A Living Hope (John 20:19-31) // Sunday, April 16, 2023 (updated)

A Living Hope (John 20:19-31) // Sunday, April 16, 2023 (updated)

You, your family and friends may connect to our worship service in person in the Sanctuary (masks required) on Zoom by clicking HERE or you can join us on YouTube at youtube.com/graceumcla!

Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak in to your life! Expect great things!

Guest Preacher: Rev. Louis Chase

Rev. Louis Chase is the Minister of Community Outreach for Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA. Rev. Chase has served as Intern / Assistant Pastor under Rev. James M. Lawson. He has since served as senior pastor in other United Methodist Churches in Greater Los Angeles over the past 25+ years Thus, he is very familiar with social, cultural, and environmental concerns of the area.

Rev. Chase is well equipped as Minister of Community Outreach with a long history in participation in the Lawson Workshop on Nonviolence and with a strong background of involvement in social and environmental justice in leadership roles in:

Preparation for SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A – April 16, 2023

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants share their responses to the question, “What brings you joy?”

Scripture: John 20:19-31 (New Revised Standard Version)

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue[b] to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9.

  • What might it mean to be gifted with a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”? (1 Peter 1:3)
  • How might receiving a “new birth” as a gift be countercultural in a society that emphasizes productivity? [It cannot be earned. It comes to us as a gift that gives us and others value apart from what we can do or achieve.]
  • What might it look like to live confident in our “inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4-5)? [There are better days ahead! Days that are more defined by Resurrection than by death, love more than fear.]
  • Why do you think Peter notes that our faith is “more precious than gold”? (1 Peter 1:7)
  • As a group, read aloud together Psalm 16:9-11. How do we experience God’s presence? [Primarily in the means of grace – searching the Scripture, prayer, fasting, journaling, Lord’s Supper, fellowship with other believers, and so forth.] How can we experience the joy from God as a response that can be disconnected from our present circumstances?

Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.

Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:

Merciful and Covenant-keeping God, we give you thanks for your faithfulness when we are faithless. Give us a fresh wind of the joy that comes from your salvation – an eternal, abundant life-giving relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May your joy propel us to be your faithful witnesses this coming week. Amen.