April 11, 2021

Receive the Holy Spirit
Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Service
April 11, 2021

Hymn: O My People, Saith the Spirit (CCS 604) – Lamoni Choir

Scripture Reading: Acts 4:32-35

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Welcoming Hymn: As the Wind Song Through the Trees (CCS 42)

Reading – based on John 20:19-21

Disciple: We have seen Jesus!!! He is Risen!!!
Thomas: I didn’t see Him. You say that you saw Him, but you might just be saying that.
Disciple: No, Jesus was here. We saw Him. We talked to Him.
Thomas: I doubt it.
Disciple: He talked to us about forgiveness. He told us we should be at peace.
Thomas: Unless I see the mark of the nails and touch them with my hands, I won’t believe that he is risen.
Jesus: Thomas, I am here. Put your finger on the marks on my hand, Put your hand through the wounds on my side. Do not doubt. You may believe.
Thomas: Jesus, I have seen and now I believe. I needed this so I would not doubt.
Jesus: But blessed are those who have not seen for themselves yet are still able to believe.

Hymn of Overcoming Doubt: God is Here (CCS 70)

Prayer for Peace

Loving Creator,
We live in a world that separates us in so many ways. We are separated by gender, color, sexual orientation, economics and even political parties. We hold up these divisions and pray that you will bend us toward each other, rather than away; bend us toward you. Let those things that have so divided us, become the things that bring us together. Let us begin to see the things that have separated us as the things that pull us together. Create unity where there was division. Guide us in love. Bend us toward kindness. We pray in your Son’s holy name, Amen.

Sharing of the spoken word – by Elder Dick Kramer

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

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.”

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.” 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 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.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:16-31)

We can all relate to the feeling of fear that the disciples were experiencing on that Sunday evening while they locked themselves in that house. We have tried to keep safe from a pandemic and seen mobs invade our capital building. Our fears are different from theirs, but it is still fear. Christ came into the world to give us hope. Hope for a better life, and the promise of eternity. Often we hear reference to God’s greatest gift. We all interpret that gift to be Jesus Christ. But I would like to suggest that the gift is more than just Jesus. The gift is what Jesus stands for. Let me list some of the things that I believe Jesus stands for:

  1. Choice or agency. God gave Adam and Eve the right to choose between good and evil. He could have simply put them in the Garden of Eden and told them everything that he wanted them to do and how they should do it. Instead, he allowed them to choose to either eat or not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. After they chose to eat and humankind fell into evil ways, He sent Jesus to show us the way back to Him. That way also involved choice. If we choose to follow Jesus, will receive the holy spirit and survive. If we choose not to follow, we DIE both physically and spiritually.
  2. Love. God loves all of His creation, especially humankind. Jesus taught that we should emulate His love by loving each other. That love involves helping those who are less successful in life and seeking to make their lives better. One way to do this is use only that portion of God gift of our environment which we need and helping to preserve the environment for the future as well as today. Too long, we have used our God given resources in wasteful ways.
  3. Hope. Through the resurrection, God has given us the promise of eternal life. But more than this, we can anticipate living in a world where we have opportunity. Opportunity to have joy and peace. Joy in the sharing of experiences of happiness with our families and friends. Peace in knowing that whatever happens, God will be with us to help bear our burdens.
  4. Faith. Jesus has given us a pathway, something to believe in, a reason to go forward. Life with Jesus has meaning. It’s not just something to be endured and made the best of.
    When we accept Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit. That spirit living within us is a compass that if we listen to its guidance will lead us through the maze that life puts before us and will lead us to everlasting life in God’s presence.

When we accept Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit. That spirit living within us is a compass that if we listen to its guidance will lead us through the maze that life puts before us and will lead us to everlasting life in God’s presence.

The Spirit of God Like A Fire Is Burning (CCS 384)

Disciples Generous Response:

We are touched by the ever-present Holy Spirit, our inward journey of disciple formation includes many facets: experience, scripture and prayer. Experiences with the Holy Spirit confirm that all of life is spiritual. Scripture deepens our understanding of God and shapes our attitudes, behaviors and actions. (Choose Generosity, adapted)

Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes may be done directly or through eTithing.

Closing Hymn: “Go Now Forth into the World” (CCS 646)

Sending Forth: Mission Prayer

God, where will your Spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace.

This service was prepared by Vera and Dick Kramer.