Dunsford United Church – Bulletin – April 11, 2021

Pulpit Supply: Lisa Norman

Call To Worship

1John 1-2 From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

Come people of God, hear the stories of Easter

Refrain- Lead our hearts to wisdom till our doubting cease, and to all assembled speak your word of peace.

Come people of God, let us worship the risen Christ.

Refrain- Lead our hearts to wisdom till our doubting cease, and to all assembled speak your word of peace.

Come people of God, let faith lead us to Easter Joy.

Refrain- Lead our hearts to wisdom till our doubting cease, and to all assembled speak your word of peace.

Acknowledgement of Territorial Lands (in unison)

We acknowledge that the Creator Entrusted the land on which we gather this day to First Nations Peoples of the Anishnabeg/Mississauga. May we strive to open our hearts, minds and spaces; to make right with all our relations. May it be so.

Offering 

While we can’t take up the offering as we used to do in the sanctuary, it is still an important part of our ministry. We acknowledge and thank you all for your contributions to the church whether via PAR or other means.

“For the love of the world Jesus offered everything he had, even life itself. In response to his generosity we offer our gifts and our lives to God. Amen”

Written by Frances Flook Gatherings 2021 p.37

Opening Prayer

O Glorious and Gracious God

We come before you this morning with conflicted hearts

This pandemic has unsettled us and we are afraid

Easter Sunday has unsettled us and we are full of hope and joy

We are desperate to root ourselves in the fertile soil of your Holy Love.

We pray to you this morning-

Help us to live into Jesus’ teachings during this difficult time

Thanks for reminding us once again that we are not alone

Wow! The beauty and newness of Spring has once again filled our souls with awe

In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

Lighting the Christ Candle

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn # 166 VU- Joy Comes with the Dawn (Words: Gordon Light)

REFRAIN: Joy comes with the dawn; joy comes with the morning sun; joy springs from the tomb and scatters the night with her song, joy comes with the dawn.

Weeping may come; weeping may come in the night, when dark shadows cloud our sight.  R

Sorrow will turn, sorrow will turn into song, and God’s laughter make us strong.  R

We will rejoice, we will rejoice, and give praise, to the One who brings us grace.  R

Sermon– Knowing during Lockdown

Last Sunday we celebrated Easter. We shouted Jesus is risen and sang Hallelujah. Joy filled our hearts. As people of the risen Christ this is what we had been waiting for. This is our story. 

Why then, do I feel stuck on Easter Saturday? Perhaps you do too.

Let’s really look at our scripture today to see what God may be saying to us. Let us listen with open hearts and minds to the gospel of John Chapter 20:19-31. I am going to read from Eugene Peterson’s translation of the bible titled “The Message” because I think it helps open our eyes to the commissioning of the disciples.

Before this passage, Peter and John had witnessed the empty tomb and Mary Magdalene had seen the risen Christ and had run to tell the disciples. Now let us join the disciples.

John 20: 19-31

19-20 Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.

20-21 The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were awestruck. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

22-23 Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

24-25 But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

27 Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

28 Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

30-31 Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

Let us gaze upon the disciples. 

They are hiding in a locked room afraid that they will be harmed because of their friendship with Jesus. This must be a low point for them. The life they knew has ended. Their beloved leader has been tried and crucified. The world is unjust. Not only is the world unjust, but for some, their sense of self has been altered and they are filled with guilt.

Peter has thrice denied Christ and we know others fell asleep when given the task to pray. And what must they be thinking and feeling about Judas?

Now it has been reported that the tomb in which Jesus lay is empty. The disciples are fearful and confused. They are still living Easter Saturday. That time of unknowing. Grieving the past, uncertain of the future. Trying to discover their next right step to transition back into a life of joy. 

As they sit there, in that locked room, surely their fear-filled minds dream of further lawlessness about to be unleashed.  For the disciples, the empty tomb is not the sign of Jesus’ resurrection, but a source of disappointment and fear, which leads them to gather in a locked house. Was it grave robbers? The Roman army? They don’t know.

It is here, in this locked room that Jesus finds the disciples.  While the disciples huddle in their hiding spot, Jesus enters the locked room and greets them saying, “Peace to you”. Can you just imagine the looks on their faces? Try to picture the scene.

Our scripture reading today tells us that eight days later, when Thomas joins the disciples, they are still in a locked room. They are still afraid. 

But again, Jesus comes right through the locked doors and once again offers the greeting, “Peace to you” 

In fact, Jesus says the word peace many times in the bible. In the King James version of the Bible, the word peace is recorded 429 times! (It’s 340 in the NRSV) Peace is important for Christians. Peace was the way that Jesus lived and spoke. 

At this point, Thomas doubts the risen Christ. Even though trusted friends have told him that Jesus lives and he has just witnessed Jesus entering a locked room, Thomas must have proof. He must be certain. He must know.

We are now intimately familiar with words such as lockdown and fear. For months now we have been hiding in our safest places, listening to reports of happenings in the outside world.

COVID-19 has caused the world we knew to die. Perhaps it has shown us traits within ourselves that we are wrestling with. Our loyalties have been tested. Aren’t we all having to make difficult decisions right now and haven’t we been doing this for far too long? 

Here we sit in locked rooms with only our family. We are afraid of the outside world. Like Thomas we doubt everything right now. Is it safe to go to the grocery store? Will we be able to be together for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, next Christmas even? We just don’t know.

We are living our own endless Easter Saturday waiting for the Joy of Easter Sunday. 

But the good news is that like he did for Thomas, Jesus shows up for us. Because he loves Thomas, Jesus shows up for him, letting him touch the wounds, connecting body to body. Giving Thomas the proof he needs to deepen his faith and to believe. 

Because he loves his disciples, Jesus keeps showing up in their lockdown. He has not forsaken them. And he eases their minds with a repeated word of peace. Jesus is here with us too. We are beloved by God. Never forget that. Jesus extends the grace of the Holy Spirit to his disciples and us. He offers us peace and speaks of forgiveness.

Where are we seeing the face of Jesus and the hand of God these days? I witness the new life coming in nature, the hope the vaccine gives, the faces of us joined in worship together, and I know that Jesus is with us.

 I love the line in our scripture today that states:

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

Let’s think about this. We are living in a troubled time. Just like the disciples. But Jesus comes to them speaking of peace and forgiveness. Not revenge, not anger, not speaking of betrayal. He doesn’t berate them. He comes offering peace and the power of forgiveness. 

Let us breath in the Holy Spirit and know that God is continually offering us peace and we too have the power to forgive, others and ourselves. I mean really, what are we going to do if we don’t offer grace to ourselves and others. Hatred, anger, self-loathing are not the path to the peace that God wants for his Beloved. 

Grace may be the only thing that gets us to our Easter Sunday. What if everyone gets vaccinated, we can join together, but we are not willing to forgive ourselves and others. Really, what is the point? Is that what we have been waiting so long for? 

Locked in our fear, hurt, anger, we are not alone. Jesus comes to us. Jesus loves us. Jesus offers us so much. Like Thomas we may be doubting. But remember Jesus states, “Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” We are an Easter people. We have faith. We believe in the Risen Christ.

Because Jesus loves us, he will go to the cross, rise, and come to us, not only so our sins will be forgiven and a path to eternal life granted, but so we will have peace and confidence with it all. Truly, Jesus loves us. Let us be like Thomas and shout, “My God!”. We don’t have to doubt. We can live in the Truth. Easter Joy is ours. We know that Jesus is with us, God watches over us, and the Holy Spirit breathes through us. Peace to you. Amen.



Prayers of the People

Eternal Spirit you are the holy breath by which we live. You are all around us and in us. Over and over you show up and let us know that we are not alone. We see you in the smiling faces of those who have started the vaccination process. We hear you in the voice on the other end of the phone that comes as we are breaking open. We feel you in the gentle touch of animals, plants, the breeze, our favourite sweater when our skin is so lonely. We are your Beloved and we lay our burdens before you as you ask us to. 

Please be with……

Knowing that you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we off er these prayer in all the holy names of God.

Amen

Benediction

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of Her hand.

Amen.

Easter Version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

This is beautiful!

DUNSFORD UNITED CHURCH

Church Office Hours: Wed. 9-5

Tel: 705-793-2511

Email: dunsfordunitedchurch@bellnet.ca

Visit our new website: www.dunsfordunitedchurch.com

Pulpit Supply Minister: Rev. Anne Hepburn

Confidential Email: annehepburn54@gmail.com

Cellphone: 416-305-1247

Envelope Steward: Kathy


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