2nd Sunday of Easter

St. Johannes Lutheran Church
April 19, 2020

Kyrie eleison, on our world and on our way. Kyrie eleison, every day!

from Setting 4 of the Lutheran Liturgy

PRELUDE:    Victor's Crown

2nd Sunday of EASTER LITURGY


Welcome to this St. Johannes Lutheran Church celebration of the Second Sunday OF Easter coming to you via video streaming from Facebook or Our Website! 
We are so glad you are joining us for this special service and if you are not already a member of St. Johannes we invite you to join us for worship in our beautiful sanctuary at 48 Hassel Street in Charleston, South Carolina once we allowed to gather again for Sunday Services.
I am Pastor Steve Cooper and, along with Pastor Rich Donoughue, I am currently serving as one of the supply pastors for St. Johannes.  Please feel free to call the church office if you have any pastoral needs. Although our church administrator, Amy Biafano, is working from her home, she is monitoring our calls and you are also welcome to call Pastor Rich and I directly. 
I am leading this service from the back deck of our home on James Island so I apologize in advance if there is any interference during the service from passing cars or song birds.
Today in the Church Year is the Second Sunday OF Easter. The Second Sunday of Easter is also known as “Thomas Sunday” as it is one of the few days in out 3 year lectionary that always features the same gospel lesson, the story of the resurrection appearance of Jesus to the disciple Thomas.
And for me it is one of my favorite Sundays, because some 34 years ago I was the pastor developer for a congregation called St. Thomas in Roswell, Georgia, while Pastor Rich, incidentally, was developing another congregation nearby called Christ Lutheran Church in Marietta, Georgia. 
You may be surprised to learn that though the apostle was called Thomas that wasn’t his given name, but a nickname meaning “the twin”.  When I choose that name for that church I had know way of knowing that the first members of that congregation would be two identical twins named Kelly and Kathryn, who I baptized with this bowl and pitcher months before we held our first worship service.  So I invite you now to join me as we begin our worship with a Thanksgiving for Baptism.



The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.

All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism.
P:  Alleluia! Christ is risen.
C  Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
P:  Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism,
C: we are raised with him to new life.
P:  Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.
Water may be poured into the bowl as we offer our thanks to God.
P:  We give you thanks, O God, for in the beginning you created us in your image and planted us in a well-watered garden. In the desert you promised pools of water for the parched, and you gave us water from the rock. When we did not know the way, you sent the Good Shepherd to lead us to still waters. At the cross, you watered us from Jesus’ wounded side, and on this day, you shower us again with the water of life. 
We praise you for your salvation through water, for the water in this bowl, and for all water everywhere. Bathe us in your forgiveness, grace, and love. Satisfy the thirsty, and give us the life only you can give. To you be given honor and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
C: Amen.
P:  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  
C: And also with you.
CANTICLE OF PRAISE Page 149  This Is The Feast Of Victory

P: The Lord be with you.  
C: And also with you.
P:  Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.


FIRST LESSON Acts 2:14, 22-23

A reading from Acts

14aPeter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed [the crowd], 22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him,


  ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
       26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;

              moreover my flesh will live in hope.
27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,

          or let your Holy One experience corruption.
28You have made known to me the ways of life;

          You will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,


  ‘He was not abandoned to Hades,

          nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.”

P: The word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God!
PSALM 16 (in unison)
1Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
    I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,
          upon those who are noble among the people.
3But those who run after other gods shall have their troubles multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings to such gods,
          never take their names upon my lips. 
5O Lord, you are my portion  and my cup; it is you who uphold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a  pleasant land; indeed, I have a  rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; my heart teaches me night  after night.
8I have set the Lord always before me;
          because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me to the grave, nor let your holy one see the pit.
11You will show me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy,
          and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
SECOND LESSON 1 Peter 1:3-9
P: A reading from  First Peter.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
P: The word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God!
GOSPEL John 20:19-31

P: The holy gospel according to St. John the 20th chapter.

C: Glory to you, O Lord!

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

P: The Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise to you O Christ!

SERMON                                         “The Twin”, A Monologue            Pastor Cooper
Silence for reflection follows the sermon.
 The Twin
The thing about being a twin is you are never alone.
Or at least it seems that way.
From the moment I was born
I always had a playmate, a companion,
And yes, sometimes a competitor.
Remember Jacob and Esau.
My brother and I had times like that too.
Still, we spent our childhood and youth
Constantly together.
Indeed, our whole identity revolved around our being twins.
In fact, like many twins,
Especially “identical” ones.
We were known by just about everyone as “The Twins”
And rather than try to figure out which one was which,
People would just say,
“Oh, you’re one of the twins aren’t you?
Even after my brother and I went our separate ways
People continued still to just call me “the twin.”
In Hebrew, “t'om'a.”
Today, nobody even knows my given name,
I am just Thomas, the twin.
And that probably explains a lot about me, as well.
Although I never really  objected to being called “the twin,”
I also spent my whole life trying to find my own identity,
Apart from my brother.
Maybe that is why I was so attracted to the Rabbi Jesus.
Because Jesus, more than anyone else I had ever met,
Saw me as me.
Not a twin,
Or a man,
Or a Jew,
Or any other stereotype we use to put people in a convenient pigeon holes,
But as a unique individual.
A beloved child of God.
And I knew that he knew my name,
Even if no one else ever did, or will.
And that he loved me just the way I was,
And wanted to set me free to be all that God had created me to be.
And I confess that I felt a bond with Jesus
That was closer than any other bond I have ever felt,
Even than that with my brother.
And when he called me to leave everything else behind
And come and follow him, I dropped everything and followed.
I was even willing to die with him.
When my fellow disciples and I,
Were questioning whether we should risk going up to Jerusalem
When Jesus wanted to go to his friend Lazarus
Who had been ill and who Jesus believed had just died.
I spoke for all when I said,
“Let us also go so that we may die with him.”
And a scared as we were,
I believe we all meant it.
But when the time came,
And Judas appeared with an armed guard from the High Priest
To arrest him,
We weren’t prepared for him to willingly submit
To those openly plotting to take his life.
And on top of that, Jesus wouldn’t even let us fight for him.
Even rebuking Simon for cutting the High Priest’s servant’s ear.
And we panicked and we ran.
Peter and John followed the temple guard to the High Priest’s house,
Judas realized what he had done
And tried to return the reward he’d been paid for his betrayal.
And poor little John Mark who had followed us to the garden
Following that last meal with our rabbi and Lord,
Left his toga in a guard’s hands and ran home naked.
The others eventually gathered again in the upper room,
But I wandered the streets of Jerusalem alone.
And watched from a distance as Jesus was tried and convicted
Beaten and humiliated and nailed to a cross to die.
And while the others who were crucified with him
Continued their agonizing struggles for breath,
I also watched as Jesus gave one last cry and breathed his last.
So that when Pilate gave the order
That the crucified should be taken down before sundown
And the beginning of the Passover Sabbath,
And the soldiers came to break the legs of the other two victims
So that they could no longer get air into their lungs,
I saw that instead of breaking Jesus’ legs
They pierced his side with a spear
Because they could see there was no breath left in him.
And blood and water poured out
A clear sign his heart had stopped.
And I was alone.
When Jesus died,
I died too.
Only my lungs kept breathing
And my heart kept pumping.
The twin who had never been alone,
Who always sought out the company of others,
Who gave himself completely to Jesus, his rabbi, messiah and Lord,
Was alone.
All alone.
The others reached out to me,
But I rejected their invitations to join them,
Choosing to share my grief with no one.
Jesus died on Friday
And on Monday I was still alone,
When the other disciples sought me out
And told me that Jesus was risen
And had appeared to Mary Magdalene
And two disciples on the road to Emmaus
And to all of them gathered together,
Missing only Judas and me,
The night before in the upper room behind locked doors.
I told them they were crazy, of course.
Dead men,
Especially crucified dead men,
Do not rise from the dead and walk through locked doors.
And I had seen the nails and the spear.
Jesus was dead.
Now I know that even though no one today
Knows my real name
Only that I am the twin, Thomas.
Still, that hasn’t stopped you
From trying to give me another name,
“Doubting Thomas.”
But I’m ok with that.
You see, Mary Magdalene and the other women
Continued to doubt Jesus was alive,
Even after they went to the tomb,
And found the stone rolled away,
And angels telling them, “He is not here he has risen as he said he would.”
And when they ran and told the disciples,
What they had seen and heard,
The disciples dismissed their report as the idle tale of women,
Male chauvinists and doubters that they were.
Even the testimony of the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus
Didn’t convince them.
As they themselves admitted, Jesus had appeared to them
While these two were still speaking,
And Jesus had to show them his hands and side too,
Before they would believe just like I had.
Call me Doubting Thomas if you will,
But don’t forget about Doubting Mary Magdalene
And Doubting Peter and James and John and all the rest.
And my guess is, you were once doubters too.
And maybe are right now.
Very few people ever stop completely doubting and questioning
Nor should they.
And as far as I’m concerned,
Anyone who claims to have all the answers is either a fool or a fraud.
The truth is before my fellow disciples reached out to me,
And shared their own experience of seeing the risen Lord,
I didn’t have any doubts.
I had seen my Lord crucified,
Nails through his wrists hanging on a cross unable any longer to breathe
And a spear thrust into his side
With blood and water flowing out from his heart.
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind or heart,
That Jesus was dead.
But the witness of my friends,
Whose lives had somehow been touched
And restored!
And who reached out to me
Wanting to share what they had seen and experienced.
I confess caused me to doubt.
Maybe a better word would be to wonder.
To wonder if it could possibly be true.
Could Jesus live again?
Could I live again?
And so I went with them and stayed with them
And let them reach out to me and comfort me
And be my friend and my brothers and sisters
And even to be my twin.
And Jesus came and appeared to me
And I saw his nail scarred hands
And pierced side.
And the look of love in his eyes
That I knew only he could give.
And then he said, “Put your finger here and see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it in my side.
Do not doubt but believe.” 
And I answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
And Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
I believe everyone at some time,
Maybe even all the time,
Are doubters just like me.
And Jesus gave his last beatitude to us.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

I am one of only a chosen few who got to see the risen Jesus in person,
To see his hands and side,
And yet, the truth is Jesus was already there
Long before I saw him on the second Sunday of Easter.
He was there the night of his betrayal
And the day of his crucifixion
And he was there in my self quarantine
On the Passover Sabbath,
And he was definitely there
In the disciples who missed my presence with them on Easter Sunday
Who immediately reached out
To share with me their experience of the risen Lord.
And he is here with you right now,
Wherever you are.


And “Blessed are those who have not seen

And yet have come to believe.”


And “Blessed are those who have not seen

And yet will come to believe.”

In closing let me share a song
That I believes gets at what I have been trying to say,
Have you seen Jesus my Lord?
He's here in plain view.
Take a look, Open your eyes,
He’s always with you.

Have you ever looked at the sunset,
With the sky mellowing red,
And the clouds suspended like feathers?
Then I say you've seen Jesus my Lord.

Have you seen Jesus my Lord?
He's here in plain view.
Take a look, Open your eyes,
He’s always with you.

Have you ever stood at the ocean,
With the white foam at your feet,
Felt the endless thundering motion?
Then I say you've seen Jesus my Lord.

Have you seen Jesus my Lord?
He's here in plain view.
Take a look, Open your eyes,
He’s always with you.

Have you ever looked at the cross,
With a man hanging in pain,
And the look of love in his eyes?
Then I say you've seen Jesus my Lord.

Have you seen Jesus my Lord?
He's here in plain view.
Take a look, Open your eyes,
He’s always with you.

Have you ever stood in the family,
With the Lord there in your midst,
Seen the face of Christ on each other?
Then I say you’ve seen Jesus my Lord.
Have you seen Jesus my Lord?
He's here in plain view.
Take a look, Open your eyes,
He’s always with you.

Take it from Thomas, the Twin,
Or Doubting Thomas if you prefer.
If you think you have to see Jesus to believe,
You don’t need to see his nail scarred hands or pierced side,
You just need to take a look, open your eyes, He’s always with you.
God loves you!
And so do I!
HYMN OF THE DAY: ELW #389: Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing

Hymn is below the service.

P: Using the words of the Apostles’ Creed, let us declare our faith:
C  I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,
     suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
     he descended to the dead.
     On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
     he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
     and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

P:  Uplifted by the promised hope of healing and resurrection, we join the people of God in all times and places in praying for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
A brief silence.
P: Be present with us Lord in all our separate places this morning, as we must be apart for reasons of health and safety and cannot come together in one location as your beloved family.   Encourage us in connecting as we are able, with each other, and in reaching out to our neighbors in need.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Be present with our nation and our world Lord, as we face new uncertainties during this global pandemic. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Be present with us Lord in our families, workplaces, and communities, Give us courage to face these days not with fear, but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting always in your loving guidance. Lord, in you mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Be present Lord with those who face isolation on a daily basis due to incarceration, addiction, mental illness, illness, or grief.  We pray especially this morning for Marcy Floyd, Connie Morgan, Betty Budds, Charles Long III, Anne Foster, Marie Mood, Barbara Lyerly, John Fowlkes, Mary Sweat, Elmore Marlow, Ted Bowers, Bob Oswald, Bill Cornwell, Marilyn Stehmeier, Harry Klutz, and Pooh Kanapaux and those we now lift up to you in our hearts, or with our lips…. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Be present with us O Lord us as we reach out to others with the good news of your resurrection and the gift of new life you offer us. Bless the efforts of missionaries, healthcare professionals, activists for women and children, and relief workers, especially those who find themselves in harm’s way.  Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: Be present Lord with all for whom death draws near.  Open the way to eternal life, O God, as we remember all your saints who have gone before us.  Free us from the fear of death, that we embrace the peace you have promised. Lord, in your mercy,
C: hear our prayer.
P: With bold confidence in your love, almighty God, we place all for whom we pray into your eternal care; through Christ our Lord.
C: Amen.


P: Lord, remember us in your Kingdom and teach us to pray.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.                   

God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.

May the One who brought forth Jesus from the dead raise you up to new life.
          fill you with hope, and turn your mourning into dancing.
     Almighty God, Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever.
C:  Amen
SENDING HYMN # 376 Thine Is The Glory
Hymn is below the service.

P  Christ is risen, just as he said. Go in peace. Share the good news. Alleluia!
C Thanks be to God. Alleluia!

From © 2020 Augsburg Fortress.
All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #24142.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989,
Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Revised Common Lectionary, Copyright © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts, admin Augsburg Fortress.
Used by permission.

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