Germs and Jesus

Worship on the Lord’s Day: Easter 2
10:00 am       07 April 2024
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Glynnis McCrostie
Guest Violinist: Rob Hryciw     Elder: Sam Malayang

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: We gather with joy, for Easter continues.
P: Locked doors have been opened and fear has turned to peace.
L: We celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ among us.
P: Doubts can be erased and uncertainty turned to faith.
L: Let us rejoice and be glad!
P: We offer our prayers and praise with humble, hopeful hearts.

Opening praise: Forever God is faithful

Prayers of approach and confession

Fresh is the breeze, Clear is the air. Scattered are fears. Tangible is forgiveness. Settled is peace when we meet you, risen Lord.

Astonishing in your resurrection splendour. Treasured is your activity in our midst. You are our delight. Desired even more than gold is your risen presence. Praise is our response, our sign of love and trust.

But too often – Stale is the air. Dim is the light. Many our sins. Great are our fears. Starved are our spirits. Strained is our love.

Too often we ignore your presence, trust our own power, build our own kingdoms.

  • Forgive us for ignoring the power of resurrection,
  • For our slavery to anxiety,
  • For living the values of our time instead of those of your eternal kingdom,
  • For withholding forgiveness,
  • For seeking the risk-free way instead of the right way.

Strengthen your hold on us. Renew our faith  Breathe upon us..Blow away the chaff. Breathe kingdom life into our spirits. Breathe resurrection’s wisdom into our minds. So, our lives may be places of your power. So that we may be examples of your will at work.

Hear our prayer, offered in your name, you whom we know as Lord and Redeemer. Amen

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s pardon

The risen Christ is in our midst speaking words of peace and forgiveness. Thanks be to God for the gifts of Easter. We are free, we are forgiven. We have found love, we have found power, we have found grace. For we are an Easter people. Amen.

Music Offering: Glynnis, Rob, and Binu: Morning has broken

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Response: My Lighthouse


Guy, upset about all the bad news in the newspaper,  goes to sit in the chapel. He says: “Even I could make a better world than this” God/Jesus: “That’s exactly what I told you to do.”

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Come to us, beloved Stranger (262)

Today’s Message

Scripture reading: John 20:19-31 (NRSV)

Response: He is Lord

Message: Germs and Jesus

There was once a little boy who went to stay with his grandmother for a month every summer at a little cottage on the lake. It was the only time the boy went to church during the year, the only time he ever had to wait to eat his food until a prayer had been said and apparently the only time, he was ever forced to take a daily bath and wash his hands before meals.

As he ran inside with dirty caked fingernails after a long day of playing in the yard with the dog, he kicked his shoes off and sat down for his meal. He reached out to grab a leg of chicken when Grandma smacked that tiny hand with a spoon. “No, you don’t dear child.

“We’ve not yet prayed, and your hands are in desperate need of good cleaning. Go get those germs all washed off before you make yourself sick.”

“Alright, alright-already,” said the boy, “Germ and Jesus, Germs, and Jesus. That’s all I ever hear about, and I’ve never seen either one of them.”

Well, me neither. But I believe. (Hot Ill. pg213)

If we had only the first three Gospels, the only thing we would know about Jesus’ friend the apostle Thomas: would be his name. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that he exists and that’s it. The Gospel of John is the only place we find him speaking. Very unfortunately, however, out of the three times he speaks in John’s Gospel most of us are generally only aware of the reading read from here today. Rarely do we think of the time that Thomas asked Jesus how he could follow him into the kingdom (John 14). And most of us, when thinking of Thomas would never think of the time that Thomas courageously tried to convince the other disciples that they needed to go to Bethany to comfort Mary and Martha after Lazarus had died; saying that even if it meant they too might die, that they should all follow Jesus there. And so… most of us, when we hear the name “Thomas” only think of that terrible and very unfair phrase “doubting Thomas”.

It’s sad really for me. From what we’re told in the Bible Thomas may well be the only brave person among the disciples. There they were sitting in that remote back ally room; huddled together on the floor, confused, defeated, and crushed. There they were feeling ashamed, not knowing what to do or who to trust; scared to death with the door locked (cowering like scared children hiding under the covers in the dark). Everyone was there… except Thomas.

To tell the truth, at this point in history, that is probably just where they should have been because at this point the disciples were little more than a group of failures (all of them). It was a real low point. Yes, Peter was the one who denied Jesus three times just after he promised he’d never do so. But he wasn’t alone. Not one disciple (not even Jesus’ best friend, John – the person who records this story) stayed in Gethsemane. They all ran in fear hoping to save their necks.

And then, suddenly, astonishingly, quietly, (three days later) there he was, right there, before their very eyes. Jesus was standing there… Alive! He should have been angry. He should have been disappointed. He should have told them what it felt like to be hanging there on the cross and to look out and see his friends sneaking away; afraid and to ashamed to even look at him as he died. But no… there Jesus was, not with angels, trumpets, or legions of supporters, but calmly and quietly. And with him he brought no hint of judgment. No accusations, no trouble or turmoil… no righteous indignation; no justice! Instead, he brought only words. But what powerful words he brought. And no doubt those first words of Jesus were a relief and a great gift in the ears of the people that betrayed him. Jesus said, “Peace be with you”.

In Greek the word that John tells us Jesus used is eirēnē (I-Rain-A). It means exempt from anger, harmony, safety, salvation and is used in one case in the Bible to describe the final state of an upright and righteous man after his death.[ I-Rain-A] = total peace. In short… when Jesus says, Peace be with you… he also says, “I Forgive you”.

But that is not where our story ends. When Jesus appeared to the disciple huddled together in that locked room not everyone was there. Thomas wasn’t there! Maybe he was out running errands, maybe he was moving on with his life, and maybe just maybe… like he told Jesus earlier in the book of John, he really was willing to die for the gospel (and so he was out in public; fully visible and willing to be caught). Maybe he was out because he was actually the brave one.

Whatever the case, we may never truly know. But what we do know is that when the other disciples told Thomas about the unbelievable and impossible thing that had just happened to them while Thomas was gone, Thomas responded with the same caution and the same common sense we all would have. He 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 it.”

For that, Thomas has forever been labelled “doubting Thomas”. Despite how earlier bravery being the only thing, we know about him… despite the fact that when Mary told Peter and John the same story – these two disciples didn’t believe Mary about the resurrection either.

And so instead the guy Jesus nicknamed Didymus or Twin (just in case you didn’t know, Jesus, gave everybody nicknames), Twin gets to be referred to as “doubting Thomas” from here on out!

The lesson of the Day: Try your best to never judge anyone based upon only their worst moments.

Understandably what Thomas wanted was nothing more than the same experience the other disciples had. Thomas wasn’t there. He didn’t get to hear Jesus’ voice. He heard only silence. At this point in the story, Thomas… is… us.

Let me say that again. At this point in the story, We are Thomas. Thomas is Us! That is how we are meant to read it. Go back and read it again. Feel free to disagree with me but bring you’ a-Game!

Thomas is the one who heard the message “He is risen” secondhand. He heard an amazing story but hadn’t seen Jesus with his own eyes. All Thomas wanted was to see Jesus’ face to face like all of the other disciples and Mary and Salmone and the other Mary and two men on the road like a bunch of other people had. All he wanted was to hear the voice everyone else got to hear. For Thomas to ask to see for himself is not a bad thing. It’s fair.

Thomas wanted the same thing every single one of us wants. His story is the story of every human being alive today. It’s the story of every person born in the last 1900 or so years.

What’s really interesting for me though, is that Thomas does get to see the face of God. Thomas does eventually see Jesus’ face; he does hear his voice. Jesus does appear again to the disciples and Thomas is there for it this time. And even though he says he won’t believe until he can put his finger into Jesus’ wounds, it turns out that when push came to shove… he didn’t do it. In verse 27, when Jesus says to Thomas “Put your finger here” Thomas doesn’t do it. We have no scripture that says, “And then Thomas put his finger in the wound”. In fact, we have just the opposite. What we have is what Thomas says in verse 29 which suggests that Thomas had no need. Thomas emphatically proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

These are the words of the so-called “doubting Thomas” and they are perhaps the boldest words in John’s entire gospel.

Do you doubt it? “It is unexpected, but extraordinarily convincing to me, that the one absolutely; unequivocal statement, in the whole Gospel, of the Divinity of Jesus comes from Doubting Thomas. It is the only place where the word ‘God’ is used of Jesus without qualification of any kind and in the most unambiguous form of words (not merely theos but ho theos mou with the definite article). And Thomas says these words with awe as if his Jaw has dropped open. He is stating a fact that he has just uncovered and is amazed by. And he has not the slightest doubt about it. He says You are my Lord and my God like he’s saying, “The sun is in the sky.”

And in response, Jesus tells him, “Because you have SEEN ME (not touched), you have believed”. And that’s all it took. Just seeing his face; just hearing his voice, just hearing those words “Peace (I-Rain-A) be with you” … “I forgive you”.

And it is at this point in the story that Jesus speaks directly to John’s first readers; years after Jesus had left. It’s here that Jesus speaks directly to us present in this church here today. Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; but even more blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We are those who have heard the good news (have not seen his face or heard his voice) and yet still believe. We are those people that Jesus called “Blessed”. We are the ones that have not seen the face of the risen Lord just like we’ve not seen the germs on our hands. Because we are the people who know… that like courage or honesty, grace, kindness, or love, faith cannot be proven and yet these things we believe in nonetheless if not most of all. We are the people that are called to believe in the promises of God even when he is hidden from us; even when he is silent. We are the ones (that like Thomas) can proclaim even in the darkest of times, “My Lord and my God!”

Whatever it is you face in your life: fears, anxieties, sin, failures, uncertainty, or shame. Whatever makes you hide your light away… whatever it is that makes you lock yourself off from the world around you. Whatever you lock in or out… whatever it is that your heart simply cannot manage on its own.

Whatever it is that scares you. Whatever it is that like the disciples, you try to hide from the world; whatever disappointment you lock behind those doors; whatever doubts churn in your minds, whatever sins trouble your consciences, whatever pain and worry bind you, whatever walls you put up or doors you have securely locked; whatever it is that overwhelms you this morning… know this: At the center of John’s gospel is the proclamation that Jesus Christ comes looking for us – even behind locked doors. And when Christ comes, he comes not with anger; not with reminders of our failing; but in the quiet and the calm. Jesus comes to us and says (“I-Rain-A”) “Peace be with you.”… “You who have Not Seen and Yet have Believed!”

I believe in “germs and Jesus.“

Germs and Jesus. Germs and Jesus!

How about you? Amen.

Song: Sing a new song unto the Lord (422)

We respond to serve God: Our time of giving

Reflection on giving: Dayspring is empowered to carry out our mission of worship, service, and care by generously given volunteer time, talent, and treasure. Many thanks to all who give so generously!

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

Risen Lord, you come to us speaking words of peace and understanding.

Thank you for strengthening our faith and empowering us to live in and for your kingdom.
Thank you for supporting us in our struggle to believe.
Thank you for never judging our doubts, never avoiding our questions.
Thank you for taking them seriously, for turning them into pathways of discovery and wiser faith.
Thank you for answers that evolve over time.
Thank you for giving us courage to face our fears, steadily freeing us from their power.
Thank you for leading us to a place of greater trust both in you and in ourselves.
Thank you for surrounding us with amazing people.
Thank you for sending us people to love.
Thank you for giving us the keys to your kingdom, allowing us to hold the door open for others to enter.
Thank you for placing your hopes in our hands.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We thank you that when we are hemmed in, confined to a small space, either because of faulty thinking or the actual confines of our situation you find ways to come to us. You find ways to breathe peace over us, to breathe courage into us. We are grateful for the hope that is the result of our experiences of grace. We’re thankful for the lessons we gain from tough times.

But we pray now for someone we know who struggles with faith. May their experience be that of Thomas, a discovery that you provide exactly what is needed to believe. Use our prayers as an avenue to speak to them. (Silence)

We pray for those in our circle of companions who struggle with the church. May they be able to find your love and grace, even if this happens despite the indiscretions of your people. Forgive us for any actions of our own that confirm their distrust of you or this place. Teach us how to live in such a way that we create pathways to your kingdom instead of barriers.

We pray for this congregation, for The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and for the church in every place, asking that we take more seriously our role as those called to welcome, called to hold the door open between your kingdom and the world you love.

All these things we place in your hands and, as we do so, we also acknowledge our role in making these prayers come true.

In the name of Christ, we pray, amen.

Song: Lord of the dance (250:1-3, 5))

Sending out with God’s blessing

Response: Sing Amen

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2024) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.