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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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

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Lent II 2022

It was Christianity, of course, which made parts of the world—for periods of time—anti-genocide.  Of course, rulers and compromised clerics have tried to justify mass slaughter in the name of Christ, but it always rings false when one is actually confronted by the Son of God forgiving and loving from the cross.  But, this great act of self-sacrifice seems to be inconsistent with the Biblical decrees our atheist friend thinks he understands, for example, from Deuteronomy, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them” (Deut. 7:1-6).  How do we reconcile, “Show no mercy” with “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”?  The only thing worse than the atheist’s shallow condemnation of God is the most common, modern Christian answer to this problem, “Well, we worship the loving God of the New Testament not the judgmental God of the Old Testament.”  It’s simple, it’s easy to remember, and the Western church has been paying the penalty for its complete and utter misleading wrongness since long before we were born.  I would rather have a thousand atheists try to cast one of their memorized spells upon me than hear one more self-identified Christian parrot back this blasphemy.  If we take nothing else from today’s sermon, let it be this: we must believe and trust in the God revealed in the Old Testament, or we do not actually believe and trust in the God revealed in the New.  Once we understand this reality, so much of the rot infecting American Christianity over the last century becomes clear. 


Sermon Date: March 13, 2022

Passage: St. Matthew 15

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Lent I 2022

St. John tells us Jesus came to save the world because He loved the world. Here, the Devil is offering Jesus the chance to save the world without the Cross; Satan is offering Jesus the chance to save all the men and women under evil’s curse without the terrible suffering of Good Friday. All Jesus has to do is worship the fallen angel who smiles when babies die, laughs when women are raped, and glories in all the broken dreams of the damned. That’s it. All one needs to have glory without suffering in this evil world is to worship the Devil, and it should be no surprise to us that most humans sign up for this plan; it should be no surprise that all humans would sign up for this plan without the Holy Spirit remaking us through Word and Sacrament.


Sermon Date: March 6, 2022

Passage: St. Matthew 4

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Quinquagesima 2022

This analogy breaks down, of course, because the Christian life is infinitely bigger than even the most beautiful and solemn obligation. Christian love is about more than the old law we repeat every week before we willingly give some of God’s treasure back to Him through the offertory: our pledge to do unto others as they do unto us (which is just another way of saying: “love our neighbor as ourselves)” if that noble ideal was the ultimate summit of love then you and I would be doomed. If this dream shared among other religions and philosophies, a specter that has never been truly grasped, if this hope is all that love can be then we will continue to pound on the coffins of our loved ones and wonder why love wasn’t enough to save them. This shadow cast by the true love isn’t enough (you know it; I know it; we all know it), and that is why our Holy Communion service continues every week, it doesn’t just stop at the offertory or the Ten Commandments, the service makes us part of God’s loving sacrifice of Himself for a world which hated Him. Jesus did not love His neighbor as Himself; no, our Lord pushed His enemies’ heads above the water as He drowned in the blood red sea of our sin. Jesus didn’t hold anything back as He fought for the very soul of creation; He fought evil with the only weapon evil will never understand: pure, sacrificial, self-giving Christian love. By the power of God the Holy Spirit, we eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood each week to remember that the only love powerful enough to save the world is a love we have not yet begun to comprehend—a love we must live and die in to ever fully know. We taste Christ’s death each week to know the love that saves.


Sermon Date: February 27, 2022

Passage: 1 Cor. 13