Call to Worship
Leader: Come to worship Jesus Christ, risen forever.
All: Come to rejoice in life born out of death.
Leader: Come to grasp hope in the face of fear.
All: Come to find forgiveness for our sins.
Leader: Come to release your doubts into the very presence of God.
All: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Following this, Hugh led us through a time of challenge and invitation to renewal, singing the next Hymn 156 "Morning has broken", alerting us to the possibilities of the joys of committing ourselves anew to our relationship with God.
Then he led us in a Prayer of Praise, asking God to raise us to new life, releasing us from the distractions of daily life, that hide Him from us.
Hugh then assured us, "Let it be declared! In the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, our sins are forgiven."
The Offering was then received as a way of showing the healing generosity that Jesus showed in the sacrifice of his life.
Stephen then brought us the Readings: 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31. Peter tells us of the hope for the future through our new birth - our reason to rejoice. John tells us of Jesus' appearance to the disciples after the resurrection, not chastising them for their disloyalty or cowardice but offering them peace. Even when Thomas refused to believe without touching Jesus' wounds there was no condemnation.
In his Sermon, Hugh highlighted Jesus' love for his disciples, forgiving them for their fear and showing enormous confidence in them, granting them authority in this world. Hugh told us of all those emotions the disciples were suffering, hiding away, avoiding trouble from the people around them. Emotions just like those we experience: failure, betrayal, confusion, disappointment, shame and guilt - lots of it. But Jesus went straight past all that to forgiveness. And that's how God responds to all our failures. Forgiveness and a plan to move on. We can rely on God for that. There's no need to run away and hide. He will forgive and help us start again. But it means we have to accept our mission to forgive and forgive, showing the world God's love.
This theme of being forgiven and moving on to the next step in God's plan for us was expressed in the next Hymn 687 "God gives us a future” charging us to leave behind our failings and look for the signs God leaves for us to follow.
Delma then led us in Prayers for the People, thanking God for answered prayer, and went on to pray for those we care about, pleading for peace in all those countries which are being torn apart by warfare and civil strife. She prayed for the decision makers in the government and the church and for those who come to the aid of people in distress. Then she asked for God's healing hand on those known to us who are sick and asked us to join in The Lord's Prayer.
And how to achieve all this? Hymn 745 "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God" and all we need will be given to us.
Go from this community of disciples with hope that overcomes your fears and doubts.
Go with the promise of new life. Go for God. Go with Christ. Go in the Spirit.
And the peace of the Risen Christ be with you now and forever! Amen.
Hymn 720 "Halle, Halle, Halle-lujah.