Sermon summaries and audio files
Many things about this Gospel seem unnecessary, impractical, and useless. Marriage itself has been so criticized in our day. Why waste the effort? It harms, does not help, so they say. But marriage is God's institution, and so we must remain faithful to it. So also, why fill the stone water pots here with water? It is wine that is needed, not water. Yet the servants did as instructed: do whatever he tells you. And so they did, and so was Jesus' first miracle performed. We must also do as Jesus tells us, against the foolish counsel of the world. They tell us not to gather, but he tells us not to neglect this. They tell us we needn't bother, but he says, Take eat, drink. And so also for us a great, though hidden, miracle is performed. Wine is not made from water, but the Blood of Christ is made from wine, by the word of Christ. And this Sacrament brings us eternal life and salvation. Sermon for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, and the video of the service is here.
When the boy Jesus remained in the temple, his parents sought him sorrowing. That is, deeply grieving, anguishing, in torment of mind and soul. But he replied that he was about his Father's business. And this business includes the necessary afflictions that sometimes come to his people. He initiated all of this: his remaining behind, their inability to find him for three days, and then their discovery of him. So also does he initiate all of our woes, which are temporary. He hides, he goes away, he leads us to anguish, even as he did during the three days between his death and resurrection; but during this time we, as they did, must seek him. And this trial produces fruit, for this is part of the Father's business, that we may be strengthened. Sermon for Epiphany I, and the video is here.
The wise men were confident: they had seen his star in the east. They were not astrologers or soothsayers. Doubtless they had the Torah, probably deposited in their land during the Babylonian captivity. And there they saw that a star should arise out of Juda, and a scepter. So when they saw the star, they knew where to go: to the land of the Jews; and thus they went straight to Jerusalem, the city of the great king. And so they naively inquired, and when they heard the prophecy of Micah (which they did not have before), they set out for Bethlehem. And then the star which they had seen at their homeland in the East, reappeared, and led them to Christ. Thus they were rewarded for following the word of God. And thus must we do: follow the word of God, as they did; and thus shall we be rewarded, finding the Christ, and departing to our homes another way than the way of the world: for Christ is the Way, and on this Way we shall be blessed. Sermon for Epiphany, and the video of the service is here.
John the Baptist was not presumptuous, in sharp contrast to the culture of today that claims entitlement. John refused even to be considered worthy as a slave, removing the Christ's shoe's latchet. So must we learn from him to be contrite and small, for this is the true preparation for the coming of Christ: not only at Christmas, but at his glorious return, and here, in the Gospel and in the Sacrament. Sermon for Advent IV.
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.