Worship Connection: April 19, 2020

March 3rd, 2020

Second Sunday of Easter

Color: White
Scripture Readings: Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship #1: (John 20)

L: Though darkness seems to envelop us.
P: Jesus breaks through with a word of peace.
L: Fears are banished!
P: Hope is more than restored
L: Rejoice! The Lord is with us!
P: We rejoice in the peace and blessings he brings. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2: (1 Peter 1)

[This call to worship may be done by a voice choir. It is effective if they are stationed around the sanctuary and when they have finished their lines they come forward to the final line which is spoken in unison]

Reader 1: May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth.
Reader 2: You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Reader 3: You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish---an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you.
Reader 4: Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.
Reader 5: You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials.
Reader 6: This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. (Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.)
Reader 7: Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
VOICE CHOIR: (in unison) Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. You are receiving the goal of your faith, your salvation!

Call to Worship #3: (John 20)

(This call to worship uses the song “Open Our Eyes” from The Faith We Sing, p. 2086)

L: Fear and darkness are our companions!
P: We huddle together, wondering what will happen to us, to our world.
Choir: (singing verse one of ‘Open Our Eyes”, FWS #2086)
L: Lord, come and stand among us!
P: Bring us showers of blessing, release from our fears, light in our darkness
Congregation (singing) Verse One of “Open our Eyes” FWS 2086

Gathering Prayer

Break through our darkness and fears, Lord. Let the light of your salvation and hope shine on us, in us, and through us, that healing and hope may abound in your world. 

Opening Prayer

Gracious Lord, Easter was such a high point. We walked through the weeks of Lent and then boldly marched with Jesus into Jerusalem. Our steps hesitated and faltered during Holy Week when we ate with our Lord and then ran from his crucifixion. It was so hard for us to really believe in the miraculous event of Easter when our beloved Lord was raised from the dead. We, like Thomas, wonder if it was real or something made up from desperate longing. Help us to listen to your words with our hearts and our ears. Remind us that the Lord brings his peace to us all. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

We listen to the news, read the newspapers, and wonder if peace will ever reign in your world, Lord. Today we have been invited to be with the disciples in that hidden place where they also wondered about peace and hope. You broke through. You shattered the darkness and they were astonished again. Help us to understand that you will bring peace to each one of us. Forgive all those times when we treat this moment of revelation as though it was impossible. Give us the courage to reach out to you and touch our hearts once again. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Open your hearts and ears, beloved people of God. You are loved, forgiven and chosen to be called disciples. Be at peace!

Morning Prayer

Lord, we come to you this day, seeking peace and release from our fears and our darkness. We know that you are here with us, guiding, healing and loving us. Help us to reach out to others with the same love you give to us. Make us people who bring words of compassion and hope, actions of help and lovingkindness, to all we meet. Place our feet on the pathway of life, offering ourselves and our gifts for your holy realm. Encourage us to grow and learn about ministries of reconciliation and compassion. When we falter, pick us up. When we fail, remind us that you believe in us. When we turn and run because of our fear, bring us home again. These things we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Prayer of Dedication

Lord, we thank you for the many blessings which you have poured into our lives. Now we ask your blessing on these gifts that they may be used to your glory. Amen.

Benediction/Sending Forth

It’s time to go from this place into our everyday worlds. Lord, make us a blessing to all whom we meet. Give us courage, love and hope, for we a sk these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Children’s Time: “Hidden”

Props: Wooden Cross (free standing), sheer window panel/curtain, small table with white cover, 3’ piece of burlap (natural color), 3 hymnals

Directions: Cover the table with the white cloth. Place a stack of about 3 hymnals oon the table in the back/center. Cover the books with the burlap fabric letting it drape down over the front edge of the table. Place wooden cross on the hymnal stack and cover with the sheer window panel
Message: Ask children if they have ever played hide and seek. Was it hard to find the person hiding? What gave them a clue about where the person might be? Did they wonder if they would ever find the person? Remind them that Thomas, a special friend/disciple of Jesus, was not in the room after Jesus died when Jesus appeared to and talked with the other disciples. He was so sad about Jesus’ death and felt that he would never see him again. Then Jesus appeared and Thomas was so surprised. He wondered if his eyes and ears were playing tricks on him. He was afraid to believe. Jesus asked him to touch the wounds in his hands and when Thomas did, he believed. It was ral. It did happen. (as you are saying this remove the veil from the cross. This cross reminds us that Jesus loves us completely. We are asked to have faith, even though sometimes we doubt. Jesus will be with us, through his Spirit, guiding and helping us. Don’t be afraid to doubt. Doubting is important because it means that we care deeply about something.

Altar Art for this Sunday

Cover the altar with white cloth which will “puddle” on the floor in front of the altar, Place a series of hymnal stacks (1 book high/2 books high/3books high) on the altar. The highest should be placed at the center/back. Place the others a little forward of the center one on either side. Cover all the books with burlap fabric making sure that it flows down the front of the altar (do not make it a smooth cover, rumple it up a little). Place a 2 foot high wooden cross on the highest riser; place pillar candles on the other risers, making sure that they are not too near the center cross. Using one or two sheer panels, cover the cross letting the fabric panel on the altar puddle in the center and and down the front slightly. [This setting mimics the setting for the children’s message]

Scripture As Script [Readers’ Theater style][Paraphrase of John 20:19-31]

[Four readers are needed for this presentation. Each reader should read clearly and loudly enough to project their voice to the back of the room. Readers may stand or be seated on stools]

Narrator: It was still the first day of the week and the disciples were gathered together in a room. The doors were locked because they feared that the Jewish authorities would be looking for them, probably to arrest them. While they were there Jesus came to see them.
Jesus: Peace be with you, my friends
Narrator: Then he showed them his hands and his feet, to help them believe that what they were seeing was real
Jesus: The Father sent me into the world to proclaim good news and so I am sending you on the same mission. I am going to breathe on you the breath of commission. If you forgive any sins, they are considered in heaven to be forgiven; but if you do not forgive, then they are not forgiven in heaven.
Narrator: Thomas, one of the twelve, was not present with the other disciples at this time so he did not know what was going on. He was very stricken by the loss of Jesus and had to be away from the group for a little while.
Disciple: Thomas, we have seen the Lord! He was right here and talked with us and breathed the breath of commissioning on us. He is sending us into the world to bring the good news!
Thomas: I don’t believe you! It’s not possible!
Disciple: It’s true, Thomas. Please believe us!
Thomas: I’ll only believe if I can see the wounds in his hands and the piercing wound on his side. I just can’t believe it otherwise!
Narrator: About eight days later, the disciples were again in that same room and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus appeared again to them all and stepped forward to talk with Thomas.
Jesus: Thomas, peace be with you. I know that you are having a great deal of trouble believing that I am truly here with you. Come on over here. Touch the wounds in my hands; place your hand on my side. No more doubts, my friend! Believe!
Thomas: My Lord and my God!
Jesus: You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!
Narrator: Jesus did many other signs in their presence and talked with them at length. This moment was recorded for each one of us that we might have new life in Jesus.

Message Movers

One of my earliest memories at our house in So. Weymouth, MA was the sheer panel curtain which covered the front door. The hems on each end of the panel were mounted on long springs which were affixed to little hooks on each side of the door, both top and bottom. I vaguely remember toddling over to them, but I couldn’t see out of them. Everything was obscured by Mom’s sheer door panel.

Sometimes our faith is like that. It’s not clear. We think we know what is beyond the curtain, but we aren’t sure. For a long time Thomas, the disciple who dared to doubt, got bad press. He questioned Jesus’ presence with the other disciples. For some, he was portrayed as faithless; but for many of us, Thomas spoke our questions. We want proof, tangible proof, things we can see or touch in order to believe. How curious it is that we believe in love. Although we can’t see it or define it, the resultant action or attitude seems to reveal love. Thomas wanted to see, but he was afraid, just as we are sometimes. We wonder if our doubts make us faithless. We may have been told that we should believe one way or another – and if we don’t, then we have failed in our faith. We see that attitude in action in many levels of our living today. And we struggle with those demands. Thomas needed proof – and Jesus gave it to him, but he also reminded Thomas that there were and would be many people who would long to believe and who would not have the advantage of actually seeing Jesus. Jesus would be revealed through the love and peace that each disciple would bring with them on the mission commissioned by Jesus.

Don’t be afraid to doubt, or to question. It means that you are serious about your faith, that you want to believe, and that you are keeping the doors open to the wondrous possibilities that God presents daily to each of us. Peace be with you, my friends!

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