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Weekly worship: Sunday 8 April

 Second Sunday of Easter: Live together in unity

House building in South Sudan

Live together in unity

Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 133, 1 John 1:1-2:2, John 20:19-31

The common thread in our readings today is Unity. Here, we'll reflect on:

  • The story of Thomas and his special experience with Jesus
  • Why we need to face our sins
  • How Christian Aid's work is more than unity

 

Thomas' special experience with Jesus

How good and pleasant it is when kindred live in together unity (Ps 133:1). We mustn't make the mistake of confusing unity with unanimity, though.

On the evening of the first day, the disciples were locked, out of fear, in an upper room. We often forget that they were hiding away from persecution. Meanwhile Thomas, for some unknown reason, was outside facing up to the dangers of that chaotic time.

We can only speculate as to why he'd left the group.

Thomas did not share the experience of the other disciples. When Jesus appeared behind the locked doors of the upper room, Thomas wasn't with them.

A week later, when Jesus appears again, Thomas is there. But rather than simply treat Thomas as though he'd had the same experience as all the others, Jesus singles him out for a special, personal experience. It is Thomas who is encouraged to touch Jesus' wounds.

Jesus meets us all where we are. We all have different faith stories and different experiences of the risen Christ. We don't stop being individuals when we become Christians - yet we are urged to live together in unity.

 

Why we need to face our sins

In 1 John 1, we're urged not to shy away from the reality that we have all sinned. If we confess our sins, then he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Like the early church, we need to focus our attention on proclaiming the new life which we have experienced through the resurrection of our Lord.

 

More than unity

In Acts 4, we're also told that the apostles focused their attention on the proclamation of the resurrection. However, the unity of this early Christian community goes a stage further. It focuses, as we do, on meeting the basic needs of all.

Christian Aid isn't a political organisation, but the vision of Acts 4 - in which the basic needs of all are met through a redistribution of the resources available to the community - is central to their vision and work. 

Without such redistribution, there can be no unity.

Pray

Rainbow God,

We give you thanks for the marvellous variety of your creation

Give us eyes to see you at work in all situations

Give us the voice to sing your praise at all times

Give us the courage to speak out and challenge inequity wherever we encounter it.

Pointers for prayer

Pray for:

  • unity in Myanmar
  • the ongoing work of Christian Aid partners responding to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar
  • a lasting solution, safe refuge, and the rebuilding of communities and lives

We are grateful to Tim Presswood, member of Christian Aid’s worship and theology collective, Baptist regional minister for the North West of England, and one of the duo behind dancingscarecrow.org.uk.