Second Sunday of Easter
Believe the Good News
Acts 5:27–32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4–8, Doctrine and Covenants 165:1c
A bell or chime will be needed for the Welcome and Prayer for Peace. If including Sharing in the Round, ask several participants ahead of time to be prepared to share their ideas to begin the process.
Begin by sounding a chime or ringing a bell. Invite the congregants to share their experiences of good news from the week. Close the good news with chime or bell ringing.
Call to Worship
Hymn of Praise
“All Glory, Laud, and Honor” CCS 467
OR “Teach Me, God, to Wonder” CCS 176
“Praise the Lord Together Singing” (may be sung as a round) CCS 642
Leader: The high priest challenged the apostles saying, “You are not to teach in this name.”
Congregation: We must obey God. (emphasize the word “must”)
Leader: You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.
Congregation: We must obey God. (emphasize the word “obey”)
Leader: You are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.
Congregation: We must obey God. (emphasize the word “God”)
All: We must obey God. (slowly, emphasize every word)
—Acts 5:27–32, adapted
Disciples’ Generous Response
Hymn of Generosity
“Take My Gifts and Let Me Love You” CCS 609
OR “Take My Life, That I May Be” CCS 610
OR “Take My Life and Let It Be” CCS 608
The six principles of a Disciples’ Generous Response help us grow into—and expand— our true capacity as faithful stewards who live generously:
- Receive God’s Gifts
- Respond Faithfully
- Align Heart and Money
- Share Generously
- Save Wisely
- Spend Responsibly
These six principles are a beginning point. They guide us in our search for whole-life stewardship but they do not provide all the answers. Community of Christ embraces Continuing Revelation as both a belief and an Enduring Principle. Will we choose to embrace and live the six principles and remain open to continued insights?
Stewardship Principle 3: 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.
Keep a Healthy Perspective on Wealth
Our generosity involving time, talent, treasure, and testimony are offerings of love to God and God’s world. Acts of generosity are important not just for what they do, but for what they represent. The most meaningful acts carry great spiritual significance because they represent our hearts’ desire to give all to God. As we live ever closer with God our hearts yearn to give as completely as God gives.
Jesus stated in plain speech the issue surrounding our earthly possessions. He said that we can only follow one god, and, if we choose to make wealth the god we serve, then we cannot serve God.
—Stassi Cramm, ed., Choose Generosity, (Herald Publishing House, forthcoming).
Our financial generosity allows others to experience the love and joy that we are privileged to share.
As you share financially through Mission Tithes, or if you give regularly through eTithing, please use this time to consider your commitment and how you will tithe to your true capacity of time, talent, and testimony.
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Prayer for Peace
Light the peace candle and then slowly read the countries that we will be praying for this week. See the list www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace. Ring the chime and pause between each country to allow time for contemplation of the needs of each country. End with the country we are praying for today.
Centering Hymn of Peace
“My Peace” CCS 149
OR “Prayer of Peace” CCS 164
OR “The Peace of Jesus Christ” CCS 317
Embrace this day, O God, those without power. Protect them from the whims of the world. Give them the courage to stand for the right to separate themselves from a world that offers no hope. Shine the light of your goodness in front of them and guide them into your vision for them. A vision of joy and satisfaction. Sharing in a world community of love. Help each of us spread this good news as we travel through our own lives. 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.
Hymn of Mission
“God of Every Generation” CCS 361
OR “My Savior Said That I Should Be” CCS 589
OR “Blessed Is the Body and the Soul” CCS 238
Based on John 20:19–31
OR Sharing in the Round
If possible, move the seating into a circle. Read John 20:19–31. After reading the scripture, discuss how our faith looks like that of Thomas. How have we required verification from God? Does our faith bring us to belief? When have you shared the good news with someone who doubts? Have several congregants of varying ages and experiences prepared to share their thoughts to begin the sharing. After the discussion draws to a close, offer a short prayer.
God, we live in community so we might share our experiences with one another. Help us to be witnesses for you as we step out in faith to share the good news. Amen.
Hymn of Commitment
“Three Things I Promise” CCS 511
OR “The Path for Our Walking” CCS 177
OR “Sing of Colors/De colores” CCS 332
Go, celebrate all that God has done.
Share the good news!
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, 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 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).
- 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 becomes willing 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.
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, breathe peace upon us O Lord.
Peace is all around us. Open our eyes that we may see it.
Peace in is in your ways. Open our hearts that we may find it.
Peace is in the everyday. Open our hands that we may claim it.
Peace, breathe peace upon us, O Lord.
Read the following to the group:
In the Bible we read of Christ appearing to his disciples after he dies, and he says to them, “Peace be with you.” Christ also brings peace to us. In today’s spiritual practice we will share in a Breath Prayer. During the prayer we will use a word to breathe in, and another word to breathe out. For today’s prayer we will breathe in the word peace and breathe out the word fear. We will practice the Breath Prayer for three minutes.
Slowly read the following instructions:
Sit with a relaxed posture. If you are comfortable, close your eyes. As we enter this time of centering prayer, focus on your breathing, paying attention to your breaths as you draw air in and push air out. (Allow a few seconds of silence.)
Discover a comfortable pattern and breathe in a regular, natural rhythm. (Allow a few seconds of silence.)
As you inhale, focus on peace. As you exhale, release fear.
Breathe in and out. Continue to focus on breathing in peace and exhaling fear.
Monitor the time. Occasionally give instructions, “Breathe in peace, breathe out fear.”
After three minutes share the following instructions: As we come to the end of our prayer time, offer silent words of thanks to God. When you are ready, take one last deep breath and open your eyes.
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 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. Jesus speaks peace and commissions the disciples in mission, and then he confers on them the gift of 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 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.
Twenty-first-century disciples can relate to many parts of today’s scripture story. 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 it in our actions. In this way faith develops and strengthens amid life and 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 of faith?
“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.
This offering prayer for the Easter season 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”