Readings for April 8, 2018

The First Reading is recorded in Acts 4:32-35. We see what life was like early in the history of the Church – they took care of each other. The resurrection of Jesus made such an impact on each person that they were willing to give of themselves for the sake of another; following the example Jesus gave them when He gave Himself on the cross and rose from the dead. What He did for them, and us, changed their lives, and they were filled with love for each other, just as the Lord had loved them.
How do Jesus’ giving of Himself on the cross and His resurrection impact us? Does what He has done make a difference in our lives? Are we new people who love as He has first loved us, and does this love show in and through us? Would someone know that Jesus is risen by our words and actions?
Lord Jesus, we rejoice in how You made a difference in the lives of the early Church, and how You have changed our lives. Increase in us Your love and mercy so that we will reach out to others with Your love, and let Your Holy Spirit change them as You have changed us. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 148:1-14. The Psalm for today, 148:1-14, is a magnificent psalm of praise. Notice how the psalmist calls on all of creation to praise the Lord, and it is fitting to do so because through His death and resurrection Jesus makes all things new; all of creation will be set free from decay and destruction through Jesus’ victory over death. As we are celebrating the resurrection, let us join this great psalm of praise to the Lord!
Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the King of creation. Oh, my soul praise Him, for He is my help and salvation! Amen.

The Second Reading, 1 John 1:1-2:2, begins with John’s eye witness account of hearing and seeing all that Jesus has done. The apostle John heard and saw, and then proclaimed the message to us. This proclamation of the Gospel brings us into fellowship with God and with each other.
Notice what John puts as priority – that Jesus died and rose again so that our sins could be forgiven. Notice the emphasis John puts on our need to confess our sins (does this sound familiar? It is part of the liturgy of confession and forgiveness), and the need we have to be forgiven. Because Jesus died to redeem us from sin and the consequences of sin, we can honestly face our sinful selves and seek forgiveness in Him. He is the One Who intercedes for us, and His intercession means forgiveness and life for us. Let us rejoice!
Lord, to You we confess our sinfulness, knowing that in Jesus we are forgiven. Thank You for drawing us into fellowship with You through Jesus. Keep us in You into eternity. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel (John 20:19-31) is the Gospel that is always read on the Second Sunday of Easter, the account of Jesus giving the disciples the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins (called the Office of the Keys), and the account of Thomas, who would not believe that Jesus had risen unless he saw Jesus and touched the wounds.
This Gospel never gets old, even though we hear it year after year! What a privilege and responsibility we have to proclaim that in Christ a person’s sins are forgiven, and to warn the unrepentant that their sin remains. It is not popular to bring up sinful behavior, but it is necessary so that repentance and forgiveness can happen. Let us exercise the Office of the Keys with care and reverence.
The second half of the Gospel deals with Thomas, often called Doubting Thomas. Thomas is a 21st century person – “unless I see, unless I touch, unless I can have proof, I will not believe.” Notice that eight days later Thomas had that opportunity. Notice Jesus’ compassion, and gentle chiding of Thomas; Jesus didn’t drive Thomas away, Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas, but He also called Thomas, and all of us who do not now see Jesus face-to-face, to believe. The Scriptures reveal God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to us, through God’s words and actions, so that we will believe. Let us diligently search and study the Scriptures so that faith can grow in us. As faith grows, doubts will also creep in, take the doubts to the Lord, He will not drive you away, but will again show you Himself so that faith can grow.
Risen Lord Jesus, let us daily receive Your peace, won through Your death and resurrection. Enable us daily to know the joy of forgiveness, and to extend that forgiveness to all, calling them to repentance and new life in You, so that, like Thomas, all will proclaim You as our Lord and God to Your everlasting glory! Amen!

 

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