Service of the Word Sunday, 11 April 2020

This Service is presented on Zoom. The link for this week is:

Preacher: Revd George Mwaura

Led by Revd George Mwaura & Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

Gathering music

Introit: Christ lag in Todesbanden

Call to Worship

Sisters and brothers, let us stir ourselves to remember that we are children of the resurrection,
and we approach our Lord with senses alert to the new life and lessons he has to share with us today.


Opening responses

Hail to the Lord of Life, who animates and inspires us through the wind of the Spirit.

Alleluia! God is good.

Hail to the Lord of Life, who turns despair into joy and death into dancing.

Alleluia! God is good.

Hail to the Lord of Life, who transforms darkness into light, and sends the Spirit to guide us on.

Alleluia! God is good.

Praise and glory to God, who raised Jesus from death,
and gives us eternal hope in the face of darkness and defeat.

Blessed be God for ever.


Hymn: The strife is o’er, the battle done

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

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

On the third morn he rose again
glorious in majesty to reign;
O let us swell the joyful strain:

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

Latin, probably 17th century
tr. Francis Pott(1832–1909)

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession

Lord, we thank you for your patience with us, your acceptance of our doubting and questioning,
and your assurance of forgiveness.
Often we grieve your heart with our lack of belief, and exasperate you with our lack of faith,
but, like a good parent, you gather us to you, and answer our misgivings.
With you, Lord, there is infinite forgiveness.
We confess that we are so often judgemental of others.
In particular, we berate those who do not share our beliefs.
What need have they of proof? Why can’t they just believe, we ask?
Yet we live in a world where little is taken at face value.
Fake news surrounds us, and the camera definitely does lie.
Therefore, Lord, forgive us when we look down upon the unbelievers,
the doubters, the ones who demand proof;
for this is the world in which we live, and the world to which we must proclaim your truth.


[A moment of silence for personal confessions]


Prayer of the Week

We come, Lord, from a world confused about truth.
We come with our own uncertainties into the presence of God, who is light.
Let us bring the story of our search for truth
and share in fellowship the things we have heard, seen and touched.


Bible readings

Psalm 133

Read by Grace Hunting

1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life for evermore.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain

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 risen 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, grieving, 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)

John 20: 19–31

Read by Michael Hunting

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.


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd George Mwaura

Doubt if you will

God whose light shines in the darkness, and who gave Thomas what he asked for,
give us what we need-that we too may come to believe in the risen Christ.


He was a normal human being with multiple dimensions. I do not know anyone with a single dimension.
The truth is, we are all a medley of love, anger, joy, sadness, faith, doubt and much more.
And, as a human being, he was a person of many qualities, feelings, thoughts, and expressions.
One time, Jesus proposed to go to Bethany in Judea because his friend, Lazarus, had died.
Some of his friends tried to persuade Jesus not to go.
After all, recently, folks in that part of the country had tried to stone him.
But Jesus was resolute, and so our man-of-many-dimensions stood up and said,
‘Let us go there as well, that we may die with him.’
Here was a true friend in the face of danger.

On another occasion, Jesus was teaching his disciples about his impending death.
This same true friend was confused and was seeking to understand the teaching.
Of all those present, he was the one to interrupt and ask boldly,
‘Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’
He wanted desperately to understand, because he wanted to follow.
This true friend was also an honest seeker.

Throughout the first thirteen chapters of the book of Acts, we find his name among those who gathered in fellowship and prayer.
He was among those gifted with the Holy Spirit and sent to preach the gospel among the gentiles.
Christian legend has it that he died in India as a missionary.

Who have I been referencing? Yes, Thomas: true friend, questioner, disciple, and doubter.
And it is that last label that has stuck.
Mention the name Thomas even to the unchurched and you will hear, ‘Ah yes, doubting Thomas’.
But why?

We have already noted that Thomas, like any of us, was more than one-dimensional;
he was more than any one label can describe.
Why, then, of all his good qualities, has he been painted with one word?

Perhaps it is because Christians have been led to believe that doubt is wrong and evil.
Somewhere along the way we have been taught that a radical dichotomy exists between faith and doubt.
Faith is good and doubt is bad. Faith builds up and doubt destroys. Faith nurtures and doubt stifles.

Maybe it is time, then, to ask if there can be any meaningful faith, where no doubt has preceded it.
Can we really know the joy that comes from knowing God’s presence
without first knowing God’s absence?
The question is not whether doubt is good or bad.
The question is whether faith can take root in anything else than doubt.
We need to stop avoiding our doubts by flogging Thomas’s memory.
The truth is, Thomas is us, and perhaps his story tells us more about faith than it does about doubt.

Let us revisit the story for a moment.
Thomas was absent from the gathering of the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them.
We can only guess where he was and what he was doing.
But it is a safe guess to say he was off somewhere grieving.
He had been captured by this vision of a new kingdom Jesus talked about.
He had seen the miracles of healing;
he had witnessed changed hearts and lives and had taken an active role in the shaping of the dream.
But in a cruel twist of fate, the dream had been killed on a cross.

Despair? Yes! Grief? Certainly. Doubt? Probably.
So, perhaps he was out somewhere wandering in the countryside
trying to make sense of the tragedy at Golgotha which had violently shaken him.
There were doubts, for sure, but they were honest doubts. What happened to the dream?
How can this kingdom of peace come from the darkness of this Friday afternoon?
Is it any wonder, then, that when he finally brought himself to return to his friends,
he was totally unprepared for their excitement?

‘Hey, Thomas, guess what? We have seen the Lord!’ They shouted
and Thomas, in his moment of darkness, could only respond,
‘Guys, guys, not now; and unless I see in his hands the prints of the nails
and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
Is it any wonder?
Who wants to be set-up twice for disappointment and hurt?
Who wants to get their hopes up again only to have them destroyed by the reality of a cruel world?
After all, once bitten… twice shy!

Eight days later, Thomas was about to climb out of his valley of despair and grief
when Jesus came to his followers again with his greeting: ‘Peace be with you!’
And then, he turned to Thomas and gave him his chance to touch the wounds.
Let us pause there for a moment.
Can you try and picture that scene?
Thomas, in that moment of reborn hope and rekindled faith,
responded with the highest confession we find in John’s gospel: ‘My Lord and my God!’

The highest confession in John’s gospel sprang from the deepest despair.
It is quite clear here that Thomas is not the bad guy, a rogue, or a scoundrel, no, no!
Thomas is you and me.
Out of the reality of doubt, the possibility for faith is born. And here we need a word of caution.
Even the faith that is forged by despair and born anew in the resurrection is not immune to doubt.
We will always live with the paradox of faith and doubt as two sides of the same coin.
And the reason for this is obvious.
Resurrection faith does not come to us like a package from the postal service.
We can never possess it, because faith is not a thing; faith is an experience.

Like Thomas, when our experience of God begins to wane,
we long for proof to help with the encroaching doubts.
We want hard evidence, something we can cling to.
Yet, faith always comes as a challenge, as venture, as a risk,
and so it cannot ever be totally captured for all times and all places in one moment.
Even God, and our feeble attempts to understand him, eludes us
because every time we try to point to where he is, he moves on.

So, really, the decision to believe is one that entails risk.
We are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
We are those who live our lives in times of doubt and faith,
and it is there that we learn what it means to walk with our God.
The issue for us is, therefore, not one of avoiding our doubts as if that will cure us of them.
Nope, out of the struggle with honest doubt, a faith can be reborn, and new life can begin flourish.


Musical response: Et Resurrexit from Bach’s B-minor Mass

Affirmation of Faith

Let us declare our faith.

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.



Led by David Moore

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.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.


The Peace

The Risen Christ said to his disciples: peace be with you.

And I too say to you, my sisters and brothers: May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace,
and wave to those on the screens.


Revd George Mwaura

George will be on ten days’ annual leave from Tuesday (13 April 2021), resuming his duties on Saturday, 24 April 2021. Because of travel restrictions he will not be travelling to Kenya.


Thank you to everyone who has continued giving through our regular schemes during these past months.
Your generosity has been amazing and much appreciated.
We couldn’t have carried on without you.

We have various ways in which you can continue to give your offering in support of the Church.

For details please contact the Stewardship Secretary, Janet Trimnell, at

Full details are also available on our website at:

Hymn: Led like a lamb to the slaughter

Led like a lamb to the slaughter, in silence and shame,
there on your back you carried a world of violence and pain;
bleeding, dying, bleeding, dying.
You’re alive, you’re alive, you have risen! Alleluia!
And the power and the glory are given.

At break of dawn, poor Mary, still weeping she came,
when through her grief she heard your voice, now speaking her name.
Mary! Master! Mary! Master!
You’re alive, you’re alive, you have risen! Alleluia!
And the power and the glory are given.

At the right hand of the Father, now seated on high,
you have begun your eternal reign of justice and joy.
Glory, glory, glory, glory.
You’re alive, you’re alive, you have risen! Alleluia!
And the power and the glory are given.

Graham Kendrick (b. 1950)


Like Thomas, may we value those honest doubts that leads us to confess that Christ is Lord.

And the blessings of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain upon us all now and for ever.



Church, abide in the Lord even as you love and serve him.

In the name of Christ, we will.