Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, we are now over thirty days into this home quarantine. And just like the disciples after the first Resurrection Sunday we are feeling all sorts of fear. Let’s remember the words of Psalm 24 which assure us of God’s providence: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” May you find comfort and peace in the Lord’s Promises and keep your hopes in Christ our Savior, He will get us through these troubled times.
In Christ’s Service,
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” ~ Psalm 27:13-14
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! ALLELUIA!!!
The word “peace” is extremely important for the baptized to hear time and again, especially as we worship. When we pastors announce to our congregations the “Peace of God” we are confirming a powerful truth. The peace of God brings us the resurrected life that Jesus won for all people. The Lord’s peace is so important for us today in this country because it’s a reminder of the Lord’s peace in a world that knows unrest and challenges.
In the name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Almighty God, in humility and with a repentant heart I come before You. With shame and regret I admit and confess my sinfulness. I have not lived up to my calling as Your baptized and forgiven child. I often stray from the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the forgiven life He leads me to. With Your help I do repent and I am truly sorry for my sins in thought, word, and deed. Have mercy on me, merciful Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son.
ABSOLUTION ~ Romans 4:7–8
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Let us pray. Almighty God, bless and help me to live the life of peace that Jesus won for me on the cross and that You gave me in the waters of baptism. With joy I celebrate today the Lord’s resurrection and I pray by Your grace that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
John 20:19-31 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!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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!” 27 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.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 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.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And 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 sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence 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
Christians, the new life that God gave us in baptism is a reality that we live now! When you were baptized God connected you to Jesus and at that time made you alive into a true life of His Peace. Currently many of us are confined to our homes. Being cooped up is not living life. And Christians may be tempted to sarcastically comment, how could Jesus invite us to see his peace—see it as a beautiful thing. Especially held up against the fear of this so called pandemic it can be hard to believe.
Let’s now consider the Gospel lesson. What kind of thoughts were going through the disciples minds? Seeing Jesus alive was already asking the disciples to believe quite a lot (vv 19-20). They knew what they’d seen on Friday, and just hearing about his resurrection wasn’t convincing enough. They were at the crucifixion, they witnessed the removal of his body from the cross. So naturally this news was too much for Thomas. After witnessing Jesus’ death how could anyone get their hopes up? On the other hand there’s a question of loyalty and faith at stake here.
Jesus’ word of peace may have been even harder for the disciples to believe. Sure they sided with Jesus’ promise for a kingdom against fellow Jews and the Roman government. But, recall they all ran out on Jesus at his moment of greatest need. So if Jesus is alive—He might be coming back for revenge. Instead, he said to them, “Peace be with you.” Could they believe that? Especially after running out on him? Was Jesus really at peace with them? Why it didn’t take long for the disciple to see Jesus was alive, but as to this peace, all they had was his Word.
Christ’s peace is a beautiful thing. Yet, let’s get this straight. It’s the reality that God and man are reconciled. We’ve all deserted Jesus just as the disciples did (Matthew 26:31) But Jesus says all is forgiven. That’s because Jesus himself paid for those sins on the cross. Jesus took our sins—and God’s anger for what we did—upon himself. Whatever punishment our sin demanded, Jesus said, “Give it to me.” So, when God raised Jesus from the dead, it was God’s announcement that He is no longer angry over sin. Jesus’ risen body means God is at peace with us (John 3:16). From God’s own Words we hear that we’re getting everything that’s truly good for us. Trust in Christ Jesus each day and live with God in perfect joy and harmony. Knowing and then trusting God cares for you, places you in His peace. All your needs will be met.
Okay, maybe this peace isn’t easy to believe especially with what we’re going through right now. We are isolated and there is much negative talk. It only sounds like more fear and uncertainty awaits us. We are given all sorts of statics from models that may give us a sense that God isn’t at peace with us. The sickness may not be leveled off and so many are disappointed. And there is an increasing feeling of depression by many, they want to get out, get back to work, pitch in and combat this state of shut-in and shut-down. People want to see real evidence. Just like Thomas wanted to see real evidence so he could go forward and grow in his faith.
We have been given the same gift of faith. And God’s gift has real hope attached to it. Think of this faith as a student would use his daily studies as a time to practice leading up to a test. The student that does well on a test has taken time each day to review and think about the lessons. Each day of reading the bible is like listening to God talk to you about His promises. As you listen to God speaking to you, faith grows and builds your confidence in Christ. In this present situation recall all those times in the past when you had gone through bad times. You may have been doubtful of God’s care. You may have experienced many uncomfortable things. But with prayer, Word and Sacrament of Communion, and patience, and of course God’s help, you made it through that isolated situation.
You see your faith is a gift from God to prepare you for times like these. St Augustine a bishop in the Church during the third century wrote: “It is hard to find the needed troops during war if we have not sought for and known them during peace. God’s promises are our fortress in times of danger; but it is not easy for us to run to them in times of crisis unless we know them in times of comfort as well!” So just as you have relied on God’s promises, care and comfort when times were good and you could move about freely—rely, have faith in God during this time. Yes, Christ’s peace isn’t something we can see! But you have been living in His Peace up till now, and it will always be with you until the Lord brings you home to the eternal Paradise He has prepared for you. Like the disciples who finally saw and understood, we too when we believe without seeing the whole picture; the peace of Christ continues in your section of the world. Amen!!!
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.
Aaron’s Blessing ~Numbers 6: 24-26
The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The LORD look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27