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)?