Worship for Sunday 7th April 2024, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship:

This is the message I have heard from him

and now celebrate with you:

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed.

Blessed are you who have not seen him,

yet you truly believe and trust him.

See how good and delightful it is

when Christians gather together as one.

The Lord has commanded a great blessing:

Life for evermore.

Hymn: StF 348   He is Lord, he is Lord

1 He is Lord, he is Lord;
he is risen from the dead, and he is Lord;
every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord.

2 He is love, he is love;
he has shown us by his life that he is love;
all his people sing with one voice of joy
that Jesus Christ is love.

3 He is life, he is life;
he has died to set us free and he is life;
and he calls us all to live evermore
for Jesus Christ is life.

4 He is King, he is King;
he will draw all nations to him, he is King:
and the time shall be when the world shall sing
that Jesus Christ is King.


Opening Prayers

Creator God, your generous nature shows in your creation;
the world reflects your bounty.
God of the resurrection, you call forth new life from the barren earth;
the world reflects your mercy.
God of love, you pour yourself out abundantly;
we, the children of your kingdom, receive gratefully.

Yet we lock ourselves away within walls of our own making.
               Breathe your freedom into us, Lord Jesus.
We are afraid of what people will think if we say we believe.
               Breathe your freedom into us, Lord Jesus.
We doubt your promises, and ignore the proof you give in our own lives.
               Breathe your freedom into us, Lord Jesus.
Let your love unlock the door of our doubts,     
and pour upon us your blessing of belief.

Reading: John 20:19 – 31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 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.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.’

26 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.’ 27 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.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 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.’

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Hymn: StF 316  When Easter to the dark world came

When Easter to the dark world came,
Fair flowers glowed like scarlet flame:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When Mary in the garden walked,
And with her risen Master talked:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When John and Peter in their gloom
Met angels at the empty tomb:
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

When Thomas’ heart was hurt and grieved
then Jesus’ wounds his doubt relieved
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

And friend to friend in wonder said:
‘The Lord is risen from the dead!’
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O glad was the world at Eastertide.

This Eastertide with joyful voice
We’ll sing: ‘The Lord is King! Rejoice!’
At Eastertide, at Eastertide,
O sing, all the world, for Eastertide.

WH Harrison (1886 – 1958), © OUP, reproduced under CCLI licence no.263530


A woman sitting on a bench, quietly speaking of the cancer she is facing – that image of the Princess of Wales was beamed around the world, and will last longer in people’s memories than the glamour and gold of the coronation robes. For Kate was confronting the stigma and fear of illness, and her courage will encourage many others to take positive action in response to problems which they might have chosen to hide.

‘Stigma’ is the word used in Greek for a wound, including the wounds of Jesus. We are reticent about our wounds, embarrassed by them, even ashamed of them. Whether our wounds are physical problems like cancer, or the mental anguish that creates hardship for so many, we are reluctant to admit that all is not well. Equally, we are unsure how to handle the wounds of others. When someone is bereaved, for example, they often say that friends are unwilling to talk to them, maybe afraid of saying the wrong thing. And this can lead to a culture of bravado, pretending that everything is OK when in fact it’s far from being so.

The relationship between Jesus and Thomas turns the notion of stigma on its head. Thomas expressed his doubt forcefully – unless I see the wounds, unless I touch, I will not believe. Jesus responded, just a week later, equally strongly: put your finger here, your hand here. For both Thomas and Jesus, the wounds were the sign and the proof that this risen Jesus was the same man who had died on the cross. The wounds were witnesses to God’s power to overcome even death, at work in Jesus, and they built trust and hope in Thomas and those who have shared this story since.

The invitation to be Christlike is not a call to be Superman, free from any form of trouble. Rather, God asks us to have the courage to let others see that we are wounded people, but that by God’s grace we are still able to live life to the full. God longs for us to acknowledge our wounds and the pain we bear rather than trying to hide them. Then, God can show us that our hurts are not the end of the world, but that God’s power is able to lift us from anguish, despair and shame into courage and hope – and through our likeness to Christ, wounded and yet full of life, others too may turn from doubt to faith.

Lord our Father, as Jesus entered the locked room to show his disciples the beginning of a new world, so enter our hearts and lead us to faith in Jesus as the Risen One. Convince us of the reality and significance of the resurrection, and free us from all fears and phobias. Give us courage in the face of death, knowing that this is the gateway to new resurrected life for those who trust in Christ.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

Be with your church throughout the world so that its preaching and loving service may continue to bear witness to our Lord’s resurrection.  Wherever your church is faithless and lacking in courage to do the work that Jesus has given, visit it and build it up with your Spirit.  Be with all our pastors so that they may listen well and then speak with Christ’s authority.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

Bring peace to all parts of the earth.  Wherever nations are at war and people are divided, visit and bring true reconciliation.  Protect all Christian people in these nations, and help them to influence their country for the good of all.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

Wherever homes are disrupted by anger and bitterness, and wherever relationships are distorted and dulled, visit and bring peace and harmony.  Wherever young people are gathered in your name, visit and guide them with your holy word and wisdom.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

Visit and comfort the sick and suffering too, dear Lord.  Heal and strengthen weak bodies, calm confused minds.  We pray for those we know with particular needs. Support them all with your great love and mercy, and be with us as we bring our prayers alive through caring for their needs.

Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we present these prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is risen from the dead, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Hymn: StF 636  O Love that will not let me go

  1. O Love that will not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O Light that followest all my way,
    I yield my flickering torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson (1842 – 1906)


Christ’s peace be with you in all that you do.

Christ’s peace be with you in all that you are.

Christ’s peace be with you in all that you will be.

This day and for evermore.



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