Sermon summaries and audio files
A father who tells his young child not to worry thereby comforts him; a physician telling his patient that his future looks good gives him hope. How much more, then, if the maker of heaven and earth tells you not to worry? And that is what Jesus is, in the flesh. Your Maker. And he is the embodiment, the enfleshment, of the Father's love. Consider the birds, who do not sow, nor reap, nor gather. But what do they do? They devour the seeds which the sower has scattered by the wayside. They eat what the ground gives them. So also, Christ the Seed of the woman was crucified, dead, and buried, and planted in the ground, from which he arose the third day. And here in the Supper we feast on him like the birds of the air. Consider the lilies, more beautiful than even Solomon. And you have been clothed with the very baptismal righteousness of Christ; your adornment is better even than that of the lilies. So do not worry about tomorrow, but rejoice today, for this is the day which the Lord has made. This is Sunday! It is the day of the resurrection, the beginning of the eternal Day of days, on which, when the Lord returns, there shall be no more sighing nor tears anymore, nor any darkness or night. So let us live in the day, and feast here at the altar like the birds, and rejoice in the garment of Christ's righteousness. Sermon for Trinity XV.
The five pools at Bethesda could not help the poor weak man, but Jesus healed him. So is the healing of the Gospel itself: it is for the poor, the weak, and those who cannot help themselves. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XIV.
The leper who returned is worthy of all emulation, a fine example for all Christians. First he stood afar off, knowing his place and not complaining. But he stood with his fellows, as we stand when we worship together; and he cried for mercy, as we also do, leaning only on the merit of Christ. And he did what Jesus said, not questioning, as we must. And he went to the priests before being healed; then when he was healed he turned back, with no law or direction, for he instinctively knew that he must acknowledge the Source of his healing; he knew there was no other God than this Man; and he fell down and worshiped with a loud voice, in spite all who against him did not: the nine, and indeed the priests. So let us give thanks, and expect from him and his mercy all good things. Sermon for Trinity XIV.
James and John must have known that their request was born of pride, for they were unwilling to make it themselves: they sent their poor mother, whose piety was naïve and simple. So Jesus does not answer her, but them directly: Ye know not what ye ask. And when the request, to sit on Jesus' right and left hand in his kingdom, was made clear to the others, they became indignant, an indignance born of their pride. So Jesus had to teach them of humility, for pride is deadly and fierce, and leads to death. So the antidote is to consider him, the son of man, who came in humility to give his life a ransom for many. Sermon for Trinity XIII Midweek.
Whose eyes and ears are blessed? Not only of the disciples themselves, but of others: those who would hear them, who are sent by Jesus. For what you see and hear in your pastor is a representative of Christ, as if Christ our dear Lord had dealt with us himself. There is no difference between the medicine the Good Samaritan applied to the poor wayfarer himself, and the medicine applied by the innkeeper whom the Samaritan commissioned in his stead. And how the wayfarer needed that care; how you need it. For your flesh, the devil, and the world are of no help to you. Especially in these pandemic days, when you may conveniently think you have done well simply for staying safe! Meanwhile your neighbor is the person who sits beside you in the pew; your neighbor is the policeman down the street who is being condemned as a racist! You have sinned, while you thought you were doing well because you were following the government's guidelines. But your Good Samaritan has had compassion on you, and has applied his healing medicine to you through the forgiveness of your sins. And if Christ himself were here in person, the medicine he would give is no different; it is the same as what you do receive in the means of grace here. See, your healing is complete because of his compassion. So now you, go and love your neighbor: do likewise. Sermon for Trinity XIII.
The sign of Jonah is more than the three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, though that is significant: as Jonah was wrapped in death, his grave clothes were seaweed, and on the third day he was vomited out on dry land, so also the Lord Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried, shrouded in linens, and on the third day he rose from the dead. But there is more. for then Jonah went and preached to the great Gentile city of Ninevah. He's the only prophet who did this. And upon Jesus' resurrection, he likewise began to preach to the Gentiles through the Apostles he sent. And so also, the queen of the south, a Gentile from the far reaches of the earth, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. But Jesus is greater; he is Wisdom, and his Gospel sounds forth to all the ends of the world. And this is the heart of his message to an evil and adulterous generation. For even his resurrection from the dead will not help them or bring them to repentance, unless it is preached by his faithful witnesses, as Abraham told the rich man in hell: if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. So let us regard the preaching of the Gospel as sacred, precious, and sweeter than honey to our taste, and gladly hear and learn it. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XII.
The healing of the deaf mute (St. Mark 7:32-37) is an astonishing Gospel, because in it we see the entire story of our salvation. Jesus heals a deaf man, who could not even begin to bring himself to hearing; he required the Physician to do it all. So also the grace of God; it is not something that cooperates with us, but rather it comes from outside of us. And this he does in Decapolis, a Gentile region, for it was always his intention to go finally to the Gentiles with his Gospel. And he does this miracle in a very intimate way: he touches the man's ears and tongue. Never before in all of history was this possible, for it was not until now, in the fullness of time, that he became incarnate. Now at last the Almighty God has bound himself to our flesh in his holy incarnation. He becomes our Brother for eternity. And in our flesh he redeems our flesh, by his sacrifice in the flesh; and he rises from the dead in the flesh: he is forever bound to his creation. But also, he looks up to heaven, acknowledging his eternal Source and Father. From eternity he was begotten of the Father in love, and so now he looks up to his eternal Father, whose will he has come to do. And next he sighs, that is, he breathes out. This is his holy breath, which is none other than his Holy Spirit, which proceeds out of his blessed mouth. It proceeds also from the Father, through him, out, into the world. But the Spirit is not silent. He is never silent. He is always where his word is. And so Jesus speaks: ephphatha! In the Hebrew tongue he speaks, for this is the mother tongue of God, in which he spoke through the entire Old Testament. But his speech is also translated into our own language, that we might understand it, even as happened on Pentecost Sunday. So we hear: Be opened! And here, behold, is the very Gospel. Be opened! For Jesus had said to Peter, in giving him his keys, that whatever he loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. This is the word of forgiveness and mercy, by which we are saved, believing. And finally, this reaches its culmination here and now, in this place, as we ourselves find ourselves in the Gospel. We were taken aside from the multitude in Baptism, and his holy water was applied to us, with his word. And he touches us in the Blessed Supper, and heals us, forgives us. And so we now, with the people of the Gospel, speak plain. We confess the faith, saying He hath done all things well! Sermon for Trinity XII.
A great contrast is noted between the Pharisee and the sinful woman. The Pharisee had invited Jesus to dine with him, but he scoffed about the sinful woman who came up behind Jesus and touched him. She is a sinner. She is the dregs of society.
And so she is, for prostitution is a despicable sin. Sexual sins are among the worst kind, for they abuse the blessed gift of God's appointed means of procreation. We become participants in the continuation of the human race, but these kind of sins put that to scorn. So indeed this woman is a sinner, and everyone knows it who lives in her town. But Jesus is an itinerant preacher, moving about from place to place. Yet if he were a prophet, he would still have known, thinks the Pharisee.
Now behold this woman. Jesus must know her, for she already knows him. She has already learned of his mercy, which has already pulled her out of her dreadful gloomy state. And here she becomes overwhelmed. Her tears well up and overflow, and streak down her cheeks, and onto the ground, and onto Jesus' feet. So she, troubled by this, and having no napkin with which to wipe them off, uses her own hair, her long prostitute's hair. But she already knows his kindness and love. So she, unlike the Pharisee, loves him much, for she was forgiven much.
Beloved, learn from her! You are the woman. For though you may not have been pulled from the dregs of society as she was, you still have the same sinful heart. This is the depth of sin, of natural wickedness, of our own uncleanness, born blind, dead, and enemies of God. Yet we, too, have received mercy. Let your reason for loving Jesus be this, then, that you have been forgiven much. For he has no use for your love if it is merely a show of your piety. Let her contrition be yours, let her tears be yours, let her love be yours. And on receiving him her, let your life become one which loves him for this reason: that you have been forgiven much. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XI.
We must learn the things that belong unto our peace, lest we meet the same end as Jerusalem, which was utterly destroyed in ad 70. And this Gospel of St. Luke speaks of peace: a multitude of angels cried Peace on earth when Jesus was born, and a multitude of disciples cried Peace in heaven on Palm Sunday. For he is our peace, who has brought heaven and earth together in his holy incarnation and in his atoning sacrifice. But they refused him, so he wept, and then he became enraged that they were abusing the temple, using it for earthly commerce and thievery. And he drove them out. So let us learn, here in the holy liturgy, where we already repeated the song of the angels, and shall soon repeat the hosannas of the crowd on Palm Sunday. And then we shall receive him who is our peace, because of whom the celebrant declares: the peace of the Lord be with you alway. Let us cast down all idols from our hearts and embrace only him who is our only peace. Sermon for Trinity X.
You, O man, are an unjust steward. You have wasted your master's goods, you are guilty; you have mistreated your wife, your children, your goods, all that you have. You thought they were yours to do with as you please. And your master knows it all, and therefore you are being put out of the stewardship. You must die, and there is no way to get out of this. It was decreed irrevocably in Eden, when the Lord said to Adam: you must die. So act accordingly, to gain the praise of your master. See what the steward here did: he lessened the amount of what his master's other debtors owed. You can do the same: forgive them their sins against you, and by that much you can lighten their load a bit, by the amount of your commission. And gain the capacity to do this by knowing another Steward who was not unjust but good. For Christ came down from heaven and wasted nothing. Yet he called you and did not merely lessen the 100 measures you owed but removed it altogether, for he is both a steward and one with the master, his Father. This is what forgiveness means. And he earned this by being put out of the stewardship for you, and rising the third day. So now there are to be new heavens and a new earth in which the people bound to him shall dwell. So live as those who know this, and by forgiving your neighbors, lessen their load. And you shall gain the eternal praise of your Father. Sermon for Trinity IX.