The Parish Church of Connersville, Indiana

Sermons

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).

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Easter V 2022

The Great Commission then, the creation of the Christian religion by its resurrected King, has nothing to do with some Disney World version of Christianity we have been sold for far too long—cute, nice, dead. As we prepare, God willing, for future baptisms here at Trinity, I am reminded that far from being a sweet opportunity for pictures and cake, the baptismal rite the risen Christ established that day is a declaration of war against evil. It is the drafting of another human soul into the fight against sin, the flesh, and the devil, and when his parents, Godparents and the congregation as a whole swear to raise a child in the faith—we are saying, ‘Let my death and the death of this child be the ultimate proclamation of Christ’s resurrected life to the world; let the old way to be human die in that water, and let us live together as the resurrected ones.’ We are either signing up for that fight and that death, or we are acting out some kind of empty, useless rite of passage—no more important than our 16th birthday party or the local gender reveal balloon release. The church can only be the church when we are serving as a dying witness whose death points to the reality that lies beyond death. This calling was the terrible responsibility laid on the shoulders of the apostles, and it is the same responsibility we have today as the apostolic church they midwifed into existence.


Sermon Date: May 22, 2022

Passage: James 1

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Easter IV 2022

James paints an unflattering picture of humanity: ‘But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death’ (James 1:14-15). His image is of an evil which lives in our hearts waiting for us to fornicate with it to give birth to the very sin which, when fully grown, seeks to murder us. Sin is compared to a son who grows up to slaughter his own father or mother. In James’ perfect explanation of our nihilistic, suicidal age, by mating with the evil which lives within us, we express the mad desire to kill ourselves. God then is in the unenviable position of creating a lasting peace between Himself and an unstable humanity always seconds away from jumping off a bridge. James loves us, so he tells us the truth—the human condition is desperate, and we need to be saved from it; in fact, we need to be reborn.


Sermon Date: May 15, 2022

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Easter III 2022

We participate in the saving work of Christ as a community of faith offering all of our intellect and strength and courage and love to the God who can actually use them for good. We offer our faithfulness and work as an everlasting monument to the God who is re-creating an everlasting world in which to enjoy the fruit of our labors. As Christians, this eternal perspective should not only make us better neighbors and parents and spouses, but it should make us better scientists and artists and plumbers and teachers and retired folk because unlike those with no hope, whose work will—at best—disappear the day the sun stops shining, the Christian loves and dreams and works for the new earth promised by the risen Christ. The Christian is free to work with his hands and his heart and his mind because everything he does matters in a world being saved by the God of the living not the dead. The Christian can rest secure knowing that the good he does will live on forever. During Eastertide, it is good to remember that aspect of the empty tomb, and thank God for the great gift He has given us in His mercy. St. Peter can’t imagine us living any other way.


Sermon Date: May 8, 2022

Passage: 1 Peter 2

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Saint Philip and Saint James's Day 2022

To walk in the way is to be in Christ such that our true home is in the Father’s house: now alive in Christ’s church here on earth, later in the temporary heaven where our elect ancestors wait for us, and finally in the new heaven and earth where the risen Christ will return and we will return with Him. A fundamental part of preparing those mansions in His Father’s House is through the way of the Cross in which all Christians must walk and die and rise. As opposed to every false religion and evil charlatan constantly bellowing in our ears, Christ is not saying we will not suffer if we follow Him; no, He is guaranteeing it, but in that suffering we will rise to a glory which will save the world and rule eternity itself. To follow the way, the truth, and the life is not a slogan or totem, not a lifestyle or brand; it is to grab a cross and prepare for victory. It is no coincidence that the earliest name for Christianity was ‘The Way.’ This way is the meaning of our lives.


Sermon Date: May 1, 2022

Passage: John 14

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Easter I 2022

After hearing this news, we all probably just want to say something like, “Yikes, lighten up John.” But, John doesn’t have that luxury, St. John watched his Creator have the life strangled out of Him by His own creatures; St. John walked God’s mother home after seeing evil murder love on the Cross; St. John sat in the upper room while St. Peter sobbed in the corner, defeated and broken after betraying the Messiah, but St. John also saw death and chaos and decreation vanquished forever in the resurrected eyes of His beloved Lord and God and friend. He has seen the only One who has overcome the world, the only One who has overcome the great unraveling of God’s good creation we daily see in our own decay and eventual death. Christ came and died to reverse this unraveling, and He did so by using our own evil against evil, by using our own darkness to make the true light shine brighter than a thousand stars. How can we possibly continue our resistance against such alien and overwhelming power? What victory can we possible hope to gain against a Father willing to send His Son to die in our place, a Son who volunteers for this terrible honor, and the Holy Spirit who unites our murderous, backward race to the very Godhead saving us?


Sermon Date: April 24, 2022

Passage: 1 St. John 5

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Easter Day 2022

But, we must not pit God’s judgment against His love; no, the Cross is the greatest act of love ever enacted on this planet and the resurrection is the greatest act of judgment against the evil which clouds our minds and soils our hands. God’s love, the only true and eternal love, the only love which has stripped the grave of its dark power, that love is not concerned with just making us happy. After all, pigs are happy in filth; my dog is happy licking himself; a teenage-boy is happy watching a YouTube video of people falling down stairs, but none of this “happiness” is why we were created. Rather, God’s triumphant love takes our eyes and hearts off the misery and loneliness and purposelessness which drives men and women to the slow-motion suicide of a world without forever. The reality of Christ’s empty tomb, the reality of life after death, demands a radical rearrangement of our every day priorities, one that will obviously distinguish us from those living lives surrounded by the countless contradictions daily killing them. Resurrection means we aren’t running out of time; it means we don’t need a bucket list; it means we don’t have to worry about missing this opportunity or experience or adventure because immortality beckons. Life in the new heaven and new earth is on the horizon, and so all of our actions become preparation and thanksgiving for what God has done for us in proving love is eternal.


Sermon Date: April 17, 2022

Passage: Colossians 3

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The Sunday next before Easter 2022

When we look at the cross we see God’s strange and unnerving power; a power we quite simply don’t understand. We see a bleeding man on a cross, a grieving mother in the dirt, and a legion of men warped by evil mocking their suffering king. Jesus tells us this cross is what victory looks like, and we can’t help but shake our heads. We say in our words and lives, “Oh, God you can’t be serious. This dying, broken man, this can’t be how the world is saved. No God is that powerful.” It is the same harrowing doubt we feel when we look at those dead Ukrainian children. We say in our fear and dread, “There is no God who can redirect this madness and evil and hatred for his saving purposes. No God is that powerful.” We even say in our pride and vanity, “God can’t save me in my sinfulness. No God is that powerful.” But, the cross always says, “Yes.” Yes, Calvary is the hill upon which the City of God will be built with wood and nails and tears and blood. Yes, Calvary is the hill where God declared His everlasting union with the broken and the hurt and the lost. Yes, Calvary is the hill where you and I were saved. In His weakness is more strength than we can even imagine. It is this strength which makes the cross the world’s “Yes,” the empty tomb our future, and death a conquered foe.


Sermon Date: April 10, 2022

Passage: St. Matthew 27

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Lent V 2022

Why would Jesus spend so much time arguing with men who agree with Him on so much? Why doesn’t Jesus just form some kind of temporary alliance with these hissing vipers and expand His ministry throughout Judea, and from there, perhaps the whole Roman Empire? The reason, as we discover in today’s reading, is that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, does not need to prove anything to us or the world. The life and ministry, death and resurrection of God the Son are not a religious “try-out” for us or anyone to evaluate and judge the God of the Ages. To doubt God is not the mark of a wise and savvy shopper weighing his options in the marketplace of religions; no, to disbelieve God is the mark which reveals He is not your Father. In the end, one either stands with the I AM and has everything or sinks into the darkness of his own uncertain certainties. It is these cruel certainties which lead the disbelieving mob to claim Jesus is an unclean foreigner possessed by a demon. Earlier, they called him a bastard, so we could just think of this abuse as but a small escalation.


Sermon Date: April 3, 2022

Passage: St. John 8

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Lent IV 2022

It is indeed pretty rare to meet a person struggling with an intense desire to follow every aspect of the Mosaic law, and so we might falsely imagine St. Paul’s words have little relevance to us today, but as we can easily see, the cultural pressure of our fallen world pushes us towards an almost infinite amount of false salvations. We are told by the modern Judaizers, not that we must become functional Jews to be saved, rather we are told we must become functional atheists to be saved. We are told, “It is good that you believe in Christ, but salvation can only come by embracing the toxic dehumanization of pagan sexual practices, or by perverse political engagement, or by saving the environment, or by completing your bucket list, or by your kids being more successful than you are, or by looking young, or by being nice, or all the other exhausting ways in which we are ordered to save ourselves and the world. Our neighbors and friends and family are slaughtering themselves at unprecedented rates in the richest, freest, most entertained country in the world, but how else could it be when they daily feel the intense, unrelenting pressure of our functionally godless society pushing them into their graves with the endless burdens of self-salvation. The suicides, however, are simply the dead canary in a coal mine for a people who think they can save themselves: a people chasing futility and death, a people who have forgotten eternity and so will be forgotten.


Sermon Date: March 27, 2022

Passage: Galatians 4

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Lent III 2022

Obviously, the Pharisee's comment is an insult, but it carries the twisted logic of the bankrupt leader desperately trying to hold on to his power: “Of course, Satan is just allowing Jesus to cast out this demon, so he can trick people into worshipping a false prophet.” It’s the modern equivalent of a negative campaign ad or the infantile name calling which now passes for reasoned discourse in our world. People naturally gravitate toward these crude and emotional portrayals of reality because they are easy to understand, and they make us feel special. The other reason we are so tempted to believe the falsehoods broadcast to us is that the alternative is much more difficult to face: we would have to change. The great 20th century author George Orwell brilliantly portrayed this terrible, human failing in his book Animal Farm where again and again the animals—who represent common people—are fed complicated lies they choose to believe because the alternative (to believe the simple truth) would invalidate their earlier choices and force them to change everything about themselves. For the Pharisees, and the majority of Americans, it is just less challenging to believe that Jesus, with His life-shattering message, is simply an evil influence in the world. And if you don’t personally think the Christ of the Bible is malevolent, don’t worry, the institutions vying for power in our country are teaching that to pliable children or anyone else who will listen. We can just hear our enemies now, “Those hateful bigots have blood on their hands.” Cue the ubiquitous YouTube video: “Bearded atheist destroys Christianity!!!!” or the TikTok video version, “Scantily clad teenager dances against Christian oppression.” Fighting agains this tide of anti-Christs will break many, many churches: particularly those who care more about financial profitability or social respectability—two sides of the same ill-gotten coin."


Sermon Date: March 20, 2022

Passage: St. Luke 11