April 19, 2020 Behind Closed Doors

Sunday, April 19, 2020
Second Sunday of Easter

Prelude: Mary Did You Know https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE


The Easter reading ended with Mary running to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18)” The testimony of one woman to despairing friends but then even they encounter the risen Lord. These testimonies, experiences and faith are deeply woven together in our lives during this Easter season. Only a risen Lord can be the weaver.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.   Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Welcome to our virtual worship. The Lord be with you.

Confession and Forgiveness

If you were to keep watch over sins, O Lord, who could stand? Yet with you is forgiveness, and so we confess: (I invite you to reflect in the privacy of your home before a time of confession.)

Confession: Gracious God, have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned away from you, knowingly and unknowingly. We have wandered from your resurrection life. We have strayed from your love for all people. Turn us back to you, O God. Give us new hearts and right spirits, that we may find what is pleasing to you and dwell in your house forever. Amen.

Forgiveness: Receive good news: God turns to you in love. “I will put my spirit in you, and you shall live,” says our God. All your sin is forgiven in the name of ☩ Jesus Christ, who is the free and abounding gift of God’s grace for you. Amen.

 Gathering Hymn: Let us sing and focus our hearts and minds on God. Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing! LBW 389. It can be found on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g_fsdt1waQ

The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 Let us join together in the Prayer of the Day,” Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

Let us join together in an old favorite: My Hope is Built ELW 599 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqnbLkSgMOY


First Reading: Acts 2:14a, 22-32

14aPeter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed [the crowd], 22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will live in hope.
27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
28You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
‘He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.”

 Psalm 16

1Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble among the people.
3But those who run after other gods
shall have their troubles multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings to such gods,
never take their names upon my lips. 
5O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;
it is you who uphold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
indeed, I have a rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me night after night.
8I have set the Lord always before me;
because God is at my right hand, I shall | not be shaken. 
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the pit.
11You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are     pleasures forevermore. 

Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

19When 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.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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.”
26A 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.” 27Then 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.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But 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.


Last week we heard the historical truth of Easter: Jesus MIA. An empty tomb was found and the body gone. The stone was moved, the guards had raced off to report and were paid to say the body was stolen, and meanwhile some said angels were present. All very irregular!! Peter and John raced to the tomb and indeed it was empty. The reporters were not being hysterical women. It was like today when the TV reported a weird event of illness in China but now the whole world is sheltering. People are changing behavior and social distancing. By now most of us can name a person impacted by events of our day. In the same way, first century Jerusalem resurrection created waves of impact and experience. Easter season, the next six weeks, weighs the testimonies and experiences that speak to the truth of the resurrection.

Our text picks up with Easter evening. Luke reports that two disciples on the road to Emmaus talked and ate with the risen Christ and they rushed back to tell those gathered. Peter has seen Jesus. Everyone is talking and trying to hear the stories and put them together. Even CNN would be challenged to get the timeline straight. They sort out the stories “behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.” Like those early disciples, we meet behind closed doors, listening to news reports of the unseen enemy, the virus. Fear or at least anxiety stands guard at the door.

Fear and anxiety create divisions of me vs. “the potentially dangerous other.” And of course, my side of the door is the “good guys.” Jesus came and stood among the group. That door was obviously an artificial barrier. That door was penetrable by the unseen. That which we see, cannot protect us from that which is unseen. Viruses, fear, hate, prejudice, poverty does not respect artificial barriers we throw up to protect ourselves. Those conditions of our fallen nature, infest lives regardless of any “door” we are behind. But likewise music, love, joy and positive emotions and actions are also not respecters of “doors.” People are standing on balconies and singing and greeting isolated neighbors. The Internet is active with people posting and sharing. The problem is not with the “door.” The problem is with the human heart. Fear has found residence in the disciples’ hearts.

Jesus enters the room and his first words are, “Peace be with you.”  In fact he says it a second time, “Peace be with you.” Are your ears, the doors to your heart, open to hear him say, “Peace be with you.”

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

       One disciple, Judas, has committed suicide and another, Thomas, are not at peace. Thomas is not there with the rest. Thomas is a favorite character of mine because I understand doubt. Those questions that the evil one keeps whispering in my ear about any and every situation. My eyes saw, my ears heard, my hands felt, and my heart cries. How can the impossible happen? The impossible of political restoration did not occur? Where was God? MIA? Is He all-powerful really? The questions just keep coming. Perhaps I hide behind a masked face, behind silence, behind tears, behind my type of door. I am afraid, not of what the other, the Jews, might do to me, but what might happen if I trust again. I don’t want to be hurt and disappointed again. It is a different kind of fear that eats at my soul and perhaps at Thomas’. And so I isolate from my community.

Jesus does not forget or ignore Thomas. Fear is met with “Peace be with you.” Jesus’ presence is enough for the disciples who according to Luke, touched him and ate fish with him. Jesus then gave them a task, He sent them and gave them courage with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly he told them to forgive. Forgiveness now opens the door for facing “the other.”

When interacting with “the other,” we often make mistakes or are misunderstood. The key that opens up relationship is forgiveness. When we refuse to forgive, we stay behind closed doors. Other’s forgiveness in the eyes of God is between them and God but the relationship with us is withheld by our refusal to forgive. Jesus’ presence empowers relationship and provides direction for our lives.

Meanwhile Thomas is absent. Perhaps he too is afraid of the Jews but also not trusting his relationship with his fellow disciples, “otherwise engaged” might be the explanation. A week later Thomas joins his friends but continues to refuse their testimonies until he personally experiences Jesus resurrected. Jesus appears. Touch, feel, interact with me, Jesus invites. Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas embraces the present resurrection but also makes Jesus the God of his future. History has it that Thomas goes on to be a missionary to India where he is considered their patron saint. He was martyred there at age 90, no longer a doubter. As a chaplain, I met a caretaker translating for a patient. He testified of Thomas’ life and reputation, as he came from the mountain where Thomas was martyred.

         The empty tomb, closed doors, confused and doubting disciples close themselves in a room. But Jesus cannot be shut out by whatever door we close, by whatever fears plague us and not by any internal walls we put up to protect ourselves from hurt. Easter is about an empty tomb, is about a death for our sins, but also is about a God who is willing to walk through death and doors to tell us, ”Peace be with you. “ “I send you.” “The Holy Spirit will empower you.” Jesus is our Lord and our God!   He lives! ALLELUYA!

 Hymn of the Day is ELW 635 We Walk by Faith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hk_7EUvwv8

Let us join our voices virtually by sharing the Maasai Version of the Apostles’ Creed.

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the bible, that he would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

Open the doors we close, O God, when we fear those who worship you in different ways. Guide us to unity and harmony so that we may come to respect and cherish our commonalities. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Open the paths we ignore, O God, when we prioritize financial gain and convenience over listening to the groaning of the earth. Inspire all to care for the world you have made so that living things might thrive. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Open the rooms we lock, O God, to those who live without a homeland or place of safety. We pray that generous nations offer refuge and peace for all. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Open the hearts we close, O God, to the cries of those in pain. We pray for those isolated physically or emotionally through incarceration, addiction, mental illness, chronic suffering, grief, and all in need. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Open the ways of love, O God, in the pursuit of peace throughout the world, and bless the efforts of missionaries, healthcare professionals, activists for women and children, and relief workers, especially those who find themselves in harm’s way. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Open the way to eternal life, O God, as we remember those who have died in faith. Draw near to those struggling with Covid-19 and families that stand by their side. Protect caregivers of all kinds. Free us from the fear of death, that we embrace the peace you have promised. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

With bold confidence in your love, Almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Peace If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together in-front of your chest and open them outward to the other to show your blessing of them. I believe the Indian greeting is Namaste, “That which is holy in me greets that which is holy in you.” Peace!

Offering Prayer

Merciful God, our ordinary gifts seem small in light of your actions for us, but you make of them an abundance, just as you do with our lives. Feed us again for service in your name, in the strength of the risen Christ. Amen.

Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that 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. Amen.
Prayer after Communion

Life-giving God, you have fed us with your word, and our hearts burn within us. Now send us forth to share the gifts of Easter with all in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you to new life, fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing. Almighty God, Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.

 Sending Hymn: ELW 535 Hallalujah! We Sing Your Praises https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQnrPcPqsKI


Christ is risen, just as he said. Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!  Thanks be to God. Alleluia!





























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