Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Reading List: March and April

The past few months have seen me have to cut back a bit in my reading time. Lent, family matters, funerals, and congregational priorities have slowed down my reading a bit. Even so, I still read a lot of books. As of the end of April, I'm up to 71 for the year. That's down a bit for me.

In an effort to keep track of what I read this year, I'm posting my reading list. I don't necessarily recommend everything I've read.

Anyway, here you go. Sorry about missing March last month. Holy Week is a crazy time for a pastor.

  1. McKillip, Patricia. The Riddle-Master of Hed. Del Rey, 1976.
  2. McKillip, Patricia. Heir of Sea and Fire. Del Rey, 1977.
  3. McKillip, Patricia. Harpist in the Wind. Del Rey, 1979.
  4. Wood Thomson, Kerri. Diary of a Public Radio Slave. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  5. Zelazny, Roger. Nine Princes in Amber. 1970.
  6. Zelazny, Roger. The Guns of Avalon. 1972.
  7. Zelazny, Roger. Sign of the Unicorn. 1975.
  8. Zelazny, Roger. The Hand of Oberon. 1976.
  9. Zelazny, Roger. The Courts of Chaos. 1978.
  10. Redmerski, J.A. The Edge of Never. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  11. St. Clair, Roxanne. Barefoot in the Sand. Forever/Grand Central Publishing, 2012.
  12.  Keating, Ray. Warrior Monk. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2010.
  13.  Keating, Ray. Root of All Evil? Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  14.  Keating, Ray. An Advent for Religious Liberty. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  15.  Betzold, Brei. My Misery Muse. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2013.

  1. Asher, Jeremy. Across the Creek. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  2. Quinn, Cathy. Courting the Clown. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2010.
  3. Brady, K. L. Worst Impressions. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2010.
  4. Blount, Patty. Send. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  5. Betzold, Brei. Faith. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2013.
  6. Krae, Carla. An Unlikely Pair. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  7. Krae, Carla. Personal Attention. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  8. Emerick, Anne. Poster Girl. Aboon Books, 2007.
  9. Clements, Scott. Gasparilla's Treasure. Brown Dog Sound, 2012.
  10. Garza, Amber. Falling to Pieces. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2013.
  11. Owen, Sharon K. Thicker Than Water. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2010.
  12. Slavick, Steven. Falling for You. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  13. Kornacki, Alan. Love Divine. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2012.
  14. Asher, Jeremy. Losing Faith. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2013.
  15. Tilley, Jan. Coming About. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  16. Palmer, Bill. The Fireball Kid. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sermon for 4/28/13--Fifth Sunday of Easter


Truth, Sin, and Righteousness

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Truth is almost a dirty word today. What is truth? How can I come to know tit? What if mine is different from someone else’s? We have spent much of our lives in Christ studying God’s Word through the lens of the Small Catechism. We have studied God’s Word, looked at the Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Sacraments. In all of this, one thing is clear: we cannot know it all. There is no way that any of us can stand on our own and say, “I now know all that there is to know about God’s Word.” If we were to do this, we would be lying. Yet for those of us who have been through Confirmation, we have stood before God and the congregation and have vowed with the help of God to hold fast to the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church, even to the very point of death. We prayed that our Lord would make His church of one will. Now that’s serious business. We have said that we would rather die than give up the doctrine we have been taught from God’s Word. And for those of us who have not yet made this promise, by the grace of God you will make this promise.

How can we make such a claim? How do we know that this is the truth of God’s Word? We know these things because of Jesus’ promise: “When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and would guide us into all truth. So what is the message of the Holy Spirit? What is His task? Jesus says in our text that the Holy Spirit comes into the world to do three things: to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. These three things give us a picture of what it means to be a Christian.

“[The Holy Spirit will convict the world] of sin, because they do not believe in Me.” It may come as a surprise to some, but we are not automatically made Christians. There are many people in the world who do not believe in Christ. There are many people in the world that do not believe they are sinners that need the Gospel. So the work of the Holy Spirit is first of all to preach the Law. The Law shows us our sin. It kills us. It brings to light our miserable nature as sons and daughters of the devil. But we won’t come to know this on our own. Somebody has to teach this to us. So the Holy Spirit uses God’s Law to kill us and condemn us for our unbelief.

Second, “[He will convict the world] of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more.” This isn’t just talking about the Ascension of Jesus. Jesus went back to His father triumphant over Satan. He went back to the Father because He rose from the dead! So when He goes to the Father, He goes and presents you spotless and whole, perfect because of Christ’s righteousness. In other words, the work of the Holy Spirit is to preach the Gospel. The Holy Spirit comes to convince you that you are righteous and holy for Jesus’ sake. It is the simplest message in the world, and yet it is this message of God’s love for lost sinners that takes a lifetime to learn. We can only know this message of God’s love in Jesus because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, “[the Holy Spirit will convict the world] of judgment, because of the ruler of this world is judged.” Because of Jesus’ work on the cross and in the empty tomb, Satan has no more dominion over you. Again, we can only know this because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, because it is certain we would never believe it on our own. Think of the temptations that you face every day. Sin, death and the devil attack you as a Christian all the time. Without the Holy Spirit, you would be lost. But you aren’t lost. The Holy Spirit comes to you and announces that Jesus has won the forgiveness of your sins. Satan has no power over you. There is nothing He can do to harm you. This is great news! Who would believe that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit would have so much to give to this lost and condemned world? But give it they do.

Being a Christian is not easy. There will be times in your life when it will be very hard. There will be times when you will be tempted to allow work, recreation, or any of a thousand other things to draw you away from Christ and His Church. Not even the promises made for you in Baptism or which you made at Confirmation can save you. Only Jesus through His Holy Spirit can hold your faith together and bring you to himself in Heaven. But have no fear! Jesus will do this. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” That is His promise to you. That is the promise that He gave to you when your pastor said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” From the font, God’s Word was planted in you. The work is God’s alone. For He alone will keep you and hold you in this faith and life, both now and for all eternity. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

PARODY: Crock Pot

And now for something completely different (because I can't always be serious)...

PARODY: Crock Pot
(Parody of "Hash Pipe" by Weezer)

I'm not always home and
Yet we all have to eat
My children get real hungry
So I plan out a treat
I cut up some veggies
Add a pot roast and then
I rule in the kitchen
Even when I'm not in.

Oh, I make some chili...
Oh, I make some chili...
(Oh.) I make some chili...
(Oh.) You make a meatloaf...
(Oh.) You set the time clock...

The food cooks for hours
And it never will burn.
My mom did it often 
Even Dad took his turn.
The food is delicious
It's cooked all the way through.
But please, don't you ask me. 
I won't lend it to you.

Oh, I make some chili...
Oh, I make some chili...
(Oh.) I make some chili...
(Oh.) You make a meatloaf...
(Oh.) You set the time clock...
(Oh.) You make your green beans...
I use my crock pot. 

Oh, I make some chili...
Oh, I make some chili...
(Oh.) I make some chili...
(Oh.) You make a meatloaf...
(Oh.) You set the time clock...
(Oh.) You make your green beans...
I use my crock pot. 
I use my crock pot. 
I use my crock pot. 

HYMN: A Little While, Christ Jesus Said

It felt nice to be wordsmithing again. It's been a while, and as always happens during these long breaks, I begin to think I'm never going to write another hymn. Anyway, this is based on the Propers for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Third Sunday After Easter) in the LSB 1-year Lectionary, specifically the Gospel: John 16:16-22. As always, feedback is appreciated.

A Little While, Christ Jesus Said

1. “A little while,” Christ Jesus said,
To disciples filled with fear.
“Days must come of deepest dread,
For you will not see Me here.
To the Father I must go.
At that time your tears will flow.

2. “But then shall come the little while
When you will see Me once more.
Though the world gives bitter bile,
All your joy I will restore—
Joy with me in endless day,
Joy which none can take away.”

3. Lord, guilt my conscience does oppress
With the anguish of my sin.
Cleanse me of my wretchedness.
Let Your little while begin.
Speak Your all-forgiving Word.
Stay the wrath my sin incurred.

4. When worldly scorn burns hot as coal,
When the hordes against me scheme,
With Your presence soothe my soul
In the sweet baptismal stream.
Let no strife true joy erode
While I walk this pilgrim road.

© 2013, Alan Kornacki, Jr.
87 77 77

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sermon for 4/21/13--Fourth Sunday of Easter



True and Lasting Joy

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The life of the Christian is one that knows both weeping and laughing, heartache and gladness, sorrow and joy. And often, all of these things come together at the same time. To put it simply and frankly, we are a mess. So often we do not know what to think, where to turn, what to do. The truth is, it is the cross and suffering that we experience most in this life. That fullness of true and lasting peace, contentment, and happiness is reserved for the life of the world to come, a life that has been assured to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It will be an eternity of joy…but it is an eternity for which we must wait.

We are getting near to the point in the Church year where Jesus ascends. And yet the disciples are told that they will rejoice. Have we missed something? Or is it possible that our definition of joy does not mesh with Scripture’s definition of joy? We do not really understand true joy. We have substituted an emotional high for something so profound and so contrary to human nature that we cannot, on our own, begin to understand it. And that is the point: true joy is not comprehensible to human nature. It is something the world does not and never will understand. That’s what our blessed Lord taught His disciples, and would now also teach us.

Instead of telling us what we want to hear, our Lord tells us what is true and real. He says, “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.” Is this just double-talk from Jesus? What does He mean by “a little while?” To which “little while” should we pin our hopes? Do we fix our hearts and minds on the “little while” when we do not see our Lord, when life is fiercest? That is precisely where Satan wants us to focus our attention. He wants us to believe that our faith does us no good, that God’s Word and holy Sacraments do not help us at all. The devil wants us to believe that God is against us, that our lives can be no better. And so we rejoice in our full bellies. We rejoice in the victories of our favorite sports teams. We rejoice in the stories on our televisions, the styles we wear on our backs, and all sorts of other worldly things. And that not bad thing in and of itself. After all, these are blessings from God. But those things last only “a little while.” The food digests. Our favorite athletes retire and our teams lose. The stories end. The clothes go out of style. Our joy in the things of this world fades.

Only the gifts given by our heavenly Father through His Son give true, lasting joy. The disciples had the presence of their Lord, and they had great joy. He died, and they thought their joy was at an end. And then He rose again! He appeared to them in that locked room, and their joy was boundless! And although He ascended and He was not with Him in the way to which they had become accustomed, He promised to be with them always, and He promised to send the Holy Spirit to sustain them for that little while. He does the same for you. You are born into this little while, where the wages of sin rain down sorrows upon you. And then the Lord brings you to the waters of Holy Baptism, where He makes you a child of the heavenly Father and gives you the Holy Spirit to sustain you. He feeds you with His own body and blood, strengthening you in the faith as you await His return, as you endure this “little while.”

And what happens after that little while? Then comes the long while, the unending Day of the Lord. Sorrow and despair last a moment. And then comes the joy which knows no end and the peace which surpasses understanding and the blessing that far outweighs any blessing in this life, the time when the sufferings of this present life can in no way measure up to the glory that the Lord has fully stored up for you. Let the world have its rejoicing while you weep and lament; for that joy will only last a little while. In the midst of that "little while," rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. Rejoice in His ascension. Rejoice in your Baptism. Rejoice in receiving the Sacrament of the Altar. Rejoice in the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins. In His time, the Lord will grant you joy that will never fade away. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sermon for 4/14/03--Easter 3



The Shepherd Knows the Sheep

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

What is the difference between a hireling and the Good Shepherd? For the hireling, the sheep are expendable, while the Good Shepherd makes Himself expendable for the sheep. The hireling has no attachment to the sheep except that they are a source of income. If the sheep have to be sacrificed to save his life, so be it. Not so for the Good Shepherd, for He is willing to lay down His life for the sheep. When the hireling sees the bare teeth of the wolf and hears its hungry growl, he deserts the flock. Sheep are replaceable and human life is not; so goes the pragmatic logic of the hireling. After all, the sheep don't belong to him. So when the wolf encircles the flock, the hireling retreats. The sheep are left without defense and become easy prey for the wolf. They cannot save themselves; the wolf enjoys a mutton dinner.

The Good Shepherd is different. He is not merely a shepherd who does the good things shepherds are expected to do—like grazing the sheep, making sure that they have fresh water, tending their wounds, and protecting them from rustlers and wild animals. Jesus is our Good Shepherd in the way of Good Friday. He lays down His life for the sheep. Our Good Shepherd puts Himself in between His sheep and the open jaws of that very hound of hell, Satan himself. But when Satan sinks his teeth into the Lamb of God, he bites into the One who will break his jaw. He bites into the flesh of the Good Shepherd who came to destroy the work of the devil. By His death our Good Shepherd defeats death and the devil. Jesus is that Good Shepherd. He is God in the flesh, who has come to seek and to save the lost.

In Ezekiel, God promises that He will depose the false shepherds of Israel who scattered the flock and fed off the sheep. God says: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day." King David, himself a shepherd, confesses, "The Lord is my shepherd." Jesus is that shepherd. He is the shepherd who comes to be with His sheep, to feed them, to lead them, to comfort them. Yes, He does all of this. He feeds us with His own body and blood at the table He prepares for us in the presence of all our enemies: sin, death, and the devil himself. He leads us with His words that are spirit and life. He comforts us with His presence as He gives us His name in Holy Baptism. And ultimately, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Jesus was no wimpy hireling. He was no whining coward who ran away when that old evil wolf came seeking to condemn and destroy you with your sin. Our Good Shepherd died, as one of our hymns puts it, "for sheep who love to wander." He did not wait for us to find our way out of the wilderness and back to the sheep pen. He came to us in this world of sin and death and He redeemed us by dying on the cross in our place. Such is the love of the Good Shepherd for His sheep.

The Good Shepherd still calls and gathers a flock by His Word. He says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." The Church is where the Good Shepherd is.  Where His voice is sounding in the pure preaching of His Word and in the still waters of Holy Baptism and the green pastures of His Supper, there you will find the sheep that belong to Jesus. Keep your ears attuned to the voice of the Good Shepherd, for He alone has the words of eternal life.  In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.  

Monday, April 08, 2013

Reviews for the Thy Strong Word trilogy

It's been over a year now since I released the first two books of the Thy Strong Word trilogy. Sales have been slow and somewhat steady, which is just about what I expected when I released them without an agent or publishing company behind them. With few exceptions I've been doing my own press--thanks go out to Mark Schlamann for all the shares on Facebook--and I'm not taking a lot of time out of my schedule for these books. After all, first and foremost, I am a parish pastor.

I've sent out a few copies of the novels to reviewers, however, and I wanted to share links to what has been written.

First is a review from the Reverend Paul J. Cain, Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and editor of the blog Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review. (Wow, that's enough to tie my fingers in knots!) He reviewed the series as a whole in one shot.

Next is a set of reviews from Robin D. Fish, Jr., a friend and sometime colleague in the pastoral ministry and the keeper of the blog A Fort Made of Books. He reviewed the series as he read it, book to book. Here are his reviews of Love Divine, A Great and Mighty Wonder, and One Thing's Needful.

I have also received a couple reviews for each of my novels from paying customers, which you can access on my Amazon Author's Page.

Thank you to Paul, Robin, and everyone who has given time and effort to help me to grow as an author.

As always, if you would like to purchase any (or all!) of my novels in print or Kindle format, this link to my Amazon Author's Page will take you to the easiest place to acquire them. If you would like an autographed print edition of any of my novels, contact me via e-mail (revalkorn AT gmail DOT com) and we'll make some arrangement. And if you have a blog or an account and would like to review my work, I'm sure we can come to some understanding.

Sermon for 4/8/13--Funeral of Donald William McCaw

All the Good Things

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Death is an experience common to the children of men who must go “the way of all the earth,” as Joshua said. As surely as we came into this world by birth, so we will leave it by death. Death is the great equalizer. Death knows neither rich nor poor, neither male nor female, neither young nor old. As surely as man is born into this world, so must he also die. And the man who is prepared, when the voice of the Lord calls him from this life, is one who possesses a wisdom that surpasses all the wisdom of this earth. He will then close his eyes for the last time on the things of this world, things that are temporary and earth-bound, and will awaken in Jesus Christ to the heavenly joy that a gracious and loving God alone can give.

Don lived a very long life on this earth, well past the Biblical reckoning of “three score and ten.” He had his troubles. When Job said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away. He flees like a shadow and does not continue,” Don understood what that meant—especially after the death of his beloved son. But he had many, many joys in this life. He was a man who was devoted to his family and, in fact, to anyone around him. He was a man of profound integrity; his word was always good. He was a very wise man, a man of many talents. And above all, he was devoted to His Lord. He was always happy to hear the Word of God, especially those words which reminded him of the love and mercy of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He rejoiced with every opportunity to confess his sin and to hear the words of absolution, and then to have those words made full in the receiving of the Savior’s very body and blood, given and shed for the remission of his sins. And so, just as Job did, Don could confess with supreme confidence, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” To Don has now been granted that greatest desire that rests in the heart of a Christian: the desire to be reunited with the Lord, to be face to face with Him who not only gave him life, but also gave Him the new and everlasting life in Holy Baptism.

Joshua was an old man when he spoke the words of our text, and he knew that he must very soon, as he said, “go the way of all the earth.” But, before the Lord called him out of this life, he had something to say to the people of God. He reminded them to remember the mercies of God and that God always keeps His promises. He admonished them to walk in the ways of the Lord and to remain faithful to Him. Because of the faithfulness of this man of God in remaining loyal to God, his words speak with as much conviction today as they did then.

Joshua knew that the day of his death would be his great day. This great day comes for each of the faithful of the Lord. When that day comes, you too will go “the way of all the earth.” Even when you live as long Don did, earthly life is still brief. We bide our time here until the Lord calls us to rest. Life on this earth is the life of the stranger, always away from his real home. Yet that life is filled with promise. As God never failed Joshua, He also never failed Don. Indeed, He will never fail those who put their trust in Him and His promises—above all, in the saving life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The promises of God are many. There is no way to number them. But all of His promises are good, for they never fail. The sure promises of God are like the stars in the sky, like the sands on the seashore. It is impossible to measure the goodness of a merciful God who remembers His faithful children. But at this moment, the greatest of all of God’s promises are those which make us certain of His peace and comfort that comes to those who trust and die in the name of the Lord, and for those who remain behind, awaiting their own day of deliverance from this life. 

Just a few days ago we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. After His bitter suffering and death, and after being laid away in the tomb for three days of rest, our Lord Jesus Christ came forth alive. His resurrection tells us that if any of us truly live with Him now, we will live with Him forever. This is the greatest of all of God’s promises. Don believed this promise. He rejoiced in all the good things God had promised him, but above all he rejoiced in the Savior who redeemed him from sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. He knew of the heavenly home that comes to all who, in Christ, must go “the way of all the earth.” He knew that God would keep every promise. And now, in the presence of Christ, Don is living the fulfillment of these promises in the fullness of their heavenly glory. Those same promises are for you. God grant you the same confidence of faith, even as He now gives you the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your grief. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sermon for 4/7/13--Second Sunday of Easter

Peace Be With You

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

The spirits of disciples were pretty low.  They were still behind locked doors, huddled together in fear.  Jesus was still dead as far as they knew, and their hopes had died with Him and remain buried, even as His tomb had been shut and sealed. And then, suddenly, He was there.  He came and stood in their midst.  All could see Him; there could be no mistaking who He was.  And then He spoke to them.  Did He chide them for their lack of confidence in Him?  Did He give them a good “dressing down” because they had not believed His Words?  Did He shame them because they had fled in His time of need?  He said to them: “Peace be with you.”  They had never known such joy as this.  Jesus was dead, but now was alive again!  They had been just as dead; and now they, too, had come to life!

In our sinful and weakened condition we are not able to handle much glory.  It is a sad commentary on who we are, but we simply would not survive all the tension if every week was like last week. The Easter joy; two services; Easter breakfast; the baptism of Hadley; the hymns; the body and blood of Jesus—that was about as good as earth can get!  But it’s overwhelming. It’s no wonder that the pews are usually near to empty the Sunday after Easter. On the other hand, an amazing experience of glory is reserved in heaven for us. But there we will be able to handle, and even rejoice in, endless wonder.  In the mean time, we resemble those disciples more than we may know.  We know He is risen, alive, at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.  However, turning “what we know to be true” into “something lived out daily” is far easier said than done.

Jesus knew the load of guilt His disciples were carrying, and that to heap any more on them would crush their spirits.  And so the first words they heard from Him after His resurrection were words of comfort and hope: “Peace be with you.”  There could be no doubt that Jesus had forgiven them their weakness, their failure to stand by Him, their sin of doubting His Word.  Does He not do the same for you?  He knows the load of guilt you carry.  He knows there are times when your spirits are nearly crushed by your sins.  He knows that there is nothing you can do to lighten the load.  And He is not about to burden you with even more guilt.  That is why He shouldered the guilt for us.  Jesus does not answer your guilt with even more guilt.  He meets your sin head on with the life that He gave and the death that He endured, with the wounds He suffered and with the shame He bore.

Thomas learned this for Himself.  If there was one of the remaining disciples who would make things hard for himself, it was Thomas.  This was not the first time Thomas had openly expressed his doubts.  On the night of His betrayal, when Jesus had told His disciples that He was about to return to His Father, and that He was going there to prepare a place for them, and that they would follow Him there, Thomas said: “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”  It would take more than a few words to sell him on what Jesus is promising.  And now, Thomas is absent when Jesus first appears.  His fellow disciples told him later that they had seen Jesus, but he was not about to have any of that.  You know the rest of the story.  Jesus appeared again on the next Sunday evening, and it was to Thomas in particular that He showed His wounded hands and feet and side, with the admonition: “Do not be faithless, but believing.”  Jesus would not have Thomas faithless, any more than He would have the others be faithless; nor would He have us be faithless.

And so it is to us, too, that He shows the marks of His suffering.  In Holy Baptism, we die to sin with Him, and are raised to newness of life with Him.  In His Word, He sets before the eyes of our faith His blessed cross, the place of His suffering and our redemption.  As much as we might like to have been in that room when Jesus appeared, we have no such need.  For He brings to us everything He gave to them. Even when we are at our lowest, even when our spirits seem crushed under burdens we cannot bear, even when we have fled from Him in fear of what it will mean to follow after Him, He still comes to us, and says to us as we approach the altar, “Peace be with you.”  And as we consume His very body and blood, all our guilt is lifted away, all our thoughts and hopes are returned to Him; and, like Thomas, we kneel before Him and confess, “My Lord and my God!”  Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.