How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:14-17).
Trinity XV 2021
Once we fully recognize and daily remember that we are the creatures and God is the Creator we don’t have to worry about saving the earth or finding ultimate fulfillment in our temporary occupations; no, we can recognize that all our earthly endeavors gain their value when we offer up our work to the God who created this world, saved this world, and will one day resurrect this world. We will be free from anxiety and fear when we remember that our moment in the Sun is truly as brief as the blooming wildflower on the side of the road, but we can strive to showcase the beauty God has put inside of us; we can show that beauty to the world, and remind all men that their Creator loves the beauty, truth, and goodness which will soon bloom everywhere and forever.
Sermon Date: September 12, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 5
Trinity XIII 2021
Blessedly, every part of our universe, from the greatest evils to the most pure goods, is allowed to exist because it drives all those whose eyes have been opened to see our desperate need for a Savior. St. Paul today calls the law of God a teacher and a jailer because even the holy law of God was not the end of the human story, not the end of our great redemption and becoming. The law, like pain and death and suffering, is necessary because of our selfishness and sin; they are all necessary to drive our broken hearts to seek the cure for our woundedness. When we put our lives, our confused and messed up lives, up against the standard for humanity, up against the life and love of Jesus Christ, we suddenly realize that we are not even the priest or the levite in this story: we are the naked, dying man in the gutter. We are the ones who have nothing to give except our pain and loss, nothing to give but our broken bodies and hollowed out souls. And yet, we are saved. The God of heaven and earth binds our wounds and makes us whole; He heals us with the tears and blood of His own body because it is only a love which gives unto death that can save anyone, only a love which can look at the broken bodies of the children of men and say, “Here are my sons and daughters; here is the beautiful family through which I will save the world.”
Sermon Date: August 29, 2021
Passage: Galatians 3 and St. Luke 10
Trinity XII 2021
Jesus Christ embodies this greatest of news when He joins His image bearers in our suffering through the death of the cross. He shows His everlasting solidarity with all those mistreated by a fallen, evil world by fighting it with the weaponry of sacrificial love. God the Son doesn’t say, “I feel your pain," and move on to the next reward for the rich and powerful; no, He lived in our pain and sorrow until we killed Him, and then He rose from the grave to show us its utter weakness. He revealed a resurrected glory to live for rather than a condemnation to fear. It is His sacrifice which today gives meaning and hope to all those suffering under the boot of evil; it is His sacrifice which will soon bring everlasting peace and justice to all who seem crushed and forsaken—justice and peace even to the fathers of Kandahar being executed in the streets, justice and peace for the mothers of Kabul throwing their children over razor wire to flee the monsters a generation of impotent leaders said only they could contain.
Sermon Date: August 22, 2021
Passage: 2 Cor. 3
Trinity XI 2021
As Jesus does, we start with the Pharisee who is in the wrong today not because he takes his religion seriously, but because of why he does. He serves as the great example of the man or woman who imagines themselves to be righteous, but whose self-image is at odds with God’s judgment. The tragic state of the Pharisees was accentuated by the addition of man-made ordinances tacked on to God’s law thereby creating an artificial system by which one could evaluate oneself against others. We, of course, do this all the time. Simply asking someone if they are a good person will elicit all sorts of accomplishments and indictments of other types of people which are far worse than anything today’s Pharisee would claim. People will say, “Yes, I’m a good person because I vote the right way,” thinking in the their minds: (thank you God for not making me like the person who votes differently than I do), or they will say, “Yes, I’m a good person because I’ve never killed anybody or robbed a bank,” or “Yes, I’m a good person because I pay my taxes, live a respectable middle-class life, and don’t bother anyone,” and on and on and on. Just like the Pharisee’s boasts, many of these boasts are virtuous and admirable, but none of them closes the massive chasm which exists between our unholiness and the holiness of God: none of them reverses the fall, and so none of them make us righteous in the eyes of God.
Sermon Date: August 15, 2021
Passage: St. Luke 18
Trinity X 2021
Gods aren’t supposed to cry. Certainly, the gods invented by men don’t cry. These false gods are made up, and so they can only ever be conjured from the limited imaginations from which they arose—all they can ever be is an idealized or “super” version of the story teller. Thor is big and strong, smashing things with a large hammer; Zeus throws lightning bolts and ravages women; the god of suicide bombers promises 72 virgins in the after life. Who are some other gods? Most American Christians worship a Jesus who thinks and acts just like they do; Agnostics worship an all powerful god conveniently unable to reveal Himself in any way that would change the course of their live; Atheists worship themselves. All of these false gods are the creations of men, and so, of course, our fallen fingerprints are all over them. Today’s revelation of deep emotional pain in Christ Jesus as he triumphantly rides into Jerusalem is not how any human would imagine this story. It would be like Superman breaking down in the middle of a parade honoring him for saving New York: condemning the city he came to save in between sobs. No movie writer would construct a scene like that because he wouldn’t want to remind his audience that there will one day be a reckoning for all the evil masquerading as good in our world, all the evil we invent super heroes to help us forget. Jesus is not a super hero; He is real.
Sermon Date: August 8, 2021
Trinity IX 2021
There is a moment in the beginning of today’s epistle from St. Paul where the martyred apostle embraces us as the family for which he was willing to die. He says, “Brethren…all our fathers were under the cloud” (1 Cor. 10:1). We should pause for just a moment and realize what the apostle was saying to these 1st century former Gentiles, and to us for that matter; he was reminding them of the change in their very history which occurred at their baptism and welcome into the people of God. This transformation of their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit reaches back through their family history and gives them new ancestors and a new story from which they are to draw their identity. Becoming the people of God means a new future—spent in the new heaven and new earth—but it also means a radically different past, for the history of Abraham and Isaac, Ruth and David, Christ and Paul, this historic struggle between human sinfulness and the God who won’t let our weakness murder creation, that story becomes our story and every other story becomes as alien to us as the history of some other family unrelated to us by law or blood.
Sermon Date: August 1, 2021
Passage: 1 Cor. 10
St. James the Apostle 2021
Here is why Christ links His death to the loving service we now are to give the world. Just as Man was elevated to glory on the Cross; we are elevated to glory through our service to others. Jesus knows this “slavery to righteousness” as Paul will call it runs against all our fallen world’s understanding of power and might, but once we have recalibrated ourselves to see the true weakness of the world’s lofty ones, we can love in a way which holds nothing back. Show me a powerful man of our time, and you have shown me a future pile of dust: a human who will either be entirely forgotten or whose true-self will be replaced by a myth some future culture will think it needs. It is not so with Christ. When we hear the Word of God we hear the voice of Christ; when we are baptized, we are baptized into His death and resurrection; and when we eat and drink the Holy Communion of His Body and Blood, we take His cup of woe and drink as brothers and sisters united in the mission to tear down the temples of sin and death, injustice and disorder—knowing there is no weapon of evil which can turn back God’s ever-rising tide of justice and love.
Sermon Date: July 25, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 20
Trinity VII 2021
The freedom then which St. Paul is describing today is a freedom which can only come from both knowledge of what is truly right and also the gift of a new heart by which we can follow this path of perfect freedom. As he writes, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). What St. Paul is telling us is that every man has a god whom he serves, or to put it another way, everyone serves some form of higher intelligence or power. The atheist who thinks himself morally and mentally superior to his Christian neighbor is simply living out the idea that whatever philosopher or politician or celebrity he borrows his beliefs from is the most intelligent, powerful being in existence... But, we see this same kind of slavery in the self-identified Christian who knows the commands of the God who made and saved him and simply chooses to follow his fallen heart or personal experience because he thinks this is what it means to be free: this man or woman is just as much a slave to death as the atheist, just as much a slave as the Israelite dreaming about how comfortable it was back in Egypt before God freed him.
Sermon Date: July 18, 2021
Passage: Romans 6
Trinity VI 2021
While we are new and free even now, we have not yet begun to partake in the fullness of a glorified humanity. If death no longer has dominion over the risen Christ than by virtue of our baptisms (our union with the great sacrifice for sin and death) we too will enjoy an existence no longer darkened by loss. Last year I heard a poignant line on a television program. The aged main character looked at his son and said, “My whole life is just watching the things I love get taken away from me.” Might as well be a quote from Ecclesiastes. I look around this room today, and I know we all bear the undeniable marks of loss: fathers and mothers, husbands and children, brothers and friends—the longer we live the larger the choir of our lost becomes, singing to us in the rhymes and melodies of our past, reminding us of the people we once were and never can be again. Against this terrible noise, the sound of loss multiplied by the broken hearts of every man and woman who has ever lived, it is against this crushing wall of mournful sound that St. Paul defiantly declares the truth by which all that grief and pain is finally harmonized into the righteousness and beauty creation has always been destined to reveal. He writes, “...Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).
Sermon Date: July 11, 2021
Passage: Romans 6
Trinity IV 2021
What the Father is telling and showing us, through Christ, is that it is the violent who are weak and the peacemakers who are strong. What do we think Jesus means when he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”? Not to be a child of God is to be a child of wrath, not to be a peacemaker is to be still at war with the God who rightfully guards His authority to forgive and to punish, to bless and to condemn. As we read in the Psalms, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth, thou God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself. Arise, thou Judge of the world, and reward the proud after their deserving” (Psalm 94:1-2). We can either be the people singing this psalm, or we can be the people against whom it was written; we can be proud or we can be holy. The two paths which lay before us then are not weakness or strength, but whether or not I will pretend I am some kind of god, meting out justice and mercy as I see fit, or whether I will follow the true God to Golgotha and die with Him there.
Sermon Date: June 27, 2021
Passage: St. Luke 6 and Romans 8