Sermon summaries and audio files
Cantate Sunday May 19, 2019 (Audio is here)
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
And therefore all that he has said has come to pass, and the Comforter has come, to reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever. the sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping at the wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered. It is all vanity. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil disease. For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? So remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them. So let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
This is what the Preacher declares. This is what the Spirit says. This is how he reproves the world of sin. This is what he tells you: nothing you have done has merit, none of your aspirations and desires amount to anything, and none of you is worthy of anything but death and the grave. You thought otherwise; you thought your life’s work mattered, that it made a difference, that your legacy would last. It is all vanity.
For all of this folly comes from the pit of a fallen world that has no desire for Christ, and thinks it has no need of him, and refuses to believe in him: a world pumped up in its arrogant desire to twist, and destroy, and kill what God has made; a world steeped in selfish grasping after gratification of the vile lusts of the belly; a world that has sold itself to the prince of darkness and turned itself from the light of Christ. Did you want to be in bed with this world? Did you want to be accepted by it? Did you want its accolades and glories, that are passing away? Did you want this? It is empty; it is vanity. All is vanity.
For thus says the Preacher: there is none that is righteous, not one; except for the one by whom the world was made. The world turned away, we turned away from the only one who is righteous, the one who in righteousness made all things, and whose righteousness was active in giving all things to his creation.
And he remains the only righteous one, whose love led him to redeem the world by his blood. And a world that refuses him cannot be saved without him. Turn, O man, from your folly, from your vanity, from your selfishness, from your arrogance, from your lust, from your wicked penchant for darkness and death. Turn from this world which draws you down to the grave. Turn from it. Repent.
For David, the adulterer, the deceiver, the cold-blooded murderer, could surely never have received mercy without heeding the warning of Nathan and repenting; never, for God is righteous. And God brings every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. How could David be forgiven, except that he repented?
And Peter likewise: Peter, the three-time denier, who in the hour of Christ’s greatest need refused to admit even knowing him, Peter could not have been forgiven, for Christ is just. How could Peter be forgiven, except that he went out and wept bitterly?
And even with repenting, even with sorrow for their sins, even then, they could not have been forgiven, except by the satisfaction of righteousness. Therefore thus says the Preacher: Christ the righteous has shed his sacred blood; Jesus the lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world. Here, and here alone, is righteousness: Jesus offered himself to the Father as a holy sacrifice, by which, and alone by which the penitent David and the sorrowful Peter were brought back to God.
Thus says the Preacher (and thus says the Spirit, for this is how the Spirit speaks, he uses the mouth of the Preacher); thus says the Preacher: so it is also for you. There is no other way to be brought back to your Creator than to repent and embrace his holy sacrifice. Everything else is vanity and grasping at the wind.
So, O man, remember your creator, and embrace his holy sacrifice here: do you know why the heart of this church is the altar? An altar is a place of sacrifice; and what do we find on this altar? The holy Body that was sacrificed, and the sacred Blood that was shed; behold the Sacrifice, given and shed for you to embrace.
Thus says the Preacher: return to your Creator and embrace him here, and live by this faith and from this altar. For the Day of Judgment is approaching, when the secrets of all men’s hearts will be revealed, and it will become clear who is righteous and who is evil. And in that day all that the Preacher has said will be manifest, and judgment on the prince of this world will be complete, and only those who have embraced Christ will be saved.
So live by this faith. Live by the law of Christ: let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Lay aside all filthiness and residue of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. For we know that the prince of this world is judged.
And we know this is true, because we have seen it in advance; we have seen Christ through the apostolic witness; the Comforter has preached this Gospel, and has brought even to us the one whom their hands have handled, which they have heard, whom their eyes have seen—for the life was manifested and they have seen it and have borne witness and shown unto us that eternal life.
You do not need to wait for the Day of Judgment to learn of the judgment, for the Creator who calls you to repentance, and who became incarnate, and who offered himself as a sacrifice for you, is already risen from the dead. He has appeared unto Peter; he has appeared unto the Twelve; he was seen by more than five hundred brethren; he was seen by Paul.
And so you may sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things. His own right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
For the holy apostles these have testified to you, and so the Comforter has come to you, and so the Preacher has declared unto you that all is vanity, and grasping at the wind, an evil disease, and then the Preacher called you to repentance, and to remember your Creator, for it is only in him, only in Christ that righteousness is to be found and embraced, and then the Preacher, that is, the voice of the Comforter, has called you to live out your days in him, by announcing to you that the ruler of this world has already been judged, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
For so it is that the Preacher, year after year and century after century until the end of the world makes unto the world this glad proclamation, that all may believe and be saved: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Sermon for Cantate Sunday (audio)