley
April 25th Rev Roy Burley

SERVICE FOR SUNDAY April 25th , prepared by Rev. Roy Burley
All hymns are from Mission Praise

THE PREPARATION Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

Hymn 379 Jesus shall reign

1 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does his successive journeys run;
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore
till moons shall rise and set no more.

2 To Him shall endless prayer be made,
and princes throng to crown His head;
His name, like sweet perfume,
shall rise with every morning sacrifice.

3 People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love in sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.

4 Blessings abound where’er He reigns
the prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all the sons of want are blessed.

5 Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honours to our King;
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud ‘Amen’.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)


Prayer of approach, adoration, confession and declaration of forgiveness

Let us pray.

Glory to you, O God: you raised Jesus from the grave, bringing us victory over death and giving us eternal life.
Glory to you, O Christ: for us and for our salvation you overcame death and opened the
Glory to you, O Holy Spirit: you lead us into the truth and breathe new life into us.
Glory to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
If we have fallen into despair,
Lord, forgive us.
If we have failed to hope in you,
Lord, forgive us.
If we have been fearful of death,
Lord, forgive us.
If we have forgotten the victory of Christ,
Lord, forgive us.

Silence

May the living God raise usfrom despair, give us victory over sin and set usfree in Christ. Amen.
Good Shepherd of the sheep, by whom the lost are sought and guided into the fold: feed us and we shall be satisfied; heal us and we shall be made whole; and lead us, that we may be with you; for you are alive and reign, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

Bible Reading 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Hymn 295 I serve a risen Saviour

1 I serve a risen Saviour
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him,
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,

Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

2 In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
and though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
through all the stormy blast;
the day of His appearing
will come at last.

3 Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
lift up your voice and sing
eternal hallelujahs
to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him,
The help of all who find,
none other is so loving,
so good and kind.

Alfred Henry Ackley (1887-1960)

Sermon If there were no Easter

I am told that every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough undergrowth and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolised the empty tomb. It was neglected, the bushes had grown up around it, almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but stopped there.

How tragic it is that we make a big thing about Christmas, we have the list of cards that we need to send and presents to buy, as well as all the food that we will never eat, but we don’t make a big thing of Easter. Where, for example, are the Easter decorations in Church? It is really strange, because if there were no Easter, then there would be no need to celebrate Christmas. If there were no resurrection, then Christ was born, lived and died in vain and probably still remains in the grave! There would be no New Testament, no church, no Christianity, and no hope.

Within Jewish houses when they settle down to celebrate Passover, the youngest member of the home will ask this question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” It gives the father of the house the opportunity to explain the rescue of Israel from Egypt. So we in turn, must ask why is Easter Sunday any different from all the other days and especially Sunday’s? The answer that we give to that question is the most important ever given.

The devil hates the idea of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. There were those in the Corinthian church who did not believe the resurrection, and they fell into two main camps. Firstly, there were those who said that Christ did not really suffer, He just fainted and was revived later, then secondly, there were those who said that Christ was just an ordinary man who God the Father adopted somewhere along the way and died, and still remains in the grave.

Paul begins verse 12, “But if….” Paul has laid out for us the evidence for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in the first 11 verses of this chapter, and now proceeds to demonstrate that the dead will rise because Christ has been raised. Therefore, Paul poses the question, “What if there was no resurrection?” Moreover, he answers this question in five ways:

I Preaching is Profitless (14)

Paul says in verse 14, “our preaching is useless”, in my Greek-English Interlinear, it is translated, “then void is our proclamation.” The word void, as we all know, means without content, ineffective, in other words, Paul was saying that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then I am wasting your time. We must be sure that we understand that Paul is not saying that if there was no resurrection, then they were just mistaken, he was saying that they were deliberate false witnesses.

You might remember that the 1993 Grand National was declared void, it was the race that never happened, and this is what Paul is saying to the Corinthian church who thought that the resurrection was the greatest event that never took place. There are some who will try to explain away the resurrection, but Paul in Romans 1:4 says that Jesus Christ was “declared with power to be the Son of God, by His resurrection from the dead.” This word “declared” means to “mark off by boundaries”. Christ is said to have been marked out as the Son of God, but the fact of His resurrection. The apostle John said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him.” When we hear Christ preached therefore, we must make up our minds as to who He is, because He has to be one of the following:

  • A Liar – He knew He was not God’s Son, but He still claimed it.
  • A Lunatic – He thought He was God’s Son.
  • Lord – He was who He said He was.

II Faith is Foolish (14)

Paul continues in verse 14, “so is your faith”, that is to say that you are putting your trust in something or someone who doesn’t deserve your trust. So what it faith? Faith is a strong or unshakable belief in something especially without proof. Paul said that he had seen Christ alive since the resurrection, but if Christ was not alive, then the apostles lied in their writings and their preaching. In verse 15, Paul goes on, “More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him up if in fact the dead are not raised.”

Faith is more than thinking that something is true. Faith is thinking that something is true to the extent that we act on it. I have faith that there will be electric to power the lights in the Church, but if they are not switched on, then we will never know. Faith makes the up look good, the outlook bright, the in look favourable, and the future glorious.

Even for the most faithful of God’s children there is often much trouble, sickness, suffering, disappointment, tragedy, and even catastrophe, and this presents a real problem to that who have laboured under the impression that if you trust God, and try to do the right thing, then everything is bound to turn out fine. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but as the hymn writer observed:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand has provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

The centurion represented the best of Roman men, but when he stood at the foot of the cross, just after the earthquake, he made this confession, exclaiming, “Surely He was the Son of God!” He may have become a man of faith in Jesus Christ. Was he wrong? Well, I don’t think at that point that Jesus would have been raised because he said “He was…” past tense.

III Sin is Sovereign (17)

Vere 17 tells us that, “If Christ has not been raised…you are still in your sins.” If Christ is still in the tomb, then our sins cannot be forgiven, because our sins can only be forgiven by faith in Christ and the power of His blood. But if He wasn’t raised, then He was an imposter; and all of our hope of pardon by Him, must be in vain.

The argument in this verse teaches us two things (1) you have reason to believe that your sins are forgiven, but if Christ is not raised, then that cannot be true. (2) You have evidence that you are no longer under the power of sin, and because of the resurrection, we cannot be made to doubt that. What is the implication for us? If Christ has not been raised, then every person who has trusted in Christ for forgiveness of sins, and based on that faith in Christ, has been assured that their sins are forgiven, is in fact miserably deluded, and you are still in your sins, our guilt remains. You thought that you had found the way to peace and reconciliation, but how wrong you were!

The world is full of people who sin and express their sins with the sin of temperament. I have on my bookshelf, a book entitled, “Yes Lord, I have sinned, but I have some rather excellent excuses.” Jesus taught the universality of sin. A preacher once announced that there were 726 sins listed in the Bible, and was immediately besieged for copies of the list. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When Christ burst out of the sealed tomb, not only did it show who He was, but also it showed that God accepted the price for sin. Our only route for heaven is through Christ. What does the hymn writer remind us of?

Living He loved me,
Dying He saved me,
Buried He carried my sin far away,
Rising He justified, freely forever,
One day He’s coming, O glorious day!

IV Death had Dominion (18)

Paul says in verse 18, “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” If Christ didn’t rise from the tomb, then those who have gone before are still in the ground, but the Bible says that death has no more dominion over us. Therefore, are we to believe that the One who created this universe is going to let it all die down into the grave? Paul reminds the Corinthians in verse 22, For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Following Wellington’s crushing defeat of the French at Salamanca, in Spain, news of the battle was anxiously waited for back in England. When a Royal Navy cutter called the Sybil, arrived in Plymouth on 5th August 1812, the Port Admiral relayed the news along a number of semaphore stations. However, just as the message reached the south coast in Dorset, a dense sea fog rolled in and blocked the message mid-sentence. The only two words that came through were, “Wellington defeated,” instead of waiting for the rest of the message, was passed on to London, the news couldn’t have been gloomier, it sent shock waves in the Stock Exchange. The whole message was sent by horseback from Plymouth, “Wellington defeated the French at Salamanca with heavy loss.” The news brought instant relief, and London was lit up with blazing torches for three nights. In the same way, on Good Friday when Christ went to the grave, the devil could say, “Jesus defeated,” however, on Easter Sunday, when Jesus was raised from the tomb, He could say, “Jesus defeated the enemy at Calvary!”

V Future is Fearful (19)

Finally, in verse 19 Paul says, “If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” In the KJV it concludes, “…we are of all men most miserable.” Paul is saying that if this is it, we are of all people to be pitied or be miserable. If would be like someone showing off a diamond ring that is only glass, or pearls that are not real. If we don’t believe in the resurrection, then you must believe that the good times are only for the moment, and life is only going to get worse.

I have learned that when a man finished his dinner, he did one of two things, he either dropped his napkin near his plate that meant, “I’m not finished” and his servant couldn’t clear things away. However, if the servant saw that the napkin was folded, he knew that the master had finished. When Peter stepped inside that empty tomb, and saw the face cloth of Jesus folded and lying by itself, he knew that Jesus was leaving a silent reminder that the job was finished.

However, there was an Easter; Christ took the dread out of death and the gloom out of the grave. Therefore:

  1. Preaching is profitable, we have a freewill to do what we want, but we can’t get away from God’s Word.
  2. Faith is feasible.
  3. Sin is subdued.
  4. Death is defeated.
  5. Future is fabulous.

All of this because Jesus came out of the grace, because Christ gave His life that we might be free. While excavating some Roman ruins, archaeologists kept coming across the inscription, “N F F N S N C”. They finally found that the initials reflected the pagan philosophy of the Romans: I was not, I am not, I do not care.

Is this the meaning of life, or does Easter say it means something more? Easter gives us hope beyond the grave, of glory, of our own resurrection. One day the trumpet of God will sound, and the dead in Christ will be raised and clothed in immortality. They and us will receive new glorified bodies, just like that of our Lord. Resurrection means forgiveness; hope and victory over sin, evil and death. Victory, that is what Easter is all about. The disciples despair turned to a glad discovery and joy. For them, Good Friday turned into a bright Easter morning, with life and joy and a crown, not a cross nor pain, but laughter and victory. Easter means that we have a future, a bright future in Christ and with Christ, therefore, lift up your hearts in faith, for your redemption draws near. For now is Christ the risen hope of glory!

Hymn 52 Because He lives

1 God sent His son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
an empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth a living just because He lives

2 How sweet to hold a new-born baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
but greater still, the calm assurance
this child can face uncertain days because He lives

3 And then one day, I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then as death gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns

(Gloria and William J Gaither)

THE RESPONSE

Prayers of intercession

In the power of the resurrection we offer our prayers to God.
Let us pray.
Remember, O Lord, in your love the Church throughout the world . . .
those recently baptized and confirmed . . .
those who minister to others . . .

Silence

May your whole Church know your power and be a sign that Christ is risen.
Lord of life,
hear us in your love.
Remember in your love the world you have made . . .
those who seek a fair and proper use of the world’s resources . . .
those who strive for justice and peace among the nations . . .

Silence

May the whole earth be transformed by mercy and rejoice in hope.
Lord of life,
hear us in your love.
Remember in your love those who suffer . . .
the victims of violence and injustice . . .
those who mourn . . .

Silence

May all in need find comfort, strength and freedom in the living Christ.
Lord of life,
hear us in your love.
Remember in your love those who have died:
those who have confessed the faith and those whose faith is known to you alone.

Silence

May all your children receive grace and light according to their needs and come at last to share with all the saints in life eternal.
Lord of life,
hear us in your love.
Gracious God, we ask these prayers through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

THE DISMISSAL

Hymn 59 Blessed assurance

1 Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long.

2 Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

3 Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Fanny J Crosby (1820-1915)

Benediction

Christ our King make us faithful and strong to do his will that we may reign with him in glory; and may almighty God bless us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

SERVICE FOR SUNDAY APRIL 18th, prepared by Rev. Andrew Champley

Call to worship: 

Christ the Lord is risen again
 Christ has broken every chain
Hark, the angels shout for joy
Singing evermore on high, Alleluia!  (M.Weisse)

Hymn:  S t F 295 ‘Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord’

Refrain

Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks To the Risen Lord
Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Praise to His Name

  1.  Jesus is Lord of all the earth
    He is the King of creation

 Refrain

  1. Spread the Good News o’er all the Earth
    Jesus has died and has risen

Refrain

  1. We have been crucified with Christ
    now we shall live forever

Refrain

  1. God has proclaimed the just reward
    new life for all alleluia!

Refrain

  1. Come let us praise the Living God
    joyfully sing to Our Saviour.

Refrain

Prayers:

Lord God, we give you thanks and praise for your love and mighty power which raised your Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead. We praise you for his life and ministry, his obedience to death, even death on a cross, by which he defeated sin and death itself. We praise you for his risen life and for the hope which it gives to us and for the promise of your Holy Spirit to strengthen, guide and enable us to fulfil our calling as your people.

As those first disciples were afraid, filled with doubts and questions when they encountered the risen Jesus, so we too confess that we have our own doubts and fears, that we are often puzzled when we think of the amazing events of that first Easter. Lord, strengthen our faith and increase our understanding we pray. Grant us a new and wider vision of your love and purpose for creation.

Forgive all that is wrong in our lives and help us to live according to your will nd to walk in your ways. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Reading: 1 John 3:1-7

Hymn: S t F 294 ‘All you that seek the Lord who died’

All ye that seek the Lord who died,
Your God for sinners crucified,
now, now let all your grief be o`er!
Believe, and you shall weep no more..

The Lord of Life is risen indeed,
to death delivered in your stead;
His rise proclaims your sins forgiv’n,
and shows the living way to Heav’n.

Haste then, ye souls that first believe,
Who dare the Gospel word receive,
Your faith with joyful hearts confess,
Be bold, be Jesus’ witnesses.

Go tell the followers of your Lord
their Jesus is to life restored;
He lives to quicken humankind;
he lives that all his life may find.

Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

Reflection

At the end of his gospel, Luke mentions three separate appearances of the risen Jesus: first to Cleopas and his companion (possibly his wife) on the road to Emmaus, then, when these two return to Jerusalem, the disciples tell them ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Finally, as they speak, Jesus appears again and greets them, saying ‘Peace be with you!’.

Their reaction was to be startled and afraid, thinking that they had seen a ghost (literally a spirit). They thought that their eyes must be deceiving them, their minds telling them that it cannot be so -after all, they had witnessed Jesus’ death and burial. Some of the women had told them of the empty tomb, but now here he is!

Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you troubled, and why do questionings arise in your hearts?’ I think we can understand why those disciples were disturbed by what they saw and why their minds were full of questions -wouldn’t we have been the same, indeed perhaps still are? Thomas, who was not there on this occasion, is remembered for his doubts, but all the disciples had doubts. When the women who discovered the empty tomb went back to tell the others, Luke says:

‘Their words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.’ Again, we can see why. The disciples’ hopes and faith had been shattered on Good Friday, when all seemed lost.

Jesus, however, understands the disciples’ reaction, just as he understands our doubts, fears and questions. He comes to them and us to dispel doubt and fear and to offer his peace. ‘Peace be with you’ was a traditional Jewish greeting, but so much more than mere politeness. It is shalom a prayer for well-being, calm and assurance in the midst of panic or despair. This is what Jesus still offers to us.

It’s part of the earliest Christian tradition that Jesus was raised and appeared to many people. He was recognizable, no mere ghost or spirit, but real. He said: ‘See my hands and my feet (which may have borne the marks of crucifixion)- it is I, myself.’

But, we ask, what sort of body was this? Jesus points out that he has flesh and bone and asks for something to eat, perhaps significantly, baked fish. His body was, however, not in many ways the same as before his death. It was not subject to normal human limitations.

He can appear and vanish instantly and come through locked doors;

This is an act of new creation by God himself -the new body is a transformation of the old, not merely resuscitation.

Luke tells us that the disciples ‘disbelieved for joy’. It was all too much to take in. Even today we find resurrection difficult to comprehend, yet we can all know the presence of the eternally risen Christ in our lives.

As on the road to Emmaus, Jesus goes on to expound the scriptures, to open the disciples’ minds to understand more of God’s purpose and plan for humanity and indeed all creation. Scripture is the key and we all have it in our hands to open the door to greater understanding. The church is rooted in the Bible but it is also to be active in mission. As Jesus said to those first disciples, ‘You are witnesses of these things’. So today are we. The task of preaching the gospel of repentance and forgiveness is ours by word and deed.

The commission comes with a promise: ‘You will be clothed with power from on high’. We work in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Hymn; S t F 297 ‘Christ is alive!’

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
the cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death shall never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
 but saving healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

In every insult, rift and war,
where colour, scorn or wealth divide,
he suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.

Women and men, in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit, hear the call,
and find the way, the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all

Christ is alive!  And comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, we are amazed by the wonder of your resurrection.
We thank you for the hope you give to us.
We recall how you appeared to those close to you and pray that we may know your risen presence day by day.

We pray for your church: Lord, you have called us to proclaim good news throughout the world. Help us by your Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses to your truth, to offer hope and the promise of new life to all who will listen. We pray for our church and circuit, for our ministers and preachers and for all who are part of your family. We pray especially for the District Synod on Saturday, for wisdom and understanding.

We pray for the world, for leaders of the nations that they may seek justice and peace for their people. We pray for areas where there is war or unrest, oppression and exploitation. We pray for our own country and especially for our Queen and members of the royal family.

We remember those in need, the poor the hungry and the refugee.

We pray for those known to us who are unwell at home or in hospital, for those who are bereaved, for the lonely and anxious, for the housebound and those in care. Bless each in their need and help them to know your love surrounding them.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn: S t F 303 ‘’I know that my Redeemer lives’

 I know that my Redeemer lives.
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my everlasting Head!

He lives to bless me with his love
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives and I shall conquer death;
he lives my mansion to prepare
he lives, to lead me safely there.

 He lives, all glory to his name;
He lives, my Saviour, still the same;
what joy the blest assurance gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Text: Samuel Medley, 1738–1799. 

Open our eyes, Lord, to see you
Open our hearts to receive you
Open our minds to know you
Bless us now and always
In the name of Christ.   Amen

SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, APRIL 11th prepared by Sister Vivien Ward

Call to worship


Come. let us worship Him, endlessly singing
‘Christ is alive and death loses its sting.
Sins are forgiven Alleluia
Jesus is risen Alleluia


HYMN 314 S t F Eastertide


This joyful Eastertide,
what need is there for grieving?
Cast all your cares aside
and be not unbelieving:

Chorus: Come, share our Easter joy
that death could not imprison
nor any power destroy
our Christ, who is arisen!


No work for him is vain,
no faith in him mistaken,
For Easter makes it plain
His Kingdom is not shaken:
Chorus


Then put your trust in Christ,
in waking and in sleeping,
His grace on earth sufficed;
He’ll never quit his keeping:

Chorus
Fred Pratt Green (1903 – 2000)
Prayers

Adoration


We gather as one body, though dispersed, united through Your death,
alive in Your resurrection and all equal in Your grace.
As we worship You today, may we be united as one body that lives to praise and worship You.
May we be changed in this hour. May we see You with new eyes.
May we love each other with a new heart. May we have a passion for a world full of your grace.
Help us to leave this time of worship ready and willing to serve You with all that we have.
In the name of Jesus ………………. Amen

Confession

Lord in our community we do not always show the equality that You desire.
We do not share all that You have given us. We do not serve as You have commanded.
Please forgive us when we obscure Your gospel, hide Your generosity and
let our pride get in the way.
In our world we do not often see the injustices that exist. We do not want to sacrifice our wealth.
We let members of our Christian family stay poor and sick.
Forgive us for not looking with eyes of compassion, for our greed and our blindness.
Help us to pray with a repentant hear.
In the name of Jesus …………………….. Amen


Thanksgiving
Faithful God, we say thank You for the world that You have given us.
You made it a palace of beauty and a place of wonder.
We see Your care for nature that reminds us of Your promises to care for us.
We see Your power through nature that reminds us that You alone are God.
Faithful God we say thank You that You have made all people equal.
It is in our human nature to treat others as less than ourselves, yet You have shown us
that we must treat others with respect.
May we, who include both rich and poor receive your grace that set us free to be a community of faith without bounds.
Faithful God, we thank You that You have given each of us a role to play.
We have gifts and skills so that we can serve and be served, so that we can be a united family.
We know that You have trusted us with these gifts, as You have trusted us with giving the gift of grace and freedom to Your world.
To our teacher and guide … we give thanks ………….. Amen

Supplication
Kindred God, present in unrestricted and relatedness make us a kindred people bound by Your love to be of one heart and sou.l
Help us to order our lives as individuals and as a church community relying on your love and grace and recognizing your boundless giving of Yourself in Jesus, make us always ready to share with and
provide for, others in need. ……………………… Amen


Reading John’s Gospel ch. 20: 19-31

Jesus among His Disciples


When it was evening on the first day of the week, though the disciples were meeting behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side.
When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you as My representatives.”
And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven because of their faith; if you retain the sins of anyone,
they are retained and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief.”
But Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came so the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to
them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later His disciples were again inside the house , and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though the doors had been barred, and stood among them and said, “Peace to you.”
Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not be unbelieving, but stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed happy, spiritually secure, and favoured by God are they who did not see Me and yet believed in Me.”
There are also many other signs attesting miracles that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe with a deep, abiding trust, that Jesus is the Christ the Messiah, the Anointed, the Son of God; and that by believing and trusting in and relying on Him you may have life in His name.

HYMN 295  “Alleluia alleluia give thanks to the risen Lord

Refrain

Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks To the Risen Lord
Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Praise to His Name

  1.  Jesus is Lord of all the earth
    He is the King of creation

 Refrain

  1. Spread the Good News o’er all the Earth
    Jesus has died and has risen

Refrain

  1. We have been crucified with Christ
    now we shall live forever

Refrain

  1. God has proclaimed the just reward
    new life for all alleluia!

Refrain

  1. Come let us praise the Living God
    joyfully sing to Our Saviour.

Refrain

Knowing that the risen Christ is with us let us pray in the His name for the Church and for the world.

Father we pray for Your blessing on every group of Christians worshipping today all over the world some in churches, some in gatherings, some as families and some in isolation.
We pray that our hearts may be set ablaze with love and that we may walk as children of light. Father we pray for all the areas of Your world which are torn apart by hatred and violence, famine, disease covid 19  or religious differences;
We pray for an end to war and a deeper commitment to peace.
Father we pray for those who face family rejection if they become Christian and for all families divided by beliefs or persecuted for their faith. We pray for the children of our church that they may grow up strong in the faith with good role models to guide them.
Father we pray for those who wake up to the prospect of another day filled with pain;
For those who long for someone to spend time with them, enjoying their company and we pray for sight that notices needs.
Father we pray for those who mourn and we pray for those they love and miss,
commending all who have died to the everlasting arms of the God of love in whom there is life in all its fullness.
Father with joy in our hearts we thank You for the new life opened up to us through Jesus, our Redeemer.
Merciful Father accept these prayers through Your risen Son Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer       …………. Amen                      

Lord’s Prayer  

Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil .
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours
now and forever. Amen

Sermon

There they were together in the upper room with the doors locked and bolted because they were absolutely terrified.   Their leader had been arrested tried and executed – what next ?  The second in command ? – His followers ?.   Who knows?  They didn’t – and so they were terrified as to what would happen next they were fearful of hearing footsteps on the stairs and the knock on the door.
Well !  They weren’t prepared for what happened next because Jesus stood there in the room with them.  Doors locked. Yes.  Doors bolted. Yes.  But there He was.
“Peace be with you” He said.
This a blessing of His peace and perhaps it was to calm their fear and the shock of the moment.
He showed them the marks of crucifixion and ‘Yes’ there was no denying, that is was Jesus and they were overjoyed that He was with them. And again He said “Peace be with you, then He said “As the Father has sent Me I also send you.” 

What does that mean?

  1. It means  as God sent Jesus into the world on a mission to bring a proper understanding of God to the people that has now become their mission and not just for the then disciples but for all disciples ever since and now and not only disciples but the church too.

So that means that Jesus is dependent on His church.

  • It also means that the church needs Jesus.  Without Jesus the church has no message. No power, no one to strengthen her, no one to turn to.
  • It means too, that as Jesus was sent by God – the sending of Jesus of His disciples is the same.  And Jesus was totally committed to God and totally dependent upon God 

Jesus and God were continually dependent on Jesus’ perfect obedience and perfect love
That means ; We, as individuals and as the church, are to be the same.
Then Jesus breathed on them.       
Now the Greek word that is used (so I am informed) is the same used in Genesis 2:7
“The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.”
So the breath of Christ brings new life.
The same word is used in the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:9
This chapter 37 is the story of the valley of dry bones. 
“The hand of the Lord was upon me and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley and it was full of bones  ………. and they were very dry.
And He said to me “Son of man can these bones live?”
“O Lord only You know”  and He said prophesy over these bones and said to them  “O dry bones hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says “Behold I will cause breath to enter that you may come to life”
So I prophesied as I had been commanded and as I did, there was a noise and a rattling and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
But there was no breath in them.
Then He said to me ‘Prophesy to the breath and say “thus says the Lord God ‘Come from the four winds O breath and breathe on had commanded me  and the breath came into them and they came to life and stood on their feet.”
So the coming of the Holy Spirit is like the wakening of life from the dead.  
John, in the 7th chapter of his gospel has this … “the Spirit was not yet present because Jesus had not yet been glorified” BUT here, in the room with His disciple, He had been glorified, so now was the time for imparting the Spirit and they received the same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus.
The same Spirit that empowered and enabled all His words and works. 
This breathing upon them was meant to convey the impression that His very own Spirit was imparted to them.          wowee!!!! Indeed.
And what of us?
There are times when we are afraid, we’ve said that something or done that something of which we are ashamed, or we have that decision to make, not only about ourselves, but will involve others so we batten down the hatches and try to keep the world and Jesus at arm’s length. 
But, you know, no matter how hard we try to keep Jesus out He has the amazing ability to show up when we least expect it and we have to face, whatever it is, not on our own, but with Him. And that makes such a difference.
He says to us,  as He said to those disciples in the upper room  ‘As the Father sent me so I am sending you’  You know that can’t be  true because you have denied Him, turned away from Him and let Him down AGAIN.
So what is so different between you and those first disciples ?  They were not the shining example of Jesus supporters, now were they?
He said to them and He says to you and me just the same, no matter what you may think of yourself.
He is sending you as He was sent.. 
Jesus loved His Father so much that He obeyed Him, not every time without question.   He knew that is would cost Him His life but He knew that that was what His Father asked of Him and He obeyed.
That is what He is asking of you and me, individually but also as the church in this post Covid 19 time.  To love Him and obey Him.
Just what is Christ asking of you and of His church for tomorrow?
Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them His Spirit. They became re-created – they became new men.
In this post Easter period we are reminded again how the early church rose up, and against severe persecution, to proclaim the Christ.  We learn of some of the cost and how the church not only survived but spread throughout the known world. 
In this post Covid time we need the power of Jesus in each one of us and in the church; we need to be re-created, new women and men.  There are decisions to be made.  
There is work to be done. 
We have to put cost aside, we have to put ‘what was’ and turn it into ‘what shall be’ because Christ needs people who are filled with His Spirit who obey without, yes there very well maybe a question or two, but when assured of Christ’s will in their lives … obey Him.  
We need to talk to the Father. 
We need to listen to the Father.
These could be exciting times discovering the will of the Father for you and me and for His Church and we need to grab it with enthusiasm, eagerness and with a passion not unlike that of our Saviour.

HYMN  297  “Christ is alive”

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
the cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death shall never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
 but saving healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

In every insult, rift and war,
where colour, scorn or wealth divide,
he suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.

Women and men, in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit, hear the call,
and find the way, the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all

Christ is alive!  And comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.

Benediction

The grace of our risen Lord and
The love of our Glorious God and
The fellowship of our inspiring Holy Spirit
is with us now and for always Amen