Thursday after the Resurrection of our Lord
April 4, 2013
He is Risen!
Well the activity of Easter week is over and our worship schedule will return to our normal pace. This means we will have our study hour this Sunday, beginning at 9:00 am, and worship, beginning at 10:30 am. This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter, or just Easter 2. For our liturgy we will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching, which begins on page 260 of the hymnal. Our appointed lessons are: Acts 5:12-32; Revelation 1:4-18; and John 20:19-31. Our appointed Psalm is Psalm 148 (antiphon verse 13). We sing three hymns with this particular service, and they will be “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing” (LSB 475), “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (LSB 469), and “Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won” (LSB 490).
Our opening hymn is sung by a choir in this video. As it is a special arrangement, the melody is tweaked a bit, but they do a fine job. I hope you enjoy it.
The text for the sermon is John 20:30-31. The sermon is titled: What Now?
In our prayers, we will continue to remember those who have been mislead by our cultures advocacy of sexual immorality and abortion, asking for healing in the lives damaged by these sins; those who are trapped in modern-day slavery (often now called Human Trafficking); Rev. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical - Lutheran Church (SELK-Germany) (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche); Alan Ludwig, our missionary in Russia; the persecuted believers in Indonesia; and our sister congregations: Mt. Olive, Newton, NC; St. Paul’s, Norlina, NC; Our Savior, Raleigh, NC; Crown in Glory, Salisbury, NC; Bethlehem, Aiken, SC.
Preview of Lessons
Acts 5:12-32: This reading from Acts is from the very exciting early days of the life of the Church. Many “signs and wonders” were being performed. Indeed, today we might wonder why more were not recorded. If we were there, that would certainly grab our attention and be the focus of any account we might wright. But the focus of the Spirit is actually on something else, the Word of God. It was by the word of the Gospel that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” It was because of their preaching that the apostles were jailed. It was for their preaching that the angel released the apostles. It was for their preaching that the apostles were hauled before the council. It was their preaching that the apostles defended while at the council, saying that spreading the Gospel is what God commands. Peter even gives a great synopsis of the Church’s message: Jesus was crucified and raised, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is offered through him. In the end, the Church grows through the Holy Spirit working through the word of God. Other things may draw crowds, but if the pure word of God isn’t present, the Church doesn’t grow.
Revelation 1:4-18: When it comes to diverse interpretations, I expect no book has suffered as much as Revelation. If you want a more in depth understanding of these verses, I suggest you check out the audio tapes in our library that cover them, or ask me about a good commentary like the one by Brighton or the one by Becker. In short, John is in exile, on the island of Patmos, and he writes to seven churches in Asia Minor over which he has supervision, though he is not their immediate pastor. To use modern words, he was the bishop. The text is rich with symbolic language. This does not mean that John is making things up or that he didn’t see what he records. It means that what John saw was extremely rich in symbolism. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just point out that the Jesus John sees is not his Lord while he was in his state of humiliation. Jesus is in his state of exaltation. He holds the Church in his almighty hand, and he rules with his word, the same word that created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is the crucified, raised, and ascended Lord, the Living One, unlike all the idols of mankind. John is commanded to write down what he sees and hears and send it to the churches. Though the vocabulary of Revelation is quite different for the rest of the New Testament, it’s message is the same: faith in Christ brings eternal life.
John 20:19-31: Some stories are just so great that the teller has a hard time ending the story. At least to our ears, such is the case with John’s story about Jesus. Sunday’s lesson ends with the feeling that John has finished his story, for he tells us the reason he recorded it in the first place. Then he goes on with chapter 21, and ends the chapter with another equally satisfying ending. Our lesson tells the story of Thomas. Thomas, like all the men, didn’t believe the women when they reported the resurrection. Thomas is away for some reason and Jesus appears to rest of the apostles. They tell Thomas, who still does not believe. Jesus appears again to the apostles, this time with Thomas present, and Thomas believes. Something to wonder about; do you think Thomas accepted Jesus’ invitation to touch his Lord? The text doesn’t say one way or the other. Things to note in the reading include the concept of the Great Commission. The apostles (and so the Church) are sent. The Office of the Keys (verse 22-23) is a central part of the Church’s commission to share the Gospel. Thomas’ words addressed to Jesus, “My Lord and My God” sum up who Jesus is. Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” echo through time and reach us today. Verses 30-31 remind us that neither John’s Gospel, nor the other three Gospel accounts, contains all that Jesus did. But what is recorded has been recorded to bring us to faith in Jesus and thereby grant us eternal life. This, then, again accents the message, or the Word. That which draws us away from God’s word draws us away from Christ and eternal life.
That You May Believe and Have Life in His Name (Summary from LC-MS)
On the Lord’s Day, St. John the Apostle was given a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. He is the Living One, “the firstborn of the dead” (Rev. 1:5). He died for all people, and behold, He is alive forevermore! Therefore, He has “the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18). For His death atoned for sin and conquered death, and in His resurrection He opened the kingdom of heaven to us. The “sharp two-edged sword” of His mouth (Rev. 1:16) calls you to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” that by such faith “you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). To that end, He sends His ministers of the Word, as the Father sent Him, “to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
- The youth are gathering with Pastor and members of the Health Fair Committee this coming Saturday, April 6, to pass out flyers about our upcoming Health Fair (Saturday, April 13).
- Pastor will be out of town all day, Monday, April 8, attending a Professional Church Workers conference in North Carolina.
- Don’t forget, the April newsletter is posted. Just go to the newsletter link found in the column of links in the top right-hand edge of this blog.
Well, I pray we will see you Sunday.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert