Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: Behind the closed doors

Dear God, we render our thanks and praise to you that in midst of our fears and insecurities you show up just in time to give us hope and assurance. We praise and thank You for Your many and great blessings that You have showered over us all, even when we choose to stray from you and take our own path in life. How great You are, and what a gracious God that You should care for us despite our manner of approach towards you and others at times. Thank You Lord for Your unconditional and everlasting love. Help us to grow more and more to be like You. I ask that You continue to guide and teach us in all that we say and do, and that we may do all according to Your will. Continue to pour out Your bountiful blessings and mercy on us as we continue to trust you for our daily encounters till we join the saints in heaven. This and many more we ask in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting:

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

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Stephen Ministry                                                     Nesta

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: I lift up my eyes to the hills –    
    from where will my help come?
P: My help comes from the Lord,   
    who made heaven and earth.
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Come, now is the time to worship

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart, Come, just as you are to worship Come, just as you are before your God, come

One day ev’ry tongue will confess You are God, One day ev’ry knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those, Who gladly choose you now

Words and music Brian Doerkson ©
1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook) Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

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

Prayers of approach and for God’s help and guidance:

God of life and strength, we come to you, rejoicing in the mystery of the Risen Christ who is present with us always, even when we least expect him. We are grateful for your constant love, Christ’s victory over evil and death, and the hope of the resurrecting which embraces us in every circumstance. Strengthen us with the gift of your Holy Spirit in this time of worship, and bless us with your peace through Christ, our Risen Lord.

Dear God, we continue to thank you for your love and renewing presence in our lives every day. You visit us and come to be with us even at moments when we feel we all left alone in our own little world. Thank you that in Christ you revealed yourself to us. Through him, we heard your words of peace to us and then in his actions that embody love, he did not only feed us but encouraged us to feed one another. We pray that all people will come to know the life-giving joy we find in Christ.

We pray for those who are feeling fearful, worried or overwhelmed, especially as the months of pandemic restrictions stretch on and as we look forward to the third wave. May your presence come with us Lord same way you did when the people of Israel had to undertake the challenging journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. We pray for our national, provincial, and municipal leaders as they lead planning for our communities to recover from the pandemic. Give them wisdom and compassion, Lord. We pray for those who are ill, in pain or in grief. We pray for those in isolation. Bring them comfort and strength, Lord. Help us to be even more present in the lives of the people around us that through this presence, they will witness the love of Christ in us.

With hopeful hearts we offer our prayers in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen

We listen for the voice of God

                                                                            
Children’s time               

Song:  I want Jesus to walk with me – arrangement by Ben Logan

Scripture readings:                        

Psalm 133 — responsive (Contemporary English Version)

L: It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace.

L: It is as beautiful as the olive oil poured on Aaron’s head to confirm his priestly calling, 
P: oil that ran down his beard and the collar of his robe.

L: It is like the dew from Mount Hermon, falling on Zion’s mountains,
P: where the Lord has promised to bless his people with life forevermore.

John 20:19-31 — New Testament (New International Version)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “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.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of Johns Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Response: Behold the lamb of God         

Message: “Behind the closed doors”

Beloved in the Lord, when I just started school, that is at age four, we had religious studies as one of the subjects taught to us since it was a Christian school. One of the questions my teacher always asked us which I still remember till date is, “Where is God?” I remember how most of us would respond by saying God is in heaven. This answer is not wrong but shows how limited our knowledge was when it comes to understanding the omnipresent nature of God. That said, we were made to understand that God is everywhere. Yes, finally we got the answer that has accompanied us through life knowing that we have access to God’s presence at any time and at any place.

Indeed, dear friends, God is everywhere and cannot be trapped by time and space or be held in a particular geographical region.

This morning we just read about the post-resurrection appearances of Christ as recorded by John. The text tells us how Jesus appeared to the disciples once when Thomas was not there and a week later when Thomas was with his friends, the Lord appeared to them again. The disciples for some reason were hiding behind closed doors. From the time Christ was arrested, these men will hardly show their faces in public. Peter did at the time of the trial and some people tried to associate him with Jesus. As we all know he denied knowing Jesus because he was afraid, he could be arrested like his master and probably killed since at that time, the people were all against Jesus since he claimed to be the Messiah.

Could we say the disciples at this time were behind the closed doors because they feared for their lives? Could we say they were in hiding because they were not so sure their master will rise from the dead as predicted? Sure, life would have been terrible for them if Christ was never raised from among the dead. I can only imagine how challenging it would have been for the disciples to face the shame and dishonour in the world as his immediate aid and followers. No matter the reason we try to build up, it is obvious we can identify an element of fear in them, reasons why they decided to stay behind closed doors.

When Christ rose from the dead, he appeared to the disciples in this room and the first thing he tells them is “Peace be with you.” This was their first encounter with him, and I could imagine how relieving these words sounded to the disciples. Before their own very eyes, stood the resurrected Lord. Their own master who had been taken away and killed by the Roman authorities. I can only but imagine the thoughts and fears of these men from the time their master was arrested till now and how comforting the presence of the Lord was to them at this time. His presence must have come to them with some assurance and hope. We are told the disciples were in joy when they saw their master.

After wishing them peace and with this great assurance that he is alive and not dead, he commissions the disciples to go and do the work of God. Breathing on them he asked them to receive the Holy Spirit, the source of empowerment for service in the kingdom of God.

Thomas missed this first opportunity and will not believe the testimony of his friends with respect to the resurrection of the Lord. Eight days later, Jesus comes to them again, and this time, Thomas is present and being convinced that it was indeed Christ Jesus, he made this great declaration of faith as he acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and God. “Behind the closed doors” as they were overtaken by the fear of the unknown, Christ came in despite the physical barrier imposed on him by the closed door. He gave them hope and assurance to move on with the calling of God upon their lives.

Dear friends in the Lord, this is just a reminder that nothing can ever stand on God’s path when he sets out for you. In Acts 12:3-19, we have the record of how an angel of the Lord rescued Peter from prison a day before his planned execution. Also, in Acts 16:24-40, we have the story of Paul and Silas in prison. We are told they were kept in the most secured area in prison, but at midnight as they were singing praises to God, there was an earthquake, their chains fell off and the prison doors were opened.

Dear friends, for the past one year, the world has been living behind closed doors. We have gone through the first and second waves of the COVID 19 pandemic and now currently receiving warnings of a possible third wave which may even be more challenging than the first two. The confusion continues and no one is so sure of what tomorrow holds for us. Some of us have lost loved ones behind this closed door and have not been able to receive the love and support of loved ones because we have been compelled to stay behind the closed doors. Some of us have been in isolation for so long and being lonely has become the new order in our lives. Apart from being behind closed doors because of the COVID 19 restrictions, we may also be facing other closed doors in our lives. Some people have lost their jobs and are in search of ones. Some are going through other challenging health situations, experiencing one form of trauma or the other. I may not be able to tell what closed doors you are currently experiencing in your life at this time, but one thing I know is that so long as your faith does not fail and even if it fails like that of Thomas, God is still available to visit and cheer you up behind that closed door.

The story goes of a man who was so depressed and had gone to the point where he decided to take away his life. In that same town where he lived, was this little seven-years-old boy who had the passion of moving around and sharing Christian tracts with his father. On this particular day, they had gone out to share their tracts and to preach the good news of Christ to those they had the opportunity to speak to. Suddenly, the skies became dark and it was threatening to rain. His father asked that they should go back to the house, but this boy insisted that they should at least go through all the houses on that street since they had three more to go. He would not yield to his father’s plea and to make the little boy happy, they went on to drop their tracts at the doors of these houses.

Then they came to this man’s house and interestingly this man was just about to take his life. The little boy said, “dad can we just ring the bell to check if there was anyone inside?” This was because the building was unkempt, and it will be needless dropping a tract where no one will pick it up. “Yes of course” the father agreed and then the little boy rang the doorbell. The man in the house hesitated and wondered who was at his door because he had not had visitors for quite a long time. With no response, the little boy insisted and finally this man came opening the door. This little boy said, ‘sorry sir, we just came by to drop this tract for you and to tell you that Jesus Christ loves you.” The man dropped in tears and said, “you know, I was about committing suicide because for so long I have been suffering from depression and felt like no one actually cares for me. I am sure this Jesus you are talking about sent you here to save my life. Can you tell me more about him because I feel hopeful now?”

You can imagine the rest of the story, but one thing is sure, behind the closed doors when he felt all was lost and the only hope was to take his own life, God paid him a visit and restored his life through this little boy.

Dear friends, God is everywhere, and he knows just what we need and reaches out to us just at the right time. Nothing about us is hidden from him. The doors may be closed from the world but not from God. At a time when they were so distressed, God spoke peace to the disciples. It is that same peace that I bring to you this day dear God’s own people. We may have been trapped behind the closed doors by the circumstances of our time, cheer up, for God is there and will always be there. That is why even at this moment behind closed doors, though we miss the fellowship we used to enjoy at the sanctuary during worship, this message of hope and assurance can still reach us. Hope is not lost, but it is gained.

Christ was buried in darkness, but because the grave could not hold him captive, he was released by the power of the resurrection and his victory became our victory. God is with us and that closed door is an open door for God to visit us.

Be blessed and be of good cheers.

Shalom    

Song:  Be still my soul       749

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future wisely as the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the voice that ruled them here on earth below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vail of tears,
then shall thou better know God’s love, God’s  heart,

who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from his own fullness all death takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,

all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Words: Jane Borthwick, Katharina von Schlegel; Public domain Music: Jean Sibelius; Finlandia arrg.© Breitkopf & Hartel, ©The Presbyterian Board of Christian Education 1933,1961. Used by permission of Westminster/John Knox Press
Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude:

Dear God, we render our thanks and praise to you that in midst of our fears and insecurities you show up just in time to give us hope and assurance. We praise and thank You for Your many and great blessings that You have showered over us all, even when we choose to stray from you and take our own path in life. How great You are, and what a gracious God that You should care for us despite our manner of approach towards you and others at times. Thank You Lord for Your unconditional and everlasting love. Help us to grow more and more to be like You. I ask that You continue to guide and teach us in all that we say and do, and that we may do all according to Your will. Continue to pour out Your bountiful blessings and mercy on us as we continue to trust you for our daily encounters till we join the saints in heaven. This and many more we ask in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Response: Now thank we all our God

Reflection on giving:

Song: Lord Jesus, you shall be my song               665

Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey.
I’ll tell everybody about you wherever I go.
You alone are our life and our peace and our love.
Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey.

Lord Jesus, I’ll praise you as long as I journey.
May all of my joy be a faithful reflection of you.
May the earth and the sea and the sky join my song.
Lord Jesus, I’ll praise you as long as I journey.

As long as I live, Jesus, make me your servant.
To carry your cross and to share all your burdens and tears.
For you saved me by giving your body and blood.
As long as I live, Jesus, make me your servant.

I fear in the dark and the doubt of my journey;
but courage will come with the sound of your steps by my side.
And with all of the family you saved by your love,
we’ll sing to your dawn at the end of your journey.

Words and music: © 1987 Les Petites Soeurs de Jesus. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

We continue to encourage you to accept the random Breakout Room assignment as a way of fostering community and care for each other.

Sending out with God’s blessing:

The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen

Response: God to enfold you

(Zoom breakout rooms)


2nd Sunday of Easter

10:00 am April 11, 2021

Led by Rev. Theresia Ndofor

Elder: Heather Tansem

children’s time: Lynn Vaughan


Copyright 2021 – Rev. Theresia Ndofor, In-Ministry student at Dayspring Presbyterian Church, and student at Montreal School of Theology
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