Easter 2A — April 16
Sunday, April 16, 2023 | Second Sunday in Easter
John 20:19- 31
“Peace Be With You”
Call to Worship
One: Thomas said,
“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.”
We are in a liminal space, confused between brokenness and new opportunities.
Many: Dear God, fill us with the power of Resurrection to embrace newness.
One: We are hiding like the disciples behind closed doors with fear and doubts, waiting for your
Many: Come into our midst now, penetrate into our closed hearts bringing your peace.
One: Refresh us, O God, and empower us.
Many: As we worship today, blow into us your gentle spirit.
God of the risen Jesus, we praise you for the great love that you have shown to redeem us by sending your Son Jesus. Help us today to embrace the New Life that the resurrected Christ is giving us. A Life beyond our doubts, faith over fear, courage over confusion, belief over disbelief, and trust to follow your guidance. As we worship today, help us to feel the presence of resurrected Jesus in our midst, reminding us of your love and our purpose. Amen.
Prayer of Confession for Transformation and New Life
Loving God, we confess that many a time, we are more doubters than believers.
We doubt your love for us when we see the oppression, sickness, death, violence against nature, wars, and hatred against each other. Help us to recognize these outcomes of our selfishness, greed, and the evil spirit of dominance.
Through the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, help us to understand your sacrificial love for us so that we will love one another. Help us to learn from the courage of Jesus to take up the cross to stand against oppression. Enlighten us as we celebrate resurrection to rise again and again to annihilate injustice and to create peace in this world. Amen.
Prayer to embrace “Broken Bodies” to promote “peace.”
One: Jesus presented his wounded and scarred body to his disciples. The body of the resurrected Jesus showcased the wounds caused by oppressive power structures, ugly human envy, and fear of dismantling the status quo.
Many: We praise you Lord that the disciples were able to embrace the broken body of Jesus so that they could give their bodies to be broken to establish God’s peace in this world.
One: Even today, we witness the wounds of several bodies that have their voice against injustice, legs broken because they marched for justice, hands broken because they raised it against oppressive forces, and bodies tortured because they identified with victims of injustice.
Many: Give us the courage Lord, not to fear over these battered bodies but to embrace these bodies to gain strength and righteous anger to continue to work for justice.
One: Several bodies today tell us the stories of domestic violence, sexual violence, and wounds imparted because they were forced to work more than required.
Many: Help us, Lord, not to neglect these bodies but to embrace them and support them in healing their wounds.
One: Today, the wounded body of the earth and earth communities speaks to us and shares with us the stories of the brutality of colonization, industrial violence on the earth, and subjugation of the eco-wisdom of the indigenous and traditional communities.
Many: Help us, Lord, today to embrace the broken body of the earth and the victims of climate change. Give us your wisdom to see that resurrection occurs in restoring peace with the earth and earth communities.
Reading: John 20: 19-21
Reflection: “Wounds Empower Us”
St. Thomas Mount, Little Mount and Santhome Cathedral in Southern India are three important pilgrim places for Christians and people of other faiths in India. These are places, where St. Thomas worked and was killed and his tomb is present. People visit these places to witness the sacrificial love of God and to meditate on how a doubting Thomas became an apostle to India. People like me, who come from the same city where the three St. Thomas’s shrines are present, always felt proud of its Christian witness to God’s love for humanity.
What surprises me, when I visit these places is that people who come see the relics of St. Thomas, like his bones and the spear that killed him, the tomb on which the Cathedral is built, and read stories of his struggles in the exhibits went back empowered to live a life witnessing to God’s grace and love. These relics and the images of the wounds of Jesus and the tomb of Thomas did not create fear, but instead resurrected their spiritual fervor to live more for God as Jesus and Thomas lived in this world. This is where I experienced how the wounds and deaths tell us stories and become symbols of faith and life. These wounds tell stories of how injustice tries to curb the peace of God in this world. The wounds tell us how faithful people resisted against these injustices in non-violent ways. People who have fear, troubles and challenges visit these shrines to resurrect themselves, the spirit to resist, trust and hope towards a new life. When our wounds, doubts and fears meet with the wounds of Thomas and Jesus. new life resurrects.
The story of Thomas doubting the resurrection of Jesus reminds us about the moments in our lives when our faith is shaken. The violence surrounding us, the deaths of innocent lives due to war, the loss of life and livelihoods because of extreme climate disaster, increase in poverty because of economic uncertainties, depression and mental illness etc., all create uncertainties and fear in us. This season of Easter, we are invited to meet our fears and doubts with the wounds of the resurrected Christ. By doing so, we will receive the peace that Christ gave to Thomas and other disciples which will empower us to become Christ’s apostles of hope and to serve for God’s reign in our communities.
Peace be with you. Amen.
One: Why is it, Lord, that we doubt your power when we see unexpected deaths? Why is it we doubt our abilities when uncertainty strikes us? Why is it, Lord I ask many questions to which I find no answers? God of resurrection,
Many: Receive our Prayers and Help us, to befriend our fear and doubts.
One: We pray for those who live in perpetual fear due to the experience of tragic incidents in their lives. We remember those who live with depression, feeling alone and walking through the darkest valley. Help us to believe the resurrected Lord is with us, traveling through these difficult periods and helping us to process all our fears and doubts. God of Resurrection,
Many: Receive our Prayers and Help us, to befriend our fears and doubts.
One: We pray for those who are afraid to open their doors due to the fear of war, living as undocumented refugees, those unable to pay their bills, fear of embarrassment, and many who feel insecure due to threats and violence surrounding them. Open our eyes to see the presence of the resurrected Christ in the midst of this chaos, sharing our pain. God of Resurrection,
Many: Receive our Prayers and Help us, to befriend our fears and doubts.
One: We pray for those who are alienated and insulted because of their physical and emotional disabilities, gender and sexual orientation, economic status, race, and made to believe that they are inferior to others. Help us to see that the resurrected Christ is a disabled Christ with wounds in his hand and body giving us the courage to embrace our bodies and beings and celebrate it. God of Resurrection,
Many: Receive our Prayers and Help us to befriend our fears and doubts.
One: We remember all those loved ones who have died and rested in peace in your presence. We celebrate everything that they have taught us about life: to face challenges boldly, learn from failures, be ardent in faith, question the unknown, accept the mysteries, love the present, and in creating paths for us and future generations. God of Resurrection,
Many: Resurrect in us the hope of life as Jesus did for his disciples and the many who lived in this world taught us. So that we continue to proclaim your peace and new life.
Let us step out into the world
Knowing that we are not alone when doubts and fears surround us
The Risen Christ is with us
Empowering and encouraging us
To transform our wounds into sources of liberation
May the power of resurrection, the divine peace, and the empowering grace of the Triune God
Be with us now and forever more. Amen.
Peace Be With You: Service Prayers for the Second Sunday of Easter were written by Rev. Vinod Wesley, Pastor of Chicago Tamil Church (CTC). Would you like to see what a South Asian church in America looks like? Visit CTC at http://tamilucc.com or www.youtube.com/c/chicagotamilchurch.