Sermon summaries and audio files
Alleluia! Christ is risen! And he who gave his life into death for us, and rose from the grave for us, and appeared openly to his disciples for us, and ascended into heaven for us, on the very day of his ascension also commanded Baptism, declaring that by this disciples would be made. And so this day Jane Carol was brought unto him.
For centuries there has been a debate about whether infants ought to be baptized. Some say no, because there is no specific command to do so, and others, like us, say yes, for they are included in all nations. But there is more than this. For he specifically declared, Suffer the little children to come onto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. See in these words: little children are not only permitted; they are the very standard. We must become like them.
For when the word of God comes to them, they believe it. There is no handle for the devil to take, to snatch the word away from their hearts; for the word of God is the power of God, piercing to the division of joints and marrow. Behold, it came to Jane Carol, and she believed it herself, and so she confessed the Christian faith, even before her Baptism. For we will not withhold from her the opportunity here, simply because she is as yet unable to speak. Rather, we will speak for her the words she wanted to say: I believe. And behold also her words: I will be baptized. I want it. See how good it was for you to have brought her to the font today: she wanted it. She demanded it. She is here because she wanted to be here. You have done well.
And so too, you will do well to continue to bring her to this place, to the house of God, that she may continue to hear and confess the Christian faith. This is what she wants. And when the time comes that she begins to use her reason, that dreadful time when she will have to contend for the faith against her own sinful heart and reason, she will already have been surrounded with the word and help of God against herself. For from this day at her glorious Baptism she has a multitude of angels attending her, angels whom Christ sent down through the same channel through which he ascended, angels guarding and defending her, protecting her, until she at last attains to everlasting life by the same faith by which she confessed today, and into which she was baptized today. The faith by which she cries with all of us, Alleluia! Christ is risen!
How do we know that the Lord is risen? We examine the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, in the same way as a judge examines eyewitness testimony; and we say, the Lord is risen indeed, repeating what the returning pair from Emmaus said on Easter Day to disciples who could not yet believe the women, The Lord is risen indeed! So we, on receiving all this eyewitness testimony, which is the testimony of the Spirit himself, now make this also our glad confession. Sermon for Exaudi, the Sunday after the Ascension.
The eyes of the Apostles feasted upon an event so spectacular that they would never forget it. They had already seen marvelous things, for they had been with the Lord three years, and then they beheld him risen from the dead on Easter Day, and on several days after that they beheld him again, until this day, when he commissioned them to go forth everywhere and preach; and he ascended into heaven, through endless ranks of angels, to the right hand of the Father. Imagine this scene, and let it inform you in all earth's darkness and trial, for it is the capstone on all he has done for you. And behold, these same heavens, which had opened for Jacob who beheld the ladder from heaven, and for Moses who was on Mount Sinai, and for Elijah who beheld Elijah's chariot, and for Lazarus whom the angels carried to Abraham's bosom, and for Stephen who saw Jesus stand at the right hand of God, open yet again for faith to behold, whenever a child is baptized, and also this very day, when we receive the same Christ at the altar with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Sermon for the Ascension of Our Lord.
Jesus' words to his disciples in the upper room make it clear that in becoming his Apostles they shall be given full understanding of the things they must preach and write: "In that day ye shall ask me nothing." So it is a great gift to have received their Gospel in the Sacred Scriptures. These are the words of the Holy Apostles whom Jesus appointed and to whom he gave this marvelous understanding. And thus all pastors must adhere strictly to their words when they preach: we preach not ourselves; and all the people of God must also hold these words dear, not only in worship and praise, but also in personal prayer. There is no need to craft your own messages to God by stammering and stuttering in your own prayers, though he will surely hear those as well. You may use the very words he gave you: the Our Father first, and then use it as a basis for your personal needs, and also the prayers of Scripture, especially the Psalter. And even so, you need not feel constrained to craft your own prayers, for the hymnal is a great resource full of prayers you may use. And the risen Christ shall always be with us through these words, until he comes again in glory. Sermon for Rogate, the Fifth Sunday after Easter.
The Jews did not understand when Jesus said that the truth would set them free, for they said, "We have never been in bondage to anyone." How little they knew their own history. Did they not know of the severe servitude of their fathers in the land of Egypt under harsh taskmasters, until Moses delivered them? Had they forgotten the Babylonian Captivity of 70 years until allowed to return home under King Cyrus? And these things happened for their, and our, learning. For they betoken the more severe and serious bondage wall have under sin. Have we forgotten? We were born children of Adam, and thus by nature sinful. But to know Jesus is to be freed from this bondage, for he declared that he always did those things that please his Father. Since this is so, therefore when he was lifted up on the cross, it was for us, for our redemption and salvation. And we in him gain righteousness: now it may be said of us, in spite of what we are by nature, that we always please the Father. This is the gift of being clothed in Christ's righteousness. And so in him we gain eternal freedom and life. Sermon for Midweek of Cantate.
God works out all things for the good of his people. All things: whether pain or loss or plague or sickness or even death. Even the death of Jesus; especially the death of Jesus, for it was the necessary thing for our reconciliation and salvation. So Jesus commits himself into his Father's hands and gave up the ghost, or rather, gave out the Spirit, as it says in this evangelist's passion account. And so also, he rose from the dead, and then went away in his ascension; but then, he sent the spirit to his apostles, and from then, through them to thousands of preachers throughout the world. See what a good thing it was! And so also, he works out all things for our good. Sermon for Cantate Sunday.
Philip is chided because his knowledge of Jesus is still deficient. And our knowledge of him is also deficient; it is always deficient until we know him as we are known in the Great Day of the Lord. For we still have sin; thus we must make it our life's effort to press on, to learn of him, to embrace our Savior and his embrace of us. Sermon for Midweek of Jubilate.
In Christ, sorrow is always followed by joy. This is because he has conquered death for us, and he went to the Father. Sermon for Jubilate, the Third Sunday after Easter.
All judgment has been given to the Son, because he gave his life into death and is risen from the grave (Alleluia!). Do you fear an earthly judge? How much more ought you fear the Judge of heaven and earth; yet the judgment of him upon his people is this: he that hears his word and believes on him that sent him has eternal life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life. Sermon for Midweek of Misericordias Domini.
The risen Christ tells Peter to feed his sheep, and so he fulfills his own promise, "I will feed my sheep." In the sending forth of the apostles and their called and ordained successors, Jesus continues his own work, his own shepherding. This is the meaning embedded in his Great Commission: when he says "I am with you always," he means that he is with the apostolic messengers as the active one in their ministry to the flock of God. The mystery of the Office of the Holy Ministry is this, that in it Christ is actively washing, comforting, and feeding his sheep. He thus tends his flock today, and in no other way. The 23rd Psalm is everyone's favorite, but it must be understood that the only way the Lord is my shepherd is through the ministry of his pastors. The entire Misericordias Domini Mass may be viewed on YouTube, here, and the audio of the sermon is also available here.