Community of Christ

COVID-19  Ongoing Response

Worship Resources - 11 April 2021

Worship Suggestions

Second Sunday of Easter

JOHN 20:19-31(A,B,C)

Receive the Holy Spirit

Additional Scriptures

Psalm 133; Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 1:1—2:2; Doctrine and Covenants 161:3d


Preparation

Three participants will be needed for the Call to Worship. Allow them time to practice their lines. Paper and colored markers/crayons will be needed for everyone beginning with the Dwelling in the Word.

Prelude

Welcoming Hymn

“My Peace” CCS 149

Invite the musician to quietly play through “My Peace” several times as the closing music of the Prelude gradually increasing the volume. Ask a soloist to sing the hymn twice and then invite the congregation to join in singing two additional times.

OR “As the Wind Song through the Trees” CCS 42

Welcome, Joys, and Concerns Call to Worship

Enactment based on John 20:19-21. Ask three congregants to prepare to act out this reading portraying a disciple, Jesus, and Thomas. Involve multiple generations.

Disciple: Very excited. We have seen Jesus!!! He is surely risen!!!

Thomas: I didn’t see him. You say that you saw him, but you might just be saying that.

Disciple: No, Jesus was here. We saw him. We talked to him. Thomas: I doubt it.

Disciple: He talked to us about forgiveness. He told us we should be at peace.

Thomas: Unless I see the mark of the nails and touch them with my hands, I won’t believe that he is risen.
Jesus comes up to Thomas.

Jesus: Thomas, I am here. Put your finger on the marks on my hand. Put your hand through the wounds on my side. Do not doubt. You may believe.

Thomas: Jesus, I have seen and now I believe. I needed this so I would not doubt.

Jesus: But blessed are those who have not seen for themselves yet are still able to believe.

Hymn of Overcoming Doubt

“In the Bulb There Is a Flower” CCS 561

OR “God Is Here” CCS 70

Invocation

Response

Dwelling in the Word: John 20:19-22

Provide paper, markers or crayons for everyone.

First Reading

During this first reading, just let the words and images flow over you.

Read the scripture text.

Second Reading

As the text is read a second time, listen and put yourself in the story. Read the text. Allow time for the story to be personalized. After some time passes, ask, “Who would you be in this story?” Allow more time for consideration of this question.

Third Reading

As the text is read a third time, use the paper and color markers/crayons provided to create an image of receiving the Holy Spirit. In the Bible several images have been associated with the Holy Spirit. For example, a dove; a flame; light; and wind or breath. Read the text.

Encourage participants to continue their creative process as the service continues. These could be collected during the Disciples’ Generous Response and displayed near the exit for everyone to see as they leave. See Disciples’ Generous Response for further suggestions.

Prayer for Peace

Hymn of Peace

“We Are People of God’s Peace” CCS 306

OR “For the Healing of the Nations” CCS 297

Light the Peace Candle.

Scripture Reading for Unity: Psalm 133:1

Peace Prayer

Loving Creator,

We live in a world that separates us in so many ways. We are separated by gender, color, sexual orientation, economics, religion and even by political parties. We hold up these divisions and pray that you will bend us toward each other, rather than away; bend us toward you. Let those things that have so divided us, become the things that bring us together. Let us begin to see the things that have separated us as the things that pull us together. Create unity where there was division. Guide us in love. Bend us toward kindness. We pray in your Son’s holy name. Amen.

A Daily Prayer for Peace service is held at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA 365 days a year. Additional ideas for Prayer for Peace can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.

Ministry of Music or Congregational Hymn

“Blessed Is the Body and the Soul” CCS 238

OR “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather” CCS 335

OR “In Christ There Is No East or West” CCS 339

Sharing in the Spoken Word

Based on John 20:19-21

Disciples’ Generous Response

Hymn of Generosity

“Help Us Express Your Love” CCS 621

OR “View the Present through the Promise” CCS 401

OR “My Gratitude Now Accept, O God/Gracias, Señor” CCS 614/615

Inward and Outward

Scripture Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 161:3d

Statement

In Jesus, we see a life called, guided, and sustained by the Holy Spirit. The inward journey of Jesus’ life was intentional about keeping a close connection with God. Spiritual encounters, solitude, retreat, prayer, and meditation nurtured this connection. His outward journey was touched through personal and meaningful connections with other people. These connections were experienced through receiving, sharing, touching, healing, teaching, proclaiming, and justice-making.

We follow Jesus Christ’s model and the experiences of faithful disciples who have gone before us. Whole-life stewardship challenges us to balance the inward and outward journey of our transformation similar to the way we balance our spiritual and material lives.

Touched by the ever-present Holy Spirit, our inward journey of disciple formation includes many facets: experience, scripture, and prayer. Experiences with the Holy Spirit confirm that all of life is spiritual. Scripture deepens our understanding of God and shapes our attitude, behaviors, and actions.

Choose Generosity, Discovering Whole-Life Stewardship, pages 26-27, adapted

During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.

As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes

If desired, collect the Holy Spirit images and put them up near the exit for all to see as they leave. Or if time allows, ask people to show their creations and briefly share about their Holy Spirit images.

For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.

Closing Hymn

“The Peace of the Earth/La paz de la tierra Sing twice. CCS 647

OR “May the God of Hope/Dios de la esperanza” Sing twice. CCS 652

OR “Somos el cuerpo de Cristo/We Are the Body of Christ” CCS 337

All three songs have Spanish and English available. Develop a plan and direct the congregation when to sing in Spanish and when to sing in English.

Benediction

Sending Forth

We go forward into this week, having received the Holy Spirit. We move out as God’s people—the hands and feet of our risen Lord wherever we go. Go with God. Vayan con Dios.

Postlude

Sermon Helps

Second Sunday of Easter

JOHN 20:19–31

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).

Twenty-first century disciples can relate to many parts of today’s scripture story. When things get difficult we tend to prepare for the worst by clinging to one another apart from the world. If we aren’t careful we can become a closed-in church, where we go to the meeting place, hurry inside, do our Sunday program, walk back out, and hustle away.

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).

Central Ideas

  1. 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.
  2. Through the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ comes to us in every life circumstance.
  3. Rather than the absence of uncertainty, faith is a journey of doubt and trust that transforms belief into kingdom-building action.
  4. 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

  1. In the life of the church today, how and when do we sometimes lock ourselves away from the world in fear or uncertainty?
  2. 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?
  3. How might the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit be the beginning of “kingdom living” where a prophetic people becomes willing to abandon the certainty of belief for the uncertainty of faith?
  4. 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

Psalm 133 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.


 

Gathering

Welcome

Today is the second Sunday of the Easter season. The Easter season continues for 50 days and concludes with the Day of Pentecost.

Prayer for Peace

Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.

Light the peace candle.

“Peace! Peace! Peace!”
   —so easily its slips off our tongues, God.

Peace—robbed of meaning, wrapped in familiarity,
   tucked tightly away in narrow folds of understanding.

We confess, O God, a peace born of myopia
   —a peace that sees only the daylight
     of saccharine sensibilities
     spun by soft summer breezes,
     morning mist, lemonade and lazy afternoons free of care.

Peace—devoured by apathy
   —its brief life spent on slogans said
     and banners blown on winds of hope
   —its voice heard but for a moment.

A peace betrayed by deception’s subtle lie
   that to talk peace is to do peace.

May we see its resurrection, God.
Let peace invade us and transform us.
Let it find meaning beyond hymns sung, prayers prayed,
   sermons preached.

May we give it heart, heads, hands and feet as well as lips.
May the peace of this strange man Jesus awaken within us new resolve
   to move from slogans to deeds, form hope to reality.
   Peace, ALIVE across the breakfast table.
   Peace, ALIVE and color blind.
   Peace, ALIVE for saint, for sinner
   for all who sing God’s many names.

For only then, do we truly take your name upon us.

—Danny A. Belrose

Spiritual Practice

Dwelling in the Word  

I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear the scripture, 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 is nudging you or catching your attention.

Read the scripture passage: Acts 4:32–35 NRSV.

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Pause.

Read scripture a second time.

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Invite group members to share responses to these questions:

  1. As you listened to this scripture passage, what words, phrases, or images came to mind?
  2. What is God’s Spirit revealing to you through the hearing of these words?

Sharing Around the Table

Psalm 133 NRSV

How very good and pleasant it is
    when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
    life forevermore.

The central theme of this psalm is the blessedness of unity. The importance of an abundance of unity is compared to the entire horn of oil being poured over the head of one who is anointed. It is the excess of unity—unity beyond the normal expectation—that is a blessing. The importance of harmonious, healthy relationships with others is blessed by God.

Being together and living in unity are separate ideas. We can live together and not be unified. We have many examples of this in scriptures: Joseph and his brothers lived together but were not in harmony or unified (see Genesis 37).

Unity is an experience of harmony between people, often connected through shared opinions, interests, or purposes. But unity also can be found among those who are diverse, with wide-ranging views. Living in unity does not mean everyone agrees; there will be many opinions. It is like the notes of a song that are individual but form beautiful music when joined with others.

Unity is powerful. A society, church, group, family, or team that works in a united manner can do great things; but when there is no unity, it is difficult to sustain genuine community.

The Enduring Principle of Unity in Diversity lifts up the power and strength of the community that is diversified in its opinions, life experiences, and cultures.

When we live in unity, the community experiences renewal and revitalization, rather than an environment that saps energy and distracts from our mission. Unity in Diversity is a core idea associated with Zion, the peaceful reign of God on Earth.

Questions

  1. What keeps us from developing and upholding unity with others?
  2. When have you experienced the blessings of unity?
  3. How can we keep from defining unity as “sameness” and live into our Enduring Principle of Unity in Diversity?

Sending

Generosity Statement

Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9

The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. 

The 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

Closing Hymn

Community of Christ Sings 336, “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?” 

Closing Prayer

Optional Additions Depending on Group

PrintFriendly