Holy Communion for Easter 2

When:
19 April 2020 @ 10:00 am
2020-04-19T10:00:00+01:00
2020-04-19T10:15:00+01:00
Where:
Cornerstone website & Living Stones WhatsApp group

Call to worship

Good morning my dear brothers and sisters on this second Sunday of Easter, wherever you may be, as we continue to worship and fellowship in exile.

God is good!

All the time.

Indeed, God is good all the time, even in this time of pandemic.

This is the Good News which we proclaim to you: Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. So, walk in the light of his love; live in the light of his teachings and healing mercy. Come, let us worship him who overcame death. Come let us celebrate the triumph of our Lord.

Amen

Let us pray.

Risen Lord, we gather as scattered members of your family from Cornerstone this morning
and, like your disciples, we are all so very different and anxious:
we have different personalities, different friends and families,
but you bring us together so we may worship you.

Send us your spirit of unity and make us one as we join in our great thanksgiving to you.
Lord, if we are honest, we must confess that, like Thomas,
we sometimes find it hard to believe in you and we ask for proof.
We may be ashamed about that and try to keep it to ourselves,
and sometimes we even keep our feelings from you.

We pray today for honesty in our relationships, not only with you, but with each other.
That we will be able to echo the words of Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God.’

Amen

Hymn: Now the green blade riseth

Played and sung by Adrian Boynton, Director of Music

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,
thinking that never he would wake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the hidden grain,
he that for three days in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, greaving, or in pain,
thy touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

J.M.C. Crum (1872–1958)

Prayer of the Week

Risen Lord, as we gather today, may we see you and hear you,
may we feel you and touch you, may we know your presence with us now.
As the disciples in the locked room reached out and touched you,
let us reach out and touch you today, living Lord Jesus.
Let us feel your scarred hands and feet.
Let us put our hands in your side.
Let us be still and know that you are our conquering Lord even in these troubled times.

Amen

Bible Readings

Psalm 16

Read by Nerys Steeds

1 Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.’
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
‘They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.’
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

NIV®

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

John 20: 19–31

Read by Peter Steeds

Jesus appears to his disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’

Jesus appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you! 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

28 Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

29 Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

The purpose of John’s gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

NIV®

This is the Gospel of Christ.

Praise to Christ our light.

Sermon by Revd George Mwaura

Show me your hands

Based on John 20: 19–31

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Gracious God: we thank you for your Word and for the eternal truths that guide us day by day. We thank you most of all for the living Word, Jesus Christ, and the sureness of his presence. Teach us how to turn unto you so that your thoughts may be our thoughts, and your ways our ways.

Amen

I heard of a funny incident involving a child of one our ministers during these days of lockdown. A few weeks ago, his five-year-old son rushed in from playing outside at dinner time and sat at the table. His mother looked at him and said, ‘Young man, let me see your hands.’ The poor boy attempted to rub the dust and the muck off on his khaki shorts before he held them up. His mother looked at them and asked, ‘How many times do I have to remind you that you must wash your hands before you eat? When your hands are dirty, as they are right now, they can carry corona germs and you could get sick. After we say grace, I want you to go to the kitchen and wash them thoroughly. OK?’ Obediently, after grace the little boy got up and headed to the kitchen, but halfway there, he stopped, turned and said to his mother, ‘Jesus and germs; Jesus and germs; that’s all I hear around here and I haven’t seen either of them!’

That may be a funny story, but it does point out the fact that our hands can be an identifying characteristic. The National Crime Agency tells us that every one of us has a different set of fingerprints and we can all be identified by our hands. And the same was true for Jesus. On that first Easter, the disciples gathered in that upper room to talk about the Resurrection and as they sat in fear, Jesus came and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. They were frightened, but Jesus reassured them by showing them his hands and feet. Quite often they had seen those hands touch the sick, the blind, the children, the lame and the multitudes in acts of compassion and healing. Quite often they had watched in amazement as those hands performed miracles. Now they saw the hands of Jesus and they knew truly that he was the resurrected Lord.

However, Thomas was absent as he had gone to be alone. King George V must have been like Thomas, because he is reported to have said: If I must suffer, let me be like a well-bred animal, let me go and suffer alone. When the other disciples told Thomas about Jesus’ appearance, he refused to believe them. Perhaps he said, ‘We’ve all been through a great deal of stress lately; is it possible you are imagining this?’ But when the disciples were adamant, Thomas replied, ‘I can’t believe what you’re saying, unless I see with me own eyes the print of the nails in his hands.’ One week later, the disciples, including Thomas, were gathered in the upper room when Jesus appeared in their midst again. Jesus knew what was in Thomas’ heart and he said, ‘Thomas, if it’s proof you want, look at my hands … look where the nails have been.’ Thomas was overwhelmed. His scepticism and doubt were gone. He fell to his knees and said, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Today, as we look with Thomas at the hands of Jesus, there are three things which his hands remind us:

The first thing the hands of Jesus remind us, is his suffering. In our modern society, we believe that the punishment we give to convicted criminals should not be cruel or inhumane. The consequences for this are that criminals reoffend time after time. After all, going to jail is like going on a holiday without having to pay for it. It’s easy peasy. Today, at the expense of Her Majesty, inmates enjoy three meals a day, gym facilities, phones, television; some even have drugs delivered by a drone. The Romans, on the other hand, had perfected the art of making punishment cruel. The victim of crucifixion died a slow and painful death; and the same was true of Jesus. If you didn’t die as quickly as they wanted, they broke all your bones as the Gospels can testify. The hands of Jesus reveal just how cruel the cross was as an object of punishment and how much Jesus must have suffered. The prophet Isaiah said of the Messiah, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.’ Whenever we doubt that Jesus suffered for us on that cross, all we have to do is look at his hands. The print of the nails will remind us that He really was wounded for our transgressions.

The second thing the hands of Jesus reminds us is his love. I read a true and very moving story of a boy who lived with his grandmother on a farm in the Scottish Highlands in 1925. One night their house caught fire and the grandmother, trying to rescue the boy, who was asleep in the bedroom upstairs, was overcome by the smoke and she died. This village was miles from a fire station and as a crowd gathered around the burning house, they heard a child’s voice crying out for help. The lower floor was completely engulfed in flames and no one seemed to know what to do. Suddenly, a man pushed through the crowd and began climbing up the iron drainage pipe which ran to the roof. The pipe was hot from the fire, but he made it to the second floor, smashed the window with his elbow and pulled the boy out. With the crowd cheering encouragement, he climbed down the hot iron pipe with the boy on his back. A few weeks later, a public meeting was held to determine in whose custody the boy would be placed. Each person wanting the child was asked to make a brief statement. The first man said, ‘I have a farm and would give the boy a good home. He will learn to be farmer.’ The second person to speak was the local schoolteacher. She said, ‘I am a schoolteacher and I would see to it that he received a good education.’ Finally, the banker said, ‘My wife and I would be able to give the boy a fine home and a fine education. We would like him to come and live with us.’ The presiding officer looked around and asked, ‘Is there anyone else who would like to say anything?’ From the back row, a man stood up and said, ‘While these other people may be able to offer some things which I can’t, but all I can offer is my love.’ Then, he slowly removed his hands from his coat pockets. A gasp went up from the crowd because his hands were terribly scarred from climbing up and down the hot pipe. The boy recognised the man as the one who had saved his life and ran into his waiting arms. Everyone knew what the decision would be. The scarred hands spoke of his love and the sacrifice he had made to save that boy.

Today, my dear friends there are many things which vie for our love and attention. Both young and old alike, are challenged by the call of money, pleasure, fame and a host of other interests. But let us never forget that down the corridors of time walk one who, by merely raising his hands, reminds us of his claim upon us. Those nail-pierced hands are a reminder that there is one who loves us more than anyone else.

The third and final thing that the hands of Jesus remind us is that we are called to act on our faith: Thomas had doubts about the Resurrection and he said, ‘Unless I see his hands myself, I will not believe.’ He refused to be open-minded about the Resurrection until he was confronted with the risen Christ. Jesus looked at Thomas and said, ‘Thomas, if it’s proof that you want, look at my hands, touch the wounds and stop doubting. Thomas looked at the hands and knew that action was needed. Instead of touching the wounds, Thomas fell to the ground and said, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Now you and I may have some lingering doubts, we may have some unanswered questions, and we may have some things which will always remain a mystery, but, like Thomas, we must come to that point where we need to translate our doubts into acts of faith. Ladies and gentlemen, faith is not the absence of doubt, but coming to that point where we are standing on the edge of doubt and we cannot see a clear path ahead, but we go on anyway. We go on in the faith that God is with us. Yes, we would all like to have absolute proof of things, but, sometimes, we need to respond as Thomas did. We need to look at the hands of Jesus and fall on our knees crying, ‘My Lord and my God.’ I pray that you will all have the faith to believe without seeing; to believe that even in the darkness we currently find ourselves in as we battle the corona virus, we will come through because he is risen and in charge.

Praise the Lord!

Amen

Hymn: Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord

Played and sung by Adrian Boynton, Director of Music

Alleluia, alleluia,
give thanks to the risen Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia,
give praise to his name.

Jesus is Lord of all the earth:
he is the King of creation:
Alleluia, alleluia,

Spread the good news o’er all the earth:
Jesus has died and has risen:
Alleluia, alleluia,

We have been crucified with Christ:
now we shall live for ever:
Alleluia, alleluia,

God has proclaimed the just reward:
life for all men, alleluia:
Alleluia, alleluia,

Come, let us praise the living God,
joyfully sing to our saviour:
Alleluia, alleluia,
            give thanks to the risen Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia,
give praise to his name.

Alleluia, alleluia,
give thanks to the risen Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia,
give praise to his name.

Donald Fishel (b. 1950)

Prayers

By Adrian Boynton

Heavenly Father, we come to you now in prayer.

Father, we pray for the many thousands across the globe who at this time are suffering with severe symptoms of Covid-19. We pray for those who are fighting for their lives in hospital beds, in care homes and in impoverished communities where health care is not available. May they be given strength, courage, hope and may they know the comfort of your healing touch.

Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the thousands of families who have lost loved ones, for children who have lost parents and grandparents, for parents who have lost their children. Heavenly Father, look graciously on all who have been bereaved, be with them in their grief and sadness, and walk with them in the months and years ahead, as they seek to come to terms with their loss and rebuild their shattered lives.

Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

Father, we thank you for the incredible sacrifices being made by our doctors, nurses, paramedics, health care assistants and support workers, as they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to save the lives of others. Father, we feel truly humbled as we reflect on their skill, dedication, compassion and generosity of spirit.

Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

We thank you also for many key workers throughout the land who are working hard to keep society functioning – carers of the elderly and vulnerable, midwives, undertakers, teachers, shop workers and those involved in the production, processing and distribution of food, bus and train drivers, council workers, utility workers, public service broadcasters, those involved in postal and essential financial services, prison officers and armed forces personnel. We thank you also for the many thousands of volunteers who have stepped forward to assist in the delivery of food, medicines and essential goods to those who are isolated, vulnerable and housebound.

Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

Finally Father, we thank you for the wonders of modern technology, which are helping to keep us connected in these challenging times. We thank you for images of the beauty of nature which lift our spirits and beautiful music which soothes our souls. We thank you for the care of our ministers, who enrich us with daily worship and inspirational sermons, and others from our church community who provide thoughtful reflection and prayer. We thank you especially for the wonderful work of Robin Kyd and Mark Okor, supported by Ian Trimnell, in maintaining our Church website and WhatsApp account with tireless dedication and skill. Even though we are currently unable to meet and worship together in the building we love so much, we can rejoice that the Church of Christ the Cornerstone continues to flourish and move forward as a vibrant Christian community!

Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, accept these and all our prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen

And now, friends, be prepared, wherever you are with your bread and with your wine, and be ready, as we share the Lord’s meal together.

Holy Communion

He Is RisenThe Lord be with you.

And also, with you.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Let us prayer together:

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.

Amen

Living God, Resurrection is not what we expect in our world.
On the face of things, life seems to be under threat:
our Earth is grieving in the face of a pandemic, our families are fracturing,
nations of the Earth are on their knees, and the light of our hope is growing dim.
We  need the stone to be rolled away again to bring hope….

[Silence]

We need the stone to be rolled away again. We need life to break out within us again. We need love to consume us again. Resurrect us today, O Lord, and make us agents of Your life wherever fear, anxiety, dying, and grief hold sway.

Amen

Let us celebrate this gift of life the grave could not contain; let’s open our hearts to the joy and wonder of infinite possibility, brought by the resurrected Lord. Let us celebrate, let us raise our voices in singing, praise and thanksgiving to the God who brings miracles of life as we say together:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are filled with Your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

My friends, resurrection happened because Christ was first prepared to die. Defying death, He refused to release His hold on life and love. So now, He encourages us, we choose to remember so that we can truly live. At supper on the night before He died Jesus took bread and blessed it.

[Please lift up your piece of bread.]

Then He broke it and gave it to His disciples saying: This is my body, broken for you. Take; eat in remembrance of me!

 [Please put your bread down and pick up your glass of wine.]

After the meal Jesus took wine and blessed it.

Then He gave it to His disciples saying: This is my blood of the new covenant between you and my Father shed so that you may know life. Take, drink and remember me!

Loving God, as we share in this meal, we celebrate together, and we remember You. And we will continue to do this until Resurrection has flooded the whole creation.

Amen

May this bread and this wine become for us in this moment your life-giving body and blood, And may we who share this meal, be joined with you, and with one another, as one body united in Resurrection life, and sharing with all of creation in your eternal salvation.

Amen

Together shall we pray.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Amen

[Meal is eaten with these words:]

The body of Christ broken for our sins.

Amen

The blood of Christ, shed for our sins.

Amen

Prayer

Let us pray.

Most gracious, God, you have fed us individually and collectively by your spirit
In that meal, we who have tasted your nourishing presence
will now rest in your deep love, because you have offered us life in the middle of a crisis.
Together, by your grace, we accept the life you offer.
And we give you thanks.

Amen

Hymn: The strife is o’er

Played and sung by Adrian Boynton, Director of Music

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
now is the Victor’s triumph won
O let the song of praise be sung:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Death’s mightiest powers have done their worst,
and Jesus hath his foes dispersed;
let shouts of pray and joy outburst:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

On the third day he rose again
glorious in majesty to reign;
O let us swell the joyful strain:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Lord, by the stripes that wounded thee
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live, and sing to thee:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Latin, probably 17th century
translated by Francis Potts (1832–1909)

Dismissal and Blessing

And now, my dear brothers and sisters:

Go on with your life in seclusion while practising safety for all
and have no doubt that Jesus is alive,
and he is with us today helping us to believe and overcome.

And may the blessings of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with each one of you wherever you are
today during this crisis, and all the times of our lives.

Amen

Recessional: Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana

Played by Adrian Boynton, Director of Music

Benediction

May God’s blessing surround you each day,
as you trust Him and walk in His way.
May His presence within guard and keep you from sin,
go in peace, go in joy, go in love.

© 1982 Cliff Barrows

Postscript

The music performed by Adrian Boynton was actually recorded as videos, but, as the service here on the Cornerstone website was presented as a single audio recording to play the whole service from beginning to end. It was not possible to ‘patch’ the video recordings into the sound stream.

However, if you would like to view the video recordings (which were all made before the Cornerstone building was closed), you will find them here: http://www.cornerstonemk.co.uk/music-videos-from-holy-communion-for-easter-2/.