Second Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2020
That evening the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid... Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19
Call to worship
Behind closed doors,
weary and alone,
stand among us.
In locked rooms,
anxious and afraid,
stand among us.
In strange times,
bewildered and confused,
Come Jesus, Appearance behind Locked Doors. Duccio di Buoninsegn, c. 1310. Public domain.
stand among us.
Come Jesus, speak your peace.
Show us your hands and side.
Breathe the Holy Spirit upon us.
Come, Jesus, come.
Come through the closed doors of our homes,
come into the locked rooms of our hearts,
come into the bewildering spaces of these days,
Speaking peace that only you can give,
offering your wounded hands of love,
breathing your Spirit of resurrection hope.
Come, Jesus, stand among us. Amen.
Song Jesus stand among us Blue 25
Affirmation of Faith
During the Easter season, we lay aside our Sabbath Prayers of Confession and instead proclaim our Affirmations of Faith. Today we recite together The Apostles’ Creed, an affirmation of faith from the early church, as church leaders sought to find a statement of belief that could unite Christians in many places and cultures. It took centuries before The Apostles’ Creed emerged in its final form, and it is now widely used by many Christian denominations. While we may, today, choose to use more contemporary and inclusive language, these words speak of the church’s ancient and ongoing history and they remind us of the unity of the Christian church today. Please note that the word “catholic” below carries the meaning of “universal.”
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Christ appearing to the Apostles, Valeria Belli, c. 1540. National Gallergy of Art, open access
After Jesus died, the disciples must have felt lost and without hope. They had heard rumours of Jesus’ resurrection, but it was very hard to believe. They gathered together in a locked room, waiting for a sign of hope.
Watch the video, Hope in the Dry Season, directed by Paul Plett, as Hope and her father wait together in a dry and desperate season.
Then choose some activities from the Study Guide. There are instructions on how to make the sound of rain, questions to wonder about, directions for making a rain stick, and more.
Song: That Easter morn STS 88
Scripture: John 20:19-31
This is God’s word to the people.
Thanks be to God.
Christ appears to his disciples, William Hatherell, 1925
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Public domain.
Message: “Peace be with you” Ken Warkentin
In my short life I have experienced several significant world-shaping events. I was one year old when the birth control pill was introduced. That simple event shaped the role of women in our world that was simply not imagined by the majority of the population in 1959. Now I don’t want to be heard to suggest that women have achieved equality or parity with men because of the sexual revolution. We still have a lot of work to do but the introduction of the Pill has ushered in a time in which women have more agency over their bodies. I think that this is a significant world shaping event.
In 1989 I watched in awe as the Berlin Wall began to be dismantled. That wall divided Berlin physically and divided the east from the west ideologically. The fall of the wall also began to reshape the way world governments aligned themselves. Populations had to reimagine many things from how we govern ourselves to who our enemies were. The end of that branch of the communist experiment has altered the ways in which our world is organized.
In 2001 the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings shook North American culture and calcified a new enemy. The fears that our way of life and our economy could be so easily threatened by a strong ideology reframed our enemies as those who don’t believe in our “western” way of life. This event changed regulations around security and travel. It also changed our economic system. But perhaps most significantly it changed how we view people from the Middle East.
Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in 1992 and at that time there were about 50 websites. Can you guess where I got that information? Today there are hundreds of millions of sites and the internet has changed our world so that we can have a global shut down and still have students in school, still have worship services, still order groceries on line and still entertain ourselves.
All of these events have shifted the way we understand our world. Now in 2020 we have a new global pivot point. The global pandemic might be the biggest world shaper in a very long time. The Corona virus that has halted the frenetic pace of our world like nothing before has had the capacity to do. This unseen enemy which threatens the lives of untold thousands and millions of people has altered our world so quickly it is almost unbelievable. Could you have imagined a global shut down as complete as this one last December as we were preparing for Christmas? Christmas of course is a world shaping event. At Christmas we celebrate God taking on human form. The other world shaper is Easter where we celebrate the power of new life rising from the tomb.
And so we come this morning to a post resurrection story which I find helpful as I contemplate the changing world around me. It’s the one we read earlier in the Gospel of John in which Jesus encounters his closest friends in their hiding place. We are told they are in hiding because they are afraid of the religious authorities. Fear can provide a mask for a lot of other emotions. I wonder if they were also ashamed that they had abandoned Jesus and were afraid to admit that they had followed another Messiah wannabe. I wonder if they were also angry with Jesus because they had witnessed his power over death when he raised Lazarus from the grave just days earlier and yet he refused to use it to save himself. I wonder if they felt betrayed by Jesus for leading them on knowing he had this amazing power and still not employing it in a political realm. When you consider the complicated relationship between Jesus and his disciples you begin to realize that there was enough disappointment to be shared by everyone.
So into this emotional turmoil the Risen One greets them with “Peace be with you” and not just once but twice and then again when his friend Thomas joins them. Jesus' greeting is a beautiful beginning to building and repairing relationships that transcend fear, betrayal, and anger.
“Peace be with you” - these are not often the first words uttered when meeting someone who has wronged or betrayed us. A more natural response would be punishment in the form of aggression or judgment. Being a Mennonite practiced in pacifism, my aggression usually takes a passive form which is no less damaging to relationships. Many of us might say that Jesus had the right to punish his friends for their bad behavior. Many of us who have felt betrayed like to own the right to inflict hurt on those who have wronged us. Even if we don’t act on that impulse it makes us feel good to know we have that right.
But Jesus refused to own that right. He recognized that the world was changing for his disciples. The world around us is changing dramatically as well. The Corona virus has halted the frenetic pace of our world and has very quickly seeped into our psyche. This sickness has touched millions of lives and has caused fear, anxiety, and anger in billions more. In this state we can so quickly assign responsibility for failure to keep us safe from all harm. We blame governments, or foreigners, or the rich who can afford to travel, or the poor who can’t afford to stay at home or wash as frequently as recommended. Again, there is plenty of disappointment to go around.
I’m reading this story with new emphasis this year. As I anticipate significant changes in our economy, health system, educational institutions, governments, and churches I read this story as a template for an adequate Christian response to massive shifts. Jesus’ prayer still works God’s grace into difficult and changing times… “Peace be with you”.
I am hearing “Peace be with you” as a guide to building relationships that have been damaged. This peace bypassed responsibility and blame for having caused problems. This peace metabolizes pain and allows for the energy that comes from pain to actually build muscle and sinew in the tissue of community. This peace ushers in forgiveness. Forgiveness, I think, is going to be one of the important ingredients in rebuilding relationships and our society when the worst of this pandemic is passed.
“Peace be with you.” Amen
Because you live, O Christ,
we live in hope and joy.
We give our offerings
to share this resurrection hope and joy
with our neighbours, near and far.
Bless what we are able to give. Amen.
Behind closed doors,
know that you are not alone.
The risen Christ stands among us.
In locked rooms,
understand that nothing restrains resurrection love.
The risen Christ shows us his hands and side.
In strange times,
entrust your lives to the Holy Spirit.
The risen Christ breathes upon us.
“Peace be with you.
As God has sent me, so I send you.”
Song We walk by faith HWB 570
Ken Warkentin for the message
Paul Plett for the Kid Shorts video
Elsie Rempel for the Kid Shorst Study Guide
Judith Friesen Epp for the prayers and litanies