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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Advent III 2021

What we should now begin to see is that the strange and unusual ministry of Christ is not accidental or hap-hazard or tentative; no, the first coming of Jesus was and is a time of blessed mercy in which the rightful, avenging wrath of God has been temporarily held back. From the inside of his prison cell, John thinks he wants God to bring the fire and burn away the evil of this world, but what John doesn’t yet fully understand is that if that were to happen then all of creation would stand condemned before the holy and good God. The vengeful messiah John wants would indeed swat the Herods of the world into the swirling oblivion, but He would also crush every human being who stands before God wearing the weighted down garments of sin and death dragging us deeper and deeper into the abyss—deeper and deeper into the selfishness and fear from which we can never free ourselves. Rather than death and destruction, Jesus calls the battered and bruised people of earth to join Him in a centuries long campaign of sacrificial love and God-honoring morality fought against the forces of naked aggression and blood-soaked power which seek to turn lies into truth, death into life, and sin into virtue. This campaign will cost Jesus his life, the life of His cousin, the lives of His 12 apostles, and the lives of all those who daily die to the world and live in supernatural, loving gratitude for the mercy God gives to our undeserving race. This life of mercy and holiness and sacrifice is the path to which Jesus beckons us.


Sermon Date: December 12, 2021

Passage: St. Matthew 11

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Advent II 2021

What then do we gain by earnestly seeking our hope and comfort in the Word of God? We gain nothing less than the endurance and encouragement we need to fight our way out of this broken world as one holy people—united in heart and soul and mind. St. Paul is writing to a church in Rome newly created out of the union of God and Man, Jew and Greek, rich and poor—a union made possible through the reconciling death of Christ. He is commanding this group of men and women to be a public refutation of everything the fallen world tries to worship: the idolatry which breaks the unity which can only come from worshipping the true, saving God with one united voice. The Word of God is where we find that voice, so that we no longer speak with the vain, babbling tongues of men, but rather sing in the exalted language of Almighty God. By reading and singing and praying through the Bible, we become the human heralds of God’s victory; we discard the discordant arguing of those whose only hope lies in the schemes of men; we join with the heavenly choir—praising God with our every breath and thought.


Sermon Date: December 5, 2021

Passage: Romans 15

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Advent I 2021

This love we are called to then makes absolutely no sense outside of the law. There is simply no way to “just love” because without the 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, 2021

Passage: Romans 13

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Trinity XXV 2021

The rebellion from the grounding of reality began with eating; it began with Adam’s act of anti-communion (his black mass) where the union between God and Man was broken in the first taste of evil: this perverse, false sacrament of disunion and alienation. We might complain that eating or not eating from a particular tree is a stupid or arbitrary way of setting the boundary between good and evil, but this would be to ignore the inherent mercy of setting up such a visible and straightforward line of demarcation between right and wrong—one can’t accidentally eat a piece of fruit. But, we would also be ignoring all the many powerful symbols which govern our own up-to-date, modern lives: one could easily say borders are just imaginary lines, but a walk across the Korean peninsula’s 38th parallel is to step between two different worlds. Or, what about money? The dollars in our pockets have no intrinsic value: they are symbols of a value regulated by our government, and yet these symbols govern so much of our lives because of the power someone tells us they have. Whether it is the fruit of the garden or the bread of heaven, God’s symbols are much more real than even these examples because they are the divinely established marks of our eternal status. To eat the fruit of the tree was to declare citizenship in the ranks of death; to eat of the bread of heaven is to regain again the divine benefits of being on God’s side in the war between good and evil.


Sermon Date: November 21, 2021

Passage: St. John 6

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Trinity XXIV 2021

The father of today’s Gospel reading, on his knees begging Jesus to come and save his dying child has been a recipient of the joyous gift I just described, but he has been given still another gift from his daughter, for it is her imminent death which has ripped away any skepticism or pride which might have prevented him from this act of abject surrender before the Lord. What good is pride or money or any of the other nonsense people care about when that which one most loves in the world can no longer be protected by our love and strength? We would give it all up to save that love; we would burn down our lives and face every humiliation to save that love. It isn’t an accident that Christ feels compassion for this grieving father, for it is this father’s willingness to do anything for love which most closely emulates the Trinity’s mission to save the world: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (St. John 3:16). The Son who stands before this broken, begging father is the Son who has answered the Father’s call to die for the children He loves, to stand in the space between sin and a parent’s love, to stand in that space and make true and beautiful and perfect love victorious forever. This victory is not some abstract longing or immaterial hope. Just as the great sacrifice was a real Son dying for the real sin and real pain we inflict upon each other, the great victory is a real universe restored: creation healed, tears wiped away, children back in our arms.


Sermon Date: November 14, 2021

Passage: St. Matthew 9

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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