16TH APRIL 2023

OPENING SENTENCE

He is not here: He is RISEN!’

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

HYMN

GREETING

Alleluia Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

He has given us new life and hope

by raising Jesus from the dead.

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be 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 Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

Jesus Christ, risen Master and triumphant Lord,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins,
and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.

Like Mary at the empty tomb
We fail to grasp the wonder of your presence

Lord have mercy,

Lord have mercy.

Like the disciples behind locked doors
We are afraid to be seen as your followers.

Christ have mercy,

Christ have mercy.

Like Thomas in the upper room
We are slow to believe.

Lord have mercy,

Lord have mercy.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Billy Dewar Riddick

COLLECT

Almighty God,
in your great goodness,
grant that we, as pilgrims through the Easter mysteries,
may hold the fast in our lives
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
ACTS 2: 14a, 22-32
read by Amie Byers

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Fellow Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having released him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

For David says concerning him,

‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

‘He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

SECOND READING
1 Peter 1:3-9
read by Gill Swales

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
John 20:19-31
read by Rev Ann Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 20 beginning at verse 19

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

In our Gospel today Jesus says to Thomas: “Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”

These words follow Thomas’ sceptical cry: “ 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.” Thomas has been categorised as the sceptic, the doubter, the unbeliever! It is from Thomas that we have inherited the phrase “Doubting Thomas.”

The nickname “Doubting Thomas” may well be ascribed to Thomas but we must not ignore his fine attributes. Honesty is at the heart of Thomas. He is not going to be tossed by the winds of the day or be press ganged into believing something because others say it is true. His honesty and integrity will not allow for that. He is not going to believe something because someone said so. Thomas needs evidence. He needs concrete evidence. He will not have blind faith, nor will he entertain the notion of a second- hand faith. He needs to have first -hand experience.

We see signs of this honesty and integrity earlier in the scriptures. Jesus says to his disciples: “I am the way, the truth and the life. You know where I am going?” Thomas responds:
“Lord we do not know where you are going so how can we know the way.” He is frank and direct, and not frightened to admit it.

He is also the one who on hearing after Lazarus’ death, that Jesus intended to go back to Jerusalem, Thomas said “Let’s go and die with him.” Here Thomas is self- sacrificing. He is willing to die for Jesus and he shows great courage and grit.

However, after the crucifixion, Thomas loses this courage and grit. He is despondent. He has cut himself off from the other apostles and walked alone. He was in deep grief and people who are grieving, have a tendency to isolate themselves. While it is understandable, it is not helpful. In cutting himself off from the other apostles, he makes things more difficult for himself.

However, it seems that Thomas had not completely cut himself off. Whenever he met the other apostles, he would have noticed a difference in them. Their fear was largely gone and had been replaced by joy and peace. It was evident that someone had breathed new life into them. They claimed they had seen Jesus. Thomas refused to take their word for it. He had to be sure. He needed to see and touch those wounds for himself.

Only Jesus’ wounded hands would convince Thomas. Why does the Risen Lord still bear the marks of his wounds?  Why does Jesus show his wounds to his disciples? Most of us take a lot of care to keep our most wounded, most vulnerable parts of ourselves as much out of sight as possible. We want to show the world our strengths, not our weaknesses. Yet Jesus invites the disciples to touch and see his wounds. He shows them his wounds- his scarred hands and feet. His scarred hands and scarred feet tell a profound story about him.

Another story which I have mentioned before, but is worth repeating, is about David and his scarred hands. The story concerns a small boy, being raised in a frontier city by his grandmother. One night the house catches on fire. The grandmother, trying to rescue the boy who was asleep in the bedroom upstairs, is overcome by the smoke and dies in the fire. This frontier city doesn’t have much of a fire department. A crowd gathers around the house and they hear a small boy crying out for help. The lower floor is a wall of flames and no one seems to know what to do. Suddenly, a man pushes through the crowd and begins climbing an iron drainage pipe which runs to the roof. The pipe is hot from the fire, but he makes it to a second- floor window. The man crawls through the window and locates the boy. With the crowd cheering encouragement, the man climbs back down the hot iron pipe with the boy on his back and his arms around his neck.

A few weeks later, a public meeting was held to determine in whose custody the boy would be placed. Each person wanting the child would be allowed to make a brief statement. The first man said, “I have a farm and would give the boy a good home. He would grow up on the farm and learn a trade.” The second person to speak was the local school-l teacher. She said, “I am a school- teacher and I would see to it that he received a good education.” Finally, the banker said, “Mrs. Morton 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 rose and said, “These other people may be able to offer some things I can’t. 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 scarred terribly from climbing up and down the hot pipe. The boy recognized the man as the one who had saved his life and ran into his waiting arms. The farmer, teacher and the banker simply sat down. Everyone knew what the decision would be. The scarred hands proved that this man had given more than all the others. He had shown sacrificial love for this young boy. His wounds revealed much about his character and love.

Jesus believed that by looking at his hands; they would reveal much about his character and love. Hence Jesus’ words to his disciples: ‘Look at my hands and my feet.’ He invited Thomas to see and to touch his wounded hands and side.

Jesus believed that by seeing his hands and feet that they would communicate much about his loyalty and love. He also believed that his wounded hands and feet would also be a source of comfort and strength to his disciples. Maybe you are surprised to learn that the risen body of Jesus, his resurrected body still had scars and wounds, you might have been expecting this new body to be whole and without blemish. Yet not only is his body still scarred but it is those very wounds with which his disciples recognise him. Those wounds which were caused by humiliation, torture and crucifixion are the very same wounds Jesus showed to his disciples. Why his wounds?

His wounds spoke firstly to his disciples of his identity – his wounds reassured them that he was the same Lord that was crucified. It was these wounds that communicated afresh his incredible sacrificial love for them. His wounds reminded them that Jesus cared for them and loved them with all his heart. It would be these very wounds that would eventually bring his disciples healing and peace. Peace was the first gift Jesus brings to his disciples and how much they were in need of it! Jesus knew the hearts and minds of his disciples- he knew that they were frightened – why else would they be huddled together in a locked room? His previous appearances have lifted their spirits but his appearances to date had not killed their fear and anxiety either about the present or the future.

Fear and angst consumed them. They had given three years of their lives to follow Jesus. They had left their careers, homes and families to be with Jesus. They had believed his teachings, his claims about himself as Messiah and now they wonder if they had been taken in – were they so gullible to believe all that had gone before. Once bitten twice shy -they were more cautious now about what they would hold on to and what they would believe. They are very much aware that the Roman authorities and the Religious leaders are far from happy about the so- called rumours of Jesus’ resurrection and so the disciples fear their lives are in danger and a similar fate of death awaits them because of their association with him. Hence, they are locked up in a room. I can just visualise them jumping out of their skins. You can almost feel their fear when Jesus breaks into the locked room, in an unconventional manner. They are told that they were startled and frightened. Jesus knows exactly how they were feeling- that’s why his first words to them are ‘Peace be with you’- he knows that peace of mind and heart is their greatest need. He also knows that they are still unsure about all that has been happening and that they are not yet familiar or comfortable with his new risen presence- indeed they are miles away from that – they are thinking that he is a ghost.

To overcome their fear and their superstitions Jesus demonstrates later in the gospel his ability to eat fish which no ghost could do! It is then that his wounds that speak to his disciples. They could relate to his wounds. They knew what he had experienced and underwent for them. They had watched it albeit from a safe distance- but they would never forget the cries of pain and torture. They would never forget his words – “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing!” His wounds remind them of his betrayal, his rejection, his exploitation, his abandonment and torture. Those wounds as they speak to Jesus’ first disciples speak to us too. They speak into our situations of betrayal and rejection. They speak into our situations of being exploited, hurt, abandoned, alone and abused. His wounds can take away that aloneness and isolation and can bring healing and hope.

Jesus is not one for hiding his wounds. Jesus shows that our wounds- our weaknesses can become our strength. You know yourself that you can relate better to someone who has some experience of what you are going through albeit it is very different- for no death- no cancer is ever the same for one person to another. But the experience – opens up the door- it creates an opportunity to share the woundedness that creates a bond and through that bond healing can come. Henri Nouwen wrote a book entitled “The Wounded Healer” claiming that we are all wounded but our wounds are healed in Christ’s wounds. In Christ our wounds, our weaknesses can become our strength, leading to peace and healing.

Our wounds can become our strength–in life we will all pick up wounds – a host of scratches, wrinkles and welts, but these are only the visible wounds. There is a myriad of wounds that are invisible; the furrows left on the soul and mind by hardship, worry and anxiety, and those piercing ones that I referred to earlier –which affect the most sensitive part of us our hearts- the disappointments, betrayal, and emotional hurt. But these wounds are not things to be ashamed of. They are proof of our love. Will anyone see these wounds and come to believe in our love because of them? Maybe, maybe not! But even if no-one sees them, God sees them and he is proud of us, for he sees in us some measure of love and care that imitates the love and care of his Son. We must not look at a person’s achievements only but also at his or her wounds.

So, Jesus did not hide his wounds for they were proof of his love. Secondly God did not take away Jesus’ wounds because they speak of his humanity. There are some things we never get over, problems that we never completely overcome, situations in which things will never be the same.  If your child gets abducted and murdered, no, you will not get over it.  No, you will not forget it.  No matter how much healing you might experience as time goes on, that wound will never just disappear.  It will never be erased. Its human reality: some wounds and some scars, last a long, long time, and many are permanent.  And I think that’s why Jesus still bore his wounds when he rose from the dead. God did not erase the wounds from the resurrected Christ. God did not erase the wounds from deep in God’s heart, because human experience, including all its pain, is not all behind the Lord. 

If pain and struggle are not all in the past for us, they are not all in the past for God. If weakness and disability are not all in the past for us, they are not all in the past for God. Jesus overcame death, but he did not leave his humanity behind.  He didn’t leave us behind.  He didn’t take himself out of our struggle. His wounds speak of infinite love for us and of his continuing love and presence with us. I am sure that as we have watched this past year the devastating statistics of deaths caused by the Russian war on Ukraine and the impact on families, on business and on the economy. These statistics are people whose lives have been lost, and whose family members are mourning. Jesus has not abandoned them; he is with them in their anguish. He understands their suffering and grief and so he reaches out to them and to us in our pain and loss. As the wounded healer, Jesus offers healing and comfort to them.

Jesus did not become embittered because of his wounds, instead he brought peace to his disciples. He brought peace to Thomas. Thomas’ doubt led to the greatest confession of faith in Scripture: “My Lord and my God.” Doubting is part of our faith journey, and if handled well, will lead to an enriching of our faith.

Like Jesus we are invited to bring peace to others. We are not to be embittered by our wounds but instead to go as wounded healers out into the world to bring peace and healing in Christ’s name. Like Jesus’ disciples, we are witnesses to the Risen Lord and are invited to be his wounded healers, offering opportunities of healing and peace to those in need. May God so guide us to the people we are to meet. Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord, you set ablaze the hearts
of your disciples with awe
at the wonder of the resurrection.
Open the eyes of us your Church
afresh to this astounding news
and fill our hearts and voices with joy
that you Lord Jesus are risen indeed.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord you see and judge
the motives of rulers and leaders,
may they be wounded healers,
reaching out to those in need.
Raise up and sustain with your Holy Spirit
people of integrity and compassion,
that are at all times.
ready to bring your healing and peace to others.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord, you offer hope and new life to all.
Draw near those who are doubt your resurrection,
your claims of Messiahship,
and your identity as God.
Bring into their lives
witnesses of credibility
that can break through their barriers
and open their eyes and hearts
to your risen presence and love.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord, you came to your distraught and confused disciples
In that locked room and brought peace and healing.
Come to all today who are anxious and worried,
living in fear and confusion
and bring them your peace and healing.
We pray especially for people known to us
in the quiet of our hearts,
and ask that you by your grace and love
will meet them at their point of need.
Lord Jesus, be near to those we have named
and grant them your strength and abiding presence.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord, journey with those
who have the responsibility
to be carers and healers.
May they lean on you
for guidance and strength,
for wisdom and compassion
and through their gifts and talents
may they open up for others
a way to greater liberation, hope and peace.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Risen Lord, you are the resurrection and the life,
you hold before us the promise of eternal life.
Journey with those whose earthly life is coming to an end
and open their hearts and minds to embrace
the new life you have prepared for them,
in paradise with you.
Comfort those who mourn,
carry those who are bereft,
and be close to those for whom this month of April
is an anniversary of a death,
and may cherished memories
bring comfort and peace
to those who grieve.

Risen Lord
Fill our hearts with Easter Joy

Through all the changing scenes of life
we thank you Risen Lord for your companionship
and for gentle leading and guiding…

Merciful Father accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord
who taught us to say together,

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.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

In the name of Christ,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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