Skip to main content
#
HOLY TRINITY & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN CHURCHES

† THE SERVICE OF MATINS FOR HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN, FEDOR
& ST. JAMES LUTHERAN, LEXINGTON (LCMS) – FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, 5.2.21 †

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS † 

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 202, WELCOME, HAPPY MORNING
1. “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!”  Lo, the Dead is living, God forevermore!  Him, their true Creator, all His works adore.  “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!”

2. Maker and Redeemer, Life and Health of all, Thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall, of the Father’s Godhead, true and only Son.  Manhood to deliver manhood didst put on.  “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!”

3. Thou, of life the Author, death didst undergo, tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show.  Come, then, True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy word; “Tis Thine own third morning, rise, O buried Lord! “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!”

4. Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain; All that now is fallen raise to life again.  Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see; Bring again our daylight; day returns with Thee.  “Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say; Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today!”  Amen.

OPENING VERSES
Pastor:
O Lord, open Thou my lips.
Congregation: And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise. (Psalm 51:15)

P: Make haste, O God, to deliver me. 
C: Make haste to help me, O Lord. (Psalm 70:1)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.  Hallelujah!    

INVITATORY (INVITATION TO WORSHIP)
P:
Oh, come, let us worship the Lord.
C: For He is our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)

CANTICLE (HYMN OF PRAISE): VENITE (OH, COME)
C: O come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving, let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise.  For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods.  The deep places of the earth are in His hand; the strength of the hills is His also.  The sea is His, for He made it, and His hand formed the dry land.  O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
(Psalm 95:1-7) 
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.     

HYMN ♫ – 387, DEAR CHRISTIANS, ONE AND ALL, REJOICE
1. Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice, with exultation springing, and with united heart and voice and holy rapture singing, proclaim the wonders God hath done, how His right arm the victory won; Right dearly it hath cost Him.

2. Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay, death brooded darkly o’er me, sin was my torment night and day, in sin my mother bore me; Yea, deep and deeper still I fell, life had become a living hell, so firmly sin possessed me.

3. My own good works availed me naught, no merit they attaining; Free will against God’s judgment fought, dead to all good remaining.  My fears increased till sheer despair left naught but death to be my share; The pangs of hell I suffered.

4. But God beheld my wretched state before the world’s foundation, and, mindful of His mercies great, He planned my soul’s salvation.  A father’s heart He turned to me, sought my redemption fervently: He gave His dearest Treasure.

5. He spoke to His beloved Son: “‘Tis time to have compassion.  Then go, bright Jewel of My crown and bring to man salvation; From sin and sorrow set him free, slay bitter death for him that he may live with Thee forever.”

6. This Son obeyed His Father’s will, was born of virgin mother, and God’s good pleasure to fulfill, He came to be my Brother.  No garb of pomp or power He wore, a servant’s form, like mine, He bore, to lead the devil captive.

7. To me He spake: Hold fast to Me, I am thy Rock and Castle; Thy Ransom I Myself will be, for thee I strive and wrestle; For I am with thee, I am thine, and evermore thou shalt be Mine; The Foe shall not divide us.  Amen.

8. The Foe shall shed My precious blood, Me of My life bereaving.  All this I suffer for thy good; Be steadfast and believing.  Life shall from death the victory win, My innocence shall bear thy sin; So art thou blest forever.

9. Now to My Father I depart, the Holy Spirit sending and, heavenly wisdom to impart, My help to thee extending.  He shall in trouble comfort thee, teach thee to know and follow Me, And in all truth shall guide thee.

10. What I have done and taught, teach thou, My ways forsake thou never; So shall My Kingdom flourish now and God be praised forever.  Take heed lest men with base alloy the heavenly treasure should destroy; This counsel I bequeath thee.

PSALM 66:1-8
C: Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His Name; give to Him glorious praise!  Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds!  So great is Your power that Your enemies come cringing to you.  All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your Name.”  Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.  He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot.  We rejoiced in Him there, Who rules by His might forever, Whose eyes keep watch on the nations – do not let the rebellious exalt themselves.  Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – ISAIAH 12:1-6
1 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to You, O Lord, for though You were angry with me, Your anger turned away, that You might comfort me. 2 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my Strength and my Song, and He has become my Salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His Name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His Name is exalted. 5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. 6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

EPISTLE (LETTER) LESSON – JAMES 1:16-21
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

GOSPEL LESSON – JOHN 16:5-15
[Jesus said:] 5 But now I am going to Him Who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guild you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

SERMON – JESUS SENDS YOU HIS SPIRIT AND INTERCEDES FOR YOU AT HIS HOMECOMING, JN. 15:5-15
                                        “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” (Jn. 16:13)  Amen.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,” so goes the song and the saying.  Who can argue with that?  After a long day at school, work, a trip away, a hospital stay, you name it, where else would you rather be than home sweet home?

In our Gospel Lesson, Jesus is eager to return home.  Our Lord reveals His heavenly Father’s intent and His own deep desire to return to the Father, saying, “Now I Am going to Him Who sent Me.” (Jn. 16:5)  Jesus is looking ahead to the time after His self-giving-sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.  He’s foreseeing His triumphant ascension into heaven.  Yet even though Jesus’ holy, precious work of saving us in His death and resurrection is finished following both events…  Even though Christ has rescued and redeemed you, me and all the faithful of God from the dark dominion of death and the devil, has brought us into His Kingdom of Grace, and has since ascended for us on high, this doesn’t mean He has returned home to leave us behind or to no longer be lovingly present and active in our lives as our Savior.

Jesus returns home to reign with all glory, power wisdom and might at the right hand of the Father – as Holy Scripture declares and as we confess in our three Creeds.  In His everlasting reign over us and all creation, Jesus compassionately, earnestly intercedes for us, pleading on our behalf, for our great good before the Father – since we’re His beloved Church.  Our Savior also comes home in order to send the Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.  And so that the Spirit may guide you, His dear ones, into all truth.

Word of Jesus’ imminent departure causes sorrow to fill His disciples’ hearts.  His utmost desire is to comfort them; to calm them and dispel their fears.  He won’t leave them as orphans, but will come to them. (See Jn. 14:18)  Jesus reassures them and us that He’s returning to the Father – from Whom He came – for our life-long and eternal good!

Your beloved Savior’s homecoming reveals what kind of a God He is to you.  He returns to His heavenly home with a triumphant Coronation, leading captive sin, death, devil, hell and all evil behind Him.  As we sing: “All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ Name!  Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all!” (TLH 339:1)  His throne is forever; He’s exalted above all!  As St. Peter preaches at the first Pentecost: “Therefore let all Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, Whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36) “Christ ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4:10)  He’s present everywhere as God in the flesh!  He’s King of kings, Lord of the whole universe!  Best of all, He’s the Head of His Church!  He has even wed Himself in love to His beloved Bride, the Church.  “With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.” (TLH 473.1)  Since Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in  heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:8-11)

Our Lord Jesus is not idle as He reigns over His Church, the world and all creation at God’s right hand, together with the Father.  As Holy Scripture testifies: “Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25)  Our Lutheran Confessions testify as well: “Since [Christ] is our High Priest, [He] intercedes for us.” (Apology, Art. 3, Par. 211)  That Jesus always intercedes for you means that He daily represents you as your Advocate before His Father and yours in heaven.  Just as Moses interceded for all Israel in Exodus 32, pleading for God to be merciful and not to wipe them all out for their false worship, so does Jesus plead for the mercy He won for you on His holy cross to always be done unto you day-after-day!  Moses appealed to God to “turn from His burning anger and relent from sending disaster against His people.”  He further said to the Lord, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self that You would make of them a great nation.” (Ex. 32:12-13)  Jesus, in and through His holy, precious blood, “for our pardon cries.” (TLH 158.4)  “Father, forgive them,” (Lk. 23:24) He prays.  And your Father in heaven absolves you!

This is called Jesus’ ministry of intercession for His dear Bride, the Church.  Romans 8:34 asks who can condemn us as guilty unto eternal judgment?  No one!  Why no one?  Because “Christ Jesus is the One Who died – more than that, Who was   raised – Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us.”  Our Confession as Lutherans in the Book of Concord says of this: “We must regard it as certain that we are counted righteous for the sake of Christ ‘Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us.’” (Apology, Art. 3, Par. 44)    

What does Jesus’ intercession for you look like?  It’s like a loving father who never stops loving and having compassion on his son, even when his son wrongs him and others.  What does the father do but take his son’s wrongdoings and ills unto himself.  As if only he – and not his son – did them and is guilty of them.  Then he shows forth his son as blameless and pure.  Jesus Christ, our Holy Bridegroom, does this very thing for you, His Christians, His dearly beloved Bride!  He presents you, the Church, “to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, as holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27)

Jesus’ intercession benefits you as He speaks the Holy Triune Name of God upon you in your Baptism.  His intercession is His absolving you of all your sins – again in the Name of the blessed Holy Trinity.  It is His speaking His righteousness upon you so that your sins are counted against Him…never against you.  Jesus regards His righteousness as your very own!  Jesus’ intercession before the Father is Jesus praying on your behalf, “Dear Father, regard My righteousness as their very own, and their sins as My own upon My holy cross, and so not theirs ever again!” And it is His bringing your prayers before the Father to be heard and answered, and His feeding you His very own body and blood!

Our Lord’s ministry of intercession works hand-in-hand with the work of the Holy Spirit.  In proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Spirit convicts the world concerning sin.  He calls every person to repentance, “so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” (Rom. 3:19)  Whom does the Holy Spirit call to repentance, the forgiveness of sins and saving faith but poor, hurting sinners?  Whom does Jesus intercede for but those crushed and discomforted by their most grievous faults?  Those who cry out for His mercy and intercession!  So abhor your sins as you despair of their smothering, killing weight!  Confess your trespasses to God, that you’re responsible for them, that you desire with all your heart for your transgressions and guilt to be removed from you!  The Spirit convicts you of your sins of commission and omission in order to free you from them through the blood of Christ Jesus, which cleanses you from all sin. (See 1 Jn. 1:7)

The Holy Spirit convicts the unbelieving world concerning sin and unbelief so that the faithless are made aware that they’ve transgressed and offended the holiness of God just as we have…so that they, too, may repent, turn from their sin and unbelief, receive divine pardon and peace, believe in Jesus Christ with us, and join with us in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church.  All who despise and who persist in refusing this kindest of gestures from God the Holy Spirit remain under God’s wrath and condemnation.

The Spirit of Holiness convicts the world concerning the righteousness of God.  The declared righteousness of God in Christ Jesus is given and meant for all people, not just some.  Jesus died for all, and in going to the Father, Jesus makes His own righteousness available to all people for their everlasting good through faith in His saving Name.  God’s grace in Christ Jesus is universal – given and meant for all flesh!  “Original sin is universal, affecting and corrupting everyone.  How much more is the righteousness of God universal!” (pericope.org, Bul’s Notes, Jn. 16:11, Par. 2)  For everyone!  

Lastly, the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment as Satan, his fallen, evil angels, and all who despise Jesus as Lord and God, or who are indifferent to Him, will finally be judged with everlasting punishment.

So believe and be glad that your Savior is constantly interceding for you before the Father, and is here present with you in His almighty power to bestow blessing after blessing upon you.  Cry out to the Lord for His mercy; He always gives it to you!  “Cast all your cares and anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  He will never allow you, His righteous ones, to be shaken and to fall.” (1 Peter 5:7; Ps. 55:22)  Look with confidence, also, to the work of the Holy Spirit.  He leads you from sin and death to your Savior and life…guiding you to all God’s truth in His Holy Word.  He speaks Christ’s righteousness upon you, feeding it to you in the Divine Service.  He defeats and crushes the head of Satan and His power over you forever!

What a homecoming!  Jesus returns home to the Father, yet is still present with you, at home with you – together with the Holy Spirit – in His holy gifts of Word and Sacrament in His Church.  Await your own heavenly homecoming with eager, fervent expectation!  Like Jesus, your citizenship is in heaven, and you await Him as your Savior from there, (See Phil. 3:20) For He’s gone before you, ahead of you, to prepare a place for you. (See Jn. 14:3)  He’ll most certainly return for you to bring you home to your Father in heaven.  Amen.  The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

CANTICLE (HYMN OF PRAISE): TE DEUM LAUDAMUS (WE PRAISE YOU, O LORD)
C: We praise You, O God; we acknowledge You to be the Lord.  All the earth now worships You, the Father everlasting.  To You all angels cry aloud; the heavens, and all the powers therein.  To You cherubim and seraphim continually do cry: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Your glory.  The glorious company of the Apostles praise You.  The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise You.  The noble army of Martyrs praise You.  The holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge You; The Father of an infinite Majesty; Your adorable, true and only Son; Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.  You are the King of Glory, O Christ.  You are the everlasting Son of the Father.

When You took upon Yourself to deliver man, You humbled Yourself to be born of a virgin.  When You had overcome the sharpness of death, You opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.  You sit at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.  We believe that You shall come to be our Judge.  We therefore pray You to help Your servants, whom You have redeemed with Your precious blood.  Make them to be numbered with Your saints, in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save Your people, and bless Your heritage.  Govern them and lift them up forever.  Day by day we magnify You; And we worship You Name forever and ever.  Grant, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.  O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.  O Lord, let Your mercy be upon us, as our trust is in You.  O Lord, in You we have trusted; let us never be confounded.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

Gracious Lord, You have revealed Your righteousness in the sight of the nations: Christ Jesus, Your holy arm. By His death and resurrection, You have worked salvation. Strengthen the song of Your Church. Give skill to musicians and poets, and give boldness to Your congregation in this and every place to sing the eternally new song of Christ. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer. 

O Holy One of Israel, cause Your Spirit of truth to reign in the Church, that what Christ has won for us would be declared joyfully and faithfully to sinners.  Preserve our pastors, missionaries and all who serve with Your mighty Word.  Increase among us thankfulness for Your compassion, for You are great in our midst.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Father of lights, every good and perfect gift comes down from You.  By Your Spirit, put away from our families and communities every hasty or harsh word, together with all filthiness and rampant wickedness, and instead give us patience and humility toward our neighbors.  Since You have brought us forth by the Word of Your truth, so let us speak truthfully with one another in meekness as beloved brothers in Your Church.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Almighty God, Your Son acknowledged Satan as ruler of this world and its ways, yet one whose reign is judged and whose time is short. Beat back his lies and deadly work, that the order of Your creation may be seen. Give us good government and leaders who are both honest and faithful. Even so, let us look eagerly for Your Son’s return, and let that be quickly.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Hear the prayers of intercession we offer in the unity of Your Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Comforter, especially for _______.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Lord God, heavenly Father, through Your Son You promised Your Holy Spirit, who would convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Enlighten our hearts so that we confess our sins, obtain everlasting righteousness through faith in Christ and, through every trial and temptation, abide in the consolation that Christ is Lord over the devil, death and all things, and that He will graciously deliver us from all affliction to make us partakers of eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  C: Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Mark 10:47)

LORD’S PRAYER

COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
Send, we implore You, almighty God, Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that He may rule and direct us according to Your will; comfort us in all our temptations and afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth, that we, being steadfast in the faith, may increase in love, and in all good works, and in the end obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
C: Amen.

SALUTATION (GREETING)
P:
The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit. (2 Timothy 4:22)

COLLECT FOR GRACE
P:
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day.  Defend us this day with Your mighty power and grant that we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

BENEDICAMUS (LET US BLESS THE LORD)
P:
Bless we the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God. (Psalm 103:1)

BENEDICTION (CLOSING BLESSING)
P:
The grace of our † Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN ♫ – 196, I AM CONTENT!  MY JESUS EVER LIVES
1. I am content!  My Jesus ever lives, in Whom my heart is pleased.  He has fulfilled the Law of God for me, God’s wrath He has appeased.  Since He in death could perish never, I also shall not die forever.  I am content!  I am content!

2. I am content!  My Jesus is my head; His member I shall be.  He bowed His head when on the cross He died with cries of agony.  Now death is brought into subjection for me by Jesus’ resurrection.  I am content! I am content!

3. I am content!  My Jesus is my Lord, my prince of Life and Peace; His heart is yearning for my future bliss and for my soul’s release.  The home where He, my Master, liveth He also to His servant giveth.  I am content!  I am content!

4. I am content!  My Jesus is my Light, my radiant Sun of grace.  His cheering rays beam blessings forth for all, sweet comfort, hope, and peace.  This Easter sun has brought salvation and everlasting exultation.  I am content!  I am content!

5. I am content! At length I shall be free, awakened from the dead, arising glorious evermore to be with Thee, my living Head.  The chains that hold my body, sever; Then shall my soul rejoice forever.  I am content! I am content!  Amen.

†       †       †
 

† THE DIVINE SERVICE OF THE WORD, THE FOURTH OF EASTER (4.25.21) 
HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH, FEDOR (LCMS) (INDOOR & OUTDOOR/95.3 FM) †

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 188, HALLELUJAH!  JESUS LIVES (SUNG TO 359)
1. Halleluiah! Jesus Lives!  He is now the Living One; From the gloomy house of death forth the Conqueror has gone, bright Forerunner to the skies of His people, yet to rise.

2. Jesus lives!  Let all rejoice; Praise Him, ransomed ones of earth.  Praise Him in a nobler song, cherubim of heavenly birth.  Praise the Victor-King, Whose sway sin and death and hell obey.

3. Jesus lives!  Why weepest thou?  Why that sad and frequent sigh?  He Who died our Brother here lives our Brother still on high, lives forever to bestow blessings on His Church below.

4. Jesus lives!  And thus, my soul, life eternal waits for thee; Joined to Him, thy living Head, where He is, thou, too, shalt be; with Himself, at His right hand, Victor over death shalt stand.

5. Jesus lives! To Him my heart draws with ever new delight.  Earthly vanities, depart, hinder not my heavenward flight.  Let this spirit ever rise to its Magnet in the skies.

6. Hallelujah, angels, sing!  Join us in our hymn of praise, let your chorus swell the strain which our feebler voices raise: Glory to our God above and on earth His peace and love!  Amen.

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor:
In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE INTO THE SERVICE OF THE WORD)
P:
Praise the Lord!  Alleluia!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.  Alleluia!  The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.  Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.  The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground.  Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the harp!  He covers the heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth; He makes grass grow on the hills.  He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.  His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. (Psalm 147:1-11)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen. 

SALUTATION
P:
The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit. (2 Timothy 4:22)

COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
Merciful God, faithful Father, Who disciplines all those whom You love so that they may not be condemned with the wicked, we implore You to comfort us in all our afflictions with Your Word and Spirit, so that by patience and perseverance in the faith we may overcome the miseries of this present world, all the while abiding in the firm and joyful hope that You will quicky turn our sorrow into joy and glory everlasting; for the sake of Your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – ISAIAH 40:25-31
25 “To whom then will you compare Me, that I should be like him?” says the Holy One.  26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these?  He Who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of His might and because He is strong in power, not one is missing.  27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?”  28 Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.  29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

EPISTLE (LETTER) LESSON – 1 JOHN 3:1-3 
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

TRIPLE HALLELUJAH
C: Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

P: The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the 16th chapter.
C: Glory be to Thee, O Lord!

GOSPEL LESSON – JOHN 16:16-22
[Jesus said:] 16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’?  We do not know what He is saying.”

19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly,     I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ!

APOSTLES’ CREED

SERMON HYMN ♫ – 206, JESUS CHRIST, MY SURE DEFENSE
1. Jesus Christ, my sure Defense and my Savior, now is living!  Knowing this, my confidence rests upon the hope here given, though the night of death be fraught still with many an anxious thought.

2. Jesus, my Redeemer, lives; Likewise I to life shall waken.  He will bring me where He is; Shall my courage then be shaken?  Shall I fear, or could the Head rise and leave His members dead?

3. No, too closely am I bound by my hope to Christ forever; Faith’s strong hand the Rock has found, grasped it, and will leave it never; Even death now cannot part from its Lord the trusting heart.

4. I am flesh and must return to the dust, whence I am taken; But by faith I now discern that from death I shall awaken with my Savior to abide In His glory, at His side.

5. Glorified, I shall anew with this flesh then be enshrouded; In this body I shall view God, my Lord, with eyes unclouded; In this flesh I then shall see Jesus Christ eternally.

6. Then these eyes my Lord shall know, My Redeemer and my Brother; In His love my soul shall glow – I myself, and not another!  Then the weakness I feel here shall forever disappear.

7. They who sorrow here and moan there in gladness shall be reigning; Earthly here the seed is sown, there immortal life attaining.  Here our sinful bodies die, glorified to dwell on high.

8. Then take comfort and rejoice, for His members Christ will cherish.  Fear not, they will hear His voice; dying, they shall never perish; For the very grave is stirred when the trumpet’s blast is heard.

9. Laugh to scorn the gloomy grave and at death no longer tremble; He, the Lord, Who came to save will at last His own assemble.  They will go their Lord to meet, treading death beneath their feet.

10. O, then, draw away your hearts from all pleasures base and hollow; Strive to share what He imparts while you here His footsteps follow.  As you now still wait to rise, fix your hearts beyond the skies!  Amen.

SERMON: IN JESUS, YOUR SORROW ALWAYS TURNS TO JOY – JN. 16:16-22
“You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” (Jn. 16:22)  

Imagine yourself standing in Jesus’ sandals, having to tell the disciples that very soon you’ll have to leave them so that nothing but sorrow will fill their hearts as a result.  As in, no Jesus, only tremendous sadness, inconsolable grief.  How would you do it?  Would you speak as vaguely as possible, sugar-coating things as best you could so as to not alarm them too much?  Or would you just tell it like it’s going to be?

It may seem, at first glance, as if Jesus takes the “as vague as possible” approach.  After all, He doesn’t speak in graphic detail about all He’s about to suffer.  You see, He’s already told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes.  They will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  And on the third day He will be raised to life.” (Mt. 20:18-19)    

This time, Jesus gives a general preview of what they’re about to endure.  It’ll go down just as He says.       

Why does Jesus speak as He does here in John 16?  Well, as just mentioned, He does so in order to let His disciples know beforehand that He knows as God in the flesh exactly what they’ll be facing as a result of His suffering, death by crucifixion, burial and beyond.  They’ll suffer anguish and pain-of-heart, no doubt.  

In knowing what they’re about to suffer, Jesus also informs them that He cares about their coming trials and tribulations, their pain and suffering.  He might be taken from them for a brief while, but He won’t be abandoning them or removing His divine heart from them…no longer loving them.  Never forget the beautiful words of St. John the Evangelist telling it like it always is on Maundy Thursday in the Upper Room: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (Jn. 13:1) 

Jesus also speaks this way to reassure His disciples that – in His upcoming suffering, death and burial – and later on, following His Ascension to His Father in heaven – they won’t be “orphaned” or left to fend for themselves, (See Jn. 14:18)  suffering alone. 

It will finally be their beloved Savior’s death on their behalf – which at first will sadden them so – along with His glorious resurrection from the grave for them which’ll overcome their bitter grief and longing for Him.  All their suffering and sorrow will be met with their risen Lord and God…just as all your sorrow and suffering is met, and will always be met with your risen Savior too!  And this won’t just be a joyous reality for the apostles for a brief while after His resurrection.  Any more than it’s only your reality briefly or on rare occasion.  This truth will play itself out beautifully throughout their lives.  Many afflictions and heartaches will torment each of them, but Jesus’ words will comfort them all the more!  “I am with you always.” (Mt. 28:20)  

The exact same goes for you!  The pains, sufferings and heartaches of life aren’t and won’t be strangers to you either.  So you’ll constantly need – from now to your last breath – the voice and the presence of Him Who says, “I will comfort you,” (See Is. 66:13; 2 Cor. 1:3) and also “[In Me] your sorrow will be turned into joy…and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (Jn. 16:20; 22)  And you’ll always hear Jesus’ voice and have Him as your ever-present Lord too!

C-P3O’s words to his fellow droid and friend R2D2 – upon crash-landing on the Star Wars planet of Tatooine – I think apply far more to us than to these two fictional characters: “We seem to be made to suffer.  It is our lot in life.”  To be sure, God did not create us to suffer.  We’ve brought all suffering and earthly woe that we’ve ever suffered, and that we will yet suffer, upon ourselves.  And by this I mean that we and everyone the world-over – in our collective, all-out, God-defying rebellion and total fall into sin and away from God – have brought down the house on ourselves.  Other people – many times those close to us – as well as circumstances and life-events, hurt and grieve us.  We also hurt, frustrate and grieve others with our selfish, thoughtless, heartless words and deeds.    

There’s also the reality that our faith in the Lord suffers as we turn to earthly-measures for comfort-of-heart and peace-of-conscience when we’re afflicted by this or that.  There’s the bottle certainly, with its endless bottom.  There are drugs – even legally-prescribed ones.  And while a doctor’s care in such matters is good and important,   how easy it is to become dependent even on what’s prescribed, taking too much.  A lot of other things besides call on us to put our trust and hope in them so that we may have some measure of comfort and peace in our day-to-day lives.  Who is left out but He Whom we need the most in our troubles and afflictions!  He Who bore all our sins and sorrows in His own body on the cross, and Who bears with us best, even carries us in all our sorrows.    

The disciples needed to be made well-aware of this wonderful truth since their world was about to come crashing down on them in the death and presumed forever-loss of their Lord and Master.  Because that’s what death’s supposed to do – take our loved ones away from us forever, and us from them – that is, until Jesus’ death and His resurrection happened.

Jesus isn’t speaking in riddles or with hidden meaning.  He has to leave them shortly, and deep sorrow will overcome them because of it.  Their apparent loss of Him for good will be the source of their pain and anguish-of-heart.  Really, too things will trouble them greatly.  One is God’s doing…the other is their doing.  One good, the other bad.  Jesus’ departure from them in His death and three-day burial would surely grieve them to no end.  Yet, as the risen Jesus Himself would later tell them, “It was necessary that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” (Lk. 24:26)  This had to happen for the forgiveness, life and salvation of the world.

Of course the disciples also needlessly grieve over Jesus’ death since He doesn’t remain dead and removed from them forever, but rises again to save them and all people from their sins, weaknesses, doubts, fears, troubles, afflictions – you name it.  Their sorrow is also them stewing in their own sinful natures and hopeless thoughts, fears – particularly their disbelief that Jesus has actually died for them and the world and will rise again.  He told them that He’d give His life for their salvation, after all.  Their grief and anguish, even terror-of-heart is that they think death has actually won – and that there’s nothing that Jesus can do about it.     

Oh, and adding insult to injury, Jesus even informs them that the unbelieving world will rejoice at His death and seemingly permanent departure.  This will cause the disciples to be all-the-more grieved, as Satan and the wicked world around them will ridicule and taunt them, even menace them for following a dead-and-gone, false Messiah.  

The solution to the disciples’ problem – as well as ours – is not simple, nor does it depend on the eleven of them then and us as Jesus’ disciples now.  It’ll take more than the snap of a finger or the simple words “everything’s going to be okay…just because.”  Everything depends on Jesus; it all hangs on God!  All the disciples’ distrust; all your doubts, worry and backsliding; all your guilt from hurting others; all the pain, frustration and heartache you’ve received from the devil, the world and others – all of it nailed Jesus to the cross.  But God the Father turned the cruel, unjust, awful-bitter death of His only-begotten Son – of which we’re all clearly guilty – into our redemption, our eternal good, our endless blessing!  By His almighty power He placed all loathsome sin, doubt and disbelief, even our troubles and griefs on His Son and punished Him for all this in our place on the cross of Calvary.  Our sins and ills become Jesus’; His goodness, righteousness, love and salvation becomes ours!

The disciples’ grief definitely turned to joy upon the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus!  Even following His Ascension into heaven, we read in Luke 24:52-53: “And they worshiped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.”  But this doesn’t mean it was all rainbows and roses from then on for Jesus’ early followers.  They’d face setbacks and hardships, rejection and ridicule.  Satan and the world would sorely try to deter them from seeking Christ’s help and comfort and the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Pain and heartache would not be in short-supply for these early Christians.  Ten of the Eleven would ultimately be martyred for their faith in Christ, and the eleventh imprisoned to the end of his life for it.  

Pain, setbacks and heartache are hardly foreign to us either.  When these come a-knocking at our door, or, better put, when they knock down our door and overpower us, all that we really have going for us is what we really only ever need, as described in the words of the hymn: “Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord: Peace in our time, O send us!  For there is none on earth but You, none other to defend us.  You only, Lord, can fight for us.” (M. Luther)

We weep and lament amidst the heartache and pain of this present, passing-away life.  Truth-be-told, we weren’t really re-created by faith in Christ for it – ultimately.  We weren’t meant for only our birth ‘til now and to the day we die, but really for eternal life with God in Christ!  That’s why He also says to each of us, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy!” (Jn. 16:20)  You will weep and lament, but you won’t do so alone, bereft of Jesus and His love, comfort and care!  Jesus returned to His disciples risen from the dead, victorious over the grave, hell and the devil!  He’s come to you in the same way, crucified and risen for you so that you live in Him and with Him forever!  How does Jesus come to you now; how’s He present with you?  Why, through His Holy Word and Spirit, through His body and blood and Baptismal waters.  Through these Means of Grace, your sins, doubts, fears, troubles and anguish-of-spirit are all dealt with so that they’ll never defeat and destroy you.  Even in this veil of tears and surely forevermore when you see Jesus face-to-face, “your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you,” (Jn. 16:22) for it will be endless!  Amen.  In the Name of our risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus.  Amen.

OFFERATORY (CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD)
C: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.  Amen.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

How awesome are Your works, O Lord – chiefly the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Show the light of Your honor and great power to those in error’s darkness, that by the Holy Spirit’s work they would submit themselves to Christ’s gracious redemption. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Preserve Your Church, O Lord, from every sorrow and mockery of the enemy. In this little while between Christ’s resurrection and our own, do not let the threats of persecution, loss or discomfort turn us from the joy and confidence of His redemption. Sustain all preachers faithful to their calling, all confessors steadfast in their trials and all Christians firm in the faith for life. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

By Your abundant grace, You have set us free from sin and death, that we might live anew in Christ Jesus. Preserve us and all Christians from the temptation to abuse Your gifts of grace and life by continuing in sin and thus renouncing Your gift of salvation.  By the work of Your Holy Spirit, grant that we might daily repent, counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to You in Christ.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Hear our prayers for all Christian homes. Preserve all married couples in love and faithfulness.  Strengthen all believing parents for their task of trusting and honoring Your sacred Word, and seeing to it that their children grow in It, that parents would bring their children into the House of the Lord and not deprive them of Your great blessings.  Uphold the unmarried honorable and unashamed in their station; and grant good works of sacrifice and love to be done in every home.  Let the ignorance of foolish people be put to silence by Your divine institution. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Almighty God, it is Your will that every human institution exercises the authority You give them from above to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good.  Give us good government at every level, under which we may honor everyone, love the brotherhood and fear God.  Above all, let our subjection be offered always for Your sake as sojourners and exiles in this world, and if we must endure suffering, let it be unjustly and mindful of You. Lord,  in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Father, on the day when this “little while” ends, we will ask nothing.  Now, in every need, we are bold to ask everything in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Mediator.  Hear our supplications and intercessions for every healing and care-need, especially for _______.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Lord God, of Your fatherly goodness and mercy You allow Your children to come under Your chastening rod to conform us to Your only begotten Son here in suffering on earth and hereafter in glory.  Comfort us by Your Holy Spirit in all temptations and afflictions, that we would not despair, but trust continually in Your Son’s promise that our trials will endure but a little while, and then be followed by eternal joy.  Grant that we would overcome all evil in patient hope and at last obtain eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  C: Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN ♫ – 189, HE IS ARISEN!  GLORIOUS WORD!
He is arisen!  Glorious Word!  Now reconciled is God, my Lord; The gates of heav’n are open.  My Jesus did triumphant die, and Satan’s arrows broken lie, destroyed hell’s fiercest weapon.  Oh, hear what cheer!     Christ victorious rising glorious, life is giving.  He was dead, but now is living!  Amen.

CONCLUDING COLLECTS
P:
Almighty God, You show those in error the light of Your truth so that they may return to the way of righteousness.  Grant faithfulness to all who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Church that they may avoid whatever is contrary to their confession and follow such things as are pleasing to You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.
C: Amen.

P: Almighty and eternal God, Who bids us to walk as pilgrims and strangers in this passing world as we seek that abiding City which You have prepared for us in heaven, we ask You to govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we, who avoid all lusts of the flesh, which war against the soul, and who are obedient to Your holy commandments, which You have set over us, may show forth Your glory before the world by our good works; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

BENEDICTION (PARTING BLESSING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD)
P:
The Lord bless thee and keep thee.  The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious to thee.  The Lord lift up His † countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN ♫ – 341, CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS
1. Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.  Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.  Awake, my soul, and sing of Him Who died for thee, and hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

2. Crown Him the Lord of life, Who triumphed o’er the grave, and rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save; His glories now we sing Who died and rose on high, Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

3. Crown Him the Lord of love; behold His hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified; No angels in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends their burning eye at mysteries so bright.

4. Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time, Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.  All hail, Redeemer, hail! for Thou hast died for me; Thy praise shall never, never fail throughout eternity.  Amen.

†       †       †
 

† THE SERVICE OF MATINS FOR HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN, FEDOR
& ST. JAMES LUTHERAN, LEXINGTON (LCMS) – 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER (G.S. SUNDAY), 4.18.21 †

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS † 

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 204, COME YE FAITH, RAISE THE STRAIN
1. Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness; God hath brought His Israel into joy from sadness.  ‘Tis the spring of souls today: Christ hath burst His prison and from three days’ sleep in death as a sun hath risen.

2. All the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying from His light, to whom we give laud and praise undying. Neither could the gates of death nor the tomb’s dark portal nor the watchers nor the seal hold Thee as a mortal.

3. But today amidst Thine own Thou didst stand, bestowing that Thy peace which evermore passeth human knowing.  Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness; God hath brought His Israel into joy from sadness.  Amen.  

OPENING VERSES
Pastor:
O Lord, open Thou my lips.
Congregation: And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise. (Psalm 51:15)

P: Make haste, O God, to deliver me. 
C: Make haste to help me, O Lord. (Psalm 70:1)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen. Hallelujah!    

INVITATORY (INVITATION TO WORSHIP)
P:
Oh, come, let us worship the Lord.
C: For He is our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)

CANTICLE (HYMN OF PRAISE): VENITE (OH, COME)
C: O come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving, let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise.  For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods.  The deep places of the earth are in His hand; the strength of the hills is His also.  The sea is His, for He made it, and His hand formed the dry land.  O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
(Psalm 95:1-7) 
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.     

HYMN ♫ – 436, THE LORD’S MY SHEPHERD, I’LL NOT WANT
1. The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want; He makes me down to lie in pastures green; He leadeth me the quiet waters by.

2. My soul He doth restore again, and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, e’en for His own Name’s sake.

3. Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale, yet will I fear no ill; for Thou art with me, and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.  

4. My table Thou hast furnished in presence of my foes; my head Thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.

5. Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me, and in God’s House forevermore my dwelling place shall be.  Amen.

Psalm 23
C: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His Name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
 
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

SERVICE OF THE WORD: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – EZEKIEL 34:11-16
P:
11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out My sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.  And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land.  There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I Myself will be the shepherd of My sheep, and I Myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

EPISTLE (LETTER) LESSON – 1 PETER 2:21-25
P:
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. 23 When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him Who judges justly. 24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By His wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

GOSPEL LESSON – JOHN 10:11-18
P:
11 Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the Good Shepherd.  I know My own and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17  For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This charge I have received from My Father.”

P: But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord!

SERMON – GOOD SHEPHERD, GOOD CONFESSION, GOOD WITH GOD IN CHRIST – 1 PT. 2:21-25; JN. 10:11-18
“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Pet. 2:25)  Amen.

Dear sheep for whom the Lamb of God and your Good Shepherd has bled: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” (Is. 53:6)  It wasn’t meant to be this way; this wasn’t always our way.  We were created to live with the Good Shepherd in a beautiful and lush garden where there was no death.  We were created to be immortal sheep, living under the most loving Shepherd that could ever exist, enjoying His steadfast kindness forever and ever.  He would protect us as sheep are protected behind a strong wall.

But then a lion came and whispered to us over that wall.  “Hey, why are you content to be sheep?  You don’t need any shepherd.  You are wise and strong.  You could make it on your own, no problem!  But if you stay behind that wall of protection forever, you will never be your own person.  You will just be sheep mindlessly following the Shepherd.  Climb on out, escape from there, and you will be like the Shepherd.”  “You will be like God,” (Gen. 3:5) or you will be God in God’s place – your own shepherd in control of yourself.

So our first parents listened to the lion, eager to devour them, and climbed outside of the wall.  They rejected the Shepherd and went out into the world.  They found out that the prowling lion really wanted to devour them.  They also met the wolves that helped the lion: sin, death and hell, as well as human forces – driven by the lion – that persecute the Church, and false teachers in the Church who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Together these wolves alongside the lion, preyed upon the human race.

Neither our parents nor their descendants could escape the trespass of leaving the Shepherd’s care.  Every sheep is born with a desire to be his own person, his own shepherd, his own god.  Yes, we all like sheep have gone badly astray.

Today is about the Shepherd winning back the sheep and making them His again.  To do that, He had to leave the perfect protection of heaven and go out into the savage world where the lion and its wolves lived.

Even then, the Shepherd was invulnerable to death via such things as accidents, disease, age and the like.  He is the Son of God, after all.  No one could take His life from Him.  Therefore He had to lay down His own life, and then take it up again.  In other words, the eternal Shepherd became the Lamb Whose Blood was shed for the sins of the world.  “Being found as a man, the Son of God humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8)  As much as He died for us, so did He also rise again to life for us!  “But God raised Him from the dead, releasing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its clutches.” (Acts 2:24)  

So when the hour for Him to be glorified had come, your Savior Christ Jesus did not flee from the darkest woe.  He came because He had to endure it – for you, me and all people.  He stood firm and made the good confession in the face of the wolves, knowing it would lead to His bitter suffering and death.  He confessed before Pontius Pilate, “You say that I am a king.  For this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the Truth listens to My voice.” (Jn. 18:37)  Pilate threw Jesus’ words back into His face by saying, “What is Truth?” (Jn. 18:38) sarcastically mocking the Lord as he no doubt didn’t believe in absolute Truth.  How sad of Pilate not to have believed that the man standing before Him is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!  

Surely Jesus was calling even this man – who thought he held Jesus’ life in his hands – to trust that He alone speaks the Truth of God as God’s Truth.  But the quality of the Lord’s confession is in its own truthfulness, not in whether it is rightly received or not.  Christ could have denied everything.  He could have gotten Himself released by Pilate in any number of ways.  But He did not.  He stood His ground and made the good confession – for you!

Jesus did not deny that He was the Son of God before Caiaphas, the high priest.  He could’ve simply not answered Caiaphas.  Humanly-speaking, there was no point casting the truth before those wolves – like casting pearls to pigs.  But our Lord made the good confession, even though it cost Him His life.  

The good Shepherd defends His sheep.  After He laid down His life and took it up again, Christ sent many under-shepherds through whom He defended and continues to defend His sheep from the lion and his wolves.  How does He do this?  Through the good confession of faith.  

A hireling flees when he sees the wolves coming.  But the Good Shepherd stands his ground as an example to His under-shepherds, so that they may trust in Him as the slain Lamb of God now risen from the dead for them and the flock they must tend.  Really, it’s Christ our Good Shepherd Who tends His flock through His under-shepherds.  What does this look like?  Rev. Luther portrays is perfectly as our divine Shepherd shielding and protecting us from the devil’s devouring jaws and leading us always into green, lush pastures.  These rich, life-giving fields are God’s Holy Church in which we receive constant forgiveness of our sins through the sacred Word of God and His Sacraments.  

So we under-shepherds, that is, pastors, stand our ground and make the good confession.  We confess Christ as the Son of God.  We confess that He is the Truth that saves us forever.  We confess Him, although we may have our confession thrown back in our face.  We may suffer for it or even die.  But if we are good under-shepherds, we will not back down, though all the world full of wolves threaten us and seek to silence us.  God help us; God come to the aid of His dear Church!

Church Reformer and Pastor Martin Luther stood his ground five-hundred years ago today at the Diet of Worms in Germany.  He was challenged to make his confession a few days after this same Sunday in the Church year.  He was surely thinking of this Holy Gospel read in the House of God days before.  Luther appeared before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who represented the power of nations and the might of the established Roman Church.  When the Reformer was asked to recant his writings or deny them and give them up as false and dangerous to the soul – even though they were all the Truth of God as declared in Holy Scripture alone – everything was on the line!  The crystal-clear message to him was give up your preaching and teaching and fall back in line…or else!  

Dr. Luther surely thought, “What kind of shepherd will I be if I see these wolves gather around me, and I back down on my confession of Christ?  What if I bend and compromise my confession?  I might preserve my life in this world, but I would betray both Christ and His sheep.”

So instead of backing down before the wolves and submitting to the lion, Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture, or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  So help me God.  Amen.” (Here I Stand Statement)

It is not pride that should make a man stand by his words.  Instead, the confession must be made and held because it is the confession of Christ and His saving merits and benefits for us.  To abandon that is most perilous.

God help us all make the good confession.  All Christians, not just under-shepherds, must be ready to confess Christ before men.  When the wolves come for us, we must not count our life more valuable than having Christ and all the treasures He has given us.  In truth, Christ is our life.  To deny Him is to throw away our lives now and for all eternity.  If they take this, our present life, we will rise again, never to die again.  Why should we fear the wolves?  Faithful under-shepherds as well as good, devout sheep trust that our Shepherd will keep us safe forever.

God help us to be willing to lay down our lives in the image of the Good Shepherd.  He will take up our lives again on the Last Day in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting!  Amen.  In His Name of Jesus, our very Good Shepherd.  Amen.

CANTICLE (HYMN OF PRAISE): TE DEUM LAUDAMUS (WE PRAISE YOU, O LORD)
C: We praise You, O God; we acknowledge You to be the Lord.  All the earth now worships You, the Father everlasting.  To You all angels cry aloud; the heavens, and all the powers therein.  To You cherubim and seraphim continually do cry: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Your glory.  The glorious company of the Apostles praise You.  The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise You.  The noble army of Martyrs praise You.  The holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge You; The Father of an infinite Majesty; Your adorable, true and only Son; Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.  You are the King of Glory, O Christ.  You are the everlasting Son of the Father.

When You took upon Yourself to deliver man, You humbled Yourself to be born of a virgin.  When You had overcome the sharpness of death, You opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.  You sit at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.  We believe that You shall come to be our Judge.  We therefore pray You to help Your servants, whom You have redeemed with Your precious blood.  Make them to be numbered with Your saints, in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save Your people, and bless Your heritage.  Govern them and lift them up forever.  Day by day we magnify You; And we worship You Name forever and ever.  Grant, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.  O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.  O Lord, let Your mercy be upon us, as our trust is in You.  O Lord, in You we have trusted; let us never be confounded.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH 
P:
Dear Jesus, our risen Savior, truly You are our Good Shepherd, for You gave your life for us, Your sheep. Surely it was Your great love for us sinners, who were lost and straying, that moved You to come into this world to live, to die and to rise again, so that we might have the life that does not end.  Good Shepherd, we owe You heartfelt thanks and praise and our continual love and devotion for all that You have done – and still do – to insure our earthly and eternal welfare.

It is true, we have become Your sheep by trusting that You are our Savior and God.  Nevertheless we must confess that we still have a rebellious Old Adam that is stubborn and sinful and continually leads us astray.  Therefore we need Your loving patience as our Good Shepherd to deliver us from our sinful ways, to protect us from our own foolishness, and to forgive our many sins. We need You to take the evils and dangers that beset us and turn them to our good. We need You to hear and answer our prayers.  And we need to hear and heed the sound of Your voice as You speak to us in Holy Scripture.  Do not, on account of our sins and stubbornness, turn away from us.

Our Shepherd, by Your continual presence comfort and cheer us in every journey we must make through the dark, shadowy valleys of this life.  Satisfy us with the green pastures of Your Word and there nourish our faith.  Quench our thirst for righteousness with the refreshing streams of salvation.  When we are oppressed on every hand by troubles, distress, temptations, sickness, sin, and heartache – yes, when life seems too difficult to endure – teach us to turn our eyes of faith to You, the Good Shepherd, and to cast all our cares upon You.  Answer our anxious cries, for only You know what is best for us.  Refresh us with Your help and guidance, Your protection and healing.

Send Your healing mercies and continual care on those for whom we pray: _______.  Continue to drive the coronavirus from us and heal those afflicted with it.  Continue to grant us needed rain, we pray.

Especially when we walk through the valley of death itself, be with us, O Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.  Dispel the gloom that surrounds us with the bright promise of salvation, filling us with joy and confidence as one by one we journey from this life to heaven.  Cause goodness and mercy to follow us the rest of our days.  Hear us, merciful Savior and Shepherd.

Good Lord, we give thanks for Your servant Martin Luther and the stand he took in Your Name at Worms.  Through him, You called the Christian Church back to the truth of the Scriptures and the comfort of the Gospel for the repentant conscience found in You alone.  By Your Holy Spirit and the conviction of the blessed Scriptures, embolden us to faithfully confess You as well, and to stand unashamed on the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures in the face of all opposition and discomfort.  Give wisdom and zeal to our pastors, give resolve and confidence to all Christians, and preserve and enlarge Your flock, that all consciences may be bound up in Your life as our risen Shepherd. 
C: Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Mark 10:47)

LORD’S PRAYER

COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Good Shepherd, we may know Him Who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
C: Amen.

SALUTATION (GREETING)
P:
The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit. (2 Timothy 4:22)

COLLECT FOR GRACE
P:
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day.  Defend us this day with Your mighty power and grant that we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

BENEDICAMUS (LET US BLESS THE LORD)
P:
Bless we the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God. (Psalm 103:1)

BENEDICTION (CLOSING BLESSING)
P:
The grace of our † Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN ♫ – 648, I AM JESUS’ LITTLE LAMB
1. I am Jesus’ little lamb, ever glad at heart I am; for my Shepherd gently guides me, knows my need and well provides me, loves me ev’ry day the same, even calls me by my name.

2. Day by day, at home, away, Jesus is my staff and stay.  When I hunger, Jesus feeds me, into pleasant pastures leads me; when I thirst, He bids me go where the quiet waters flow.

3 Who so happy as I am, even now the Shepherd’s lamb?  And when my short life is ended, by His angel host attended, He shall fold me to His breast, there within His arms to rest.  Amen.

†       †       †
 

† THE DIVINE SERVICE OF THE WORD, THE SECOND OF EASTER (4.11.21) 
HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN, FEDOR & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN, LEXINGTON (LCMS) (INDOOR & OUTDOOR/95.3 FM) †

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 210, THE STRIFE IS O’ER, THE BATTLE DONE
1. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!  The strife is o’er, the battle done; now is the Victor’s triumph won; now be the song of praise begun.  Alleluia!

2. The powers of death have done their worst, but Christ their legions has dispersed.  Let shouts of praise and joy outburst.  Alleluia!

3. The three sad days are quickly sped; He rises glorious from the dead.  All glory to our risen Head.  Alleluia!

4. He closed the yawning gates of hell; the bars from heaven’s high portals fell.  Let hymns of praise His triumph tell.  Alleluia!

5. Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee, from death’s dread sting Thy servants free, that we may live and sing to Thee.  Alleluia!   Amen.

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor:
In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE INTO THE SERVICE OF THE WORD)
P:
Like newborn infants, Alleluia, long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word, Alleluia.  Shout for joy in the Lord,   O you righteous!  Praise befits the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord!  Sing to Him a new song.  For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.  He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.  By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.  Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!  The eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield.  For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His Holy Name.  Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You. (Psalm 33)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, That takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen. 

SALUTATION
P:
The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit. (2 Timothy 4:22)

COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, You have bestowed upon us and all true believers in You the power to absolve one another from sin in Your Holy Name.  In particular, You have established the ministry of reconciliation in our midst through the Office of the Keys: That special authority which You have given Your Church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners.  Grant us Your grace, we pray, and keep us from self-righteousness and pride, which would cause us to despise Your Keys of forgiveness and life.  Help us to instead recognize in them Your great love for us, that we may use them for the comfort and salvation of our souls, and that we may sincerely amend our lives and continually thank You; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God,   now and forever.  
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – EZEKIEL 37:1-14 
[The Prophet Ezekiel said:] The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And He led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 4 Then He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O My people.  And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O My people. 14 And I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it,’ declares the Lord.”

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

SMALL CATECHISM RESPONSIVE READING (SEE ATTACHED)

EPISTLE (LETTER) LESSON – 1 JOHN 5:4-10
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

6 This is He Who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the One Who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 The Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has borne concerning His Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.  Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning His Son.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

TRIPLE HALLELUJAH
C: Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

P: The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the 20th chapter.
C: Glory be to Thee, O Lord!

GOSPEL LESSON – 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.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.”  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If 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. 25 So 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.”  27 Then 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.”  28 Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus 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; 31 but 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.

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ!

APOSTLES’ CREED

SERMON HYMN ♫ – 208, YE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE KING
1. Ye sons and daughters of the King, Whom heavenly hosts in glory sing, Today the grave hath 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 spake unto the three: “Your Lord is gone to Galilee:” Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

4. That night the Apostles met in fear, amidst 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,” saith 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; “Thou art my Lord and God,” he cried: Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

8. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet whose faith hath 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!

10. And we with holy Church unite, as evermore is just and right, in glory to the King of light: Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Amen.

SERMON: RECEIVE CHRIST’S RESURRECTION PEACE – JN. 20:19-31 
Blessed are you who have not yet seen your risen Lord, yet still believe in Him. (See Jn. 20:29)  Amen.

Christ’s peace be with you.  Amen.  There’s some debate as to what went on in the hearts of Jesus’ followers from His arrest in Gethsemane to the stunning news of His resurrection and His wondrous appearance before them all.  Some think that the disciples’ faith took a hit upon the arrest, trials, savage beatings and gruesome crucifixion of their Teacher and Master.  After all, what did the disciples do once Jesus was taken into custody but flee for their lives?  None remained at His side, faithful to Him, to die with Jesus, as both Thomas and Peter swore they’d do. (See Jn. 11:6; Mk. 14:31)  Jesus had even foretold what would go down: “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” (Mt. 26:31)  Scattered they were!  Scattered, but not in the sense that they completely lost saving faith in Jesus, so goes one viewpoint.

The other viewpoint is that the disciples totally forsook their Lord and Master when it started to go bad for Him.  The idea here is that they departed from their faith in Jesus because they just couldn’t believe in Him as the Son of God since He got captured, wouldn’t defend Himself, permitted injustice to be done to Him, was abused and killed the way He was.  No proper Messiah of Israel would ever have to endure this.

What does Scripture have to say about these two views?  This: The disciples and followers of Jesus – to the person – abandoned their faith in Jesus to the last degree.  They didn’t consider Him stricken or sacrificed for their sins and the iniquities of all people, but merely tragically put to death before He could redeem Israel, whatever that meant.  Since they’d lost their faith entirely, only Christ Jesus could restore them to faith and life through the Spirit.  Only the risen Lord could prove to His beloved disciples that His death was not defeat, not the end, not the victory of Satan and all evil.  It was the death of death!  The utter defeat of Satan and the world!  The triumph of God!  Jesus’ resurrection was His total victory over the grave and hell!  And it was His opening of the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers as He restored the faith of His apostles and followers.  Won’t God the Son also enliven and keep you in your holy Christian faith through His Spirit, sustaining you in it and blessing you in His resurrection peace?

As our Gospel for today opens, it’s Easter evening.  But “Happy Easter!” is nowhere to be heard.  The very fact that the disciples are prepared for the worst, locked indoors, fearful as all-get-out, tells you all you need to know about their spiritual state.  They’d abandoned their Lord in the Garden.  One of their own had betrayed Jesus to His doom.  Another, Peter, denied Jesus three times, or completely.  How’s that for unbelief!  Two men met the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, but God’s will, at first, and their unbelief kept them from recognizing Him. (See Lk. 24:16)  One of them, Cleopas, even called Jesus a failed Messiah, a would-be Redeemer to His face without knowing Who He was! (See Lk. 24:21)  Earlier that day, the women returned from the empty tomb to inform the disciples that He’d risen as He said.  They dismissed the women’s witness as nonsense. (See Lk. 24:9-11)  Jesus Himself appeared to several of them.  So why their fear?  Unbelief is a hard nut to crack!  Impossible for us to crack, anyway.

Rather than get into the weeds on how Jesus’ followers could’ve believed in Jesus to a point, as they obviously did, only to have lost their faith, it’s more important to simply acknowledge that this did happen.  The same Peter who had faithfully confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, a short while later also told the Lord He was wrong to say He’d have to go to the cross. (See Mt. 16:16; 22)  Peter lived out his refusal of the cross of Christ while He hung on it. 

As poor, sinful Christians, we’re walking contradictions.  On the one hand – the good hand! – we’re firm believers in Jesus because we’re here in God’s House according to His grace and favor toward us.  That’s the only reason!  We wouldn’t want to be here or dare find ourselves here otherwise.  In Rev. Dr. Luther words, we’re “simultaneously saint and sinner.”  Believers in Jesus, yes, but also chock full of an awful lot of sin, guilt, faith-wavering and trouble and affliction.  To be sure, we’re thankfully not in the same awful spot the disciples were between the garden of betrayal and arrest, the grave of death and the garden of resurrection and life.  We’re not Jesus-forsaking unbelievers since we’re here today.  

We must give an answer to all-important questions posed to us in the Catechism, like “Do you believe that you are a sinner?”  “Yes,” our reply needs to be.  We know this from the Ten Commandments, which we’ve not kept.  In answer to the question “Are you sorry for your sins?” our answer must be, “Yes, I am sorry that I have sinned against God.”  Because of our sins, we justly deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, temporal death and eternal damnation.  When asked if we hope to be saved, what else can we say but, “Yes, this is my hope!”  And to the question, “In Whom do you trust” to forgive and to save you? we fervently answer: “In my dear Lord Jesus Christ.” (catechism.cph.org/en/questions-answers.html)

So we’re quite the sinners, which is nothing to boast in since as those who break God’s holy Law, we desecrate His holiness, offending Him to His face.  We frustrate and hurt our neighbor.  We even hurt ourselves. 

Speaking of our troubles and afflictions, they either come upon us because of the wrong we do, the wrong others do to us, the reality of living in a fallen world – such as accidents, calamities, etc., or God testing our faith.  Our reaction to various trials and tribulations is the thing, especially as we often demonstrate weak or little faith when difficulties arise.  We fail our God in terms of our confidence in Him.

What does the Lord do about this?  To His first followers; to us, His followers today?  Well, He doesn’t come in judgment;  that’s for sure!  What are the first words out of Jesus’ mouth when He enters a locked-down room supernaturally in His resurrected, glorified body that first Easter evening?  “Peace be with you!” (Jn. 20:19)  Twice He says these words to not only reassure His followers that He’s come in peace and not in anger, but also to be their Peace in His risen body!  

The disciples had finally understood their guilt in abandoning Jesus after trying to hide from it, deny it.  Moreover,   it was their sins – just as it was ours – that hanged Christ on the cross.  The Lord’s resurrection first prompted them to come to the realization that they’d departed from their Lord and Savior, and that it was wrong for them to have done so.  But now that they have nothing and are without hope behind lock doors, scared for their lives, Jesus comes to tell them that they’re not destitute at all; they have no reason to be full of dread. He’s risen – for them; for you! They; you have Him…again...forever!  The fact that Jesus breathes His Holy Spirit upon them, forgiving them their sins, shows that they’re sorry for turning away from Him; for their disbelief.  They need His divine pardon and salvation just like we do.  Thomas is knocked for his unbelief a week later.  Here, they’re in disbelief too…until Jesus appears to them, for them!                   

How does Jesus show or give them His peace – the peace of God?  We read: “When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (Jn. 20:20)  He of course does this to prove that He’s their crucified and risen Lord – just as He does for Thomas later.  But more so, He shows them His wounds as the means by which He has made peace between God the Father and them.  As for you, believe the same as the disciples did – that Christ your Savior has made peace between the Father and you by the blood of His cross! (See Col. 1:20)

Jesus first puts flesh and blood – His own! – into the disciples’ and our pardon, forgiveness and everlasting peace with God.  Then He puts our reconciliation and peace with God into words!  “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (Jn. 20:21-23)  Two things here…  First, Jesus wouldn’t forgive the sins of anyone through the preaching and pronouncement of His apostles if these men weren’t forgiven by Him first.  This is proof that Jesus is risen and now comes in peace to forgive and restore His apostles and followers to life in Him again.  You’re surely included in this as you’re part of His holy Church – forgiven sinners, cleansed saints that you are!    

The second thing is that the apostles; the Church of God is given direction and velocity to go forth in the Lord’s Name.  No, not their and our own, personal, self-driven velocity and direction, but God’s!  Just as the Father sent us His Son, so did Jesus send forth His holy apostles and now sends us, His Church – in the Spirit – to speak divine pardon and peace to troubled, hurting consciences wounded by their sins, the world and Satan.  These would be people who are as troubled and fearful as the disciples were behind locked doors.  For them; for us Jesus only means peace!  But for impenitent people who refuse to sorrow over their obvious, deadly sins; who refuse God’s call to repentance over their dire trespasses, there can be no forgiveness, no peace until they turn their hearts, change their ways from evil to God, from sin to Savior.

Which is why we never stop pronouncing forgiveness to the penitent, the contrite, declaring in no uncertain terms that Christ’s cross and empty tomb give them certain peace with God since the crucified and risen Jesus is our Peace!  Nor do we cast away the impenitent as too far gone and doomed.  They may never repent; never believe.  But this is not for us to judge – only God.  And so our call for the impenitent to repent never ceases either.  We ought never give them false confidence that they’re somehow good with God anyway even though they’re unrepentant and unbelieving.  

Like a hot ember still burning after a fire’s all but put out, like a bit of black mold still lurking after the rest has been removed from a room, residual unbelief persists a short while in Thomas.  But our good Jesus kills it in him, too, giving Him new life in God as well.  

Blessed are you who haven’t – yet, anyway – put your finger in Jesus’ pierced hands and side, yet who still believe every bit as much as Thomas finally did that Christ is risen for you!  Blessed are you who’ve received the Holy Spirit and faith in God through the breath of Christ in Holy Baptism, washed pure as you are in Him!  Blessed are you who are at peace with God now – not because of your own doing or religious zeal, but because the Lord was pierced, bled and died for you.  So that the words declaring that you’re forgiven and at peace with God in His Holy Triune Name are most certainly true!  Blessed are you who can forgive others in Christ – your debtors who ask you for forgiveness.  Always do so!  Blessed are you when troubles, doubts, fears, the anguish of sin and its effects overtake you.  You’re not left alone, behind your own locked doors.  You have Jesus crucified, risen for you; pleading for your endless good before the Father.  And the answer’s always good news for you!  Blessed are you who joyfully confess Jesus as your Lord and your God!  Amen.  In the Name of our risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus.  Amen.

OFFERATORY (CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD)
C: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.  Amen.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

Almighty God, You brought us up out of the Egypt of hell and into the Zion of Christ’s Church through the Red Sea of the Baptismal font, raising us as well from the bone-dry death of sin and unbelief to having new bodies and new hearts of flesh in Jesus’ saving Name.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that as we continue to wend our way through the wilderness of this sinful world, we would long for the pure spiritual milk of Your Word and receive the sustenance we need, until we are brought to the Promised Land of the life of the world to come.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Holy Father, You raised up Your Son from the dead so that He would bestow upon us His Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins.  Grant that we would live joyfully as those who have been crucified and raised up with Christ to new life in Holy Baptism, so that we boldly testify of Him, His forgiveness and peace, to all who will hear.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, You preserve Your Word among us so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ and have life in His Name.  Bless us who have not seen and yet believe that He is risen.  Preserve us from doubts and help our unbelief; where we are tempted to defy Your Law or mistrust Your promises, forgive us and strengthen our faith by the work of Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Good Lord, Your Son appeared to His disciples in His resurrected flesh to ordain them and to send them out into the world, that repentance and the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His Name.  Continue to raise up for us faithful men to serve in the Office of the Holy Ministry, and bless their service among Your people who, with St. Thomas, confess Jesus as our Lord and God.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Gracious Lord, through Your holy Church you exercise the Office of the Keys, forgiving the sins of Your penitent faithful on earth as they are forgiven in heaven, but also withholding forgiveness from impenitent, hardened sinners.  Save us and all our fellow Church members always, dear Lord, from having a heart of impenitence that turns away from the living God.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Merciful God, remember those who have wandered from the household of faith.  Faithful to Your promises, work all things in their lives to remind them of their need for Your unending grace and steadfast love, that they might return to the faith and rejoice in Your Son Who has died and is risen for them. In His Name we pray.  Amen.

Almighty God, You appoint rulers and officials for the sake of order and peace.  Bless those whom You have placed in authority over us at the federal, state and local levels.  Give to them the desire to serve with integrity and honor and to work for the benefit of all.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen. 

Gracious Father, look with mercy upon all who suffer in this vale of tears: _______.  Provide them with loving and compassionate care, and comfort them with the reminder that everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world and that, believing that Jesus is the Christ, they have life in His Name.  Send us, too, needed rain to refresh Your creation.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
C: Amen. 

LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN ♫ – 190, CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN AGAIN!
1. Christ the Lord is risen again!  Christ has broken death’s strong chain!  Hark, the angels shout for joy singing evermore on high: Hallelujah!

2. He Who gave for us His life.  Who for us endured the strife, is our Paschal Lamb today.  We, too, sing for joy and say: Hallelujah!

3. He Who bore all pain and loss comfortless upon the cross lives in glory now on high, pleads for us and hears our cry: Hallelujah!

4. He Whose path no records tell hath descended into hell; He the strong man armed hath bound and in highest heaven is crowned.  Hallelujah!

5. He Who slumbered in the grave is exalted now to save; Now through Christendom it rings that the Lamb is King of kings.  Hallelujah!

6. Now He bids us tell abroad how the lost may be restored, how the penitent forgiven, how we, too, may enter heaven.  Hallelujah!

7. Thou our Paschal Lamb indeed, Christ, today Thy people feed; take our sins and guilt away that we all may sing for aye*: Hallelujah!  Amen.

* Aye = forever

CONCLUDING COLLECTS
P:
Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.
C: Amen.

P: Almighty and everlasting God, Who by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has overcome the world and the prince of this world, the devil, we humbly implore You to create in us by Your Holy Spirit true faith in Your Son, and through this faith, newness of life, that by the power of Your might we would overcome the world and at all times have in our hearts the witness of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

BENEDICTION (PARTING BLESSING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD)
P:
The Lord bless thee and keep thee.  The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious to thee.  The Lord lift up His † countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN ♫ - 205, THE DAY OF RESURRECTION
1. The day of resurrection, earth, tell it out abroad, the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.  From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky, our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory.

2. Our hearts be pure from evil that we may see aright the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light and, listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain, His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

3. Now let the heavens be joyful, let earth her song begin, let all the world keep triumph and all that is therein.  Let all things, seen and unseen, their notes of gladness blend; For Christ the Lord hath risen – our joy that hath no end.  Amen.

4. All praise to God the Father, all praise to God the Son, all praise to God the Spirit, eternal Three in One!  Let all the ransomed number fall down before the throne, and honor, power and glory ascribe to God alone!  Amen. † † †

    HOLY TRINITY & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN CHURCHES
    PO Box 247
    Lexington, Texas 78947
    PH: 979.773.2634
    lexington.fedor.lcms@gmail.com
    ABOUT US

    We are two conservative, confessional Lutheran churches of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, who, in faithfulness toward God, gather around His Holy Word and Sacraments.

    email usour facebook page