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 Third Sunday after the Epiphany 2023
The Christian is ordered to take on the great sacrificial mission so brutally and beautifully made real in the cross. We are not aided by magic powers or inhuman protection from the Spirit; no, we are ordered to feel what it is like to walk among those that hate us and love them all the same; we are ordered to stand as they abuse us—always putting the gospel mission before our own pride or comfort. When we are called away from our fishing boats or our tax collecting booths, our cubicles or our corner offices, our favorite brunch spots or our cozy retirements, when we are called by the bloody and vindicated Savior who owns eternal life, we are called to follow Him so closely we feel the heat of His breath and the sound of His voice. A voice crying out, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ St. Stephen died with those words on his lips, and we too are to die every day with those words on our lips, supremely confident that the God who has already saved us will bring us through these last few dark nights. No one can take His love from us, and so we are free to give ourselves for the world. We are free to embrace those that hate us and know that God will use our sacrifice for His glory. We are free to run toward the hurt and the scared and to bring them the medicine of immortality. We are free to do the hard thing—free to follow our Savior and dive into the sadness of the human condition: rescuing people who do not want to be rescued, loving people who do not want to be loved. All the while rejoicing when they attack us and thanking God for the opportunity to be more like the King the world spit on and murdered. For we are Christians, or we are nothing; we are Christ followers, or we are nothing. May we then be Christians: may the gospel be our power, joy our daily bread, and may the righteous scars of this life be a daily reminder of Whom we serve.
Sermon Date: January 22, 2023
Passage: Romans 12
The First Sunday after the Epiphany 2023
Here is why Christian ethics is so much more than a list of things to do or not do, so God won’t be mad at us. We are living in the merciful age foretold by the prophets. As we read in Isaiah, ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising’ (Isaiah 60:1-3). We are living in the light of this prophecy, and so our lives are governed by something bigger than the moral calculations of politicians or celebrities, blind professors or internet keyboard warriors; none of these victims of our ever-changing age are allowed to have sway over a living sacrifice. How could they? I am not my own. What about my anger or disordered sexual feelings, aren’t these just manifestations of who I really am? No, because I am not my own. What about my past sins and the shame I carry from all those I have hurt with my terrible selfishness, isn’t that who I really am? No, because I am not my own. It is God’s love which makes a dead man alive: a son of wrath into a son of grace. We are more than we could ever be without Him, for without Him we will live as empty, unloving imitations of the glorious, fully-realized humanity which is every Christ follower’s destiny.
Sermon Date: January 8, 2023
Passage: Romans 12
The Circumcision of Christ 2023
And it is hope we celebrate today, for we who bow our heads in this space, overcome with the glory of our Lord, worship a God who asks not for our children’s blood, but instead became a child and bled for us. We should ‘fear and tremble’ a bit in the presence of this king of alien strength, a strength which fears not a young maiden’s womb, nor the knife of the priest, nor the cross of the Romans. The God who would submit Himself to all of this suffering, so that love might become the abiding language of the universe, is unconquerable, and so we can not only perfectly trust in the completeness of His victory, but we may also honorably lay down the weapons we use to hurt ourselves and be embraced as family.
Sermon Date: January 1, 2023
Passage: Romans 4
Christmas Day 2022
St. Paul is writing to Christians feeling pressured to trade this glorious new life, not for something bad in and of itself, but for something which should serve to drive us toward the very purpose of human existence. Prophets and angels are important parts of the Trinity’s gracious plan to save the world, just as the temple and sacrificial system mentioned later in the epistle, but the reason these signposts and shadows existed was to guide us home. The prophets spoke for God, but Christ is God. The angels bring the messages of God and fight in his heavenly army, but Christ made the angels and will lead the great army now assembling in heaven to ‘put down the mighty from their seat, and exalt the humble and meek.’ The temple served as the space in which God and man could meet, but Christ is the perfect meeting place between divinity and humanity. The sacrifice of bulls and lambs revealed the seriousness of sin, but Christ in His sacrifice of Himself ended sin and death’s reign of terror forever. ‘They all shall perish, but thou remainest.’ All things find their purpose in Christ: as guides to Him or distractions from Him, as reminders of His goodness and love or emblems of what He will in the fullness of time destroy.
Sermon Date: December 25, 2022
Passage: Hebrews 1 and St. John 1
The Fourth Sunday after Advent 2022
Sadly, what we are seeing is just one more example of the false religions which have always sought to replace Word and Sacrament, humility and patience, with the terrible gods of entertainment, manipulation, emotion, and violence. If worship, nay life fulfillment, is all about the feelings conjured inside me then those feelings have become my god: the cruel almighty to whom I am most devoted. And sadly, in the worship of this idol we will chase those feelings wherever they leads us. In fact, we begin to believe that if we can just feel enough, scream enough, want it enough, we can make our favorite politicians win or make ourselves less sad or make more money or feel less guilty or any of the other crushing burdens this dying world puts on our shoulders. In our world of instant gratification, in a world where we are daily told to act like little gods, we just don’t have time to wait for God to act, we don’t have time for the second advent of Christ and the general resurrection of the dead, we don’t have time for the new heaven and new earth where every tear is wiped away forever; no, I feel hurt now and I want to feel better now, and I will find a god who will give me what I think I need. In this false religion, there isn’t any room for prophets who won’t step up and perform for us, there isn’t any room for the God who dies on a Cross, and there certainly isn’t any room for us to take up our own cross and die alongside Him. Of course, there is also no hope in this false religion; there is only the dark terror which waits for us when the false gods abandon us.
Sermon Date: December 18, 2022
Passage: St. John 1
The Third Sunday in Advent 2022
Which brings us to St. John the Baptist. What does the greatest man born of woman want? He wants the Day of the Lord; he wants judgment. Sitting in a prison cell because he dared to tell the truth, St. John doesn’t need a pep talk or a moving worship experience or a new toy; no, he needs supernatural action; he needs the God of heaven and earth, time and space to save him from both the chains of Rome and the chains of his own doubts and fears. He calls out to his cousin, ‘Come and save me; judge this land, judge me; bring your kingdom, break down these prison walls; free me from the enemy’s clutches.’ And what does Jesus tell him, what does God tell him, he says, ‘…the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them…blessed is he, who shall not be offended in me’ (St. Matthew 11:4-6). Is that answer John wanted to hear? Is that the answer we want to hear? We should, for Jesus tells his cousin that the prophecies of Isaiah are coming true, but even more than that, Jesus reveals the very evidence of the Kingdom of God: the real power of the true God being displayed in the world He created—the healing of the consequences of a broken humanity (blindness, leprosy, death) all of these unnatural burdens of our enslaved race being lifted off the backs of real people as a real-life coming attraction for the new world God chose Isaiah to proclaim until his countrymen murdered him for telling the truth. When Jesus tells St. John all of this, John too is about to be murdered for telling the truth; he too is about to join the long list of men and women who revealed their faith and trust in God by dying in His name.
Sermon Date: December 11, 2022
Passage: 1 Corinthians 4
The Second Sunday in Advent 2022
In today’s Gospel reading, we are again confronted by the return of the earth’s true King described by the King Himself in cataclysmic and terrifying terms. Jesus tells us there will be confusion and fear among men as the rebellious, unjust world is ripped apart by the just and righteous wrath of the universe’s avenging God. Our reaction to this news tells us an awful lot about who we are and where we stand in the great war between good and evil. Are we confused about why God would destroy in order to create? Are we afraid about what this news means if it is true? If we were to describe the general outlook of our fellow men, confused and afraid would be excellent terms to classify our fallen world. So much of the anger and loneliness and self-abuse—which modern technology and relative affluence have only made worse—so much of that pain is revealed in the confused and fearful hearts of the hopeless souls smiling at us on TV or in the glossy photo-shopped celebrities in the checkout line magazine rack or in the screen lightened faces of the frantic, smart phone scrolling masses. How could we not find anything but confusion in a fake, plastic world constantly screaming at us for approval; how could we not find fear in a world terrified of being alone with its thoughts. And so, another year passes with fewer births and more homicides—another dip in life expectancy and another spike in overdoses. Mankind’s blind faith in human progress has once again run into the human weakness for self-destruction which must be cleansed from this world before it can be redeemed. At the first Advent, Christ came to purge this evil from our hearts; He will soon return to purge it from the earth.
Sermon Date: December 4, 2022
Passage: Romans 15
The First Sunday in Advent 2022
This love we are called to then makes absolutely no sense outside of the moral law. There is simply no way to ‘just love’ because without the moral law and without the God/Man who fulfilled it, the word ‘love’ will always be a cruel shadow of the reality all lesser loves point us toward. Any supposed Christian teacher who tells you we are no longer called to follow the moral law, but rather, instructs you to ‘just love,’ worships a different God than He who says, ‘If you love me keep my commandments’ (St. John 14:15). Anyone who says we can abandon the new way to be human revealed by Jesus and the apostles He chose is an anti-Christ who seeks nothing less than to build their little earthly kingdom with the pain and misery of human failure Christ suffered and died to eradicate forever. The debt of love we owe God and our fellow man is honored through the obedience and trust we give to God before the eyes of the world, and this purpose for our lives is but an humble imitation of the loving obedience and trust our Lord carried to the Cross. This loving obedience and trust between God and Man is more important to the salvation of the world than any nation or war, king or president, and God has blessed us all with the call to participate no matter our strength or weakness, intelligence or beauty. All men can daily kneel and ask God to use them as part of the world’s salvation. All men can love as Christ loved.
Sermon Date: November 28, 2022
Passage: Romans 13
The Sunday next before Advent 2022
If we understand then that all of the institutions of the Israelite people find their perfection in the ultimate Israelite we start to have a good understanding of what is going on in the second Passover of Jesus’ ministry. The feeding of the 5,000 is another prophetic acting out of who Jesus is; it is a sign of just who stands before the thousands gathered around the mysterious Galilean. God is reaching out once again to do what He has done from the beginning: feed His allies in the fight against evil. The same God who fed Adam and Eve in the garden, the same God who dropped mana from heaven takes the cheap bread of a poor, young boy and makes it a feast for His people. But again, what do the people do? By the end of chapter 6, the thousands have abandoned Jesus—God is again betrayed by the people He feeds. It is only the 12 and a few others who continue to follow God through the wilderness: feeding on the Word, following the heart of the universe as He proclaimed the kingdom of God.
Sermon Date: November 20, 2022
Passage: St. John 6
The Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity 2022
But, a reasonable question to ask here is: What about the money? Does the king just magically forgive the ‘gazillion’ dollars the servant owes? No, that’s not how debt works. Someone has to pay. Just as someone must pay our sin debt or else good and evil are nothing more than illusions, and it is here where we start to understand the gravity of what Jesus is saying to Peter, to the other apostles, and to us. When Christ commands His church to adopt a radical, death-to-self kind of forgiveness, He does so knowing full well what the cost of forgiveness truly is. He knows the price of our forgiveness will be His unjust murder at the hands of the very people He came to save. There is nothing fair about Calvary: there is only the God/Man paying our unpayable debt with His blood and pain and life. There is nothing fair about us forgiving our brother or sister or enemy: there is only our recognition of what God has done for us and what we must now do to honor the God who has made us free.
Sermon Date: November 13, 2022
Passage: St. Matthew 18