Second Sunday of Easter
Rejoice in God
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Focus: “One of the earliest resurrection scenes in the Bible is that of Thomas demanding evidence–he wanted to see, to touch, to prove. Those who question and probe and debate are heirs of the apostles just as much as the most fervent of believers.” Jon Meacham, 21st century Call to Worship
Leader: Sing a new song!
People: A springtime shout-out to new life!
Leader: Sing praise to our joyful Easter God
People: Whose power brings new life out of death!
Leader: Immerse doubt and despair in the fountain of new birth
People: Our visions and hopes are refreshed, made new!
Leader: For God has taken ordinary things
And made them extraordinary
All: Sing a New Song!
You have transformed absurd impossibility
into reality: resurrection…
You have coaxed us to sing springtime alleluias
where once there was a gray dawn,
You have called us out of the tombs we inhabit
into an undreamed of tomorrow,
we praise you for this day!
Come, Risen Christ,
in newness and hope on this Eastertide day. Amen.
Opening Hymn: Sing A New Song https://youtu.be/W1GmO7kx__4
Children’s Time: “I invite the young people to look for the evidence of new life in the days ahead. What can you see and touch and feel that reminds you of the hope of springtime and the Presence of God each day? We are Easter people. What do you think that could mean? How can you be an Easter person, that is, how can you live your life in such a way that you bring hope and joy, caring and compassion to other people? Perhaps you’d like to draw a picture of yourself being an Easter person? Maybe you can send that to someone in your family who might like to see it, or show it on a video chat to someone? Happy Easter!” — Pastor Paula
Scripture: Easter Poem by Joyce Rupp; John 20:19-31
Sermon: Rev. Ned Dougherty
Music: Peace is Flowing Like a River, Instrumental https://youtu.be/dXa-OZ8x7_c
Prayers:Hush Now In Quiet Peace Michelle Currie
Closing Hymn: Did you feel the Mountains Tremble? By Hillsong
Follow now the new path Christ has opened up for us.
Just around the corner of your life is a spiritual surprise!
Easter! Christ is Risen!
May you dance an alleluia dance,
and sing a resurrection song.
Laugh with God and let joy reside in your hearts always. Amen.
Closing: Go In Peace Michelle Currie
Readings for Today
Easter Poem by Joyce Rupp
Sturdy, deep green tulip shoots.
How did they know
it was time to push up through the long-wintered soil?
How did they know
it was the moment to resurrect,
while thick layers of stubborn ice
still pressed the bleak ground flat?
But the tulips knew.
They came, rising strongly,
a day after the ice died.
There’s a hope-filled place in me
that also knows when to rise,
that waits for the last layer of ice
to melt into obscurity.
It is urged by the strong sun
warming my wintered heart.
It is nudged by the Secret One,
calling, calling, calling:
“Arise, my love, and come.”
My heart stirs like dormant tulips
and hope comes dancing forth.
Not unlike the Holy One
kissing the morning sun,
waving a final farewell
to a tomb emptied of its treasure.
Psalm 16: 1-9, 11
16:1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
16:3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
16:4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.
16:5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
16:8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
16:11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Second Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2020
Rev. Ned Dougherty
We are living through fearful times so I thought it would be a good idea to start off with a joke.
A teacher asked a little boy, names Thomas, to look out the window of their classroom and asked him to tell her what he sees. He studies the view for a minute or two and says, “Well I see a tree and some grass and the blue sky.” The teacher then says, “Good for you. Now tell me, the tree you see, is it real?” Thomas, a little confused, says, “Yes, the tree is real.” And the teacher said, “And what about the grass, is that real?” and Thomas said, “Yes, the grass is real.” And finally, the teacher asked, “Did you see God in the sky?” And even more confused, Thomas said, “No, I didn’t see God in the sky.” The teacher said, “Of course you didn’t see God in the sky, because God does not exist!”
At that point a little girl in the class, named Sarah, raised her hand and asked the teacher if she could ask Thomas some questions? The teacher agreed and the little girl asked Thomas the same questions about the tree and the grass and Thomas, by this time a little annoyed, responded that, yes, the tree and the sky were real. Then the little girl asked Thomas, “Now let me ask you this: can you see the teacher’s brain?” and Thomas said, “No, I can’t see the teacher’s brain.” To which Sarah said, “Of course you can’t see the teacher’s brain, because she doesn’t have one.” At that point, Sarah was sent to the Principal’s office and the class had a hard time suppressing their laughter.
Now the point of this story is that the teacher was living in a totally physical world where the only things that were real were things that you could see, smell, hear, taste, or touch. The hero of the story is Sarah who believes that there is more to the world than what you can see, smell, hear, taste or touch. Such things as love, patience, kindness, gratitude and God are not things that can be known by our five senses, but are things that become real by the way we behave and live our lives.
I think this is part of what the story of Doubting Thomas (not related to the little boy, Thomas, in the story) communicates. Thomas is a doubter who lives solely in the material world, like the teacher. He has to touch the wounds in Jesus’s hands and side before he can believe. It is only on the second appearance of Jesus, where Thomas is invited to touch those wounds, that he believes, and confesses that Jesus is his Lord and God. Jesus’s response is also key, He said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
There is another point to the Thomas story that I think is important because it relates to the current situation we are living through right now, where we are required to “Shelter in Place,” or “Quarantine” ourselves, and keep our “Social Distance” from one another. Many of us are living in fear not only for ourselves but for those who are on the front lines of caring for the sick or doing the necessary work of essential businesses. They are all at risk and are exposing themselves to possible contagion. The disciples of Jesus are also living with fear. They have locked themselves in “the house where the disciples had met,” that is the place where they had the last supper with Jesus. They were fearful because the did not know what might happen to them. If the Jewish leaders and Roman could kill Jesus, might they not also come after Jesus’s followers? They were also fearful because they did not know what to do. They had given up their jobs and families two or three years earlier in order to follow Jesus, and now they were without a leader and directionless. What were they supposed to do now? How were they supposed to live?
Living with that kind of fear and uncertainty, as we are having to do now, can tear your life and family apart, especially for those who have contracted corona virus or have lost their jobs or have to face a drastic reduction in income. There is one guaranteed cure for fear and that is gratitude. If we can focus on gratitude, focus on what we do have, and not on what we may lose, then fear will disappear. We can be thankful that we have a home, food to eat, a bed to lie on, and a family and friends to rely on, then fear vanishes. This is not just wishful thinking, but in recent years, neuroscientists have proved that fear and gratitude cannot reside in the brain at the same time. They live in different parts of the brain, fear in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls our “fight or flight” response to a situation, while gratitude lives in the neo-cortex that controls our executive function or higher thinking processes. Using CAT scans, they can see that when the “gratitude” area of the brain lights up, the “fight or flight” area of the brain goes dim. Gratitude drives away fear.
When Jesus comes into the room where the disciples are eating and says, “Peace be with you,” he takes away the disciple’s fear and their hearts are filled with gratitude. Jesus then says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” giving the disciples a sense of direction for the rest of their lives. And finally, he says,”Receive the Holy Spirit,” offering them a divine presence to accompany them on their jouney. The only possible response to these offerings is a gratitude that drives out fear. The disciples’ hearts were filled with gratitude as our heart can be filled with gratitude, knowing that there is a divine presence with us. This is not something that can be seen, but something that guides our behavior and the way we live our lives.