' Seeing is Believing '

 The 2nd Sunday of Easter

I invite you to share in a few moments with God knowing that other people within Paulton, Trinity and Chew Stoke Methodist Churches are sharing this act of worship with you.

Revd Martin

Doubting Thomas

Psalm 16: 1-4, 8-11

Song of trust and security in God

1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
2 I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;
   I have no good apart from you.’
3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight. 
4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
   their drink-offerings of blood I will not pour out
   or take their names upon my lips. 

8 I keep the Lord always before me;
   because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
   my body also rests secure. 
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
   or let your faithful one see the Pit. 
11 You show me the path of life.
   In your presence there is fullness of joy;
   in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.




Hymn – He has Risen, Jesus is alive

           He has risen,
                he has risen,
                he has risen,
                Jesus is alive.

   1      When the life flowed from his body,
           seemed like Jesus’ mission failed.
           But his sacrifice accomplished,
           victory over sin and hell.

   2      In the grave God did not leave him,
           for his body to decay;
           raised to life, the great awakening,
           Satan’s power he overcame.

   3      If there were no resurrection,
           we ourselves could not be raised;
           but the Son of God is living,
           so our hope is not in vain.

   4      When the Lord rides out of heaven,
           mighty angels at his side,
           they will sound the final trumpet,
           from the grave we shall arise.

   5      He has given life immortal,
           we shall see him face to face;
           through eternity we’ll praise him,
           Christ, the Champion of our faith.

Gerald Coates (b. 1944),  Noël Richards (b. 1955) and Tricia Richards (b. 1960)



Almighty God, risen Christ, loving Father, we come before you with hearts full of joy, knowing that you are risen, and that you fill our lives with hope, love and peace.

As those early disciples met together, and reached out to you, so we too reach out to touch you today, living Lord Jesus.  In our daily lives, may we see you and hear you, may we feel you and touch you, may we know your presence amongst us.  And in the quiet moments, may we be still and know deep within us, that you are our God.

Merciful God, we are sorry that we carry so many doubts and look for physical signs to prove what we already know in our hearts.  Forgive us when we choose to rely on our own resources and not on you, when we believe only when we have proof.  Help us to forgive more readily and trust more willingly.



Readings for today

1 Peter 1: 3-9

A Living Hope

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


John 20: 19-29

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 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.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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.’ 27Then 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.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


Hymn – Christ the Lord is risen today -

   1      Christ the Lord is risen today;
           All creation joins to say:
           Raise your joys and triumphs high;
           Sing, you heavens; let earth, reply:

   2      Love’s redeeming work is done,
           Fought the fight, the battle won;
           Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
           Christ has burst the gates of hell:

   3      Lives again our glorious King;
           Where, O death, is now your sting?
           Once he died our souls to save;
           Where’s your victory, boasting grave?

   4      Soar we now where Christ has led,
           Following our exalted Head;
           Made like him, like him we rise;
           Ours the cross, the grave, the skies:

   5      King of Glory!  Soul of bliss!
           Everlasting life is this,
           You to know, your power to prove,
           Thus to sing, and thus to love:

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)



“Seeing is believing” is a well-known phrase, but which transmits a message of doubt rather than of belief.  When in doubt, we are tempted to believe only what our eyes can prove to us rather than what our minds or hearts want us to believe. 

We have all seen magicians such as Paul Daniels or, more recently, Dynamo, who are able to do in front of our eyes, what our minds are telling us is completely impossible.  It is so frustrating, as our rational brain tells us we are being tricked, but our eyes fail to see how.

As we continue to reflect on the unlimited grace and glory of God revealed to us through the resurrection of Jesus, we find ourselves in exactly the same position as both Thomas, and the people of the early church in Asia Minor who have received this pastoral letter written in the name of Peter.  Jesus has risen, but we were not there to see to it for ourselves, and now we have to rely on the witness of others.

But the Easter story is no sleight of hand, no magic trick of a distant God designed to fool gullible mortals, but is the revelation of an Almighty power which overcomes all things in God’s desire to redeem his sinful people.  The cross was no illusion, but a reality which left Jesus’ body bruised and wounded.

But poor old “doubting” Thomas found it difficult to believe.  Perhaps there was a little jealousy that his friends, with whom he had spent the last couple of years, had experienced something that he had not.  Did he think they were trying to trick him?  Or was the reality of what they were saying so wonderful, so amazing, that he just couldn’t comprehend it?  Were the other disciples so filled with joy, that Thomas also wanted to share in their delight, and he too wanted to see for himself the reality of the risen Christ?

On a number of occasions throughout his ministry, Jesus invites new followers to come and see, to experience for themselves the reality of living with the love of God as the guiding light in their lives.  And we too, are called to come and see.  Not physically with our eyes, but spiritually, in our souls, what it means to acknowledge the presence of God in the midst of our daily lives, and in the lives of others.

I guess we all have moments of doubt at different points in our journey of faith, times when we no longer feel the presence of God in the same powerful way that we may have done in the past.  And it is at these times that we crave a physical sight of God’s presence to renew our faith and courage.  The author of Peter’s letter reminds us that we believe even though we have not seen, and because of that “you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

What physical proof are we looking for to confirm our faith, or to give meaning to our beliefs?  What would convince us of the truth of God’s grace, if the deserted cross and the empty tomb are not sufficient?

Look into the eyes of the people that you meet; observe the reactions of all those moved by Captain Tom, who at 99, decided very simply to do what he was able to do; look into the eyes of the NHS and other exhausted key workers who daily place the needs of others above their concerns for their own health; reach out and touch the scars of the wounded; and see the face of God within reach.

Can there really be any reason to doubt?

Christ is risen.  He is risen, indeed.  Hallelujah!!



Intercessions & Lords Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for all the peoples and places of this world who are living in fear at this present time.  For the sick and for their families who cannot be with them, for the bereaved who have been denied their last chance to be with their loved ones, for those afraid of losing their job and uncertain of what the future holds for them.


Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer


We pray for all who are putting their own lives at risk in caring for others.  For NHS staff, postmen, bus drivers, refuse collectors, police, fire and ambulance staff.  May they know our gratitude and receive our thanks.


Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer


We pray for the fearful, the lonely, who are reaching out to find you, but do not know how to see.  May we be given the courage to guide them and to reveal your presence to them.


Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer


Give wisdom to the leaders of our nations, that they will have the courage to take difficult decisions on our behalf in the face of terrible consequences, and give understanding to those who are so quick to criticise, but who will never have to walk a step in their shoes.


Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer


We pray for peace of mind for those who are stressed and anxious, and who feel weighed down by the pressures of the lockdown.  May they know they you are close at hand.


We pray for our families and friends, and for all those in need at this present time.


May all we pray for today feel the assurance of your peace within them, beside them, behind them and before them, this day and all days.




Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory

for ever and ever.



Hymn – Thine be the glory - I

   1      Thine be the glory,
           risen, conquering Son,
           endless is the victory
           thou o’er death hast won;
           angels in bright raiment
           rolled the stone away,
           kept the folded grave-clothes
           where thy body lay:
                Thine be the glory,
                risen, conquering Son,
                endless is the victory
                thou o’er death hast won.

   2      Lo, Jesus meets us,
           risen from the tomb;
           lovingly he greets us,
           scatters fear and gloom;
           let the Church with gladness
           hymns of triumph sing,
           for her Lord now liveth,
           death hath lost its sting:

   3      No more we doubt thee,
           glorious Prince of Life;
           life is naught without thee:
           aid us in our strife;
           make us more than conquerors
           through thy deathless love;
           bring us safe through Jordan
           to thy home above:

Edmond Budry (1854–1932)
translated by Richard Birch Hoyle (1875–1939)



Let us take the touch of the risen Christ, and the peace that he gives, out with us into the world.  Let us breathe his life-giving Spirit into our lives, and into the lives of all those we know and love, and all those we should love.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and forever more.


Look at my hands


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