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).
This special role is why our Lord calls the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of truth.’ Christ has perfectly revealed Himself as the ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Christ is the embodiment of truth because truth is more than a lifeless fact or even a holy doctrine—truth is the person by whom all things were created. And so, in our tragic and blessed age, the Holy Spirit serves as the ultimate lifeline back to reality, back to the truth all our questions and fears are groping toward. Anglican writer and apologist C.S. Lewis once said, ‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ The Holy Spirit, through Word and Sacrament, gives us a template for living by which truth can be received and obeyed— a way of living in the eternal realities our fallen world wars against. It is this living relationship with God the Holy Spirit which makes the Christian life so much more than a checklist of dos and don’ts but a portal into the life of the Trinity: an invitation into communion with the divine. Against all other creeds, the Christian life is a simple and transcendent life of prayer and fasting and feasting, joyful suffering and holy witness, a life whose roots dive deep into the earth and whose branches reach up to the heavens. This transcendent rootedness will see us through any storm and provide ample opportunity to bear good fruit for the kingdom of God. It is a life of peace as our neighbors and enemies run from distraction to distraction until they can’t run anymore.
Sermon Date: May 28, 2023
Passage: John 14
Sunday after Ascension 2023
And so, we are called to acts of prayer and sacrificial love, hospitality and divine service, not because these save us, but because they show us and the world who has saved us. These defiant acts of divine, loving obedience unite us with our ascended Savior, who even now, presents His body and blood as a sacrifice for us in the heavenly court, so we can humbly present the sacrifice of our redeemed hearts to the rusty thrones of the world’s fading powers. They may spit on our sacrifice; they may call us fools and zealots, but we will welcome the chance to share in the suffering of Christ that we may share in His glory.
Sermon Date: May 21, 2023
Passage: 1 Peter 4
The Fifth Sunday after Easter 2023
We keep hearing about ‘getting back to normal’ after the last four years of insanity, but there is no normal in a world which is slowly killing you. It is in prayer, in our act of loving sacrifice to God that we link ourselves with Christ against the world He has already overcome. So, it shouldn’t surprise us that the world thinks prayer is stupid and useless because, despite all evidence to the contrary, the world still believes life is about serving our desires until we can’t serve them anymore. The Christian in prayer is a living symbol of our holy resistance against this cult of death. The Christian in prayer is a living reminder that the power and ambition of sinful men does not rule history. The Christian in prayer is Man truly alive because, humbly, on our knees, we are overcoming the world by asking God to overcome us: to destroy us and make us new.
Sermon Date: May 14, 2023
Passage: St. John 16
The Fourth Sunday after Easter 2023
The Prince of this World loves hypocrisy because it is a sure sign of a society’s worshipful disorder—a rebellion against the beautiful order from chaos God first created Man to honor and defend. These types of inconsistencies and injustices are all over our fallen world, and what do people say when they are questioned about them, ‘It’s all for the greater good.’ But, when faced with this solemn pronouncement designed to silence our concerns, we should always ask, ‘What is good?’ From the fallen world, the answer one will always get is the same: the greater good is service to the gods. In ancient times, this reverence would have meant service to Odin or Isis, Mithras or Baal, Molach or Mammon, but all these ancient gods were personified gateways to the gods of our own unimaginative age—the gods named money or power or sex, and it is these gods the supposed ‘greater good’ defends; it is these gods to whom we are asked to sacrifice ourselves and our children. We learn today that the Holy Spirit has come to challenge these gods in every part of this dying world. In fact, the Holy Spirit has come to burn these gods from our hearts.
Sermon Date: May 7, 2023
Passage: St. John 16
The Third Sunday after Easter 2023
How strange it is that mercy is the means by which God shows His power—that mercy is the way in which God forges a nation from the maimed and broken people of our fallen world? How different is this manifestation of true strength from how we would go about showing our power; how different it is from how, through the ages, the leaders of the world have shown their power? But we must remember that God, unlike the all too human leaders of men, does not need to prove His power to us in some cruel display of force; no, the God who decided how many times our hearts will beat does not need to throw His weight around. In fact, He does the opposite. In a world where death and destruction are the final tools of every powerful leader, God shows His alien power in the new life of the risen Christ and the new life of the holy nation He creates through mercy. The people of God are this new nation, and we are the beloved.
Sermon Date: April 30, 2023
Passage: 1 Peter 2
The Second Sunday after Easter 2023
And it is that liberation which sets the context for our reading today, when earlier in the passage Peter writes, ‘Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as slaves of God’ (1 Peter 2:16). Here, we find the apostle using the same uncomfortable term Paul so often uses in the opening lines of His letters where he routinely introduces himself as an apostle and slave of Christ. These enthusiastic calls to slavery ring so very false in a Western world which prides itself on being the triumphant space in which the independent, sovereign self reigns supreme, but St. Peter, and God the Holy Spirit who inspired his words, simply does not care if the word ‘slave’ grates against our conception of who we are because it is the mission of the apostles to break and smash every lie the world has told us will set us free. Remember, St. Peter has felt the false freedom which comes from thinking we are our own masters; this freedom led him to betray his Lord three times and run away for fear of losing His life when confronted by a little girl. His fear of death, the fear of losing his supposedly triumphant, sovereign self, made him a liar and a coward. Any argument we might deploy to defend our world’s infatuation with self-pleasure must explain how an attachment to earthly, temporary things isn’t just ‘slavery’ by another name, how it isn’t slavery to a thousand masters who don’t care about us and will abandon us when we are no longer useful. Christianity, especially as represented by the apostles in their letters to the church, is very concerned as to what we must do to prevent ourselves from becoming just like those unloving masters.
Sermon Date: April 23, 2023
Passage: 1 Peter 2
The First Sunday after Easter 2023
And it is what comes out of this faith that is so amazing. If we do trust Christ completely, which only makes sense given the reality of the resurrection, then we are free to love God and man without the terrible burden of hoping and praying that our relatively minor contributions must be enough to save ourselves or the world. We don’t have to conquer nature or bend men to our wills or win every political battle or be on the right side of history (whatever that actually means). Jesus has already overcome the world and its darkness; history is His story, so we are free to treasure a peace the world will never understand and prepare for a new life of creation and discovery.
Sermon Date: April 16, 2023
Passage: 1 John 5
Easter Day 2023
It is no exaggeration to say that everything we actually know about love, we know through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People often say they live for love or, maybe even repeating St. John, repeat something like, ‘God is love,’ but what evidence do any of us have for these remarks? What evidence do we have that love is the most important part of life, or even that love is worth the sacrifices we make in its honor? A romantic might tell us love elevates them to the highest plane of ecstasy; a social scientist might reference a study pointing to happiness or fulfillment in connection to something called love, but what is all that whispered pleading in comparison to the mighty thunder claps of agony awaiting us all at the inevitable ends of our loves. Decay and death are the great, ‘No,’ to all the relationships we cobble together with our clumsy hands and scarred hearts. Decay and Death take those things we build together, those physical and emotional structures of love, and break them no matter how hard we scream in protest. We are reminded of this reality by the Book of Ecclesiastes: ‘For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). This eyes-wide-open honesty is the truth of the human condition without the victory we celebrate today.
Sermon Date: April 10, 2023
Passage: Colossians 3
The Sunday Next Before Easter 2023
And so, St. Paul, and today’s entire service, drags us kicking and screaming through this truth. It must drag us through the beautiful and tragic reality of our Creator’s mission to save us from ourselves because we will not face the reality of what it means to be a fallen human unless we are forced; we will not face the reality of who we truly are except by the miracle which occurs in Christ’s church every Sunday before Easter. We can only be convinced by Evil’s command to ‘first love thyself’ if we don’t truly know ourselves, but when we do understand who we truly are through the mirror created by humanity’s rejection and execution of God then that mirror becomes a looking glass through which we can begin to see the massive tidal wave of true love and grace flowing from the Cross to the world.
Sermon Date: April 2, 2023
Passage: Philippians 2
The Fifth Sunday after Lent 2023
In the Old Testament, Job—beaten and bloodied by the Evil One’s unfeeling assault on everything he loved—was given the momentous opportunity to ask this very question of God: ‘What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?...Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be’ (Job 7:17-18,20-21). Job is in such agony after the loss of his family and home and health that he assumes death is imminent; perhaps, he even welcomes it. Dozens of chapters later, God responds to Job’s desperate plea for answers with a long series of questions, famously beginning with: ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ (Job 38:4). It is a haunting question, for it reveals both Job and all of humanity’s complete lack of qualifications for interrogating the Creator of all things. How can we who were not at the beginning ever perfectly understand what is happening in the present? It would be like screaming at the author of a novel after only reading one random page: our confusion could be real and painful, but our anger would be tragically misplaced.
Sermon Date: March 26, 2023
Passage: St. John 8