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Worship, prayers and Bible resources

Third Sunday of Easter - Year B

Liturgical Colour - White


The resurrection of Jesus turned the world upside down. For a man to be raised from death was not something new, Jesus had raised Lazarus from death. But the resurrection of Jesus was something diufferent. The resurrected Jesus was not the same. His body was different and even those who had known him well were surprised. Jesus was able to appear through locked doors and yet his body bore the wounds and scars of the nails which held him tot cross and the spear which the soldiers plunged into his side. The resurrected Jesus ate fish with his disciples and yet they knew that this was no mere resuscitation, Jesus had changed. The risen Jesus was different, he had gone thorugh death and passed through the other side, he would die no more. Jesus was now no longer just Jesus of Nazareth, he was their risen Lord. The resurrected Jesus gave them a challenge to tell the world about him and because he was no longer confined by the physical world, he would be with them spiritually wherever they went and whatever they faced. That is why these frightened disciples left their cowardice behind and became some of the bravest and most fearless people the world have ever known. The world was turned upside down and that resurrected Jesus has been present with his followers ever since.

Opening Verses of Scripture  Psalm 118

I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. CW

Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us also to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. Common Worship Shorter Collect

First Bible Reading   Acts 3:12-19

Peter addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.’ NRSV

Second Reading  1 John 3:1-7

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. NRSV

Gospel Reading   Luke 24:36b-48 

While the eleven and their companions were talking about what they had heard, 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.’ NRSV

Post Communion Sentence

Living God, your Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: open the eyes of our faith, that we may see him in all his redeeming work; who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. CW


Our gospel reading sets out to show that Jesus really had been raised from the dead.  He wasn’t a ghost or apparition, or a figment of the disciples wishful thinking, or a revived corpse.  He was really, there, and he answers their fears by saying ”Peace be with you”, and answers their continuing doubts by eating fish in front of them.  This shows the reality of the eye witnesses and their testimony; the women had seen his burial and the empty tomb.  But the disciples don’t believe them, needing more certain evidence, and they still need convincing even after his appearance to Peter.  But Jesus showed that he was the very person with whom they had walked and talked from those early days in Galilee (Acts13: 30 – 32).

And really the chief thing for the disciples is that Jesus came back.  After all, nothing had made sense for 48 hours of chaos and seeming despair.  Then he is there – offering the gift of peace as did during his ministry.  In John 14:27 he says “Peace I leave you with.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. And after the resurrection there is same message of peace to the two Marys in Matthew 28:10, and to the disciples in John 20: 19 and 21.  There is a collect that describes the peace Jesus offers as “something that the world cannot give”.  People discover this.  Ecclesiastes describes the search with pleasure, work, wealth and wisdom all failing to deliver.  Someone once said that peace came when a purpose that has slipped out of life gets back in.  That was certainly true for the disciples.  After all, what were they going to do with Jesus dead? Back to fishing?

Now it was almost too good to be true – though the Interpreters Bible suggests that too good not to be true fits God’s world better, because resurrection blew apart the apparent fact of Jesus’ death.  God’s will is not thwarted by Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod or the Good Friday crowd.  Evil is dislodged by the good.  It really can be.  So we ought to go on praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom and the doing of His will here on earth as  in heaven.  The Interpreters Bible speaks of the ordinary being transformed:  Christmas comes out of a stable; the Son of God out of a little village; and 20 centuries of Christianity out of a grave.  Psalm 4:8 says “You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety”.  It is true to say that “what God had always planned came to birth in Bethlehem, to fulfilment on Calvary, to victory at the Resurrection, to exultation at Ascension and is even now coming to consummation.” (Interpreters Bible)
And Tom Wright links this to repentance and forgiveness that the disciples were to proclaim to all nations.  He says that the Bible always envisages that when God finally fulfils all the promises made to Abraham, Moses and the Prophets the whole world would be brought into the embrace of God’s saving and heavenly love.

Yes repentance and faith are vital for us as individuals.  We become Christians as we let God turn our lives around – as he cleanses us from sin and all that is wrong and gives us His forgiveness.  We are ‘new creations’ as the song says.  But Tom Wright asserts that repentance and forgiveness go much further, and can change a world that is polarised and full of disputes.  Some get into the papers; China Sea, Trade Wars, Vaccine disputes, Syria, various atrocities.  We hear about so many – and this often begs the question as to who is right – or who has the moral high ground? (Shades here almost of the woman taken in adultery in John 8)  The only way forward is the one that is actually the hardest to do – repentance and forgiveness.
Condemnation has to go out of the window.  There needs to be an honest reset – a fresh start.  And the Easter message “The Lord is Risen. He is risen indeed.  Alleluia” is really one of praise.  All can be changed.  There is new hope.

We saw it in South Africa with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  We recall his memorable sentence “God’s standards are very low”.  And miracles happened in relationships in South Africa.

And closer to home just think of the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland- a huge step forward in a peace process.  Sworn enemies, Ian Paisley (of never! never! never! notoriety) and Martin McGuiness became known as the “chuckle brothers” so warm was their relationship in the Power Sharing Executive.  This was a real miracle in our midst.  The impossible actually happening.  Even now coming to consummation.  Recent violence reminds us of Romans 8:22.

But Jesus dying and rising again ensures that miracles will go on happening.  Light has overcome darkness.  Death is defeated, making all the difference in the world – for us too as we share in God’s Kingdom.  Richard Ledger


Prayers of Petition

Many of our prayers are prayers of petition, and people seem to think that petition is the lowest level of prayer; then comes gratitude, then praise. But in fact it is gratitude and praise that are expressions of a lower relationship. On our level of half-belief it is easier to sing hymns of praise or to thank God than to trust him enough to ask something with faith. Even people who believe half-heartedly can turn to thank God when something nice comes their way; and there are moments of elation when everyone can sing to God. But it is much more difficult to have such undivided faith as to ask with one's whole heart and whole mind with complete confidence. No one should look askance at petition, because the ability to say prayers of petition is a test of the reality of our faith. (Anthony Bloom, The Essence of Prayer)


Hymn sheet

  1. Jesus the name high over all

  2. For I am building a people of power

  3. Jesus Lives!

  4. The head that once was crowned with thorns

  5. I cannot tell why he whom angels worship

  6. Among us our beloved stands (See below -Tune Song 34mv)
  7. Facing a task before us (See below Tune Aurelia)


Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian,

if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

God of life, forgive our denial of life, our destruction of its hopes, our denial of its needs, our distorting of its possibilities.  Fill us with your Spirit of life, that we may be people of life, servants of life, encouragers of life, signs of Christ, the life of the world; in his name we pray.  Worship Through the Year (Baptist Union)

Jesus, our Lord, we praise you that nothing could keep you dead in the grave.  You are stronger than death and the devil.  Help us to remember that there is nothing to be afraid of, because you are alive and by our side.  Lion Prayer Collection
Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:  Kindle, we pray you, in the hearts of all people the true love of peace; and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward, till the earth be filled with the knowledge of your love: through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Francis Paget
My dearest Lord, be thou a bright flame before me, be thou a guiding star above me, be thou a smooth path beneath me, be thou a kindly shepherd behind me, today and evermore.  St Columba

O Lord, give us we beseech you in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, the love which can never cease, that will kindle our lamps but not extinguish them, that they may burn in us and enlighten others.  Do you, O Christ , our dearest Saviour, yourself kindle our lamps that they may evermore shine in your temple and receive unquenchable light from you that will enlighten our darkness and lessen the darkness of the world.  St Columba
O Christ!  Who has shown us the beauty of eternal peace and the duty of inseparable love, grant that we may ever think humbly of ourselves, abounding in gentleness and pity towards all, that following the example of your humility and imitating you in all things, we may live in you and never depart from you.  From the Mozarabic Sacramentary
Our Father, you called us and saved us in order to make us like your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Change us, day by day, by the work of your Holy Spirit so that we may grow more like him in all that we think and say and do, to his glory.  Amen

Be light to my eyes, O Lord, and music to my ears. Be to me sweetness of taste and contentment of heart. Be sunshine to me in the day, food at my table and repose in the night. I give to you, O Lord, my body and my soul, all that I have and all that I am; my fame, my friends, my liberty and my life. Dispose of me according to your gracious will and the glory of your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. John Cosin, 1594-1672

Risen Lord Jesus, who came to Your friends when all their hope was gone: come to us in the dark times. Come to those who despair, that they may feel your Easter presence in their hearts. Amen

Pray for me and I shall pray for you and all your friends that we may merrily meet in heaven. Amen (Thomas Moore)


Additional Material



So we know why Jesus was killed. It was out of envy and greed by those in power who saw him as a threat to their wealth and status. They refused to allow this carpenter from Galilee, (wrong job, wrong place) to come in and upset the apple cart. They had a workable situation in spite of Roman occupation and Jesus put the whole thing in jeopardy by his words and his actions, such as the overturning of the money tables in the temple. Jesus was not killed because he threatened the power of Rome, he was killed because he challenged the temple, the priests and religious powers.

Then no sooner had he died than he came back to life again. He appeared to his disciples and he spoke words of peace and forgiveness and told them to go and do likewise. Those who saw Jesus then went out and told others that Jesus who had died had come back from the dead and that they were witnesses. Some of them took some convincing. We know that Thomas wanted to actually touch Jesus before he believed. I am sure that we would all have been the same. However once they had seen Jesus, once they had the opportunity to speak with him and eat with him, then the reality of what had happened transformed them as individuals and as a group.

Of course we are those who Jesus spoke about when he said
‘Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed’

We believe as people of faith and we hold the faith through times of blessing and adversity, through the highs and lows of daily life. We hold the faith in heart and mind, and our faith is nourished through worship and Christian fellowship. The validity of the resurrection is not something which can be proved and the attempts to seek to convince folks who do not wish to believe by reliance upon the facts themselves is a futile activity.

Those who want to poke holes in the resurrection point to inconsistencies in the Biblical narrative. Matthew has the resurrection stories in Galilee, Luke in Jerusalem, John in both. In Mark there is one man in the tomb, in Luke there are two men, in Matthew it is an angel and in John two angels. For believers these very differences can suggest that the disciples didn’t get their heads together and concoct a good story.

However there are two features of the resurrection which I do believe think stand out as significant. The first thing of importance is that we need to remember the anger which existed towards Jesus from the Jewish authorities. They hated him enough to murder him. Yet when the stories started to go around about the resurrection of Jesus the Jewish authorities were unable to produce a dead Jesus corpse.

It is true that the disciples might have stolen the body themselves but the fact remains that they were so energised by the truth of the resurrection appearances of Jesus that they fearlessly proclaimed his resurrection to the extent that they were not only prepared to die but willingly gave of their lives, some in the most cruel manner. I remember a few years ago we had a church trip to see the Passion of Christ, a film which focussed on the death of Jesus and which was quite graphic about the crucifixion scene. I think if I remember correctly we all came out wondering why we had put ourselves through such a gruesome experience. We do well to remember that the disciples also gave up their lives in equally horrific deaths. It would be quite absurd to imagine that men and women would give their lives for something which they knew to be a deliberate deception. There is no more credible witness than one who is prepared to die rather than change their testimony. No wonder it is said that the death of the martyrs, or witnesses, was the seed of the church.

Jesus appeared to those who were thinking about him, who were looking for him. Today Jesus is still present to those individuals and groups who seek him. There will be no resurrection appearance to Richard Dawkins who seems to spend his time trying to be deliberately offensive to people of faith and evangelical in his atheism. If I were Jesus I probably wouldn’t show up either. But to those who honestly seek, the resurrected Jesus is alive today. This is because the resurrection of Jesus is not just a historical event, an event bound in our physical world, the resurrection is a spiritual reality in which encounter is just as important as understanding.

We obtain a glimpse of this in the Gospels themselves and it is important to remember this. When we speak of the resurrection we need to remind ourselves that Jesus was not resuscitated, his broken body was not just made to live again. Jesus was raised but he was raised spiritually not just the old Jesus made alive. The risen Jesus is able to pass through walls and it is all very Star Trek the way that Jesus is able to materialise in places and then disappear again. Shortly we will have the Ascension of Jesus and we need to remember this when we see those images of Jesus going up to heaven with his little feet eventually sticking out of the clouds. The risen Jesus did not have a physical body which was like his body before he died. Death and his subsequent resurrection changed Jesus. Jesus was no longer restrained by the physical laws which we are subject to.

The transformation of the disciples into what we know now as the Christian church, occurred because of the resurrection. The broken hearted, disillusioned disciples left behind their fears and despair and changed from frightened cowards into fearless lions.
Think of the complete transformation of Peter, a man who had let Jesus down really badly. He had been tongue tied when asked if he was one of Jesus followers, until he swore at those who accused him and ran away. After the resurrection all of that changed. He leaves his hiding place and preaches about Jesus and his resurrection in Jerusalem. As we would expect, the Jewish leaders who had killed Jesus to put an end to the challenge to their livelihood, have Peter arrested and he is brought before the Sanhedrin, the same court which sentenced Jesus to death. Peter is brought before Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and we are told the other powerful men of the family. This is a scene reminiscent of the Godfather, these are a family of men of great power, who have proved that they will stop at nothing if you challenge them, not even mirder itself.

Does Peter hide, does he say sorry, does he try and get out of the court with his life ? No Peter tells these killers that he acts in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one they crucified but whom God had raised from the dead. He was threatened and told that he must no longer mention Jesus but Peter replied.

‘Who should we obey you or God? We cannot stop from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’

And there we have it. The inability of the powerful Jewish leaders who had Jesus killed to disprove the resurrection and the refusal of the disciples to keep silent about what they knew to be true even in the face of bloody killers. This was the powerful testimony of men and women like Peter, they no longer cared whether the Jewish leaders killed them because as far as they were concerned Jesus had conquered death itself.

Yet there was more than just a fearless confidence which possessed these disciples. They were unafraid because the spiritual resurrection of Jesus meant that Jesus was no longer confined to earth and time. Men had come back from death before. Jesus had raised Lazarus from death. Yet with Lazarus this was resuscitation, he was still in an earthley body. Jesus was not resusciated and this is exactly whet the resurrection stories are trying to tell. Jesus was not the same, he was different, he looked like Jesus but they never recognised him at first. His body bore the scars and he could eat fish but he could also pass through walls.

This new Jesus

  1. Was able to be with them when they were arrested
  2. He was with them when they faced the Sanhedrin
  3. Jesus was with them when they were put to death because they refused to deny the truth of the risen Jesus.

We know this to be true for example from the stoning of Stephen, the very first Christian martyr. Stephen was arrested and he was brought before the Sanhedrin too. The charge was made that he was speaking of Jesus and against the Temple and the customs of Moses. We know from the response of Stephen to the charges made against him that he had as little regard for the Temple and the Jewish authorities as Jesus before him. He accused the Sanhedrin of murder and we are told that they were so furious that they gnashed their teeth in anger !

You could forgive Stephen for being afraid, but we told that he was not. In the face of the threats against him he said that he was in the presence of the risen Jesus. He said
‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’

Do you remember these words? They were the ones spoken by Jesus himself when they arrested him and asked him if he was the Christ. Jesus told them that he was the Son of God and said
‘The Son of man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God’

It was the risen Christ who was with Stephen as we are told they yelled at the top of their voices and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.

We are told that from that moment they tried to kill off the witnesses to the resurrection, the church in Jerusalem was persecuted followers of Jesus arrested. The reason that the church survived was not because they had a great Mission Action Plan. It was not even because they all did the Alpha Course. The church survived and grew because of the presence of the the risen Jesus.

Some images of the early church seem to suggest that everything was wonderful and nobody ever disagreed about anything. In the lesson from Acts last week we read that ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind’ Acts 4:32 We know that is not true! In the following chapter we read of Ananias and Sapphira who lied and tried to cheat the rest of the group out of money. The epistles of the New Testament and Acts itself is full of the arguments and disputes which characterised the first churches. It was ever thus and there has never been a time when the church has not faced huge temptations and challenges. At the time when the church has sometimes seemed at its greatest strength it has been the most corrupt.

Yet in spite of this it is the risen Lord Jesus who meets with those who put faith in him. We worship a living risen Lord who is not confined by any physical restraint and neither is he confined by any theologies or human traditions. Jesus speaks to those who put their trust in him. This is what the resurrection means today. We read about the encounters which Jesus had with those on the road to Emmaus, with Mary in the garden, the disciples in the upper room. But what really matters is that Jesus is someone we meet with and who is here with us today. Charles Royden



1 Among us our beloved stands,
and bids us see his nail-pierced hands,
points to his wounded feet and side,
blest emblems of the crucified.

2 When at his table sits the Lord,
what generous food adorns his board;
when Jesus comes his guests to meet,
the wine how rich, the bread how sweet!

3 If now with eyes earth-bound and dim,
we see the signs, but see not him,
then may his love the veil displace
and help us see him face to face.

Charles H Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Facing a task unfinish'd,
That drives us to our knees,
A need that, undiminished,
Rebukes our slothful ease,
We, who rejoice to know thee,
Renew before thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe thee
To go and make thee known.

Where other lords beside thee
Hold their unhindered sway,
Where forces that defied thee
Defy thee still today,
With none to heed their crying
For life and love and light,
Unnumbered souls are dying,
And pass into the night.

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose.
Ours is the same commission,
The same glad message ours,
Fired by the same ambition,
To thee we yield our powers.

O Father who sustained them,
O Spirit who inspired,
Saviour, whose love constrained them
To toil with zeal untired,
From cowardice defend us,
From lethargy awake!
Forth on thine errands send us
To labour for thy sake.
Frank Houghton (1894-1972)