Sunday Thoughts of April 28

He is Risen! Halleluiah!

With all the extra worship services, and therefore all the extra office time needed to plan the services and work up the sermons, there has been little time for such niceties like the Sunday Thoughts. However, we’re about caught up now so I can return to these previews.

We are in the Easter season, which lasts until Pentecost. Easter Sunday is the First Sunday of Easter, so this coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter. The old Latin name was Quasimodo Geniti, which as a teenager I loved to say. It comes from the first line of the old Introit, “Like newborn infants,” which is retained in our current liturgical books. It comes from 1 Peter 2:2-36, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” However, we will not be using the assigned Introit for the Day. Instead, we will be using the assigned Psalm.

Our readings from the Lectionary typically include an Old Testament lesson, an Epistle lesson, and a Gospel lesson. The Easter season departs from this pattern. Throughout the season the first lesson is taken from the book of Acts and the second lesson is taken from the book of Revelation. The lessons for this coming Sunday are: Psalm 148 (13); Acts 5:12–32); Revelation 1:4–18; John 20:19–31. Below you will find the text of the readings with some initial thoughts.

Throughout Lent our Sunday’s have been stripped of many of the festive elements. They return this Sunday. We will be using Divine Service 2, configured as a service of the Word. Our hymns will be: “O Sons and Daughters of the King” (LSB 470), “Built on the Rock” (LSB 645) and “Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen” (LSB 474).

The video is an organist playing the music for our opening hymn.

If you are a member of Our Redeemer, our Church Council will be meeting Sunday after the worship service.

Psalm 148 (13)
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!

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.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.

Initial Thoughts: This psalm is rather straight forward. Everything that God has created is called upon to praise the Lord. As a poem, which all psalms are, the writer uses figurative language. That leaves us with questions about the meaning of things like mountains and the sun praising the Lord. Certainly we have no problem with people and angels praising the Lord. Even animals, jumping around joyously can be thought of as praising the Lord. Consider how a dog greats his owner when he comes home. I think the easiest way to understand inanimate things as praising the Lord is when they function as God designed them. So stars praise the Lord when they function as “signs for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). The sun and the moon praise the Lord when they give light for us, and so forth. In verse 14, the psalmist uses the word “horn.” The word is used in biblical poetry to refer to “strength” (1 Samuel 2:1, 10). However, horns were also used in worship services and as vessels to carry oil, say for anointing. But, as this horn is “raised up,” strength seems the best association. Of course, the greatest reason to praise the Lord is Jesus, especially his victory over sin, death and the power of the devil. This is where the true strength of God is best seen.

Acts 5:12–32
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23“We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Initial Thoughts: Here we have a peek at the life of the very Early Church. Many people are coming to faith in Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise and the religious leaders of the Jews are becoming jealous. The religious leaders forbid the Apostles to preach the Gospel and Peter famously says, “We must obey God rather than men.” The text begins with the words, “many signs and wonders were regularly done.” We recognize this as an historical report. It is not a promise. We also note that opposition to the Gospel was already present. This continues to this day, as the recent church bombings in Sir Lanka demonstrate.

Revelation 1:4–18
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6and made you a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Initial Thoughts: There is way too much in this passage to even give a light touch on it all. Notice, though, that right off Jesus is presented as Divine, second person of the Trinity. Notice also that his atoning death is right at the beginning. Then the Second Coming is presented. This is the Lord who redeems us and in whom our faith is completely wrapped up. “In the Spirit on the Lord’s day” is John’s way of saying he was worshiping on Sunday. Finally, John is told to “fear not.” The appearance of heavenly beings, whether Jesus or angels, most often elicits fear in us mortals. Think of it in the sense of being in the presence of a wild animal. Therefore we need to be told to not be afraid. This instruction to fear not is based on our redemption.

John 20:19–31
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when 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 withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, 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 believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Initial Thoughts: The Gospel lessons for the Easter season traditionally focus on Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. This lesson contains two of them, one when Thomas was not present and then when Thomas was present. Because of this story Thomas has been called “Doubting Thomas.” Of course, all the disciples were “Doubting Thomases.” They all needed to seem Jesus in order to believe. The great thing about this, for us, is that the resurrection of Jesus was established on irrefutable evidence, at least to an objective person. Jesus speaks directly to us when he says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The purpose of John’s Gospel is revealed in verse 31, “these are written so 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 could add that that is the purpose of the entire Bible.

Well, I hope to see you Sunday.

Blessings in the name of our risen Lord.
Pastor John Rickert