Sunday Guided Tour - Second Sunday of Easter - April 19, 2020

   Here is the link to the U - Tube worship service 

                       Read the text below at your leisure or follow along with Rev. Jim and and Rick Young - Music Director

                                                                            https://youtu.be/zlzgJVfE2sM

                                       You can also access this at Facebook : Friends of TrinityUnitedChurchThorold.

Good morning, everyone,  and Happy Eastertide!

 

As you can see, the colours of the church décor have been changed and the Christ candle has once again been lit.

 

This is the first Sunday after Easter, and we begin with prayer:

God of life, and life restored, renewed: we come together as your people, seeking to be close to you in praise and prayer, and all the while knowing you are with us  -  close to us and loving us, and holding us together in your love.  In Jesus raised from death, help us to remember that good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death, and promised hope is ours through Christ who loves us.  Loving Saviour, strengthen us in heart and hope and daily new commitment, that we can truly live your love in this our generation.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Christ Is Alive.  Hymn #158 

This morning, for our guided tour, I want to take us through the Bible readings the church attaches to this day.  There are three (3) readings:  Psalm 16,  portions of Acts 2, and the tale of doubting Thomas from John’s gospel.

 

I would like to start with a consideration of the psalm, especially because the psalm is quoted in the reading that we hear from Acts.

The translation of the psalm is from the Jewish Study Bible.  It’s the translation that is most attendant to the original Hebrew, and this is what it says:

Psalm 16

1 Protect me, O God, 

        for I seek refuge in you.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my benefactor;
       there is none above you.”
3 As to the holy and mighty ones that are in the land,
       my whole desire concerning them is that
4 those who espouse another [god] 

      may have many sorrows!
       I will have no part of their bloody libations;
       their names will not pass my lips.

5 The Lord is my allotted share and portion;

       you control my fate.
6 Delightful country has fallen to my lot;
       lovely indeed is my estate.
7 I bless the Lord who has guided me;
       my conscience admonishes me at night.
8 I am ever mindful of the Lord’s presence;

       the Lord at my right hand; I shall never be shaken.

9 So my heart rejoices, my whole being exults,
       and my body rests secure.
10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol,
       or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11 You will teach me the path of life.
       In your presence is perfect joy;

       delights are ever in your right hand.

 

By his words, the psalmist expresses his complete confidence in God  -

a confidence, in faith, we need so much today.

 

Sung Response:          #321, verse 1

       Maker, in whom we live,

      in whom we are and move,

       the glory, power, and praise receive

       for your creating love.

       Let all the angel throng

       give thanks to God on high,

       while earth repeats the joyful song

       and echoes to the sky.

 

Before we move on to the reading from the Book of Acts, I’d like to highlight some aspects of the psalm that really do get lost in translation.

 

The first is that if we read Hebrew, we would be acutely aware that the conclusion of the psalm is unified through references to body parts.   The body parts are: kidneys, right hand, heart and body, and God’s face.

  “My conscience admonishes me at night,” is what we read in English; but the literal translation of the Hebrew            word translated as conscience is kidneys, in antiquity, the seat of conscience.

 

Right hand and heart need no further explanation, but the word translated as body means literally, in Hebrew, flesh; and the Hebrew word kevodi, translated as my whole being, is a play on the word kevedi, meaning liver.  And what we read as your presence in the psalm, is translation of the Hebrew, meaning God’s face.  Hence, in Psalm 16, in Hebrew:  kidneys, right hand, heart, body, flesh, liver, and God’s face.

 

To what end does this creative use of language serve the purpose of the Psalm?  

 

We realize that the psalmist’s device not only assists with memorization of the psalm in what is an oral tradition, but it encapsulates the wonder and experience of the holy and transcendent in the corporeal reality and practicality of life!  There’s a richness and a fullness to the psalm that we could ponder and embrace for days and days  -  not only in connection with the conclusion of the psalm, but when we look at different translations:

 

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my benefactor;
    there is none above you.”
       say to the Lord, “You are the Lord,

        my only source of well-being.” (NET)

        I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

        apart from you I have no good thing.” (NIV)

 

5 The Lord is my allotted share and portion;

    you control my fate.
       Lord, you give me stability and prosperity;

        you make my future secure. (NET)

        Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

        you make my lot secure. (NIV)

7 I bless the Lord who has guided me;
        my conscience admonishes me at night.

        I will praise the Lord who guides me;

        yes, during the night I reflect and learn. (NET)

        I will praise the Lord who counsels me;

        even at night my heart instructs me.  (NIV)

10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol,
       or let your faithful one see the Pit.            

       You will not abandon me;

       you will not allow your faithful follower

       to fall into the shadows. (NET)

       For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;

       neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (KJV)

 

The psalm is a faithful expression of total confidence  -

        total confidence in God!

 

And then we hear from Acts.  (The Book of Acts is a continuation of Luke’s gospel  -  both the gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written by Luke; they were split up in order to incorporate John’s gospel, and keep the four gospels together.)

 

In the reading from Acts, we hear Peter’s address on the Day of Pentecost:

 

Acts 2:14a, 22-32  (New International Version)

Peter’s Address on the Day of Pentecost

14   Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and          signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by          God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge (Luke 24:26 New International Version (NIV)(Road to Emmaus) 26 Did          not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”) and you, with the help of wicked men,              put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony          of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

25   David said about him:

       “‘I saw the Lord always before me.
       Because he is at my right hand,
       I will not be shaken.
26   Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
      my body also will rest in hope,
27   because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
       you will not let your holy one see decay.
28   You have made known to me the paths of life;
       you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

                 

Psalm 16:8-11   New International Version (NIV)

 8    I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
        With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 9    Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
        my body also will rest secure,
 10  because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
        nor will you let your faithful [holy] one see decay.
 11   You make known to me the path of life;
        you will fill me with joy in your presence,

       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

29   “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here          to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of              his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he        was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 

 

Psalm 16:10 New International Version (NIV)

10   because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful [holy]one see decay; (KJV) 10   For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

32   God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”

 

Luke assures us of the resurrection, and of life and hope restored  -  assured, made real, made new.

 

And all of this contributes to our understanding of the Gospel message,

the story that John tells to us of a doubting Thomas:

John 20:19-31 (New English Translation)

Jesus appears to the disciples and to Thomas

19    On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors            of the place because they were afraid of the religious leaders.  Jesus came and stood among them and said to              them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the                        rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  Just as the Father has sent          me, I also send you.”

22   And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins,              they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

24    Now Thomas (called Didymus [the twin]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other            disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But Thomas replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his        hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”

26   Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them.  Although 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, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side.  Do not continue in your              unbelief, but believe.” 28 Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you                      believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30   Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in            this book.

31    But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you        may have life in his name.

 

Ministry of Music  -  Be Thou My Vision

 

The story that John tells to us of Thomas is a story that addresses human doubt throughout the ages; and the promise of the faith is in its speaking and its hearing and its action.

 

The Risen Saviour breathed on them, the gospel-writer tells us, using the same image that was used to describe the communication of the natural life:

 

In Genesis (2:7) it is written, “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being ..”

 

That same image is embraced by John to express communication of the new, the new spiritual life of humanity, re-created in the resurrection!

 

The psalm:  a faithful expression of total confidence  - total confidence in God!

The message that is Acts:  profession of the resurrection, of life and hope restored  -  assured, made real, made new.  The Gospel promise lovingly proclaimed by John:  inspiration of the new, the gift of human spirit re-created  -  in the strength and wonder of the resurrection!

 

And I believe that resurrection promise is captured and lovingly professed in the words composed by    a most faithful soul and friend, Debra Parks, who writes:

            I SAW GOD TODAY

In this time of terrible sickness and death from COVID-19

I Saw God Today

With the rebirth of the land, and return of spring.

With the birds singing and flowers blooming, trees budding.

I Saw God Today

With neighbours helping neighbours, old and young

with groceries and phone calls

I Saw God Today

With help of all the front line workers who are caring

for the sick and dying people

I Saw God Today

With our policemen, firemen and paramedics

who continue to keep us safe from harm.

I Saw God Today

With restaurants helping to feed our front line and

behind the scene workers

I Saw God Today

With all countries of the world

fighting against a common foe,

I Saw God Today

With time being spent with family,

communicating near and far

I Saw God Today

With Governments helping people who are laid off

from their work with no viable income.

I Saw God Today

I think if humanity stopped and took a good look around

Everyone would see God today

God is always with us we just have to look.

 

Total confidence; a living hope, assured; the gift of human spirit re-created:

this is the Good News of the Gospel;

this is our profession as an Easter people.

Thanks be to God!

 

Benediction:                        VU#419, spoken

       May the grace of Christ our Saviour,

       and our Maker's boundless love,

       with the Holy Spirit's favour,

       rest upon us from above.

       Thus may we abide in union

       held together by the Word,

       and possess in rich communion

        joys which earth cannot afford.

  Crown Him with Many Crowns.   Hymn #211

Pastoral Prayer for April 19, 2020

       Loving God, we thank you for the wisdom and the truth that come to us the witness of the faithful through the          ages.  We thank you for the love and strength and healing that you bring, a truth assured us in the life and death        and resurrection of a Son, a Saviour, faithful Friend and dear Companion.  The psalmist’s words proclaim the            certain confidence that we can have in you.  The faithful Luke declares the certainty of resurrection, and life              and hope restored, made real, made new; and John, beloved disciple, testifies to life and spirit recreated and              resurrection life breathed new into the soul. 

 

       Gracious God, in these days of turmoil and confusion, of uncertainty and fear and grievous loss, we can know            again the sure and certain promise of your constancy and presence, your holy Spirit with us and within us and          among us, joining us and bringing us together  -  heart to heart and soul to soul  -  to help each other and be              helped, to help your world, and never be alone.  Gracious Saviour, help us know you close to us this day, and              always, and guide us in the ways of life and living hope for all.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Trinity United Church Thorold 

905-227-4644  /  tuc@vaxxine.ca