Worship at home: Peace Be With You, April 19, 2020

A resource for you to use to worship at home on the second Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2020


Worship at Home… the second Sunday of Easter


Dear St. Peter's,

We hope you find some peace and stillness in the cool rainy spring day today. There are a lot of unknowns, questions, and grief to untangle in our scriptures these coming weeks. The disciples are still in a haze of the events of Holy Week and Easter and not altogether sure how to respond. Perhaps you can relate to some of those feelings too?


I was particularly longing to be with you all and to be surrounded by some familiar sights. So, the video this week is a simple walking meditation from our memory garden. I hope the sights and sounds offer comfort as they did for me. To watch, please click here https://youtu.be/Yas_6iQtSaw.


Please worship in a way that feels authentic to you. Perhaps alone, perhaps in a family group at home, per- haps in an online group that you put together. You can pick and choose which of these elements speaks to you this weekend, or you can make your way through the entire resource. Whatever you choose, know that God is near.


Words for Centerings/A Poem for Reflection

Prepare yourself for worship. Allow your body to be present to your mind, and let your spirit soar with curiosity as you open yourself to God.


Easter is a season, a period of fifty days. This poem from John O’Donohue offers words of wisdom and encouragement as we wonder together how to enter and embody this season.

Stack of old suitcases with the words: Let fall away the useless baggage that we carry. Find the courage to begin again.

“On this Easter morning, let us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry -- old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling -- and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full, the time that we still have.




We don't realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren't put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously. The dawn that is rising this Easter morning is a gift to our hearts and we are meant to celebrate it and to carry away from this holy, ancient place the gifts of healing and light and the courage of a new beginning."


Call to Worship

We show up to this time of worship in need of hope.

Sometimes worship reaffirms what we already believe and proclaim. Sometimes worship offers a ray of hope, for sometimes we are full of doubt.

We come to worship this morning exactly as we are: faithful, doubtful, hopeful, afraid. And we are met by the Risen One, the proclaimer of Life and Love.

Let us worship together. Amen.

Living our Covenant of Welcome

Write down the name of at least one person with whom you’d like to connect this week. Bonus points for actually calling/emailing/writing/social media-ing that person!



READ| John 20:19-30


In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were locked in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Temple authorities. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (20) Having said this, the savior showed them the marks of crucifixion. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw Jesus, (21) who said to them again, “Peace be with you. As Abba God sent me, so I’m sending you.” (22) After saying this, Jesus 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) It happened that one of the Twelve, Thomas-nicknamed Didymus, or “Twin” – was absent when Jesus came. (25) The other disciples kept telling him, “We’ve seen Jesus!” Thomas’ answer was, “I’ll never believe it without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into the spear wound.” (26) On the eighth day, the disciples were once more in the room, and this time Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors, Jesus came and stood before them, saying “Peace be with you.”


(27) Then, to Thomas, Jesus said, “Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t persist in your unbelief, but believe!” (28) Thomas said in response, “My Savior and my God!” (29) Jesus then said, “You‘ve become a believer because you saw me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs as well-signs not recorded here-in the presence of the disciples.


Call to Confession


Risen One,

We confess to you our despair, for we are weary with it.

Yes, we heard that you live, that life flows through you again. But we are still afraid. There is so much unknown.

Breathe your peace on us again. Soothe our anxiety.

Remind us, that even when there seems to be no way in or no way forward, You find a way. Forgive our fear and transform it into hope.


An Affirmation

Beloved of God-

Know that Jesus always meets us where we are-- in despair, in doubt, in joy, or in hope. Receive the love of Christ today. Amen.


Pastor Becca recorded a meditation for her reflection as we retell the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. Watch it here:


Prayers for Our Community & the World

Pray in whatever way suits you. If it makes sense to you, consider praying the Prayer of Our Creator to close this time of intercession.


Offering our Gifts

In this story of fear and doubt, Jesus meets the disciples where they are. He offers them his physical self to see and touch as proof. He gives what is his to give. Let us give what we are able, knowing it is received with gratitude.


You can give online here:



or text 73256 with the keyword CARMEL and an amount. It will take about 2 minutes.



May you feel the gentleness of the Risen One reaching out and inviting you into life. This season of Easter and Resurrection is full of questions and doubt, and Jesus as always, accompanies us on that journey. Know that you are held and you are loved. Amen.


Peace Be With You


This story of Jesus appearing to the disciples in a room has always been one of my favorite scriptures. De- spite the lectionary, which rotates scripture every three years, this one appears every year the Sunday after Easter.


This story is so layered, so honest, and feels eerily relatable to where we find ourselves today. Or at least it does for me. We used this scripture passage for our Wednesday night Spiritual Practice gathering. Those of us gathered participated in the practice of Sacred Imagination, where we are invited to imagine ourselves into the story. We are asked to imagine: what do we see, hear, smell, feel, or even taste? Who are we in the story? A bystander? A disciple? Jesus?

This is one of my favorite scriptures to do this practice with. I think perhaps, because I can’t remember a time where I didn’t imagine myself into this story. It’s always been evocative for me. I’ve always felt bad for Thomas. He gets written off as “Doubting Thomas” as if the other disciples weren’t huddled in a locked room too afraid to go outside… Poor guy just happened to not be there when Jesus appeared to the fear-laden other ten. You’ll notice that Jesus offers the sign of the mark in his hands and side to all the other disciples first too. When Thomas returns to this news, it seems too good to be true. He’s not doubtful for the sake for the sake of being doubtful. He is simply asking for his own experience. He’s an equal opportunist. And Jesus obliges. A week later Jesus comes back, and this time Thomas is there.


Just like Mary in the garden in her grief, Jesus appears, slowly and gently. In a similar way, both times, Jesus doesn’t beat down the door or make a grand entrance. He arguably makes a somewhat creepy supernatural- like appearance, just appearing before them even though the door is bolted shut. But other than that, it’s pretty low key. Jesus in our moments of despair, fear, and hurt, comes to us gently and lovingly.


Sometimes this scripture is read as Jesus- the Scolder of doubters. But if we look at the Gospel of John as a whole, Jesus is actually just being really consistent here. The Gospel of John is marked by seven signs. (Recall that we mentioned this a few weeks ago when we learned about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, which was the seventh sign.) At each of these seven signs, people are amazed. (Who wouldn’t be in awe at seeing water turn to wine??) And each time someone gushed over these signs or miracles, Jesus pointed towards what was beneath these signs, which was trust in God. Jesus didn’t want the fixation to be on the trick, but rather the example that God will always show up and provide for God’s beloved. That seems to be true here as well.


Thomas receives the short end of the stick historically as being the biggest doubter. “Don’t be like Thomas!” First, be like Thomas. Don’t just take other people’s word for it; make sure you experience life and faith first hand. Second, Thomas is merely the projection of all the disciples and followers leading up to this moment in the Gospel of John. Jesus isn’t scolding Thomas. He’s reminding everyone, including us, that while seeing and believing is fine and understandable, there’s even a deeper way to experience faith.


This is where it gets a little tricky and a little scary for me sometimes. I hear other theologies and interpretations of Christianity ringing in my ears telling me to let go of everything, to not worry, to just give it to God and God will handle it. That gets tricky for me because I believe we’re called to be engaged in this process of faith and Kin-dom building. I think we’re meant to be co-creators and co-conspirators with God. I don’t like being absolved of any responsibility or action.




There is a sweet spot that is the good kind of uncomfortable that asks us to trust in God. These are some of the strangest times. We don’t know how long this period will last. We don’t know what the long term effects will be or how we’ll look back on this time in years to come. The disciples were in a similar place of fear, longing, and uncertainty. Even though Mary had come to share the good news...they maybe didn’t believe her immediately. Or maybe they just didn’t even know how to process that information. It’s a big thing to just believe after all.


Therefore, it does not surprise me at all to find the disciples huddled around a wooden dining room table (at least in my imagination) paralyzed into silence and stillness by fear. They don’t know what to do or believe. The authorities are still hunting them down. Who wouldn’t hide in that scenario? Who would be jumping, bursting, ready to believe the most hoped for and most impossible thing after a death? Did their eyes deceive them? As someone who struggles with mundane decisions like what to eat for lunch, this kind of lack of clarity would have absolutely paralyzed me. I would be on the end of the table. Next to one person, so I had some contact, and then freedom on the other side of me in case I needed some space.

How would you respond? Where would you be in the room? What would you be feeling?


Jesus came to them. Shocking as it may have been, I imagine him as his thoughtful and kind self. He left the door locked. He didn’t shove them out into the world, forcing them to face every fear and challenge at once. He met them where they were--physically and emotionally.


Hear this invitation and this promise: God meets us where we are. We are all experiencing this pandemic differently. Be gentle with yourselves and be gentle with others. There is no right way to do this just as there is no right way to do faith. Remember? God meets us where we are--wherever we are. While it might be hard to just “let go and let God” as the saying goes...there is wisdom in letting God hold our worry, our fear, and our anxiety. We can’t control those things anyways.


God may not make those things magically disappear, but God is pretty good at transformation. We can be unsure, afraid, worried and still have hope. Hope allows us to stay present and to imagine a possible future. Jesus brought hope with him in those moments when he visited his beloved--Mary, the disciples, and Thom- as. And most importantly, he brought peace to their stirring spirits. He brought healing, as he often did and continues to do.


Breathe in...and as you breathe out, imagine you are in that room, receiving the Holy Spirit, feeling the breath of Christ wash over you, bringing with it a sense of calm.


Peace be with you, dear ones. Now and always. Amen.


Until we are together again....