Sermon summaries and audio files
The Apostle Paul, in I Thessalonians 4, announces that the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, and a trumpet sound, and the elect shall be caught up to meet him in the clouds. The shout and the trumpet signify the Gospel by which he has been gathering his elect through the ages; the cloud signifies the presence of God, and our union with him in everlasting bliss and glory. Sermon for Vespers.
The Circuit Conference was held here on Tuesday. The sermon, whose basis was the same readings as on Sunday, was tailored for pastors. Here's the audio.
St. Paul's proclamation that the dead in Christ shall rise, and we with them, on the Last Day is immeasurably good news for us Christians. We have a glorious future to look forward to, that is unspeakably beyond our capacity for wonder, and this ought to comfort us in all our earthly sorrows. Moreover, we have an earnest of that day in the day on which Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. For although the citizens of that city were miserably destroyed on that day, none of the Christians was there, for they had heeded Jesus' warnings about its coming, and had already left for the hills. So they were all spared. And so shall we be spared the destruction of the Last Day, though we deserve the same fate as they. But Christ has redeemed us by his blood, and has been raised from the dead, and has ascended into heaven, from which he shall surely return in the same way as the apostles saw him go. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. Sermon for the Third-Last Sunday after Trinity.
Jesus' words against the Pharisees in St. Matthew 22 are not a discourse on the importance of paying taxes. After all, everyone already knows the importance of paying taxes. Rather, they are a warning against hypocrisy. How can you challenge with words him who is the Word? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? And so it is also hypocritical to challenge God at all, or to blame him for your troubles, or to cast aspersions on him as though he were not God. He is so good that he gives to us in spite of our miserable sinfulness. Moreover, we are to render unto him the things that are his. As Caesar's inscription is on his coins, so God's image is stamped on mankind. But how can we give him ourselves, seeing that we are so sinful? How can we give an acceptable sacrifice? See how good he is, that he sends his Son, his other Self, to bear his image on earth perfectly, and so to offer a perfect sacrifice in our stead. So we, receiving him by faith, now are confident that our living sacrificial lives are acceptable, only through him who loved us. Sermon for All Saints I (Trinity XXIII).
When great multitudes followed Jesus, they were poor, weak, sick, troubled, downcast, depressed; so he sat on the mountain and blessed them. Blessed are the poor in spirit, he began. For it is not the self-helped that he helps, but those who are sick. Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God. For the saints of old did this, even unto death. And we remember and seek to imitate them, especially all the martyrs who were faithful unto death. They received the crown of life; and so shall we, with the same faith. Sermon for All Saints.
From the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, because the devil knows his enemy, and hell's darkest power does its worst. But the devil knew this was coming for generations, and sought to prevent it. He sought to kill David by lions and bears, by Goliath, and by Saul; and he failed. He sought to destroy David's kingdom by warfare and bloodshed; and he failed. He sought through Athaliah to kill all the seed royal, but failed, for Josiah was kept safe in his infancy by Jehoiada. He sought most especially when the Kingdom of David became the Kingdom of Heaven by John's proclamation: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. So John was imprisoned and beheaded, but still our Christ arose; then the devil sourged him, beat him, crucified him, killed him, buried him. And the Kingdom of Heaven died. But on the third day the Kingdom was revived as Christ was raised from the dead. Yet the Kingdom still suffers violence, as the apostles are killed, and martyrs after them; and through history the Kingdom suffers. But the violence of faith has always responded with a stubborn resolve to persist. This is what the Reformation is about: Martin Luther declaring to the emperor: here I stand. The Lutheran reformers refused to submit. And in the nineteenth century the King of Prussia sought to force them to compromise their most holy faith, and they refused, instead leaving all and coming to America. And in the late 20th century their own teachers sought to teach them that the Bible was a myth, and they refused them as well. And even today, here in this place, this little congregation is in peril, but continues and soldiers on by this faith. For faith will not yield, but is stubborn and unmoving and stalwart, being worked by the Holy Ghost himself. Faith knows that only the Gospel and the Sacraments will bring Christ's saving strength, so faith will not yield: the violent take the kingdom by force. Sermon for Reformation.
Jesus reveals his glory here not by doing a miraculous act, but by demonstrating that he knows all things. So he knows this sinful woman's life, and yet presents himself as the Christ, the Savior of the world and her Savior. So also we may be confident that though he knows our hearts, he also presents himself as our Savior. Sermon for Midweek of Michaelmas III.
The nobleman begged Jesus to heal his son; Jesus did more, for the Good Physician healed both the man and his son. His diagnosis was that the man's faith was weak: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." So when the man begged him again, he commanded, "Go thy way; thy son liveth," and now the man believes without seeing; he goes his way believing the word. And Jesus also heals his son, and grants faith to his whole household. Sermon for Michaelmas III.
God has made us for himself, and our hearts are therefore restless until they find their rest in him. This is true of everyone, even the most hardened of sinners. Even Zacchaeus. But Jesus looked up and saw him, and his eye penetrated to the depths of his soul, even as it had done when he saw others, like Nathaniel at his call, or Peter at his denial of his Lord. Yet then came his unexpected and wondrous words: I must stay at your house today. So does he also see you: he sees everything about you, he knows all, even those most embarrassing things that you would be mortified if anyone else know. And yet he calls you as well: I must stay at your house! His mercy is new every morning, and now he enters your house when you receive him in the Blessed Supper. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XX.
Jesus' continual preaching concerning the kingdom of heaven is complemented by his clear assertion that he is its king. His kingdom, he said to Pilate, is not of this world; and Pilate's inscription is therefore correct: he is King. He is our gracious Monarch, and we, as citizens in his kingdom, are blessed with eternal beatitude. Sermon for Tuesday morning at Oktoberfest.