Sunday, Easter 2


Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace, to the praise of God the Father.

Post Communion

Lord God our Father, through our Saviour Jesus Christ you have assured your children of eternal life and in baptism have made us one with him: deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in your love, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Old Testament

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

Acts 5.27–32


1    Alleluia.

    O praise God in his holiness;
praise him in the firmament of his power.

2    Praise him for his mighty acts;
praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3    Praise him with the blast of the trumpet;
praise him upon the harp and lyre.

4    Praise him with timbrel and dances;
praise him upon the strings and pipe.

5    Praise him with ringing cymbals;
praise him upon the clashing cymbals.

6    Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.




 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

    Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1.4–8


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.

John 20.19–31

Sermon on Sunday, Easter 2

Our reading this morning from the gospel of John tells us the story of Thomas and his doubt – “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.”

Jesus proclaims, “Peace be with you,” as he appears to the disciples when Thomas is amongst the company. And then Jesus addresses Thomas directly, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” To which Thomas replies, “My Lord and my God!”

“Doubting Thomas”– Why is this the reading for the First Sunday after Easter? But what do we mean by it? I think we probably mean something very different to the story John presents. Many preachers will use this story as a fillip for those who are having dark days in their journey of faith. Those preachers say, “Even Thomas had his moments, so we should be encouraged to live courageously through the whole our experience.” But I am not one of them. Why do you think John recounts this story for us?

This week I picked up the book Dynamics of Faith, in which the writer talks of doubt. The writer describes the visceral experience of faith – the drawing out of the whole person into a full life. He calls faith “ultimate concern”, that beyond which nothing else stands. And that ultimacy provides the very real possibility for doubt, that doubt which Thomas has here. The empty tomb is the very expression of doubt. Mary asks “Where have they taken my Lord?” while Thomas asks, “Unless I place my hand in the open wound of my Lord, how can I believe?”

Both Mary and Thomas wonder at the ultimate nature of their loyalty and steadfastness to Jesus in the light of this unexpected experience, the disappearance of a body which had been all so familiar to them. Had they deceived themselves with the thought that in Jesus they had their vision of God? They began to doubt fundamentally, and that doubt had nothing to do with a trick of the magic circle. That doubt had everything to do with life in all its fullness. That doubt brought into focus the possibility of non-being, the wiping out of everything. That is the power of ultimate concern. Either its presence vitalises or its absence destroys absolutely – That moment of doubt when we evaluate our own life’s ultimacy. Is this really the ultimate of all concern? That is why Mary wants to find that old reality of the presence of Jesus, she wants to be with the physical body, that old normality. Thomas wants the same, to be with the physical presence which he saw last hanging on the cross and whose side was pierced by a spear. Mary and Thomas both want that normality of Jesus dwelling with them.

Don’t we all know that hankering after “the good old days”? We have all longed for the days before the pandemic when there were no restrictions on anything we wanted to do, a life where we thought we knew everything. But has that ever really been the case? Hasn’t our moral concern always been with us, even if we might have ignored it? Doesn’t our moral compass already cast every thing into its right place? Don’t we already know that our ultimate concern for the other demands that we act righteously at all times?

Our faith should call everything into question, because we are always bound to consider ultimacy whenever we make any choice. And here at this moment of choice Thomas’ doubt arises. Here Mary’s anxiety over Jesus’ body should give pause for thought. In our everyday concerns for the “ordinary” and “normal” have we focussed on our ultimate? Or do we reveal that we are people of so little faith? That is the fundamental doubt the writer told exposed.

Normally we want this or that to go in a certain way, and when it doesn’t, when we ask about the very basis of its worth, we call everything into question. We begin with a doubt so very profound when we are faithful. It questions everything we know and all that we know is what exists. The death of Jesus and his resurrection can bring everything into question, don’t you think? I am with Thomas with his “unless I see”. I want to place my hand in Jesus’ hand, just as I can take up my wife’s hand. I want to have that “normality” which is so very comfortable, don’t you?

However, that is impossible for Mary and Thomas. And it is also impossible for me, because the physical presence of Jesus is no longer here now. However, I should be able to say with Mary and Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” That is the voice of faith speaking – the voice which declares the reality of life in all its fullness, the life which Jesus promises all who are faithful.

When we declare faithfully, we are affirming that all is precious, and no one thing is the only thing in our lives. We have no passion for only one thing. We are not like Tolkein’s Gollum who is obsessed with the one ring, that “precious” which forces us to make immoral choices. Again, if one has that love of money Paul warns against as the only focus for life, don’t we see how everything can crumble? This is the moment when we understand how doubt can keep us without sin and right on the track of a faithful life.

However, doubt is not a mere vacillation between one thing and another. Doubt places us in a moment of clarity, where true value and a worthy life becomes so very real in experience. At that moment we must declare the ultimate in life. We must blurt out the ultimacy of our lives. We must declare where our essential concern leads. We must say with Mary and Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” because at that point there is nothing left to distract us from that resolute and authentic life of faith, when we have converted from ephemeral to very real and ultimate concern. At that moment, no longer is there doubt. At that moment, we can see what really matters for life in all its fullness. The other has come into focus. There is no distraction by this or that because “they” no longer hold us in thrall. The crowd – and we all know its power over us in our ordinary lives – that crowded life loses all its fascination and we see our ownmost possibility, we see our authentic self for that Other beyond which there is no thing. At that moment we have perfect freedom to love and be loved. Our lives are complete in faith. In faith every moment is perfect freedom, where there are no distractions from the value and worth of the other, where we can speak for our Lord and God without reservation.


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