Worship Helps for Easter 2

Artwork: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas 
Artist: Caravaggio
Date: 1601-1602

Worship Theme: Final preparation to be the risen Christ’s witnesses begins with sight. The apostles were blessed with visibly seeing the risen Lord. Overcoming their doubts by the power of the Spirit, they would boldly proclaim the new life to be found in the Living One. Blessed to see through eyes of faith, the vision of the First and the Last fills our hearts with this confidence: “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” (CW 406)

Old Testament: Genesis 15:1-6

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." 2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir." 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-- if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

1. When God appeared to Abram to comfort and reassure him, how did Abram respond? (See 15:2, 3.)

2. What did Abram see when God took him outside his tent?

3. When Abram believed what he could not see, what happened?

Epistle: 2 Peter 1:16-23

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

4. On a hilltop, of what were Peter, James and John eyewitnesses?

5. What does this sight mean for all of us, who have not seen Jesus in his glory?

Gospel: 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.

6. Each of the four Gospels has a commission near its end to share the good news. What is that commission in John’s Gospel?

7. If with your own eyes you have not seen your Lord, now raised from the dead, is that a problem?

8. What is the ultimate purpose of all that John wrote down about Jesus?

1. Though God came to Abram in some kind of vision, Abram complained at first, in response. Abram had no children. All he could foresee was one of his servants becoming his heir.

2. Abram saw far more stars than he could count.

3. “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Picture God putting a credit in his ledger, not a debit, despite what Abram deserved. (The same happens for us, through faith in the risen Christ.)

4. Peter, James and John were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty. They saw him gleaming with glory only God has.

5. Peter says what he witnessed proves that we do not believe myths about Jesus. He really rose from the dead, bodily. He really reigns at the Father’s right. He really will reappear soon to judge all people when the day finally dawns “and the morning star rises in your hearts.” We can trust every word of God’s inspired word totally.

6. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” With that he breathed on the disciples and gave them and us amazing authority: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

7. With Job and believers through the ages, we long to see our Lord—yet Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

8. The Spirit did not inspire John to write down every miraculous sign Jesus performed. Whatever John shares with us in print has one main purpose: that we may believe that Jesus is God’s Anointed One, his only Son, and that by believing we may have life in his name.

Putting your faith into action
Can you feel the joy? The disciples and Thomas felt the joy of the resurrection. They were overjoyed. With the eyes of faith, we too see the Lord every time he comes to us through his Word and sacrament. May this joy fill your hearts as you eagerly serve our risen Lord!

A reading from the Book of Concord for the 2nd Sunday after Easter
I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ. This group is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with many different gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms.  I am also a part of this same group, a sharer and joint owner of all the goods it possesses.  I am brought to it and incorporated into it by the Holy Spirit through having heard and continuing to hear God’s Word, which is the beginning of entering it.  In the past, before we had attained to this, we were altogether of the devil, knowing nothing about God and about Christ.  So, until the Last Day, the Holy Spirit abides with the holy congregation or Christendom.  Through this congregation He brings us to Christ and He teaches and preaches to us the Word.  By the Word He works and promotes sanctification, causing this congregation daily to grow and to become strong in the faith and its fruit, which He produces.

We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution and through all kinds of comforting promises from the entire Gospel…  God’s grace is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word.  Yet because of our flesh we are never without sin. - Large Catechism, Article III, The Apostles’ Creed (paragraphs 51-54)

Hymns for this Sunday: 142, 165, 159, 168, 160

165  O Sons and Daughters of the King

1  O sons and daughters of the King,
Whom heav’nly hosts in glory sing,
Today the grave has lost its sting!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2  On that first morning of the week,
Before the day began to break,
The Marys went their Lord to seek.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3  An angel bade their sorrow flee,
For thus he spoke unto the three,
“Your Lord will go to Galilee.”
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4  That night th’ apostles met in fear;
Among them came their Lord most dear
And said, “Peace be unto you here.”
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5  When Thomas afterwards had heard
That Jesus had fulfilled his word,
He doubted if it were the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

6  “Thomas, behold my side,” said he,
“My hands, my feet, my body see;
And doubt not, but believe in me.”
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

7  No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
“You are my Lord and God,” he cried.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

8  Blessèd are they that have not seen
And yet whose faith has constant been;
In life eternal they shall reign.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

9  On this most holy day of days
To God your hearts and voices raise
In laud and jubilee and praise.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Text: attr. Jean Tisserand, d. 1494, abr.; tr. John M. Neale, 1818–66, alt.


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