Sunday 19th April

Welcome and Notices

Opening Prayer

Press play, then read along below. Join in with the words in bold!

Dear Lord Jesus, we thank You for the way You appeared to the disciples, when they were locked away for fear of the Jewish leaders. We pray that You would meet with us in our isolation as we share this time of worship this morning. We look to the way You revealed Your risen presence to your disciples and showed them the wounds You received on our behalf. We pray that we may know Your presence with us in our homes and help us to understand they way You suffered on our behalf.

We pray that we may receive the peace that You spoke over your disciples and be able to receive the Holy Spirit that You breathed over them. We respond with the words of Thomas: “My Lord and my God.”

We are blessed because we do believe that You died for us. Increase our understanding, we pray, and open our minds and hearts to receive You, Lord. Speak Your word of peace to us and let Your love shine on any dark areas in our lives. May this worship which we offer in Your name be a worthy response to Your love and Your sacrifice for us.

Risen Christ,
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father. Amen

Song of Worship

We are the people of the Risen King… lets worship him! one heart, one voice… O church of Christ Rejoice!!

Bible Reading

John 20:19-31

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


By Tony Coulson

I was on the rota to preach on the Sunday after Easter but in these extraordinary days in which we live I decided to hand over to a visiting preacher. You will have to use your imagination. Imagine yourself in St. James’ as I am sure we would all like to be this Sunday morning. Imagine the visiting preacher coming up to the lectern now and you strain forward to see her – yes, it’s a woman. What are our first impressions of her? Well, I would guess straightaway that she’s Jewish. What sort of age? Difficult to say, she moves with the grace and ease of young woman but the lines on her face make you feel that she’s been through a lot. But it would be better if I stood aside and let her introduce herself…

“My name is Mary and I come from Magdala, that prosperous fishing village on the shore of Lake Galilee. I don’t want to tell you too much about the first part of my life. It didn’t go right. I suppose that there was no one to warn me when I was sixteen going on seventeen that ‘your life, little girl, is an empty page that men will want to write on.’ And so I muddled on, not sure what life was about.

Then it was that I began to hear people talking about this new Teacher. I thought at first he was just another of those people who roam around with some new idea and then was heard of no more. But people spoke differently about this Teacher. They said he did amazing things – that people who had been seriously ill had been healed by him – that there was something magnetic about this Teacher.

He was a Galilean, so I thought I might see him one day. And that is just what happened. He was walking along with a little group of men and women. They looked so happy as they listened to him talking. Shyly I tagged along with them, but it was not long before the Master noticed me – that’s what I called him: “The Master”. And he spoke to me as we talked privately. He seemed to understand all about me – all that had been wrong, all that had spoiled my young life. And as he spoke and as he prayed, I knew my life would now be bound up with him and his followers. What a mixed bunch we were! Some were the kind of people I had grown up amongst – Galilean fishermen – but there were all sorts of others. I was horrified at first to find that there was one of those ghastly tax collectors; he had worked for the Romans, but it seems he had given that up now and become part of the group going from place to place with the Master.

What heady days they were, seeing the amazing things the Master did – healing people, yes, but other things too like causing wine to be there in plenty at a wedding in a village not far from my own village. But it wasn’t only what he did, but what he said – wonderful words about God and His love – telling stories about God being like a Father welcoming His erring son – like a Shepherd going out into danger to find just one sheep lost out of a hundred. I don’t mean that I understood all that he said. Some of his words were puzzling. But it was when I felt it was good to be alive. They were wonderful days.

And then we left Galilee and made our way towards Jerusalem. But that was not as exciting as you might think. I had always known that Jerusalem was a great city where God’s holy Temple was, but somehow as we got nearer Jerusalem the atmosphere seemed darker. The Master said some strange things about being put to death. It was difficult to know what he meant, but it was as though a dark cloud seemed to blot out those happy days in Galilee. But once we were in Jerusalem, my spirits lifted because the Master had got someone to lend him a donkey and he sat on it. Just a donkey – not a splendid horse – but on it he rode down the Mount of Olives into the city. And this certainly attracted attention! People who knew their Scriptures said it was a fulfilment of what a prophet had written. They pulled down palm branches and waved them and shouted ‘Hosanna!’ which means ‘Save us!’ They thought the Master might be the Messiah coming into the city – that it was all being fulfilled.

It was all very exciting, but I didn’t really know what to think. I noticed that not everyone was enthusiastic. I saw some of the religious leaders whispering together and looking towards the Master with looks of hate; I felt that they would have liked to get rid of him…and I was right. For what happened very quickly over the next few days was almost too horrible and upsetting for me to tell you. I was nearby most of the time. I saw some of what happened and the rest I heard about from others. The Master was arrested, taken before the High Priest, before King Herod, and the Roman Governor himself, Pontius Pilate.

I was there in the crowd when Pilate brought the Master out on the steps. He had been beaten up, but he still had a strange dignity. Pilate seemed a bit uncertain of what to do, as he had asked the crowd for their opinion. Of course the chief priests had a whispering campaign and told people what to shout – and that shout was truly terrible: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” they called out. And then things took their course and it was only a little while later that I was there on the Hill of Calvary.

Have you ever seen someone crucified? I wouldn’t recommend it. There were three that day. The Master was in the middle. The other two were criminals, but I don’t care what anyone had done. No one should have to suffer like that.

There we were – three of us called Mary, including the Master’s dear mother. The soldiers didn’t stop us as we came close to be near him as he suffered. He spoke from time to time – strange words as though in his weakness and agony he was still in charge. He thought of his mother and asked John to look after her. And as he died it grew horribly dark, and I felt cold and utterly wretched.

So that was that and I supposed that later the bodies would be taken down and flung into a pit. Then we heard that a rich man had gone to Pilate and got permission to give the Master a decent burial. It seems that this man (Joseph was his name) had a family tomb and offered to place the Master’s body in it. You know the way we used to do things then: the body would be place in a tomb – more like a cave – and placed on a shelf with plenty of spices to cope with the smell of decomposition, then later when the flesh had all gone, the bones would be gathered up and put in a box. So I and one or two other women watched carefully to see where Joseph and his friend Nicodemus took the Master’s body. We noted which tomb it was because we wanted to go and wrap the body in spices.

BUT – and there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there? But all this was on Friday towards dusk, which meant that the Sabbath was starting. So there was nothing we could do until Saturday was over. How I got through that day I don’t know. It’s all a blur in my mind now.

On Sunday morning I was up before dawn, took my spices and rushed to the tomb. Vaguely I wondered if I would need help rolling back the heavy stone. But then as I drew nearer in the grey morning light, I saw a gaping hole. The stone was already rolled back!

Something has happened!

This was the last straw!

After all that we had gone through, someone had stolen the Master’s body!

I was in a panic, and I met Peter and John on their way to pay their respects. I screamed at them, “They have taken the Master out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him!” They broke into a run to go and see for themselves. I just stood there crying. I was broken-hearted. I could take no more.

Then I realised there was a man near me and he gently asked why I was crying and what I was looking for. I thought he must be the one who looked after the area and kept it tidy. Without looking, I sobbed out, “If you have taken him, please tell me where you have put him.”

Then something happened that changed everything. I heard my name spoken – “Mary.” Spoken by a voice which I knew and had thought I would never hear again.

“Master!” I cried as I looked up and saw that he was really standing there in front of me.

“No, don’t hold on to me,” he said gently. “Go and tell the others that I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

My heart, which had felt so unutterably wretched, lifted to new heights – the Master who had died is alive!

I did as he said. I soon found the others and I said, “I have seen the Lord!” Some of them didn’t know what to make of it. But they soon knew I was right, for he appeared to them also – some of them that same day, and a week later for the sake of poor old Thomas. (You know all about that because you heard it in the Bible reading.)

I must tell you again what I know – that which makes all the difference to life and death, that which I come down the centuries to tell you again today: I have seen the Lord!”

…Oh, she’s gone! Thank you, Mary Magdalene. Let us pray:

We thank you heavenly Father for the wonder of the resurrection and the difference it makes to the life of each one of us. Christ is risen! Alleluia! Amen.

Song of Worship

‘And I will fall at your feet and I will worship you, the risen Lord, here.’


By Frank Box

Let us pray.

Lord, during this time when we are unable to meet we are thankful for the technology which can bring us together in your name – “Where two or more are gathered together in my name there shall I be.” As your Church gathers together through out the world, hear their prayers and be with them. Be especially with those people we support both abroad and at home. Give them strength to do your will.

A time to say your own prayers.

Come risen Lord, hear our prayers:

Thinking of the world and the effects of the virus world-wide, I found this prayer: “O God King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we pray today for statesmen, leaders and rulers may they be quiet in spirit, clear in judgement, able to understand the issues and face them. May they think often of the common people who they serve. Grant them patience, grant them courage, foresight and faith. In their anxieties, be their security. In their opportunities, be their inspiration. By their plans and actions may your kingdom come, your will be done.

A time to say your own prayers.

Come risen Lord, hear our prayers:

As we continue to pray for all working in the NHS and Care Homes we pray for their safety and for their families. There are so many more men and women working in various jobs to help keep us safe, fed and comfortable in our homes, and so we pray for their safety.

A time to say your own prayers.

Come risen Lord, hear our prayers:

From our places of isolation let us look out and give God thanks for His world that continues to blossom. The birds rise in the morning and sing, the flowers open to the sun that rises every dawn.

Lord Jesus we praise you that nothing could keep you dead in the grave. You are stronger than death. Help us to remember that there is nothing to be afraid of, because you are alive and by our side.


Song of Worship

In this current climate we can declare that The King of Glory breaks the power of sin and darkness, he rules the nations with truth and justice… he is the King above all kings.


"Peace be with you," Jesus says to us who have shared worship together.
Our doubts and fears cannot lock God out of our lives.
We remember this as we move forward from our worship,
living out our lives by faith in Jesus and all that He has done for us.
We remind ourselves of Jesus’ words to Thomas:
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
And all of God’s people said, "Amen!"

Thank you for joining us for worship this morning. Grab yourself a coffee and a biscuit and come spend some time on Slack chatting with the church family!