Sermon summaries and audio files
Listen! The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes! This voice is, at long last, the opened voice of God, the Coming One. He breaks through, he comes to the rescue. He comes to help the helpless. So he came to Bethphage, the mouth house, that is, the mouth house of God, for at the coming of Christ, the mouth of God is opened to proclaim the day of his coming. So he takes two beasts, an ass and her colt. The ass was tied, and is now loosed, for the law and the prophets were in a sense tied, they did not fully grasp what was to come, they desired to look into their own prophecies which were always dark to them. But now the new testament is come, so he mounts the colt, the untamed yet tame beast, the new beast, and rides into Jerusalem. The people understood, for the multitude had followed him, having seen his works. So, rightly did they straw their garments in the way. This was their king, to whom they cried Hosanna, a royal exclamation: God save the king! And so do we also echo their cry, for he comes to us today, to the rescue, to be our salvation, our redeemer, whose blood is shed for us and given to us. Hosanna! Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent. A video of the mass is here.
Like so many in the history of God's people--Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, to name some--the ten virgins all appeared the same at first. All were virgins, all had lamps, all went forth to meet the Bridegroom. The difference was unseen, in the vessels. So it is that the hypocrites appear with the believers until the end. But what of us? Do we believe, or are we like the fools? Every Christian ought to feel pricked in the heart here, for although our faith should be more fervent and zealous, yet we know that it is not what it ought to be. But although fervency is something we should have, we know we are deficient and have need to repent, daily. This is the prick of the harsh law of God. But the Gospel is only comforting, and we pray with the father of the sick son, saying, Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief! And here for us is the forgiveness of sins for us to believe and embrace, so that we may be confident of being welcomed in at the Last Day. Sermon for Trinity Last. And the video is here.
When God told Adam not to eat of the tree in the midst, this implied that he was not to work there, for he had been placed in the garden to till and keep it, and no tilling is needed where there is no eating. Thus the seeds of the Sabbath were already planted, for God himself rested on the seventh day. And thus when man sinned, he did so by breaking the Sabbath rest. He worked where he ought to have remembered the work of God. Yet also today, he is called to rest: Come unto Me, I will give you rest, says he. For there remains a rest for the people of God. So let us rest in him, trust in him, and leave off the wicked thought of working in the place where we ought to remember and place confidence in the work of Christ. Sermon for midweek of Trinity Second-Last. Also the video is here.
Every Christian ought to repent, for from this parable we learn that it is not only doing evil that condemns a person, but failure to do good. That's a more difficult matter. And we need to resolve to do better, always. Yet how can be gain assurance of being among the sheep and not the goats, then? Not from merit or deeds, but by grace. For the only help for us is in Christ, who is himself the Judge and Shepherd. He has done all, for us. And we who are in him by faith must also have works. That is, faith without works is nothing. Therefore the works must be there, even if we cannot always tell what they are, like the righteous, who said, when did we do these things? So then, let us repent and do better, but always live by faith alone in him. Sermon for Trinity Second Last. And here's the video.
The historical reading of the destruction of Jesusalem in a.d. 70 is an important reminder to the people of Christ that his words always come to pass. In addition, this event is a harbinger of things to come. As Jerusalem miserably fell while Jesus' flock fled to the mountains, so must we learn to flee today, to the greater hills, especially of Mount Calvary; that is, the holy Gospel is our new home, as the birds gather around the dead bodies. For as the faithless multitudes in Jerusalem brought the armies of Caesar, so the faithless in our day hasten the Day of the Lord. And meanwhile we also, like eagles, flee to the Body of Christ. Sermon for the Third-last Sunday of the Church-year. Also, a video of the entire service here.
The Gospel of St. John provides a mystery: John the Baptist says Behold the Lamb, and then when two disciples ask to see where Jesus is staying, he says, Come and see. Then, when Philip tells Nathaniel they have found the Christ, he says to him, Come and see. Then at the end of the Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples on the shore, Come and dine. And also, toward the end, the evangelist speaks directly to the hearer, saying, These are written that ye may believe, and again, at the very close, he says that all the world could not contain in all its books all that Jesus did. What are we to make of this? What Jesus did continues into the ages, through the apostolic ministry in the Church. And there is where Jesus is dwelling, where people must come and see, and come and dine, in the Holy Supper. And the Gospel of the Samaritan woman at the well demonstrates this, for she first tells her kinsfolk that he could be the Christ, and says to them Come, see. And they reply that now they believe, not for the word she said to them, but because they have heard him themselves. So must we hear him ourselves. Come and see. Come and dine. Sermon for Midweek of Michaelmas III.
The kingdom of heaven, said Jesus, is like a marriage; for he is the Bridegroom and his Church is the Bride. They share all in common: he takes her sins, and she takes his righteousness. And herein is the heart of love, which must involve sacrifice. He gives his all into death for his Bride. And this wedding has a feast, from the king. It is a lavish, gala event: all things are prepared. See, no guest need bring anything. And even if a guest should bring his own garment, he will be found out and cast out. So is the grace of God: all things are accomplished, and nothing is in our hands. Let us wear the baptismal gown of his righteousness, trust in him, and live in this baptismal faith all our days. Sermon for Michaelmas II.
The paralytic received the forgiveness of his sins because Jesus saw the faith of his company: they knew he was the Messiah. And he also taught them what this meant: not only can the Messiah heal; he can also forgive. For the Messiah is God in the flesh. And so let us rejoice in forgiveness--which we receive here, at the altar--for there must follow healing and resurrection and an eternal home. Sermon for Michaelmas I. Also, here is the prelude for this day.
Consider the angels, and there is much to learn. They are severally named by the Apostle: thrones, dominions, powers, etc. See, they have ranks, for they are a military host. They are mighty and fearsome creatures; they have dreadful power, than which no creature on earth has greater. They are rightly to be feared, unless they are on your side. And if you are one of Jesus' baptized little ones, they are indeed on your side. Here is the other side of God's own wrath: it is proportionate to his love for his own; he will not allow them to be harmed. And see, they do always behold his face. So most especially they were present in multitude at the birth of the Incarnate One who came to become a little one himself, to be crucified to redeem us from sin and death. And they were present at his death and resurrection as well; and they are present here, now, as his people receive him here at the altar: angels and archangels, with all the company of heaven. Sermon for Michaelmas.
Two large processions meet in Nain: a procession of death with weeping and wailing and sorrow and grief; and a procession with Jesus and gladness and joy, for he healed their every disease. Both these processions began much earlier. The procession of death began in Eden, when the devil enticed the woman and her husband to sin, and so they died. This procession's beginning marked the winning of a battle by the devil. But he lost the war, for the procession of life also began in Eden, when God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and announced victory over the serpent. And so this procession continued until the blessed incarnation, and the Son of Man met the procession of death in Nain, stretched for his hand, and stopped it in its tracks, and raised the dead. For this procession of life continued through Palm Sunday, and to the cross, where he paid the penalty for man's sin by his own bloodshed and death, from which, necessarily, he rose on the third day. And so the procession of life continues to the present day, and it has entered this church, and we join it again, singing hosannas, and receiving Christ our Life at the altar. And this eternal procession continues from here. Let us leave off the procession of death and join the procession of life. Sermon for Trinity XVI.