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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The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity 2022

But how? How can we possibly keep fighting in our weakness and our fear, keep fighting as more and more pieces fall off of us and the losses pile all around us; we can keep going because of what St. Paul says next, ‘..I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own’ (Phil. 3:12). It is, once again, the One who tells today’s parable who makes all things new and possible; it is Christ who transforms the cries of the truly penitent man into the first words of one truly free: a new creation finally able to raise his eyes to heaven as he carries his own cross to the next battle, the next sacrifice, the next chance to show thanksgiving for the One ‘whose property is always to have mercy.’ 


Sermon Date: August 28, 2022

Passage: St. Luke 18

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The Tenth Sunday after Trinity 2022

We must not forget this sacrifice to come when we hear Christ pronounce the terrible judgment of the last great prophet, and it is so very terrible. It should remind us of the curse the Hebrews made against the Babylonians as they were led off into exile, a curse we repeat every month in our Psalter: ‘O daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery: yea, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou has served us. Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children, and throweth them against the stones’ (Psalm 137:8-9). The death of children, the death of the future is again and again the terrible price for madly declaring war against God: Pharaoh felt it when He refused to let the Israelites go until his firstborn heir lay lifeless in his arms; King David wept in agony when he heard his traitorous son Absalom had fallen on the battlefield of rebellion, but the great human rebellion against God and nature is at its most tragic when fathers and mothers themselves, infected by the madness of sin, sacrifice their children to the demon gods who endlessly thirst for innocent tears. From atop the Mt. of Olives, Jesus could see the Valley of Tophet, where the graves of Jerusalem’s sacrificed children, burned alive to appease the Canaanite’s gods, screamed out to Him for justice. Christ is that justice personified, and so He promises utter and complete destruction as only the man who will bring it can—the utter and complete justice against evil which will begin in Jerusalem and move to every nook and cranny of the world when He returns in glory. Does this kind of talk makes us uncomfortable? It should. For, it is a universal fact that the more of a problem we have with Christ coming with justice and fire to destroy this world’s evil, the more complicit and supportive of evil we are, particularly, the evils we like. It is not this way for those who cry out for vengeance from the God who promises to deliver it perfectly. Dead children want justice; bandits hiding in respectable society want to be left alone.


Sermon Date: August 21, 2022

Passage: St. Luke 19

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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity 2022

The early church, and the historic Anglican Way, gathered daily to remind themselves of this calling and to steel themselves against the hostile idolatry of the wounded world; they gathered together to prepare themselves to walk out into a fallen land and worship their Savior with every step and breath. They knew that we are always worshipping something—the only real question is: What are we worshipping? We cannot look to the world for our example of the Christian life: a world in which we are told it is fine to worship God in our churches, but then we must put aside our religion; our true family; our destiny; our hope—we must put all that aside—in order to fit into a world committing suicide before our eyes. St. Paul is bellowing at us from the pages of His epistle: ‘No. Stop. Understand who you are and where you are!’ We are not in the promised land surrounded by good people on their way to heaven; no, we are wandering in a desert that will be littered with the corpses of all those who spit in the eye of the God who has moved heaven and earth to save us. We are either running through this present desert, hoping our own cleverness or strength or beauty will save us, or we are faithfully clinging to the Rock from which living water flows.


Sermon Date: August 14, 2022

Passage: 1 Cor. 10

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The Eighth Sunday after Trinity 2022

We must try and wrap our heads around this saving trajectory of a new creation being a restored creation if we are to understand St. Paul’s apostolic commands today. He writes, ‘So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live’ (Romans 8:12-13). The easiest mistake we can make in reading this passage is to imagine the apostle is simply repeating the normal dualistic way in which humans are hardwired to think about reality: flesh bad, spirit good. In this very old way of thinking (found in everything from Greek paganism to Hindu spirituality), the body is a separate, dirty thing from the soul or spirit or brain. Our divine image bearing bodies are reduced to a stifling prison from which we must escape. In many of these systems, death is the escape, but in the modern age, one is more likely to talk with someone who believes they can escape the body/prison by sheer force of their will. We see this fantasy in everything from people who think positive thinking will heal their broken natures, to the person who thinks his will can transubstantiate him from a man into a woman; we even see it in the person who takes his own life or the life of another as if mere creatures could permanently break apart the soul and body the Creator has joined together.


Sermon Date: August 7, 2022

Passage: Romans 8

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The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 2022

It is only when we truly begin to recognize this vast empire of evil conquered and ruled by the prince of this world that we will start to see why St. Paul would use an analogy like slavery to describe our dutiful lives under the Lordship of Christ. He uses that term because we fallen humans don’t know any other way to live. Everyone we know serves someone, from the most anti-patriarchal 4th wave feminist to the alienated gamer to the skater punk to the Antifa stormtrooper to the citronella carrying klansman all the way down to the man who clings to his pillow for another half an hour rather than come hear and taste the Word of God. Evil’s greatest weapon is its ability to adapt to our lives and make evil seem normal. The secretaries at Auschwitz were just filing papers, does that make them innocent? We would of course say, ‘No,’ but how then can we claim innocence if we serve the same dark master in our own culturally accepted ways? We are not all so blessed as to have the 101st Airborne show up and force us to see the evil we serve; St. Paul is doing that for us today. And so, our every action answers the question: ‘Whom do we serve?’ Do we serve the master who can only provide the rotting fruit of a dying world, or do we serve the master who gives us not what we deserve but what we don’t even know how to ask for?


Sermon Date: July 31, 2022

Passage: Romans 6

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The Sixth Sunday after Trinity 2022

And yet there is more. 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 then 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 24, 2022

Passage: Romans 6

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The Fifth Sunday after Trinity 2022

When Jesus, however, tells Peter, ‘Be not afraid,’ our Savior is engaged in something wholly different. On a warm summer day on the Galilean Sea, the Son of God could look down on a trembling fisherman and know how his story will end. In that moment, Jesus knows that after 3 years, He will offer Himself as a sacrifice for Peter’s sins and the sins of the whole world. He knows that this trembling fisherman will be the beginning of humanity’s only hope, and He knows that, in His divine presence, Peter need not fear anything ever again. Jesus has come to save sinners, but he has also come to show the world why it should want to be saved. We are not saved to become happier dying people; we are not saved to be more satisfied as everything falls apart; no, we are saved to banish fear; we are saved to fight against evil; we are saved to draw dead men into the presence of the living God.


Sermon Date: July 17, 2022

Passage: St. Luke 5

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The Fourth Sunday after Trinity 2022

And if we recognize our place in salvation-history, if we recognize our place in the mighty acts of God in time and space, we can take each day for what it actually is: one blink of the eye for a royal priestly people preparing to storm the castles of evil and take back what is rightfully ours. As St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, ‘For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Lord who returns on that day will not be coming back to attend anyone’s church picnic. On that day, Jesus Christ—the 2nd Joshua—will return to cleanse the new earth, the new Holy Land, the new creation, of the evil which the 1st Adam was too weak to exterminate. The evil which smiles at the death of children, laughs at the slaughter of men, and lives to keep humanity weak and enslaved to idols. Jesus is returning to bury evil forever, and St. Paul is telling us today that by the free grace of God it will be the resurrected victims of evil’s tragic reign who will follow our resurrected king into the last battle of the last war in the last hour of this fallen world. We learn that our entire life has been about winning this battle.


Sermon Date: July 10, 2022

Passage: Romans 8

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The Third Sunday after Trinity 2022

But, how can we possibly live as a people open and ready for suffering? At the heart of St. Peter’s apostolic commandments to us and to our children is the recognition and maintenance of a community of people who lock arms in prayer and sacramental life precisely to make it through the vicious death gasps of the fallen world. Peter tells Christ’s priests to be living scars and for all church members to submit to their authority for the same three reason he commands husbands to die daily for their wives and for those same wives to submit to their husbands—1.) we are at war, 2.) our enemy is trying to kill us, and 3.) we must be unified and focused for the fight of our lives. 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: July 3, 2022

Passage: 1 Peter 5

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The Second Sunday after Trinity 2022

None of God's 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 and women 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 and an outcast in a world which hates charity and peace, and it is precisely those pilgrims—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 27, 2022

Passage: St. Luke 14