Today is historically known as "Quasimodo Geniti" Sunday in the Church. It has also become known as "Low Sunday," since, well, the attendance on this Second Sunday of Easter is almost always quite lower than it was on Easter Sunday. This certainly held true in our parish today, although rather than it being a "Low Sunday," it was more like a "Normal Sunday." I'd bet that is probably the case in many parishes, namely that "Low Sunday" is really better described as "Back-to-Normal Sunday." I propose that we just go ahead and re-name this day, "Back-to-Normal Sunday."
Still, it is always a bit of a let-down to see the pews back to their normal half-packed status after seeing them packed the week before, but such is life in the church today. And, the Holy Gospel for the day could not be more appropriate, for it is the account of Jesus' appearance to the disciples in the locked room, first on the evening of the day of Resurrection and again on the eighth day (the next Sunday). Thomas is not with the disciples on Easter evening, and thus misses out on the blessing Jesus bestows upon them. That's what happens when we skip Church, folks. We miss out on Jesus and the blessings He desires to bestow upon us through the Divine Gifts He delivers via His Holy Word and Sacraments. Thomas, missing out, finds it hard to believe. His faith, not having been strengthened by being in Jesus' Presence, is weak. In fact, he says that he will never believe unless he sees and touches Jesus for himself.
Thankfully, our Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He shows up again on the next Lord's Day for Divine Service with His disciples. This time, Thomas is there and receives the blessings of the Lord's Gifts and is strengthened and preserved in the faith to confess: "My Lord and My God!"
The same Crucified and Risen Lord continues to show up each and every Lord's Day in the midst of His disciples to forgive them, renew them, feed them, strengthen and preserve them, and bless them with His peace. In fact, what we see in the Holy Gospel for this day, besides the importance of being in the Divine Service, is the way in which our Lord would fulfill His promise to be with us always, for here we witness our Lord calling and ordaining His chosen men to the apostolic Word and Sacrament Ministry, i.e., the Office of the Holy Ministry. He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." It is through these men, and all their successors, who serve in the stead and by the command of Christ, that the forgiveness won by Jesus is distributed to repentant sinners through the preaching of the pure Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, according to Christ's institution.
So, get thee to Church, my friends. There, in His Holy House, our Lord Jesus is truly Present FOR YOU! Present with His very Body and Blood, not only for you to see and touch, but to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sins. Don't miss out!
The Processional Hymn this morning:
LSB 490 "Jesus Lives! The Victory's Won" (st. 1)
Jesus lives! The vict'ry's won!
Death no longer can appall me;
Jesus lives! Death's reign is done!
From the grave will Christ recall me.
Brighter scenes will then commence;
This shall be my confidence.
Different title, but same tune here:
Collect of the Day: 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, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Epistle: 1 John 5:4-10
The Holy Gospel: John 20:19-31
The Hymn of the Day:
LSB 470 "O Sons and Daughters of the King"