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Easter Sunday is not only the most important day of the Christian year, but also the first Sunday of a series of eight Sundays that ends with Pentecost. During this span of eight Sundays, known as the Octave of Easter, believers celebrate the victories the risen Christ won for his people. The Sunday Gospels note these gifts from Jesus. The readings from the Acts of the Apostles demonstrate how these gifts brought about growth in the early church. The readings from the letters of the apostles help us see how these gifts make a difference in our lives today. With shouts and songs of “alleluia,” we celebrate the gifts the risen Christ gives to his Church.

Second Sunday of Easter—April 15
The Risen Christ Gives His Church Peace
Hopeless and confused—that’s how Jesus’ followers were feeling on the days after Easter. They knew Jesus had died and was buried, but there were rumors swirling around that he was alive. What to believe! Then Jesus appeared and ended the confusion and uncertainty. As his death had provided peace with God, so his life provided peace of mind and heart. In a world where nothing seems sure, the risen Christ gives us peace and certainty.

Third Sunday of Easter—April 22
The Risen Christ Gives His Church Understanding
Even after his resurrection, Jesus’ disciples had trouble gaining a clear vision of who Jesus was and what their task was to be. As he had done so many times before, Jesus reviewed the need for his suffering and death and urged them on to their assignment. When we struggle to know God’s will for our lives, we turn to the Savior’s Word; he gives us a clear understanding of his work and our mission.

Fourth Sunday of Easter—April 29
The Risen Christ Gives His Church Protection
Foes without and fears within—that’s how a poet once described the enemies that attack believers. Every day Christians face aggression and assaults that would destroy faith in the risen Christ. The same Good Shepherd who died to save his sheep provides pastors and leaders to guard the Church with the Word of God. Do you feel the heat? The risen Christ gives you protection from your enemies.

Fifth Sunday of Easter—May 6
The Risen Christ Gives His Church Power
So much to believe about Jesus! So much to do for Jesus! We often doubt his promises and fail to lead Christian lives. Jesus understands our struggles. He comes to us in his Word and sacrament and then comes to live in us with his strength. Even little children sing, “We are weak but he is strong.” Yes, Jesus loves us and gives us power to believe what he says and to be what he calls us to be.

Sixth Sunday of Easter—May 13
The Risen Christ Gives His Church a Purpose
Why am I here? What is my purpose on earth? So many millions in our world ask those questions and fail to find answers. Jesus died and rose again to give us heaven, but he also died and rose again to give earth, and our lives on earth, purpose and meaning. We Christians need not struggle with a lack of self-worth and low self-esteem. The risen Christ has given us a purpose in life.

Seventh Sunday of Easter—May 20
The Risen Christ Gives His Church Confidence
Will we be able to face death with confidence as Stephen the martyr did? His story is in the First Lesson for this Sunday. It is never easy to think about dying, but Christians face death knowing that Christ has removed their sins and restored their relationship with God. More than that, Jesus represents us each day before the throne of God and provides the evidence that we are his people. Because of Jesus we can face death and all other troubles with supreme confidence.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit—Pentecost – May 27
Through the Risen Christ, the Spirit Gives the Church Life
The Savior’s call to the Church was clear: Go and make disciples of all nations! The call was enormous, the challenge was daunting, and the work was downright scary. But Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his timid followers, and with the Spirit’s power the Christians began their work as Jesus’ witnesses in the world. The Holy Spirit is still at work among us today, pouring out his blessing and enlivening us to carry the gospel to every corner of the earth.