O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
O Lord our governor,
how glorious is your name in all the world!
Your majesty above the heavens is praised
out of the mouths of babes at the breast.
You have founded a stronghold against your foes,
that you might still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have ordained,
What is man, that you should be mindful of him;
the son of man, that you should seek him out?
You have made him little lower than the angels
and crown him with glory and honour.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands
and put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
even the wild beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea
and whatsoever moves in the paths of the sea.
O Lord our governor,
how glorious is your name in all the world!
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The two disciples told the eleven and their companions what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’
Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.
In this season of Easter we celebrate the most amazing thing that has happened in the course of human history. We celebrate the raising of Jesus from the dead. The man who was very publicly put to death is dead no more. Just as publicly, he rose from the dead, appeared to many and then ascended to be with his Father in heaven. All of this was to fulfil God’s promise that a Messiah would come amongst us and would bring us into the closest of relationships with God himself. Put in these terms it is not difficult for us to see why people are sceptical about the truth of Jesus Christ. This had never happened before and it will never happen again. Why should people believe the unbelievable?
We all know the apostle Thomas as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because of his insistence on seeing the wounds of the crucifixion before he would believe that he was not being deceived. In today’s reading, as Jesus appears to his disciples and offers them his peace, there is a little detail that is often overlooked. Jesus said to them: Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. We are told that: They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. The disciples doubted the evidence of their own eyes, and Jesus proved the truth of the situation by showing them the wounds of the crucifixion.
There was an urgency in Jesus’ mission at this point in the gospel narrative. Jesus would soon be ascending to be with his Father in heaven, he could not wait for the faith and resolve of the disciples to mature. Jesus needed them to believe in order that they might go out and share the Good News of the resurrection far and wide.
We are in a very different position from those first disciples. We are called to be disciples and apostles and Jesus is certainly ever present with us. But, we can only come to the realisation of his presence through faith. Faith can take a long time to mature, but it is no less powerful for that. We cannot stretch out our hands and physically touch the wounds of Christ but we can, through prayer and the study of scripture, come to realize the truth as the mustard seed of our faith dies and grows and strengthens and flourishes.
Let us pray that we may come to know the depth of Christ’s peace in our lives. And then let us pray that we may be strengthened and inspired to share the peace of the risen Christ with all we meet as we journey through this life.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for the peace of Christ in the Church and in the world.
Give grace to the Church to witness through faith to the message of salvation which the Apostles received by sight. As Christ ate with them in his risen body, may the sacrament of his body and blood bring life and healing to all who come.
May the peace of Christ bring to an end all disharmony in the world. Where there is strife between nations, hostility between races, disputes between individuals, may his presence bring a new and fuller life.
When we gather with our families and friends, keep us open to feel the presence of Christ among us. In this community and in all that we do, make us witnesses of the grace that we have received.
Have mercy on all who suffer. We pray for those, known to us or unknown, who are sick in body or mind, for the lonely, the homeless, the bereaved. May the wounds of Christ’s Passion, borne through death to his risen body, be their healing.
We give thanks for all who have died in the faith of Christ and risen to new life in him. May we in our time rejoice with them in seeing him as he is, no ghostly image but the living power of God.
We offer our prayers through Christ in whom the Scriptures are fulfilled.
Prayer for the week
Lord our God, as we celebrate with joy
the resurrection of Jesus our Saviour,
help us to make the Easter faith
a deeper reality in our lives;
that we may know something more of the peace
he bequeathed to his disciples,
and lay hold of the victory
he won for us over sin and death,
rejoicing in the hope of the life immortal
which is ours in him,
our Redeemer and our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who 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.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.