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).
Trinity XXIII 2021
God is not a concept or a program or a method of fulfillment; He has not given us some new method for self-improvement; no, instead, God has definitively answered the great question of human existence: who will save Man from himself? The beautiful answer to this question comes in the first advent of Jesus Christ. It is here that a human first transcends His own sinful temptations to live a life of love and justice; it is here that a human first transcends the lies of this world to live in truth; it is here that a human first transcends the terrors of death to save the new race of Mankind and rise as its glorious first citizen. This king of the new creation, whose public resurrection vindicated Him for all time, is the only real, concrete hope for a transcendent humanity, and that is why we await His return. We wait because we acknowledge two key realities: we need a Savior and Jesus Christ has established Himself as the conqueror of death—the master of mortality and thus the master of time itself. We can trust that Jesus Christ will transform our bodies of humiliation into bodies of glory because, if we are His people, then He suffered and died and rose again to make us members of Humanity 2.0—citizens of a new world saved from us and for us forever.
Sermon Date: November 7, 2021
Passage: Philippians 3
Trinity XXII 2021
What is Jesus’ answer to St. Peter’s system, and, of course, ours too? Well, He takes the Hebrew number for completeness (7) and puts it with another 7 as a poetic way of saying “infinity.” Jesus looks at St. Peter, He looks at us, and sees whatever amount of forgiveness we think is appropriate and raises us to infinity. It is a shocking pronouncement. But why speak in this poetic manner? Why not just say, “You must always forgive?” Well, just as the Gospel is not our story, the forgiveness we offer in the name of Jesus Christ is not about us. By forgiving all those who have hurt us, we are connecting ourselves into the God/Man’s reclamation of human nature from the dark rebellion of our forefathers. As we hear on the lips of the evil and rebellious Lamech all the way back in Genesis 4, “…hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain's revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech's is seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 4:23-24). Here is the battle cry of fallen man: “I am the one who determines what is the just punishment for wronging me; I will judge and punish because that is the only way in which my pain can be healed.” Christ’s command today is the courageous and terrible antidote to Lamech’s poisonous revenge. It is the reversal of the pain Lamech gleefully administered; it is the taking of that pain upon ourselves: the offering up of that pain to the God who knows what it means to be a perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of the world. Despite all his murderous posturing, Lamech is a coward because he cannot take the pain which inevitably follows true, sacrificial forgiveness; Jesus is our Savior because He can.
Sermon Date: October 31, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 18
Trinity XXI 2021
In today’s Gospel reading, a powerful man learns the limits of his power when his son begins to die. The illness murdering the nobleman’s son doesn’t care about his money or status because it answers to a higher power than him or the governor or the emperor. This young man on his deathbed is feeling the sharp edge of mankind’s rebellion against his Creator; he is experiencing the grim penalty for a human people living in suicidal conflict with the natural order and its author. We can still hear a faint echo of this truth when both theists and atheists alike refer to a sickness as a “disorder.” The poisoned fruit of living in a chaotic, fallen world is that our very bodies are coming apart at the seams—rebelling against our wills just as we have rebelled against the perfect will of our Creator. This real decay and death besieging us are the daily reminders that a creature who doesn’t have full control of when he uses the bathroom can’t possibly be in a position to rule himself. Or, more relevant to today’s reading, a creature who can’t save his son from death can’t possibly be in a position to save himself. This truth hits our faithful nobleman in the face, and so he humbles himself before a man who has none of the power people hoard and kill for, but who possesses all of the power which actually matters when the lies and distractions of this world are pulled away, and we see how naked and disarmed we truly are.
Sermon Date: October 24, 2021
Passage: Ephesians 6
Trinity XX 2021
This wedding garment then, this sign that we are ready to enter the feast today, and at the beginning of the new world, is not something for which we can buy or barter; no guru or life coach has it; no pretty face or wise heart can whisper it into our ears. There is no earning it; there is no selling it; there is only the gracious gift of the Lord who was bound for our sake and cast into the outer darkness for our sins only to shine His light even in the pit of hell and break the chains of death forever. We are either in the darkness, or we are with the king who defeated it. Just as God covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve with a sacrifice after the first sin of man, God covers our nakedness in the righteousness of the victorious victim, Our King and Savior Jesus Christ. As St. Paul tells us, again and again, we must cast aside the old garment of our wickedness and clasp tightly the garment of Christ. The internal rebirth of our heart, soul, and mind cannot but be seen by the fruit we bear for the Kingdom of God. Our outward life, seen by God and man, is the outward sign of the new heart death cannot silence. It is not our riveting testimony or emotional conversion or whatever other markers we use to designate ourselves as saved that reveals what garment we wear; it isn’t our identification on a form as Christian or even the number of years we have attended church that shows our true colors; no, it is the the lively faith which cannot but express itself in faithful prayer and sacrificial love.
Sermon Date: October 17, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 22
Trinity XIX 2021
This humble focus we are called to bear explains the commands St. Paul lays upon us today. If we are not the ones who will save the world, we must become the pure instruments of Him who has and is and will. When we, through Word and Sacrament, become more and more united with the true Savior of the world we can actually experience the righteous anger He feels towards sin but stop that anger from causing us to fall into the sin we hate. As the pure instruments of God, we can flee from sloth and greed so that our work is transformed from soulless drudgery or gluttonous hoarding into the means by which God helps those in need. As the pure instruments of God, our very words move from gossip and useless small talk into a conversational pathway by which the grace of God unlocks the hardened heart of another. Every day the Holy Spirit is moving us farther and farther from the purposeless waiting the heathens call “life” into the mighty, rushing currents of the glorious purposes of God. Each moment, including the moments of our greatest pain and sadness, is another blessed opportunity to further and further align ourselves with God’s saving activity in the world. When we walk in this manner, when we walk as Christian men and women, we become the living ambassadors of God’s forgiveness and love to a lonely and desperate world; we live in the forgiveness that costs and changes and saves.
Sermon Date: October 10, 2021
Passage: Ephesians 4
Trinity XVIII 2021
The law then is beautiful and terrible because it shows us what we were made to be but are not. Christ is beautiful and terrible for the same reason, but unlike the law, Jesus has come to open the eyes of the ignorant and break the chains of our oppressors, as He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (St. Luke 4:18-19). Because God the Son became Man, because He jumped into this burning furnace of a world with us, He perfectly understands what it takes to win the great war we are taught to pretend we aren’t fighting. This reality rests behind Jesus’ seemingly strange question to the Pharisees about how could David’s son be his Lord, or put another way, how could David’s offspring be his superior? Not only does Jesus show the impotence of the religious leaders by revealing their inability to answer a basic question about the identity of the Messiah they’re supposedly waiting for (the Messiah who just happens to be speaking to them), but He also moves the gathered crowd and the billions who have heard these words toward the answer to this section’s burning question: “Who does Jesus think He is?”
Sermon Date: October 3, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 22
Trinity XVII 2021
The church, on the other hand, is meant to be a lifeboat picking up men dying of exposure and thirst, dying of selfishness and greed, dying of loneliness and despair, but what happens when the church simply joins the choruses of the damned? What happens when the church forgets that her job is to drag the unwashed, sun-crazed victims of this world into her nurturing community? Well, people die. When the church becomes a social-club or a political action group or anything other than the other-worldly, sacrificial community described by St. Paul today, people die. That’s why it’s worth it to go to prison if that’s what it takes to preach the gospel, that’s why it’s worth it to be go without so that others may survive, that’s why it’s worth it to assassinate our pride in public acts of loving obedience to our Savior. We have been saved for a purpose, or we haven’t been saved at all; we are either in the boat groping for an oar through tears of gratitude, or we are still in the dark water barely keeping ourselves afloat.
Sermon Date: September 26, 2021
Passage: Ephesians 4
Trinity XVI 2021
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. God has compassion on His rebellious, dying people, and so we are no longer merely hopeful of salvation, we are assured of it by faith in the Messiah who secured it. This new reality should be stirring in our hearts when we hear those words, “Young man, I say to you, Arise.” When Christ heals a leper or walks on water or brings a dead boy back to life, He is not upsetting the natural order of things; He isn’t breaking the rules of an ordered universe. No, God is the ultimate source of the universe’s order, and so when either a prophet in God’s name or God incarnate reverses these seemingly natural ailments of sickness and death—our eyes are suddenly opened to just what it will look like when the still beautiful but broken nature of our world is reordered away from sin and decay and death. The Christian now living in the new world already made visible by Christ and His church daily feels this unbearable tension between the way things have seemingly always been and the way God is now recreating them to be. The Christ follower will constantly find himself at odds with both the forces of progressivism and conservatism because these man-made ideologies can never approach the alien glory of God; they can never approach the new traditional and revolutionary order we must submit to rather than command.
Sermon Date: September 19, 2021
Passage: St. Luke 7
Trinity XV 2021
Once we fully recognize and daily remember that we are the creatures and God is the Creator we don’t have to worry about saving the earth or finding ultimate fulfillment in our temporary occupations; no, we can recognize that all our earthly endeavors gain their value when we offer up our work to the God who created this world, saved this world, and will one day resurrect this world. We will be free from anxiety and fear when we remember that our moment in the Sun is truly as brief as the blooming wildflower on the side of the road, but we can strive to showcase the beauty God has put inside of us; we can show that beauty to the world, and remind all men that their Creator loves the beauty, truth, and goodness which will soon bloom everywhere and forever.
Sermon Date: September 12, 2021
Passage: St. Matthew 5
Trinity XIII 2021
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: August 29, 2021
Passage: Galatians 3 and St. Luke 10