Sermon summaries and audio files
The mother of our Lord provides us a wonderful example for faith: she prays to him with confidence, she does not shrink at his rebuke, but remaining confident turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever he tells them. This faith receives rich rewards: the finest of wine ahead of time. And so we receive the blessed Sacrament; though it appears common, it is not; as also the miracle at Cana was unknown to most, but a few knew what a wondrous thing had occurred. Sermon for Epiphany II.
At Jesus' Baptism, the Father's affirmation was of the highest order: This is my Beloved; I am well-pleased. And so it is that our own Baptisms, because of him, gain for us this same affirmation, through his merit and sacrifice. Not only does he take our sins upon himself; he also gives to us this gift of the Father's affirmation. It is like the blessing that blind Isaac gave to Jacob, thinking him to be Esau. Behold, the Father also blesses us who are covered with the skin, as it were, of Jesus our Sacrifice, and we receive the blessing meant for him. Sermon for the Baptism of Our Lord.
From this Gospel we learn that ordinary appearances can be deceiving, for the ordinary looking twelve-year-old in the temple was in fact the Son of God, and it was the word which proceeded out of his mouth that made that clear. So let us learn that ordinary appearing places, such as this church, also hide extraordinary things: here is the Son of God, where his word also sounds forth, and where we find his Sacrament. Not only so, but the dreadful experience of his parents, and their undoubted panic on realizing that they had lost him and could not find him for three days, was ill-informed: he was about his Father's business. So also let us learn that panic is never warranted, for Jesus, about his Father's business also for us, must sometimes bring us through trouble, and tribulation, that we might enter by grace the kingdom of God. Sermon for Epiphany I.
A second look at the Epiphany Gospel: the wise men came from the east, the orient, far away. Those who were invited were not worthy, so the light went to the byways. Gentiles sitting in darkness have seen a great light: we have seen it, we have been brought by the grace of God to the Christ, to hear and believe, when we had no merit or standing; so let us return home another way, in Christ who is the Way. Sermon for weekday in the Epiphany Octave.
Outsiders, Gentiles: these are the wise men, and they are devoted to the Christ whom they come from afar to worship, while the insiders, the people of Jerusalem, and Herod, are troubled. The wise men left behind their homes and came over treacherous terrain expecting to find the Coming One, and with ebullient hearts fell down and worshiped him. So let us shut out the world from our minds and do the same, and give him, as it were, the gold of a faith that knows his divine kingship, the frankincense of a trust in his perfect holiness prepared to offer himself for us, and the myrrh of hearts that believe in the sufficiency of his sacrifice for us. And then let us return by another way, the way of Christ and life in him. Sermon for Epiphany.
Pride is a deadly sin, for it was the devil's downfall, and Eve's when she took the fruit, and Adam's when he took as well. And pride is the cause of so much evil and terror and sorrow and pain. So marvelously, Christ comes in humility to undo the devil and pride. He is born in poverty and he now flees to Egypt by night to escape the terror of Herod. And his humility continues to his death by crucifixion, but so he defeats the devil and rises the third day. So let us learn to rejoice in our humiliations and sorrows, even as the sorrowing mothers of Bethlehem had to learn, for when we are humbled, then pride is done away and faith flourishes. Sermon for Christmas II.
The prophecies about the coming Christ were perfectly fulfilled, not in Isaiah's time (though partly), nor at any time throughout Israel's history (though partly), but when the Child arrived. And when he did, even then the name Jesus was not given to him until he first shed his sacred blood. For our greatest enemy is, as Isaiah indicated, not the kings of the north, nor Sennacherib, but Lucifer, and the sins to which his malice have let us. So our redemption is complete in the shedding of Jesus' holy blood. Sermon for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus.
Simeon and Anna put us all to shame with their devotion and piety, and ought to lead us to determine to dedicate ourselves all the more to Christ and his word. But there is comfort for us sinners as well, for it was not their piety that saved them but their Lord, whom Simeon was blessed to hold in his arms. So do we hold him, even closer, when we receive him at the altar. Sermon for Christmas I.
God is triune, so from eternity has had within himself Other, to whom to give. So it was inevitable that he create the world, for he is love, and wants to give. And when the world turned selfishly away, it was in his nature also to rescue us. To stoop even lower to become flesh. This was not beneath the dignity of God; on the contrary, it was the heart of his dignity to give himself so for us; and so must we learn, in the image of God, to love and give like him. Sermon for Christmas Day.
The shepherds had good reason to fear the unmasked glory of God that shone round about them. But everyone has reason to fear the sheer glory of God, for all have sinned. The darkest recesses of the heart are all known to him. Yet the angel's message to the shepherds and to us is: Fear not. For the Christ-child is come in humility: see, he is Babe in arms. No reason to fear this; rather, let us receive him gladly and humbly, and, having received him, learn that there is nothing to fear. For his enemies could not dissuade him, nor the lack of room in the inn, nor the cold winter's night. He orders all things, even while in his mother's arms. Fear not! Sermon for Christmas Eve.