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).
The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity 2023
The actions of Jesus, interrupting this ritual of mourning, are then quite terribly cruel if not for the fact that He is the One who created life in the first place, and further, He has come to birth the new world from His own body and blood. Telling a grieving widow to ‘Weep not,’ while pushing past her to touch the unclean death box being purged from the village; thereby, making Himself unclean in the process—all because he had compassion on this grieving widow—gives us a window into God the Son’s entire mission to save the world. As St. Paul tells us in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians: Jesus, who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus embraces death itself so that we can be freed from sin and death in a transformation just as shocking and incredible as compelling a dead boy to return to his mother’s side. Through the Cross, our Lord covers Himself in the unclean death acts of the world, for on the first Good Friday, Jesus will literally take this boy's place in the tomb and cause His own blessed widowed mother to grieve as humanity rips her precious and perfect son apart. Here is the great and terrible price of the end of death—the price of wiping away all tears, the price of saying ‘Weep not.’ Justice demands a sacrifice; Love provides a Savior.
Sermon Date: September 24, 2023
Passage: St. Luke 7
The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity 2023
The second complaint goes like this: ‘I have earned everything I have through hard work, I define myself by that hard work against the lazy good for nothings who surround me, so I will ignore this part of Christ’s sermon.’ Do we imagine that Jesus doesn’t understand hard work? His father was a tradesman; Jesus Himself was a carpenter for decades before He started preaching on this mountain. God the Son, by whom the entire world was created, intimately understands what hard work is about because He lived the human experience from the ground level. So, it is not that Jesus doesn’t understand hard work; no, it is that we don’t understand our position within time and the universe. You and I are currently living on a providentially placed planet which is hurtling through space at 67,000 mph as it spins around an enormous burning star; we were providentially made alive in the wombs of our mothers, protected while we were more vulnerable than a chicken’s egg; we live, every day, breathing God’s air, eating God’s food, walking on the feet and legs God has given us. We could say that all that we have is ours because we are smart or clever or hard working, but we would be telling ourselves a ridiculous science-fiction story while God’s amazing natural creation swirls all around us. The idea that people are not on their knees thanking God every day for all that they have is nothing less than a pulsating symbol of our self-delusion.
Sermon Date: September 17, 2023
Passage: Matthew 6
The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity 2023
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: September 3, 2023
Passage: Galatians 3 and Luke 10
The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity 2023
Blessedly, the fate of the world does not lie in the hands of paper pushers and bureaucrats or kings and congressmen for that matter. St. Paul tells us that ‘our sufficiency is of God,’ and we see just that in today’s Gospel reading, where Jesus Christ, God the Son and Lord of Creation, heals human infirmity with the same creative power He used to spread forth the firmament of heaven. This public display is real power reshaping a world marred by our sinful rebellion. It wasn’t some law or rule which removed the silence imprisoning today’s deaf man; no, this fallen creature was healed by the recreative work of the God whose air we breathe, whose image we bear, and whose world He will not let us destroy. 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 death’s pathetic 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—especially to those who seemed crushed or forsaken.
Sermon Date: August 27, 2023
Passage: 2 Corinthians 3
The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity 2023
But how? How can we possibly keep fighting in our weakness and our fear, keep fighting as more and more pieces fall off of us and the losses pile all around us; we can keep going because of what St. Paul says next, ‘..I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own’ (Phil. 3:12). It is, once again, the One who tells today’s parable who makes all things new and possible; it is Christ who transforms the cries of the truly penitent man into the first words of one truly free: a new creation finally able to raise his eyes to heaven as he carries his own cross to the next battle, the next sacrifice, the next chance to show thanksgiving for the One ‘whose property is always to have mercy.’
Sermon Date: August 20, 2023
Passage: St. Luke 18
The Tenth Sunday after Trinity 2023
The Cross, it is there the Judge takes upon Himself the same punishment Jerusalem has so sadly earned. After all, no matter what, Justice is coming to Jerusalem, and it’s riding on the back of a donkey. So, with Justice riding into town, the only question is, will men be justified by the Just One who takes the punishment they deserve, or do they wait for Jerusalem to be ravaged by evil—torn down to the ground with its children dashed against the stones? We face a similar question. We must see that Jesus has stepped into Jerusalem to be the dead son Evil always desires, but of course, He is no ordinary son. Jesus is the Son of God, and if the price for which Evil always asks is the death of innocents then He has descended from heaven to be that innocent child who forever breaks the gaping jaws of death. He has volunteered to be the child dashed against the stone. Our Lord was murdered for our transgressions so that you and I and our children might not just be spared from the just judgment to come, but rather, He died and rose so that you and I could be participants in the final battle against Evil our Lord’s inevitable return will signal. We are to be men and women who even now are preparing for the last battle by living lives of thanksgiving and praise, sacrifice and love, gathering the forces of good to stand against the evils of our world, marching together with our own crosses held high. For if we bear Christ’s name in our hearts, if we carry His cross into battle every day, there is no enemy over whom we are not already victorious. And if we are victorious, we can follow the Great High Priest even into death singing hymns of praise, wiping away tears of joy.
Sermon Date: August 13, 2023
Passage: Luke 19
The Ninth Sunday after Trinity
Gloriously, when we do recognizes our place in created time, when we do look about the desert of our fallen world and seek everlasting sustenance in the God who is faithful, then we can finally see we are living in the blessed age of fulfillment. Christ has won the victory, the Holy Spirit has broken loose our chains, and we are marching toward the Jerusalem not made with hands. Our fulfillment in this life comes only from our progress toward this goal—our progress toward the resurrected earth which awaits the children of God at the end of their journey. Just as Moses called the Israelites to be a nation of priests, we have been called to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people who every second show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into marvelous light. We are to walk from room to room in this darkened land and bless it with the presence of the Holy Spirit and a dead human made alive by His power. May we dead men and women made alive always know our history and our destiny, and may we worship our God and Savior with every hour we have breath.
Sermon Date: August 6, 2023
Passage: 1 Corinthians 10
The Eighth Sunday after Trinity 2023
Which brings us to the question, Why then would anyone possibly choose to either murder God’s prophets or ignore them, and in turn, murder themselves? As Jesus says today, ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (St. Matthew 7:15). The terror of this imagery should strike right to our hearts. Christ is describing a creature which looks like a Christian, but instead of being a sheep in the church’s pasture, he is a sheep’s worst enemy: a hungry wolf who will only be satisfied by not merely our destruction, but by gaining from our destruction, by tearing us apart until we are no longer a recognizable image bearer of God but merely an object to be consumed and digested. We usually think of men in authority when we imagine this monstrous creature; we think of greedy televangelists or priest who prey on young boys, but much more dangerous than these figures of obvious moral debasement are the characters who fill pulpits and pews with their lies and half-truths. The people who say things like, ‘God’s love is whatever I say it is,’ or ‘Be true to your heart and everything will turn out fine,’ or ‘Nothing really matters except loving yourself and being happy’ and on and on. Have you ever asked yourself, what does a person have to gain from saying these evil, banal lies to another person? Of course people say them because they simply know these memorized nonsense phrases better than the life-saving truth of God’s Word, but they originate and are evangelistically spread by those who wish to use us and destroy us for money or sex or power. All of the bad advice and circular logic we are given by false prophets so that we might feel better about joining them in sin will never save us or anyone, in fact, quite the opposite
Sermon Date: August 1, 2023
Passage: Matthew 7
The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2023
There is one question then: ‘Is the god you serve weak and impotent like Pharaoh or is the god you serve the One who defeated the Egyptian god king, the One who has, in fact, defeated death itself?’ Remember, the entire weight of the apostle’s argument rests on the historic resurrection of Jesus Christ, that event is the great public example of the Evil One’s defeat at the hands of the Living God: the second exodus for which the glory of the first was only a shadow. To be a ‘slave to righteousness’ is not to be a slave to virtue, not a slave to do-goodery or good manners; no, to be a slave to righteousness is to be a slave to the God who breathes into chaos and makes life, the God who liberates slaves and makes sons, the God who reaches into the hearts of men to burn the image of His love where no man or devil may take it. To be His new born creature is what it means to live after being saved, and it is a relation so close and intimate and unyielding in its intensity and loving obedience that the only word which Paul can use to describe it is the total allegiance of a slave to his master. To be God’s slave is to be free from sin’s life-sucking ailments for the purpose of following Christ to the death: the death of our selfishness and evil, the death of the cruel gods we allow to control us, the death of the shame which taints our every friendship and love. In its place, we have been set free to be slaves to God, to live in His world-saving purpose, to die and rise again into His new world of heavenly grace. We are to be living contradictions in a broken world where the truth will always seem like madness.
Sermon Date: July 23, 2023
Passage: Romans 6
The Sixth Sunday after Trinity 2023
And yet there is more. 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 then 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. It has been said that life is just watching the things we love be taken from us. We hear that refrain again and again in 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 16, 2023
Passage: Romans 6