Welcome (Psalm 16)

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.’

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
    in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
    their drink-offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
    my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
    or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.
    In your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Preparation: Jesus Christ is risen today

Call to Worship (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Blessed 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, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you(us), who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this (we) rejoice, even if now for a little while (we) have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of (our) faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although (we) have not seen him, you love him; and even though (we) do not see him now, (we) believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for (we) are receiving the outcome of (our) faith, the salvation of (our) souls.

Let us worship God.

Strife if o’er the battle done


Dearest Lord,

On this second Sunday of Easter, we rejoice. In your grace you brought our Lord back from death in order that all who belong to him may have life. In this new creation, with new life, we come with praise. Be glorified!

Send your Holy Spirit. Sanctify this hour. By our praise be glorified. Make this worship acceptable in your ear, O Lord our God.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture: (John 20:19-31)

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.

Sermon: Doubt and Faith

“Doubting” Thomas. Thomas wanted to be sure. He was the type who did not want to simply mess with stories that did not make sense. He wanted his faith to be sure and certain. Did he not trust the words of other disciples? His doubt about the resurrection was nothing to scoff at. Even today many theologians and scholars debate whether the resurrection of Jesus took place or not. Having faith, especially on the matter of resurrection, is not a done deal or something we simply accept.

Why is believing in the resurrection so difficult? Those who told him saw Jesus already. He did not. He did not dispute their claim. He simply indicated that he needed to see Jesus himself. Thomas’ confession came naturally and quickly once Jesus stood among them and spoke to Thomas. Hearing Jesus speaking to him, he had no doubt this person before him was the risen Jesus.

Something we often do not think about when we read the Gospel John is the author’s insistence on the importance of voice or hearing Jesus’ voice. It began with the scene where Jesus called the disciples. Already in Chapter 1 when Jesus called Philip it was very much like in other gospels. However, when Philip went and found Nathanael and invited him, Nathanael’s response was with a doubt, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Only when Jesus spoke to him, Nathanael confessed that Jesus was the Son of God.

Throughout John’s Gospel, we see statements like, “The friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice,” (3:29) “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live,” (5:25) “Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice,” (5:28) “and the sheep follow him because they know his voice,” (10:4) “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me,” (10:27) and “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (18:37)

This gospel makes a point that it is the voice that makes all the difference more than sight. We find this to be so especially after the resurrection. As we discussed last week, Mary did not know it was the risen Jesus who was standing beside her until she heard him call her by her own name. When she heard Jesus’ voice, she knew and she saw Jesus, the risen one. This is a direct juxtaposition to the voice that came from heaven when Jesus rose from the water at his baptism.

In a way it is no surprise that hearing the voice was sufficient for Thomas and his doubts. Yes, in a very subtle way, the author of the gospel shifts our way of being from visual to vocal. Seeing brings one kind of knowing. Hearing opens us to something entirely different. Here, unlike seeing, the voice of one whom we know becomes the most important way to know the truth.

More than eyes, voice connects people to each other in deeper and more intimate ways. Think of it this way. When we hear a voice, we can tell how worried or delighted the person is by the tone of her voice. When people speak to us, the content of what they say reveals to us who the person is and what the person is thinking. This is why in the old days we used to say the word is a person’s bond. Words express the truth about us and hearing words helps us to discern the truth.

From ancient times, the importance of words, especially wisdom in words, was accepted as the carriers of the truth. This is why gathered words which spoke of god or gods were always considered to carry deeper truths than everyday chatter and were gathered into sacred books. Once accepted by a community, these words of truth were often considered to be divine in its origin and revered.

Today people with critical thinking skills have all kinds of difficulties accepting these divine words as truth in any form. They read them and realize that these words carry no special power. They found ways to prove that these words are of human origin. They dismiss the notion of sacred texts. As I mentioned before, this is the way that most of us are taught in churches as well. That is, we read the Bible with all our critical thinking abilities engaged, rather than accepting every word in the Bible as God given truth that cannot be understood differently than what an institution of the Church teaches.

Words and truth are equated very closely. So we teach each other to speak very carefully. The simplest expression, “if you have nothing good to say about someone, don’t say it” fundamentally addresses how carefully we must deal with truth in our everyday lives. We know words can deceive, hurt, destroy and even lead to killings. Speeches of leaders during wars are all about rallying people up to kill enemies. Today is no different than yesterday.

We often get very uneasy remembering how some political leaders led the world into chaos with false speeches claiming they alone speak the truth. We value those who speak truth against the power of the day. We fight against any and all who suppress truth being proclaimed. When those who are given the task of delivering truth like newspapers and news broadcasters communicate to us stories that benefit certain groups while denying others opportunities to convey theirs, we stop trusting these news organizations.

Today our world struggles with information, dis-information, misinformation, false information, and the kinds of untruth or propaganda. With the rise of the internet, we are being exposed to everything that claims to be “the” definitive truth. Just look at the way governments and those who distrusted governments’ actions fought over the truth regarding COVID. It is mind boggling for most of us to see the same spectacle unfolding all over the world.

No matter how confusing the world is in terms of dealing with information, when we hear those whom we love speak, we receive their words as truth. This is why in the past century we have told ourselves that the best method of evangelism is by word of mouth. People speaking with people they are friends with is the best way to grow any church or organization. Truth conveyed by trusted people is far more likely to be received well.

Gospel John’s focus on “voice” is all about God’s truth being conveyed through the Son who is trusted and loved because the Son loved his people already. His voice is received as one that brings the words of salvation to his own because by love trust is already present between him and the people who respond to him. Without this loving relationship of trust, his voice is neither authoritative nor credible. This is why so many people today simply do not care about God, the Bible, and what the Church has to say. There is no problem of trusting based on love between Jesus and people however.

Sadly by flaunting love and manipulating people in order to gain power and wealth, the Church throughout history has lost its credibility. There is no trust between the Church and the world. This is why we hear people saying that they are spiritual, but not religious. In other words they say they trust Jesus as a good teacher, but not the Church. Much of this is deserved by the Church. After all, the Church oppressed, took sides with the powerful, participated in all kinds of evil acts throughout history.

Yet, when Jesus speaks, those who belong to him hear his voice and follow because they know him. It does not matter whether Jesus speaks through the words in the Bible, through sermons, or through personal appearances to individuals as the living Christ. When his voice is heard, his people respond. His voice is the only thing that cuts through all misinformation, disinformation, false information, and whatever information that hijack and distort the truth. Eventually when we listen, the voice that calls us reaches us in spite of distrust, mistrust, incredulity and lack of trust. The one who belongs to him recognizes his voice.

The Word that creates the world and all therein enwraps us in love which is the source of all life. The voice that brings the Word creates trust and love giving life to the full. The voice that calls opens the eyes, ears and minds of those who know the voice who calls us to the new creation. Thomas like Nathanael and Mary Magdalene and all others who responded to Jesus’ voice brings the confession when he hears the voice of risen Jesus. The loving relationship with Jesus that was lost through Jesus’ death on the cross is re-established and the new life begins with the confession for Thomas as he proclaims, “My Lord and my God!”


O God,
How we longed to come to you and unburden ourselves! Throughout the week we were filled with worries and burdens of our world. As we heard the news of the deaths of your beloved people, we could not wait to come to you with our grief and sadness. As we experienced another setback, we wanted to share our deep sorrows with you in our loneliness. On this day, we come together bringing all these burdens we carried and bring them before you.

We ask you to be with the families of Carol Hetherington and Rev. Hastings. They lived and served as your hand in this world sharing the good news that your Son manifested through them. Keep them with you until the day of the resurrection when we will all be raised in you.

We bring before you our concerns. As many of us are searching for jobs, be with each one. Give people wisdom to seek out jobs that will bring them security and peace of mind. Protect your own people. Be with them through the process of application and interviews. Grant each one your wisdom to discern your calling as they search.

Bless, O God, your servants who do their best to bring peace in the war zones of Ukraine, Yemen, Palestine and many other places where people are suffering. Open our eyes and ears to the cries of suffering that rises to you from our brothers and sisters in these wars. Give us wisdom to respond with love and compassion.

Keep us in your care, O Lord our God. As we minister to those who are more vulnerable than we are, continue to fill us with your spirit. Use us as your presence to share your love by empowering others, enriching them with truth and sharing with them strength to speak truth to power.

Lead us to be compassionate. Fill those who serve others in all circumstances with your strength so that they would not lack courage and resources to help others in need. Be especially with doctors, nurses, staff of hospitals and care facilities. Give wisdom to teachers. Guide all those who serve others through their jobs.

We pray for the most vulnerable among us. As they navigate the harsh world, protect them each step of the way. We remember before you all of your people who belong to you through this congregation. There are many who are suffering due to illnesses. Give them your presence. Give us your love to share with them.

All these and more, we pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Offering/Offering Prayer


Friday, April 21, we are inviting everyone to come and join us for our Spring Potluck Dinner. Please come and join us at 5:30 pm. The program will start at 5:30 and eating will begin at 6 pm. Everyone is invited. Please bring whatever you wish to share with others.

Next Sunday, April 23, we will have Mr. Cowan back with us for the service of worship. The Sunday following, Sunday April 30, we will have the Whitelock Band back with us for worship.

Christian love is extended to Carol Hetherington’s family as they grieve her death.

Christian love is also extended to the family of the Rev. Gordon Hastings who passed away at his house on Friday.

Hymn: Thine be the glory