The Second Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2020

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word.  Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.

 

M:      He is risen!

C:       He is risen indeed!

All:    Alleluia!

M:       The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

C:        And also with you.

 Confession of Sins

 M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

 

OH, TASTE AND SEE

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

 PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

The minister says the Prayer of the Day.

 O risen Lord, you came to your disciples and took away their fears with your word of peace.  Come to us also by Word and Sacrament, and banish our fears with the comforting assurance of your abiding presence; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

The Word

FIRST LESSON – Acts 2:14a, 22-32

This morning we begin a series of readings from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.  In these verses Peter tells the crowds on Pentecost Day of the sure hope of life in the risen Savior.

 

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:…”Men of Israel, listen to this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  David said about him:  ‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'”  Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”  (NIV1984)

 

Psalm of the Day:  Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God,

for in You I take refuge.

I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

apart from You I have no good thing.”

I have set the LORD always before me.

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

because You will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let Your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the path of life;

You will fill me with joy in Your presence.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son

                        and to the Holy Spirit,

            as it was in the beginning,

                        is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

SECOND LESSON – 1 Peter 1:3-9eba

The resurrection of Jesus the Christ gives us new birth into a living hope.

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.   (NIV1984)

 VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Alleluia. (Rev 22:13)

CAlleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is

       the Christ, the Son of God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

GOSPEL LESSON – John 20:19-31 (Sermon Text)

The faith and hope of the disciples is strengthened as they see their risen Lord.

 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 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 side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.  Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  (NIV1984)

 C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  Overwhelmed!

 Dear fellow worshipers of our living Lord and Savior,

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

If you were asked to use one word to describe the situation we currently find ourselves in, what word would you choose?  Would the word “fearful” fit?  For many people it would fit perfectly!  The fear of catching the coronavirus from someone else and the fear of infecting someone else with the virus are the reasons why we are now required by law to wear a face covering whenever we go out into the public.  In fact, when I went to the bank last week almost every single person waiting in line to get into the bank had on a face covering— including me!

 

Feeding that fear is a tremendous amount of uncertainty.  Will this virus go away in the warmer weather— kind of like the flu virus does?  The experts are uncertain.  If you have been exposed to this type of coronavirus and had very mild if any symptoms, can you catch it again?  That is uncertain.  How long will it be before things get back to “normal”?  The experts are uncertain.  Will what we used to know as “normal” ever be back?  Again, nobody seems to know for sure.

 

What about the word “doubt”?  Do you think that word applies to our current situation?  I have heard that word used any number of times.  Will the millions of jobs that have been lost in this crisis come back?  Will the small businesses that have been devastated by the Shelter-in-Place order survive?  Will the economic impact checks that you have or will be receiving from the government be enough to carry you through these turbulent times?  Will the upcoming school year look like all of the other school years that our children and grandchildren have known?  Doubtful.  Doubtful.  Doubtful.  Doubtful.

 

Whether it is fear or doubt or any number of other things there are no shortage of things that overwhelm us— especially now!  How do we deal with that reality?  When we are overwhelmed with fear, when we are overwhelmed with uncertainly, when we are overwhelmed with doubt where can we turn?  Sadly, for far too many people that question is all but unanswerable— but not for us!

 

Our sermon text for today, my friends, is the traditional Gospel lesson for the Second Sunday of Easter.  This portion of Scripture takes us back to a very familiar place— a locked room somewhere in Jerusalem.  As we go back to that locked room this morning and as we see Jesus’ disciples— first on Easter evening and then one week later— we will focus on one truth.  Jesus’ disciples were:  Overwhelmed!  There are two things we want to see today.  First, let’s see why the disciples were overwhelmed.  Then let’s see how the risen Christ overwhelmed the things that were overwhelming His disciples.

 

Look at the opening verse of our text, John 20:19.  What had overwhelmed Jesus’ disciples?  It was fear, wasn’t it?  Why were the disciples overwhelmed with fear?  Were they afraid that once the Sabbath day was over the religious leaders who had Jesus crucified would now come after them?  Probably so.  Were they afraid because they had heard that the chief priests and the elders of the people had paid a large sum of money to the Roman soldiers to say that the reason Jesus’ grave was now empty was because, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while they were asleep” (Matthew 28:13-15)?  Probably so.  Were they afraid because now that Jesus was gone so were their hopes, their dreams and perhaps even their purpose in life?  Probably so.  There were undoubtedly a number of reasons as to why Jesus’ disciples were overwhelmed with fear.

 

How did the risen Christ overwhelm the fear that had overwhelmed His disciples?  Look at what John writes, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

 

“Shalom aleichem!”  “Peace be with you!”  What used to be the common ordinary greeting among the descendants of Abraham now took on a unique and powerful new meaning!  The risen Christ Himself overwhelmed the fear that had overwhelmed His disciples in a way that only the risen Christ could!  He personally proclaimed to them the victorious message of Easter:  “Peace be with you!”  And to prove that there was no longer any need to fear anyone or anything, to prove that the disciples could now bask in the soft warm blanket of peace, the risen Christ showed them His hands and side.  The stigmata, the “marks of crucifixion” that were visible in Jesus’ resurrected body assured His disciples of the greatest and most wonderful peace of all— the peace that comes from knowing that through the atoning sacrifice of God’s own Son on the cross of Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) all of our sins are completely forgiven!

 

Think about it, my friends.  Did the disciples have any reason to fear their enemies?  Not at all!  Even if the enemies who had Jesus crucified did come after Jesus’ disciples, the disciples now had an even deeper understanding of the words written by King David, “The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  Did the disciples need to fear that they no longer had a reason for hope and a purpose for living?  Not at all!  Not only did the risen Christ give them the “living hope” that Peter referred to in our Epistle lesson this morning (I Peter 1:3-9), but the risen Christ Himself gave them a glorious new purpose in life!  Look at what the risen Christ says to His disciples here in our text, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”  The disciples were now to go out with the power of the Holy Spirit and proclaim to others the victorious message of Easter:  “Peace be with you!”  The disciples were now to go out with the power of the Holy Spirit and share with others the glorious message that through faith in the crucified and risen Savior everyone could bask in the “peace” of forgiveness.

 

“Peace be with you!”  Shalom aleichem!”  Those are the words that we also need to remember, my friends, whenever we are overwhelmed by fear.  If we are afraid of not “fitting in” or not “being accepted,” our living Lord and Savior wraps His loving arm around our shoulder and says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).  If we are afraid of being overwhelmed at school or overwhelmed at work our living Lord and Savior holds out His nail-scarred hands and says, “Don’t be afraid.  Trust me.  I have everything under control.”  If we are afraid of being overwhelmed with guilt because of the sins that we have committed our living Lord and Savior comes to us through His holy Supper and says, “Take and eat, this is my body given into death for your sins.  Take and drink this is my blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.  Depart in peace.”  And if Satan uses the weakness of our mortal sinful nature to fill us with an overwhelming fear of the coronavirus our living Lord and Savior comes to us through His holy Word and strengthens our hearts with those well-known words of the great Resurrection Chapter of the Bible, “’Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  No matter what fears might possibly overwhelm us, my friends, our Savior overwhelms those fears with His unique powerful words, “Shalom aleichem!”  “Peace be with you!”

 

The second portion of our text for today focuses our attention on the familiar account of Thomas.  What had overwhelmed Thomas?  That’s right!  Thomas was overwhelmed by one of Satan’s most favorite tactics:  doubt!  When the other disciples came to Thomas and excitedly said, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas simply did not believe them.  The same Thomas who was willing to die with Jesus (John 11:16), the same Thomas who deeply desired to grow in his understanding of God’s truth (John 14:5) was now overwhelmed by doubt.  For Thomas the message of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead just seemed too good to be true.

 

How did Jesus overwhelm the doubt that had overwhelmed Thomas?  One week later Jesus again came to His disciples there in that room somewhere in Jerusalem and said, “Shalom aleichem!”  “Peace be with you!”  And then before Thomas could even speak one single word Jesus said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”  Was Thomas convinced?  Was Thomas’ doubt overwhelmed by a joyous and humble faith?  Absolutely!  Thomas now proclaims one of the most beautiful succinct confessions of the Christian faith recorded in Scripture!  Thomas says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

 

Sadly, Satan is still quite effective in using doubt to overwhelm God’s people.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some way to counter the seeds of doubt that Satan all too often plants in our hearts and in our minds?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something that we could use to beat back and overcome the doubts that we encounter when our own sinful natures says something like, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it”?  Praise God, my friends!  He has given to us just such a tool!  Look at the closing verses of our text.  John writes, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

 

God Himself has given to us His holy inspired Word so that through the power of His Holy Spirit we might know that Jesus is the Christ— the Promised Messiah, so that we might know that Jesus is the Son of God, so that we might know that the way to eternal life in heaven is through faith in what God Himself has accomplished for us!  (Pointing to the cross)  Whatever doubts Satan may try to use to overwhelm us those doubts are overwhelmed when by God’s grace we are able to turn to the sacred Scriptures and proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord!”

 

What overwhelms you, my friends?  Does school or work sometimes overwhelm you?  Do financial issues or family issues or health issues sometimes overwhelm you?  Does fear or doubt sometimes overwhelm you?  Does guilt from the past or concerns over the future sometimes overwhelm you?  Whatever it is— whatever overwhelms you— your living Lord and Savior overwhelms whatever is overwhelming you with His powerful Easter proclamation: “Shalom aleichem!”  “Peace be with you!”  May God grant that the peace of the risen Christ, the peace that comes to you through His holy Word and through His holy Sacrament will overwhelm your heart and mind with comfort and with peace each and every day.

 

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

OFFERING

            During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

 PRAYER OF THE CHURCH 

Precious Savior Jesus Christ, there is no work or sacrifice we can do to turn away God’s wrath from us.  But eternal thanks be to you, O Lord, because through your suffering and death on the cross you have won full pardon for all of our sins and established peace with God in our behalf.  This peace God announced unmistakably to the whole world when He raised you from the dead on Easter Sunday.  Now peace and forgiveness will always be ours, for you live to make intercession for us in heaven.  Dear ever-living Lord, this peace which you brought to us sinners fills our souls with a holy joy, for we know what when we stand before the throne of God, we shall stand before Him uncondemned and unpunished; and that on the last day we will be received into the everlasting joys of heaven— all because you now live and reign forever!  Let this glorious peace overwhelm whatever fears and whatever doubts Satan may try to bring against us by keeping us focused on your glorious Easter proclamation, “Shalom Aleichem!  Peace be with you!

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  That is the promise that you, our almighty and all-merciful God, have graciously made to unworthy sinners like us.  You promise that no matter what our difficulty might be, no matter whether our difficulty is of body or of soul, no matter how unsolvable our difficulty might seem that you will be there to comfort us and to cure us and to save us.  Lord, we thank you that you have kept your promise to your dearly beloved daughter Kathy Sorrell.  In your grace you have given her doctors the ability to make her surgery a success.  We ask now that if it be your will that you will grant her a quick and complete recovery.   Grant her an even greater measure of your Holy Spirit so that she may continue to serve you in righteousness and godliness all the days of her life.

LORD’S PRAYER

C:        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 and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

C:        Amen.

 

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