Reading and Reflection for Sunday 19th April: Easter 1
Today’s Gospel reading: John 20: 19-31.
“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.” Verse 25
Whenever we think about Thomas the disciple, the word “doubt” always comes to mind. Thomas, the one with the doubts and the questions. Someone called a “doubting Thomas” is someone who is suspicious of others and very negative. So why at this time of joy and celebration in the church do we turn our attention today to the rather depressing story of Thomas, the one who sat there and said to his friends “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my hand in his side, I will not believe”?
The answer goes right to the heart of what it is to be a Christian and to the relationship between God and humanity.
Of all the disciples, Thomas shows himself to be the most human when asked to believe something unbelievable without any proof. When his friends tell him what has happened, he does not believe them. Which of us in the same situation could honestly say that we would have believed without question?
It is human nature to want to see proof. BUT to have doubts about our faith is not the same as unbelief.
There are times in our own lives when our faith will fail us and we will become like doubting Thomas. Perhaps you are experiencing such a time at the moment, as our world is gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Where is God in all this?”
Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Without doubt there can be no faith. Doubt is the opposite of certainty. Faith is belief in the uncertain and our faith will be strengthened through working through doubts and questions and being brave enough to express them. Faith will always be accompanied by doubt and the risen Christ does not blame Thomas or us for it.
In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.
That our risen Saviour may fill us [and…] with the joy of his glorious and life-giving resurrection… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That isolated and persecuted churches may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That God may grant us humility to be subject to one another in Christian love… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick, the weak and the dying, to comfort and strengthen them… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That, according to his promises, all who have died in the faith of the resurrection may be raised on the last day… we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people, so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection, we pray to the Father. Hear our prayer.
Spend a few moments praying for the people you know and love, and for an end to the current Pandemic.
Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant that, as his death has recalled us to life, so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Act of Contrition
I love you, Jesus, my love above all things, and I repent with my whole heart of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again, grant that I may love you always, and then do with me what you will.
Act of Spiritual Reception
In union, heavenly Father, with your people throughout the world and across the centuries gathered to make communion, hearing your holy Word and receiving the Precious Body and Blood, I offer you praise and thanksgiving. Even though I am not now able to taste the Bread of Heaven and drink the Cup of Life I pray that you will unite me with all the baptised and with your Son who gave his life for us.
Come Lord Jesus, dwell in me and send your Holy Spirit that I may be filled with your presence.
O Lord and heavenly Father, we your humble servants ask that you mercifully accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly asking you to grant, that by the merits and death of your Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all your whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. Amen.
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, be among us and remain with us always. Amen