April 3, 2nd Sunday in Easter – Divine Service Setting 1
John 20:19-31 – That you might believe
April 10 3rd Sunday in Easter –Divine Service Setting 3 without communion
John 21:1-14 The Good Shepherd Feeds His Sheep
April 17 4th Sunday in Easter – Divine Service Setting 2
John 10:22-30 The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep
April 24 5th Sunday in Easter – Matins
Examination of the Confirmation Class of 2016
O God, for our redemption You gave Your only begotten Son to the death of the cross and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of the enemy. Grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day we may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever;
We are now in the Easter season. Because of a cross and empty tomb we stand as a forgiven people. Because Jesus lives we to shall live. Easter has always been for Christians the feast of feasts. There is no event more important to the Christian. Its primacy was shown by the fact that the resurrection was celebrated each Sunday and for this reason each Sunday of the church year is considered a festival. The importance of Easter can be seen in the fact that Easter is preceded by a period of preparation – the Lenten season of 40 days. Easter is now observed for a season of 50 days. Easter is so important that the entire church year revolves around it.
Other festivals and seasons depend upon the date of Easter, which varies from year to year. The earliest possible date for Easter is March 22. The last time it occurred was 1818 and the next time will be 2285. The latest possible date for it is April 25. The last time it occurred was 1943 and the next time will be 2038.
The early followers of Jesus based their faith based upon an historical rising from the dead. The uniqueness of Christianity and the truth of Christ as the Son of God depends on the resurrection. Do we today profess to believe in the real resurrection because we know that the whole Christian faith depends on it? The resurrection is the basic good news of the gospel. Without it, Christianity has nothing to say that other religions have not already said.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and his appearance we are bold to say:
1. Jesus’ resurrection was a resurrection of the body – not a soul leaving the body at death.
2. Jesus’ resurrection was not a physical resurrection like Lazarus’ but it was a resurrection of a spiritual body that could not die again because of its immortal nature. See – 1 Corinthians 15:32-44
3. This risen body was both recognizable and unrecognizable. Jesus could eat and still pass through closed doors. See- Luke 24:42, John 20:19
4. The resurrection was an act of God. Jesus did not rise on his own power or desire. The Father promised through the prophets that He would destroy death and save His people. He sent His Son to die and rise again. It was the Father who raise Jesus from the dead. See- Acts 11:30
5. The resurrection is not a happy ending to a tragic story to make people feel good. The resurrection is an integral part of the cross. (This is why we have a crucifix in the front of our church!) The two are inseparable – death and resurrection. The resurrection confirms Jesus as the Son of God and assures man that Jesus is the Christ.
6. The resurrection confirms the words and promises of Jesus. It gives hope to mortals that death was destroyed and life with Christ is made possible for all eternity.
7. The resurrection is a personal experience. Christ lives in me. Or, am I a deluded fool? Do I really know Jesus, talk to Him in prayer? Am I giving my life to a corpse? Ultimately, the resurrection is not something of proof, demonstration, nor argumentation. It is a matter of personal faith based upon personal experiences with the risen Christ.
We are Easter people. The resurrection of Jesus is the power of God. It is the Father’s work. It is the miracle of miracles. With God, all things are possible!
Almighty God, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. We humbly pray that we may live before You in righteousness and purity forever;