Lectionary Reading: Psalm 133; John 20:19-31; Acts 4:32-35; I John 1:1-2:2
Easter is about Good News. Jesus is the “atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the world. He is our advocate with the Father!” It is about forgiveness, grace, resurrection and eternal life. But the Good news is so much more. It’s also about the transformation of people’s lives. It is about how transformed people become followers and disciples of Jesus’ way as well. It is about disciples joining with God for the transformation of communities, cities, cultures and the world. I wonder if sometimes we truncate the Gospel, the Good News sometimes. I wonder especially in regards to evangelism or sharing the Good News about Jesus whether we leave it at an individual who makes a decision so they can secure their place in the afterlife (Heaven) or for some escape the fiery consequences of Hell. What if accepting Christ is more than a decision, what if it meant transformation, what if it mean beginning a journey to become more like Him? Now that’s what I call Good News! I agree with Dallas Willard when he writes, “‘Gospels of sin management’ presumes a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming human kind…[and] they foster ‘vampire Christians,’ who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.
That is why I John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.” What the author of I John is saying basically is that we not only need to help disciples to “talk the talk” but also to “walk the walk”. The purpose of evangelism and the church is not just to count conversions or increase church activity; it is ultimately to make disciples. It is to see real transformation in lives and communities and the in-breaking of the kingdom of God in our world.
Additional Worship Resources (Sourcebook of Worship Resources):
Call to Worship
Leader: Come, sisters and brothers, gather together.
People: From all the bruises of a busy week, gather.
Leader: Plunge your sorrow and worry into the fountain of life.
People: Here, find comfort and hope.
Leader: Give your questions and doubts to the heart of God.
People: Here, find a peace that lightens the load and restores the faith.
Invocation or Illumination
One: Ever-present God, forever seeking us and always teaching us.
People: Open our minds to the truth of your care.
Leader: Open our hearts to the gentle caress of your love.
People: Open our lips to share stories of faith.
Leader: Open our hands to do justice and show kindness.
People: Open our souls to the breath of your Spirit. Amen!
Prayer of Confession
Redeeming God, you bring life out of dead ends, and hope in the midst of despair. Forgive us for doubting that you are still at work even in the darkest hour, even in the most painful moments. Forgive us for our hesitant action, our cautious compassion, our too-frequent reluctance.
Redeeming God, teach us a stillness that leads to acts of kindness and clarity of vision. Shape in us a trust that leads to faithful witness and bold compassion. Form us in your love that loosens our worry and eases our anger. Make us true disciples – filled with love, acting with justice, and living out hope. Amen.
Hear the Word of the Lord: “I dwell in the high and holy place, but also with you who are humble in spirit.”
Go in peace. Abide in the Lord. Do good work.
The Holy One is your guardian and guide forever.
Sourcebook of Worship Resources. Communications Resources, Inc. Canton, OH. (Pp. 39, 43,68,196)