Second Sunday of Easter
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Happy Easter Season! Today is the first day of the week.
P: The joy of Easter still sings in our hearts.
L: Breathe the breath of new life in your spirits!
P: We open our hearts to all the wondrous work God has for us to do.
L: Welcome to worship this glorious day!
P: Let our lives be testimony to God’s redeeming love! AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: Today is the first day of our week.
P: Lord, help us to find peace and joy in this week.
L: Open your hearts and receive God’s breath of new life.
P: Lord, help us to be ready to hear your words of life.
L: Come, let us worship the Lord with great joy!
P: Praise be to God. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2020, “Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet”, offer the following call to worship as directed. You may want to include some percussion instruments, such as tambourines; and some brass instruments such as trumpets and trombones, and various woodwinds - if they are available to you.]
L: Praise the Lord all the wonderful instruments of music
P: Let the sound of music be a powerful way to praise God for all God’s blessings.
L: Let all the earth be filled with God’s praise!
P: Let the towns, villages, the cities and countryside ring with God’s praise!
L: Let praise sound in darkness and in light, let praise sound in sunshine or storm!
P: Let praise be heard from the deepest valley to the highest hill. Praise be to God!
ALL: singing the first verse of “Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet”
[Note: Invite all instruments to play with the singing.]
[Note: you might discover that the people want to continue singing the song by adding the second verse - let it happen! What a joyous way to begin worship!]
Call to Worship #4
L: Faith never comes easy. Thomas, a faithful disciple of Jesus, doubted the post-Resurrection appearance and needed to see Jesus for himself.
P: How we are like Thomas! We sometimes think we need to see in order to believe!
L: How blessed are the ones who, never having seen, yet have come to believe.
P: Open our hearts, Lord, this day to absolute faith in you, that, although we have not seen the risen Christ, we may believe fully in him. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Breathe the breath of new life into us, O Lord, that we may fully feel the power of your love and the awesome glory of the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ. Prepare us to receive your blessing and then to go from this place to be a blessing to others in your name. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
We confess that we far too often want proof for everything, O Lord. We want proof that someone loves us; we want proof that we can trust in others; we want proof that everything in life is going to turn out all right. It is easy for us to point our finger at Thomas who was honest about his fears. He had seen so much healing and hope. But those hopes seemed dashed when Jesus died. Even the news of the Resurrection did not completely lift the darkness from his life. Jesus said to him, just as he says to us, “Peace, be still. Do not doubt but believe!” Lord, forgive our unbelief! Forgive the many times when we think and act in ways which are hurtful and mean. Heal our wounds. Bind up our spirits in the cords of your compassion. Help us to fully place our trust in you, with our whole hearts, and minds, and spirits, and souls. For we ask this in your blessed Name. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
Peace. Be still. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Jesus came to bring you new life. Believe in him. Receive the blessing of hope and peace. AMEN.
Patient God, you know us better than we want. We like to think that we can fool you with our bravado and high-flung phrases of faith. We hear the story of doubting Thomas and think “What a fool he was!”. We think that we would never have doubted. And in our arrogance we preen and strut about. But you know us fully. You know that we all have our moments of doubts and fears. We all wonder where you are. We want to know that everything is going to turn out for the best. We are frightened. And in our fear we cannot even face our own doubts. Help us to understand your forgiving grace. Help us to know that you understand our weakness and confusion and that your love extends to us in spite of that weakness. Strengthen our faith and our commitment to you. As we have offered prayers for those near and dear to us; as we have lifted situations of darkness and fear before your throne of grace, help us to be people who truly believe that you hear our prayers and answer them. Where we have not seen, give us faith to believe in all you have said and done. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
[Note: whenever a reading such as the one below is suggested, it is critical that there be rehearsal time. Readers 1 and 2 are arrogant, self-righteous - and the reading needs to reveal that attitude. The voice should be strong and calm, not shouting or preachy. The voice can be “offstage” or to the side. The readers should be centered in the chancel or worship area]
Reader 1: If Thomas was truly a disciple of Jesus, he would not doubt.
Reader 2: After all, look at what he witnessed - healings, even the resurrection of his friend Lazarus. How could he doubt that Jesus would be raised. He said he would, and he was!
Voice: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!
Reader 1: It’s a good thing I am such a strong church person. I believe and I don’t trust those who don’t believe.
Reader 2: I know what you mean. What’s the matter with those “doubters”? What’s their problem? Haven’t they heard the words from the Bible? Doesn’t the preacher give them the good words of faith every week?
Voice: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!
Reader 1: Well, I’ll tell you something. I would find a way to make them believe! I’d drum it into their heads so they wouldn’t forget it!
Reader 2: There must be some way to force people to accept the resurrection.
Voice: Do not be afraid. Find peace in your hearts. God will come to all people and bring the words of hope and comfort to their lives. Faith is not coerced, not forced, not demanded. Blessed are those who have not seen, who have not been forced to believe, who have not been bludgeoned into false faith, and yet they have come to know the healing, comforting, strengthening power of God’s love through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Be still! Be at peace! Let go of your anger and your fear. God’s love is with you.
Let the trumpet sound! Let the voices be raised in celebration! Go into God’s world with joy, knowing that God’s love goes with you. Be at peace!AMEN.
The suggested color for this Sunday is WHITE or GOLD.
I have created the worship display to reflect the Call to Worship #3, suggested for this day.
Place several risers on the main worship center. The tallest riser, about 12” should be placed at the center back of the main level. Other risers may be placed to the right and left, slightly forward of the center riser. Place a riser or bench in front of the worship center.
Cover the entire worship center and bench in white fabric. Taking about 6 yards of gold fabric, create a swag or drape of fabric, beginning with the center riser, trailing across the worship center, first to the left and then to the right, puddling on the floor in front of the worship center.
On either side of the tallest riser, place hall candlesticks with white candles. You may use taper candles or pillar candles (whatever you have at hand)
Generally some flowers are left at the church from Easter. If this is so arrange them on either side of the candlesticks. If additional flowers remain, place them around the base of the worship center. If you do not have flowers remaining, use green leafy or “feathery” plants, such as ferns and ivy, throughout the worship center.
I would not use rocks and wood in this setting.
Place a cross on the tallest riser. If you have access to instruments, such as a flute, or trumpet, and drum, you may want to place them in the worship setting - the flute being placed on the main level, the trumpet on the “bench” level and the drum on the floor level in front of the worship center. You can add sheets of music and some hymnals, if you do not have access to actual instruments, or you may add the music sheets and hymnals to the instrument display.