Second Sunday of Easter
Peace Be with You
Acts 4:32–35, Psalm 133, 1 John 1:1—2:2, Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a
Experience Congregations in Mission
Invitation to Worship
Call to Worship
The Blessedness of Unity
How wonderful it is when people live together in unity. It is like
—Psalm 133, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
OR “O God of Vision” CCS 78
OR “God, We Gather as Your People” CCS 274
Sharing of Joys and Concerns
“God of Grace and God of Laughter” CCS 100
This hymn can be divided
OR “Alleluia” CCS 117
Sing this chorus after each segment of sharing as described above.
Pursue Peace on Earth
Scripture Reading and Prayer for Peace
Scripture: John 20:19
As an introduction to the Prayer for Peace, read the first verse of today’s scripture.
Light the peace candle, then ask the congregants to reflect on where they see a need for peace for a particular person, or in the world near or far. This can be done silently or shared out loud in the form of phrases.
Hymn of Peace
“One Common Prayer” (sing at least two times) CCS 313
OR “We Are People of God’s Peace” CCS 306
Invite the congregation to offer silent prayers for the people or situations they were holding in their hearts, while the pianist quietly continues playing the hymn. Close with “Amen.”
For more ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found on the church’s website as Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org /daily-prayer-for-peace.
Develop Disciples to Serve
Based on John 20:19–31
OR Congregational Discussion
Based on John 20:19–31
Use the Questions for the Speaker and Central Ideas from Sermon and Class Helps to lead a discussion on today’s scripture.
Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Disciples’ Generous Response
Share the story of Acts 4:32–35, “The Believers Share Their Possessions.”
Six principles of A Disciples’ Generous Response guide us in managing and sharing our resources: Receive God’s Gifts, Respond Faithfully, Align Heart and Money, Share Generously, Save Wisely, and Spend Responsibly (www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response).
When we consider the ways each principle applies in our lives, we respond faithfully and begin to align our priorities with God’s priorities, align our hearts with God’s heart.
Align Heart and Money
Managing the money we have, no matter the amount, expresses our desire to love and help God, neighbors, ourselves, and the world. When we focus our giving on God’s purposes, our hearts become more aligned with God’s heart.
Questions for Reflection
- Are the choices you make on where you share and spend your money aligned with your heart?
- Is your heart aligned with God’s heart?
Apostle Bunda Chibwe said, of his visit to Haiti after the damaging earthquake:
“What was so impressive to me was that in the midst of extreme poverty, lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of education for their kids, Haitian church leaders and members shared the little they received from our worldwide church with non-church members.
“In addition, they knew, understood, and affirmed that God’s love was not distant and cruel. Rather, it was relevant and present. God was suffering with them, and that gave them hope!”
—Alex Kahtava and Wayne Rowe, “Hope amid the Rubble,” Herald, November 2015
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Scripture and Prayer of Confession
Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a
Holy and Loving God,
How often do we sing, and pray, and worship within the safety of these four walls while the world waits for actual hands and voices carrying hope? As your Spirit breathed new resolve into the disciples of old, may that same Spirit stir within us the courage to respond.
Invite People to Christ
Hymn of Mission
“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609
OR “When the Church of Jesus” CCS 358
OR “Lord, Make Us Instruments” CCS 364
Print or project this prayer so all in the congregation can share it.
God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me
Second Sunday of Easter
Exploring the Scripture
The Gospel of John was written many years after the resurrection of Jesus. It remains a powerful witness to all that transpired and recounts the effect on those who remained faithful. It clarifies and addresses many of the author’s concerns for the early struggling Christian church.
A key to understanding this week’s passage is its connection to previous sections of John’s Gospel. “That day” in the opening verse (John 20:19) links it with Mary’s Easter witness just prior (John 20:1–18). We find parallels between the two stories, for example, there are disciples (two) in the first passage and disciples (10) in the second; Mary Magdalene in the first, and Thomas in today’s text. Each character experiences some facet of the resurrection, and each story describes faith, as well as belief transcending doubt.
The disciples, filled with grief and despair, are in a locked room. Their best friend has just been killed and their world turned upside down. Huddled together, they fear for their own safety as their hearts dangle somewhere between faithful hope and not daring a single hopeful thought.
Then, despite the locked door, he is there. Jesus is with them, breathing words of peace; fulfilling all the promises he made before he left. (See the farewell discourse in John 14—17.) The words Christ speaks to the disciples empower and encourage them, and later the fledgling first-century church. His words remind every generation since that we belong to Christ regardless of circumstance, anxiety, fear, or doubt—in life as well as death.
In Pentecostal significance, he speaks peace and commissions the disciples to go out, and then confers on them the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promised Comforter is now with them and with the church; they are not alone. God empowers the ministry and witness of all disciples from that day forward.
Jesus is gone when Thomas joins them, and though the disciples provide a detailed account of Christ’s presence, Thomas will not believe unless he sees for himself. A week later Jesus appears again, urging Thomas to believe. Thomas’ proclamation, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28) becomes the witness of generations to come, “who have not seen” but still “come to believe” (v. 29).
Though we sing of faith and proclaim Jesus Christ, we can also doubt, just like Thomas. We keep long lists of questions about Christianity, scripture, commitment, how we fit in, the hardships of life, finding God, and what the church is doing to make a difference in the world.
John speaks to us about going from belief to action. For John, belief is not something we have, it is something we do. To believe in the promises of God through Christ is to trust the healing, saving action of God in the world and live as if it were true. Finally, faith occurs amid life and all its uncertainties. Trust breaks through and we come to the place of seeing, which brings us to a point of action as we move out in faith to follow the Christ one step at a time. That is when we become the people Jesus described as he spoke to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (v. 29).
- As we place our trust in God revealed through Jesus Christ, and make the choice to journey in faith, step-by-step we discover the meaning of the resurrection.
- Through the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ comes to us in every life circumstance.
- Rather than the absence of uncertainty, faith is a journey of doubt and trust that transforms belief into kingdom-building action.
- Every generation must discover the meaning of the resurrection and what it means to be a people of God in each time and place.
Questions to Consider
- In the life of the church today, how and when do we sometimes lock ourselves away from the world in fear or uncertainty?
- How have you (or someone you know) struggled with doubts and uncertainty on your journey of faith, but then come to a place of trust and belief?
- How might the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit be the beginning of “kingdom living” where a prophetic people
becomeswilling to abandon the certainty of belief for the uncertainty of faith?
- How have you, or someone you know, experienced the blessing of being one who has “not seen and yet…come to believe” (v. 29)?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
Second Sunday of Easter
JOHN 20:19–31 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Breathe in us today.
Sweep away any fear, worry, or pride that distracts us from sensing your presence of peace.
We want to be your people, to be community.
Bless us with your compassion that overflows and carries your Spirit’s graceful touch to all who are in need.
In the name of Jesus, who is our peace. Amen.
Dwelling in the Word
I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear it allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you. After a moment of silence I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear the scripture again listen for how God’s Spirit nudges you or catches your attention.
Read the scripture:
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
—1 John 1:1–4 NRSV
Pause. Read the scripture a second time.
- What words, phrases, or images came to mind?
- What are these words revealing to you today?
Sharing Around the Table
John 20:19–31 NRSV
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.
The disciples, filled with grief and despair, are in a locked room. Their best friend has just been killed, and their world has been turned upside down. Huddled together, they fear for their safety, as their hearts dangle between faithful hope and not daring a single hopeful thought.
Then, despite the locked door, he is there. Jesus is with them, breathing words of peace, fulfilling all the promises he made before he left.
Jesus speaks peace, commissions the disciples in mission, and then gives them the Holy Spirit. God empowers the ministry and witness of all disciples from that day forward.
Jesus is gone when Thomas joins them, and though the disciples give a detailed account of Christ’s presence, Thomas will not believe unless he sees for himself. A week later Jesus appears again, urging Thomas to believe.
Twenty-first-century disciples can relate to many parts of today’s scripture. When things get difficult we might retreat into our comfort zones, avoiding people or things that challenge or frighten us.
We also have times of doubt, just like Thomas. We keep long lists of questions about Christianity, scripture, commitment, how we fit in, the hardships of life, finding God, and what the church is doing to make a difference in the world.
This passage from John speaks to these aspects of life and faith. John encourages us to trust in the presence of God’s Spirit and to move from doubt to belief, from belief to action.
For John, belief is not something we have, it is something we do. To believe in the promises of God through Christ is to trust the healing, saving action of God in the world and live as if it were true. In this way faith develops and strengthens amid life and all its uncertainties.
- How or when have you locked yourself away from the world because of fear or uncertainty?
- What doubts and uncertainties have you struggled with on your journey of faith? Where are you on the journey now?
- How might the gift of the Holy Spirit empower and encourage you on your journey?
“Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f).
We receive God’s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
God of rejoicing, we share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen
Invitation to Next Meeting
CCS 662, “Peace Be with You”