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Trinity United Church
April 22, 2022
2nd Sunday of Easter

Worship Leader: Rev David Cathcart
Music Leader: David Rogers
Scripture Reader: Eve Teubert
Zoom Hosts: Megan Rankin, Brian Wheatley, Stephen Grootendorst

May the Peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.

Welcome to Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam. We are grateful you have joined us for worship this morning. 
Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam resides on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish People the Kwikwetlem First Nations. Our acknowledgement of unceded traditional territory is a first step in reconciliation between settler cultures and indigenous peoples and the decolonization of western systems that continue to oppress and exploit indigenous peoples and land.
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    I invite you to take a deep breath, and let it go. I invite you to take another breath, and let it go. And one more time, take a deep breath and let it go. Let us prepare our hearts and minds for worship.

Prelude: David Rogers

[light the Christ Candle]

Sung Introit: “Christ Is Risen from the Dead” VU 167

Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:
Fear is changed to empathy.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Doubt is changed to trust.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Greif is changed to wisdom.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Despair is changed to understanding.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Pain is changed to hope.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Ignorance is changed to love.
    Let Easter reign forever!
Come, let us worship and give thanks for the Blessings of Easter!

Holy One, we come with our questions; 
we come with our doubts; 
we come with our certainties; 
we come with our failings; 
we come with our pride; 

we come with our joy; 
we come with our worries; 
we come with our acceptance; 
we come with our faith.  

However we come, 
you receive us, 
like a loving parent, 
with open arms.  

In this time of worship 
let us stand before 
you with Alleluias in our hearts.  

Hymn: “Praise to God, Your Praises Show” VU 875

A New Creed: Sung

Peace be with you; Peace be with you.
Trust in me; trust in me.
I will always love you; I will always love you.
Jesus said; Jesus said.*

*Seasons of the Spirit, L/E 2009, p 89

Long ago Jesus’ friends were together hiding in a room. They were sad and they were afraid. Jesus was gone and they were worried. What should they do now? What should they do? (Pause.) Suddenly Jesus was there!
Sing “Peace be with you…
Peace be with you; Peace be with you.
Trust in me; trust in me.
I will always love you; I will always love you.
Jesus said; Jesus said.*

Jesus’ friends were excited and happy! Jesus was back with them! What would happen next? What should they do?
Sing “Peace be with you…
Peace be with you; Peace be with you.
Trust in me; trust in me.
I will always love you; I will always love you.
Jesus said; Jesus said.*

Jesus smiled and said to the friends, “Peace be with you. Just as God gave me a job to do, I’m giving you a special job.” Then Jesus said, “God’s Spirit is with you. If someone makes a mistake, give them another chance.” (Pause.) Then Jesus was gone. 

Later after Jesus left, another friend, Thomas came to the room. The friends said, “We have seen Jesus!” But Thomas didn’t believe them. Thomas wanted to see Jesus for himself. (Pause.) A week later, Jesus came to the friends again, and this time Thomas was with them to hear Jesus’ blessing.
Sing “Peace be with you…
Peace be with you; Peace be with you.
Trust in me; trust in me.
I will always love you; I will always love you.
Jesus said; Jesus said.*

Thomas looked at Jesus. Thomas could hardly believe what he saw. “Jesus, it really is you!” Jesus looked lovingly at Thomas. “Yes, Thomas, here I am. You can see me. Now imagine all the people who have not seen me and they still believe I am with them.” Then Jesus turned to everyone and said, “Go. Tell people about me. Tell them about God. Spread God’s love to all the people!”
Sing “Peace be with you…*
Peace be with you; Peace be with you.
Trust in me; trust in me.
I will always love you; I will always love you.
Jesus said; Jesus said.*

Psalm 118 (parts 2, 3, and 4) VU 837

Reading John 20:19-31
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.’
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.’
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But 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.

Hear what the spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God!

Hymn: “You Tell Me that the Lord Is Risen” VU 185 CLICK HERE

Message: Rev David

Breathe on us, Holy One,
that we may receive your Holy Spirit.
May we learn forgiveness,
and proclaim your Good News.
In the name of the one who appeared
and made his presence know, we pray. Amen.

The disciples are gathered. The door to the house where they are gathered is locked. Some are confused. Some are grieving. Most are fearful. Some are elated because Jesus has appeared to them. Some are perplexed and anxious. Not yet sure what to make of the last week's events.

Then Jesus stands among them and says, "Peace be with you." He shows them his hands and his side. We are told the disciples rejoiced. Jesus repeats, "Peace be with you." and then gives them the command, "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."

He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

He breathed on them.

It's rather a strange thing to do, "He breathed on them."

But maybe it makes sense when it is attached to the next thing Jesus says, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

We know that there is a relationship between "Breath" and "Spirit" and that in the ancient languages of Hebrew and Greek the words for "Breath" Ruah in Hebrew and Pnuema in Greek, generally get used for "spirit." And even in Latin there is the connection between breathing and the spirit in the word "inspire."

However, the word in the Greek text used to describe what Jesus does is the Greek word "emphysao," "he breathed on." This word is only used the once in the Christian Testament.

However, it is also used a couple of times in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that would have been known the the Gospel Writers.

"Emphysao" is used in Genesis 2:7 God pulls together the dust of the earth into a mound and "breathed into (emphysao) the nostrils the breath of life." And Adam gain life.

In the book of Ezekiel 37:9, Ezekiel the prophet is looking over the valley of dry bones. God gives the instructions to "breathe upon the slain that they may live." When Ezekiel does as he is told, the bones rise up, flesh and skin are attached to them and they gain life.

We can safely assume that the Gospel writer, John, is making a direct reference to Genesis 2 and Ezekiel and the valley of bones. There were, after all, other words he could have used for "breathed on them." But he chose this word.

John wants us to understand that being breathed on by Jesus, brings life. Life from nothing as in the case in genesis. Life from dried out old bones as in Ezekiel. Life from fear, grief and confusion as in John's gospel.

Here's a rabbit hole I ended up in this week:

When in Seminary one of the first things we learn in Hebrew Scriptural Studies is the Tetragammaton. Tetra means "four" and Gramma" means "something." The "four things" are the four consonants that are used for the name of God: YHVH. We often translate them into English as Yaweh or Jehovah. In English we have this thing about words needing vowels, so we add them.

However, if you try to pronounce the four consonants as they are written without vowels, you get *inhale* *exhale*. It is the sound of us breathing.

The first thing a baby does when it is born is breathe the name of God.

The last thing an elderly person does as they die is breathe out the name of God.

And all the time in between, we utter the name of God again and again and again, in a continuous succession breath after breath, whether we know it or not.

Jesus appears to his disciples, blesses them with peace, and breathes on them. "Receive the Holy Spirit."

Now it just so happens, that when we do put the vowels into the Tetragrammaton, and go with Y'veh. That is how one expresses the sentence, "I am." What better way to establish that you are, but by taking a breath and exhaling. I breathe, therefore I am. And this is the name of God.

In John's gospel, Jesus makes seven "I am" statements: "I am the bread of life," "I am the light of the world," "I am the gate," "I am the Good Shepherd," "I am the Resurrection and the Life;" "I am the Way the Truth and the Life;" "I am the Vine."

Sometimes Jesus and God are referred to as "The Great I AM." Take a look through our hymn books.

So as Jesus breathes on the disciples, at the same time, he is reasserting all the lessons he taught throughout the Gospel, in particular, the I am statements.

John's gospel isn't the gospel I want to pick up when I'm preaching Social Justice. But when it comes to remembering that we are deeply connected to God. when we need to be renewed, and refreshed, reborn and nourished. When we need to remember that God is with us and that God is providing for us abundantly. John is the go-to Gospel.

John is that beloved disciple who rested his head on Jesus' chest during the last supper, listening to Jesus breathe.

Whether intentional or not. I think John was extremely well read and knew what he was doing. There is a relationship here between breath, and spirit, and life, and new life, and God, and Jesus, and nourishment, and connection, and all the I Am statements.

I feel that John might be using the breath as a shorthand for everything we are called to trust.

When we are fearful, and anxious,
confused, and grieving,
may we remember to breathe.
May we receive the Holy Spirit.
May we experience the "Great I Am."
And may we find gain new life. Amen.

Anthem: Trinity Choir


We are grateful for the many ways people choose to serve and give at Trinity United Church. Our ministry is only possible thanks to your gifts of money, time and service. If you would like to make a financial contribution, please send a check to the church office, or click on the “Donate Now” button on our website.
Let us pray:

God of Mystery, Hope and Unsurpassable Awe, we give you thanks.  In the name of Heaven and Earth we raise to you Glory, Gratitude and Praise.
As the tomb could not withhold the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ, so we cannot withhold the joy of our thanks giving and wonder at the works of your love in the world.
Accept our humble offering.  We return to you, only what was yours to begin with.  In the name of the One you raised from the tomb we pray.  Amen.

Prayers of the People/Disciples’ Prayer: 
God of all mystery,
When we close ourselves off from the world, overwhelmed by grief, fear, anxiety, shame, pain, guilt, loneliness, depression, addiction, isolation…
Breathe your breath on us…

When the world is dark and the news is an ill wind,
When young men and women die needlessly,
When mothers live in fear for their children’s health, or lives,
When men know no contact except violence…
Breathe your breath on us…

As we pray for Ukraine, Russia…
As we pray for the refugees around the world…
As we pray for indigenous communities in Canada still waiting for drinkable water…
Breathe your breath on us…

As we pray for the United Church of Canada and its many ministries in these transformative times
As we pray for the ministry of Trinity United Church, our staff and volunteers and for those who receive our services
Breathe your breath on us…

As we pray for individuals and families we love:
Tony, Pat, Catherine, Ria, Bart, John, Joan, the friends and family of Edwin Bracken, Heather Halliwell, and Fred Baldwin…
… and so many more
Breathe your breath on us…

God of Resurrection glory, hear our prayers, take them to your deepest heart, transform them, transform us and transform our world to reveal your promise and…
Breathe your breath on us…

And now we turn to you as a child turns to her mother seeking affirmation and comfort as we sing the words your son taught us…

Disciples Prayer

Hymn: “Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet” VU 875


Hold your hands out in a sign of blessing:
Imagine the love of God entering through the top of your head, mingling with your heart, going out through your fingers into your device and out to all the people out there:

May the God beyond us, 
the Christ beside us, 
the spirit within us, 
the three all around us 
be with you now and always. Amen.

Postlude: David Rogers