FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (Jubilate)
Isaiah 40:25–31 or Lamentations 3:22–33
1 Peter 2:11–20 or 1 John 3:1–3
Those Who Wait on the Lord Shall Rejoice
The people of God are pilgrims and sojourners in this world, looking ahead to a destination yet to come (1 Peter 2:11–20). Though we are now children of God, the fullness of what we shall be has not yet been revealed (1 John 3:1–3). We are those who wait on the Lord. “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lam. 3:25). Jesus tells us that the wait is just a little while. “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16). Though you must experience sorrow for a time, though you must live as strangers in a world that is at enmity with Christ, yet your sorrow will be turned to joy when He returns. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is. 40:31). The little while of weeping shall be replaced with an eternity of rejoicing in the presence of Christ the crucified and risen Savior. “And no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).
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 fellowsihp of Christ’s Church that they may avoid whatever is contrary to their confession and follow all such things as are pleasing to You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER (Misericordias Domini)
1 Peter 2:21–25
The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep
Our Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–16). He is not like the hireling, who cares nothing for the sheep and only for himself, who flees when he sees the wolf coming. Rather, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks out His scattered sheep to deliver them (Ezek. 34:11–16). He gathers them and feeds them in rich pasture. He binds up the broken and strengthens the sick. He lays down His life for wandering and wayward sheep. On the cross, Christ bore in His body the attacks of the predators of sin and death and the devil for you that you might be saved. He now lives to restore your soul in the still waters of baptism, to lead you in the paths of righteousness by the voice of His Gospel, to prepare the table of His holy supper before you, that you may dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23). “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER (Quasimodo Geniti)
1 John 5:4–10
The Wounds of Christ Give Us Life
“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood” (1 John 5:7). These three point to Christ and flow from Christ. Jesus shows His disciples His hands side, from which blood and water flowed, saying “Peace be with you.” He presents the wounds which turn our fear to gladness and which restore us to the Father. Jesus breathes on His disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:23). His breath, His words are Spirit and life. They raise up our dry, dead bones and give us new and everlasting life (Ezek. 37:1–14). Christ now gives His ministers to speak His forgiving, Spirit-filled words to the penitent in His stead. Our Lord continues to come to His people, presenting His wounds to us in the Sacraments of water and blood. He bids us to touch His side at His table, to receive His risen body and blood in true faith, that believing we may have life in His name.
Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and coversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 5:6–8 or 1 Corinthians 15:51–57
Christ’s Resurrection Means That We Will One Day Be Raised
“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). By the shed blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, eternal death has passed over us. Now we pass with Christ through death into life everlasting. For Christ the crucified One is risen! The stone has been rolled away from the tomb, revealing that the tomb could not hold Him (Mark 16:1–8). Now our Redeemer lives eternally to save us from sin and Satan and the grave, and we can live in the sure hope of our own bodily resurrection with Christ. “After my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). Feasting on the living Christ, who is our meat and drink indeed, we boldly say: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54–55, 57).
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; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:14–21
Behold the Lamb of God, Who Takes Away the Sin of the World
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is led to the slaughter of His cross as the sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the world. “Despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3), He is the righteous Servant who justifies many by His innocent suffering and death. He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows; He is wounded for our transgressions; He is crushed for our iniquities; He suffers our chastisement, so that “with His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:4–5). As the Son of God, He fulfills the Law for us in human flesh, and so fulfills the Scriptures (John 19:7, 24). For in Christ, “God was reconciling the whole world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).
Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
HOLY (MAUNDY) THURSDAY
or Exodus 24:3–11
1 Corinthians 11:23–32
John 13:1–15 (34–35)
Let Us Love One Another, as Christ Jesus Has Loved Us
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). By eating His body and drinking His blood, we proclaim to all the world that Jesus is, indeed, our Passover Lamb (Ex. 12:1–14), who was sacrificed for us on Calvary. In Christ, the Lord remembers us in mercy and remembers our sin no more; He forgives us all our iniquity. With such love, he “loved His own who were in the world,” and even loves us “to the end” (John 13:1). As He washes us and feeds us in love, let us love one another, just as He has loved us (John 13:34).
O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
PALM SUNDAY / SUNDAY OF THE PASSION (Palmarum)
Matthew 21:1–9 (Palm Sunday Procession)
or John 12:12–19 (Palm Sunday Procession)
or Matthew 27:11–54
The Cross and Passion of Our Lord Are the Hour of His Glory
“Behold, your King is coming to you . . . humble and mounted on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9–12; Mt. 21:1–9). Our Lord rides in this humble fashion because He is entering Jerusalem to humble Himself even to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:5–11). His kingly crown will not be made of gold but of thorns, the sign of sin’s curse. For His royal reign is displayed in bearing this curse for His people, saving us from our enemies by sacrificing His own life. The sinless One takes the place of the sinner so that the sinner can be freed and bear the name “Barabbas,” “son of the Father” (Matthew 26 and 27). It is at the name of this exalted Savior, Jesus, that we bow in humble faith. With the centurion who declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Mt. 27:54), we are also given to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11).
Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Judica)
John 8:(42–45) 46–59
Jesus Is Our Redemption
In the temple Jesus said, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51). For Jesus came to taste death for us—to drink the cup of suffering to the dregs in order that we might be released from its power. Clinging to His life-giving words, we are delivered from death’s sting and its eternal judgment. Christ is our High Priest, who entered the Most Holy Place and with His own blood obtained everlasting redemption for His people (Heb. 9:11–15). He is the One who was before Abraham was, and yet is his descendant. He is the promised Son who carries the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice, who is bound and laid upon the altar of the cross. He is the ram who is offered in our place, who is willingly caught in the thicket of our sin, and who wears the crown of thorns upon His head (Gen. 22:1–14). Though Jesus is dishonored by the sons of the devil, He is vindicated by the Father through the cross.
Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; thorugh Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Laetare)
Exodus 16:2–21 or Isaiah 49:8–13
Galatians 4:21–31 or Acts 2:41–47
The Lord Feeds His People
The Lord provided bread from heaven for His people in the wilderness (Ex. 16:2–21). Now He who is Himself the living bread from heaven miraculously provides bread for the five thousand (John 6:1–15). This takes place near the time of the Passover, after a great multitude had followed Jesus across the sea, and when He went up on a mountain. Seen in this way, Jesus is our new and greater Moses, who releases us from the bondage of Mount Sinai and makes us free children of the promise (Gal. 4:21–31). Five loaves become twelve baskets—that is, the five books of Moses find their goal and fulfillment in Christ, whose people continue steadfastly in the doctrine and fellowship of the twelve apostles, and in the breaking and receiving of the bread of life, which is the body of Christ together with His precious blood, and in the prayers (Acts 2:41–47). So it is that God’s people “shall not hunger or thirst” (Is. 49:8–13). For He abundantly provides for us in both body and soul.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children adn provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant taht we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jessu CHrist, Your Son, our Lord, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.