This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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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Trinity IX 2021

There is a moment in the beginning of today’s epistle from St. Paul where the martyred apostle embraces us as the family for which he was willing to die. He says, “Brethren…all our fathers were under the cloud” (1 Cor. 10:1). We should pause for just a moment and realize what the apostle was saying to these 1st century former Gentiles, and to us for that matter; he was reminding them of the change in their very history which occurred at their baptism and welcome into the people of God. This transformation of their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit reaches back through their family history and gives them new ancestors and a new story from which they are to draw their identity. Becoming the people of God means a new future—spent in the new heaven and new earth—but it also means a radically different past, for the history of Abraham and Isaac, Ruth and David, Christ and Paul, this historic struggle between human sinfulness and the God who won’t let our weakness murder creation, that story becomes our story and every other story becomes as alien to us as the history of some other family unrelated to us by law or blood.


Sermon Date: August 1, 2021

Passage: 1 Cor. 10

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St. James the Apostle 2021

Here is why Christ links His death to the loving service we now are to give the world. Just as Man was elevated to glory on the Cross; we are elevated to glory through our service to others. Jesus knows this “slavery to righteousness” as Paul will call it runs against all our fallen world’s understanding of power and might, but once we have recalibrated ourselves to see the true weakness of the world’s lofty ones, we can love in a way which holds nothing back. Show me a powerful man of our time, and you have shown me a future pile of dust: a human who will either be entirely forgotten or whose true-self will be replaced by a myth some future culture will think it needs. It is not so with Christ. When we hear the Word of God we hear the voice of Christ; when we are baptized, we are baptized into His death and resurrection; and when we eat and drink the Holy Communion of His Body and Blood, we take His cup of woe and drink as brothers and sisters united in the mission to tear down the temples of sin and death, injustice and disorder—knowing there is no weapon of evil which can turn back God’s ever-rising tide of justice and love.


Sermon Date: July 25, 2021

Passage: St. Matthew 20

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Trinity VII 2021

The freedom then which St. Paul is describing today is a freedom which can only come from both knowledge of what is truly right and also the gift of a new heart by which we can follow this path of perfect freedom. As he writes, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). What St. Paul is telling us is that every man has a god whom he serves, or to put it another way, everyone serves some form of higher intelligence or power. The atheist who thinks himself morally and mentally superior to his Christian neighbor is simply living out the idea that whatever philosopher or politician or celebrity he borrows his beliefs from is the most intelligent, powerful being in existence...  But, we see this same kind of slavery in the self-identified Christian who knows the commands of the God who made and saved him and simply chooses to follow his fallen heart or personal experience because he thinks this is what it means to be free: this man or woman is just as much a slave to death as the atheist, just as much a slave as the Israelite dreaming about how comfortable it was back in Egypt before God freed him. 


Sermon Date: July 18, 2021

Passage: Romans 6

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Trinity VI 2021

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 than 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. Last year I heard a poignant line on a television program. The aged main character looked at his son and said, “My whole life is just watching the things I love get taken away from me.” Might as well be a quote from 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 11, 2021

Passage: Romans 6

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Trinity IV 2021

What the Father is telling and showing us, through Christ, is that it is the violent who are weak and the peacemakers who are strong.  What do we think Jesus means when he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”? Not to be a child of God is to be a child of wrath, not to be a peacemaker is to be still at war with the God who rightfully guards His authority to forgive and to punish, to bless and to condemn. As we read in the Psalms, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth, thou God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself. Arise, thou Judge of the world, and reward the proud after their deserving” (Psalm 94:1-2). We can either be the people singing this psalm, or we can be the people against whom it was written; we can be proud or we can be holy. The two paths which lay before us then are not weakness or strength, but whether or not I will pretend I am some kind of god, meting out justice and mercy as I see fit, or whether I will follow the true God to Golgotha and die with Him there. 


Sermon Date: June 27, 2021

Passage: St. Luke 6 and Romans 8

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Trinity III 2021

As long as we are Christians in a fallen world (strangers in a strange land), we will not know the true peace of a world set right: the “peace that passeth all understanding” will always be something which must be placed in our hearts and minds by the benevolent God who made us through the suffering of childbirth and has saved us through the suffering of the Cross. That God commands us to be an unbreakable community who serve one another in humility and love—a set apart people learning the cruciform life by unlearning the selfish viciousness of our smiling dystopia. I don’t use that language lightly, our fallen world is a failed “heaven on earth project,” and the only options which rest before us are to try again and again to create our own utopia—to blindly trust that, despite all evidence, we can make a perfect world—or to disconnect ourselves from this nightmare and face the temporary suffering which inevitably follows.


Sermon Date: June 20, 2021

Passage: 1 St. Peter 5

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Trinity II 2021

None of this world-saving generosity, this new world building grace, happens because of our self-righteousness or who our parents are; we don’t get a seat at the great table because of our party affiliation or our money or our perfectly calibrated political opinions. It is those who know they need the feast who answer the master’s call: the men who run to the master’s table are the outcasts from a fallen world which rewards evil and idolatry. A broken world which rewards attitudes like, "I have to make more money than I will ever need, so I can't come to the feast,” or “I just bought a new car, and I need to try it out, so I can’t come to the feast,” or “I really need to focus on quality time with my family, so I can’t come to the feast.”  There is no shame in being a pilgrim and a stranger in a world which hates charity and peace, and it is precisely those kinds of people—to the shock and horror of Jesus’ original audience—who will be processed into the seats of honor to feast and worship and love for all time.


Sermon Date: June 13, 2021

Passage: St. Luke 14

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Trinity I 2021

This true gospel took a sledgehammer to everything the Romans believed; it meant that the blessed people on the Esquiline hill were not those enjoying a bath; no, the blessed were the poor, crucified peasants whose grim deaths revealed they were enemies to a fallen world obsessed with loving itself and dehumanizing others for that end. It meant that God so identified Himself with the cries of the crucified and the cries of all the poor and mistreated in the world that He came as one of them to reveal the true powerlessness of the powerful, the rank impotence of the mighty. As we read in the Psalms, “O praise the Lord, ye that fear him: magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob; and fear him, all ye seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the low estate of the poor; he hath not hid his face from him; but when he called unto him he heard him…The poor shall eat, and be satisfied; they that seek after the Lord shall praise him: your heart shall live for ever.” From what psalm is that excerpt? It’s Psalm 22, the psalm our Lord invoked on the Cross, the psalm He made the mission statement of His passion and death. God hears the pleas of the poor crying out to heaven, and Christ comes to save them, not by giving them corruptible treasures, trinkets, or toys; no, He gives Himself. God the Son gives Himself to the wrath even they deserve so that every poor man or woman who invokes the name of Christ may be richer than any king or president, hedge fund manager or tech billionaire. 


Sermon Date: June 6, 2021

Passage: 1 St. John 4; St. Luke 16

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Trinity Sunday 2021

We who are born of the water and the Holy Spirit are already in the ark of faith, and we have been given the living water which if men drink they shall never thirst again. We don’t need to measure ourselves by the fallen world’s standards—those standards nailed the Prince of Peace to the Cross; we don’t need to engage in the civic religion of outrage and tribalism because we have nothing to prove to anyone. God already knows we are defined by how much we need Him, and it is only His opinion which counts; it is only His love which saves. Liberated by this truth, we can bring peace to wherever we are; we can bring the peace which comes from knowing victory has already been won; we can bring the peace which knows our Savior’s greatest moment of victory was when He was exalted on a wooden device of torture and death, and so we too can grab our cross and do likewise.


Sermon Date: May 30, 2021

Passage: Rev. 4; St. John 3

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Whitsunday 2021

Do we really want a formless, shapeless love whose only rule is, “Do what feels right?” What if our feelings and emotions and desires themselves are infected by the same poisonous air which prepares and nurtures people to commit whatever acts of evil we don’t like? Isn’t that a much more reasonable assessment of human performance through the ages than the adult fairy tale which begins with the heedless following of our desires and ends with a page reading, “And they lived happily ever after?” The Son of God knows us, and He knows only too well our epic, centuries long failure to truly love God and one another, and so He sets down a simple definition of love which should drive us to our knees in repentance and supplication and hope. We learn here that love is not defined by the unreliable whirlpool of our emotions or the semi-regular sexual revolutions of the bored and privileged; no, any real understanding of love must center on real action directed toward the God who is Love. That is tremendously good news; love is not some unfeeling force as indifferent to us as a hurricane or a tornado; rather, true love is personal because love is an attribute of the personal God. God’s love, the love we are called to share in through our sacrifice and obedience to His will, becomes about so much more that desire or pleasure or security—real love is always about salvation, always about re-directing the confused and lost human soul back toward the true, the good, and the beautiful.


Sermon Date: May 23, 2021

Passage: St. John 14

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