Sermon summaries and audio files
The wise man builds his house on a rock; the rock of our salvation is the Lord God Almighty, and the wise man is Jesus himself, who said, I, I will build my church. And we who are grafted in by Baptism become living stones, as St. Peter also says. And the rains pelt, and the floods rage, and the wind shakes the house, but it does not fall. And fools who build other houses find them fall, no matter how majestic they are. But is not Baptism the rain of God from heaven, and is it not also the flood of Jordan? And is it not filled with the wind and Spirit of God. Therefore we who are baptized must be drowned and die with all evil sins and lusts, that a new man may arise to give thanks to God forever. Affliction must come, but we who are in Christ shall weather the storm. And along the way, we are given food for the journey in the Blessed feast of the Sacrament. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity VIII.
Speech is a divine attribute, from before any man was created. For the Word was in the beginning, and through him was every living thing made. And last of all, God created man in his image. And so it was that man alone could speak, and God brought the living creatures to man, and whatsoever he called each, that was its name. And angels also could speak, being the messengers of God. But some of the angels, envious of man, fell from heaven; and their chief, the devil, came as a serpent into the Garden, and spoke a lie to the woman, for his tongue was twisted. And his lie was, remarkably, to call God a liar; so the woman had a choice, whether to believe God or the liar. And she chose the latter, and so did her husband, and all of mankind fell, and not only listened to lies, but began to lie themselves. So today, all men are liars, as Psalmist also declares. And now we hear lies everywhere: in the news, in society, in the world, in the neighborhood. And we ourselves are prone to lie, for it is so easy to do. We are experts at exaggerating, at mingling the truth with lies, at lying. And the whole world is filled with lies, lies, lies. But still the Word came forth, and became incarnate, and in our flesh spoke truth to us, for he is the truth. And he took upon himself the penalty due for our lies, and rose the third day. But still the lies sound forth, and say it is not so, and bring false religion. And so Jesus said, Beware of false prophets! So let us turn from lies to the only one who cannot lie, to our Lord and his word. Here, in this place where it sounds forth in its truth and purity, and we hear it by God's grace, and believe it, and then confess it. And have opportunity to reverse the fault of Eve. For now we are again presented with the truth and with lies. And so by grace we hear and speak the truth, and confess Christ, and look for the day of our resurrection, when only the eternal truth remains with us forever. Sermon for Trinity VII.
It was fear that led Adam and Eve to hide from the Lord, and fear that moved Israel to make and worship a golden calf; fear that led kings of Israel into unholy alliances to their detriment and destruction. And it is fear that surrounds so many in our day, to cower in their homes, to be kept awake at night, fretting and fearful, as their hearts fail them over what is coming on the world. But we must repent of this, and fear only him who is able to destroy body and soul in hell, and cleave only to his word of promise: you are of more value than many sparrows; fear not, therefore. If the sparrows are all under his sway and command, so indeed must we be kept, in every breath and moment of life. As Jesus said to his disciples, so I now say unto you: fear not! Sermon for Midweek of Trinity VII.
Jesus' miracles were not so much to demonstrate who he is, as because of who he is. He healed the sick and raised the dead because of his compassion, the same compassion that will bring to pass perfect healing and the resurrection of the body for all his beloved people. And of all his miracles, his feedings in the wilderness were perhaps most helpful to consider, for in truth, we are even now in the wilderness of a fallen world, of life beset by trouble and affliction. But out of compassion, as he fed them with bread, so does he feed us with the Blessed Sacrament, the Bread of Life. And as then his miracle was unseen, so is it unseen here: we cannot see how this could have become his holy Body and Blood, but we know it is so, because he has told us. And see, this is our Bread for the journey, lest we faint by the way on our trek home. Sermon for Trinity VII.
Her face, once painted, is now streaked with tears. Her eyes, once luring sinners, are now red from weeping. Her hair, once braided to entice adulterers, is now a towel to wipe His feet in contrition and humility. She embarks on a new path, the path and life of profound faith, because of His mercy. Out of her have gone seven demons, one for each day of the week, luring her into her sin; Jesus has driven them out by His blessed word of forgiveness. Yet she must now endure affliction, in this new life (the preachers of prosperity are false!). She is scorned, derided. And then, worst of all, she loses her Lord to crucifixion and death. Now her weeping is deepest of all, as she stands in the garden and supposes she is talking to the gardener. Until He speaks: Mary! And the Gardener of her soul lifts her at once from her sorrows into abiding joy. So is the course of Christian life. And even amid our own sorrows and trials He defends us, as He did her, until at last we enter into the joy of resurrection and life. O blessed is the shriven woman, and blessed are we who abide in the same faith as she! Sermon for St. Mary Magdalene's day.
The righteousness of the Pharisees was beautiful to behold. It was meant to be. No doubt why they chose the best seats, the front of the synagogues, and their phylacteries in full view. And why they had tribunals set up in some 23 cities, where the judgment was seated, sentencing sinners. A murderer was to be beheaded. And if a crime more egregious was committed, say, a murder in a worse degree, the Sanhedrin would order death by stoning. And if, as in a rare occasion, something unthinkable was committed, that criminal would be sent to Gehenna, a valley in Jerusalem, where he was burned alive. All, presumably, to promoted righteousness. Yet it was not enough. And Jesus here turns it on its head, threatening a worse punishment for even sins of thought and speech. But what righteousness is enough? Who can say? Yet we know that the righteousness of God is perfect and pure. So the Gospel is this, that Jesus came to earth bringing that righteousness in the flesh, that we may receive it through faith in him and his gifts. None other will do, which is why anyone who thinks otherwise cannot come to the altar. But, clothed in his righteousness alone, you are free and clear. Free, that is, to love and be kind to one another; not to gain favor from God, but because you already have gained it. Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity.
To know first of all that you are lost, that is, truly sinful and unclean, is the first part of repentance. Self-examination, and private confession, are laudable routines whereby we identify and enumerate our sins, such as pride and even fear. For then, knowing yourself to be a lost sheep, you shall be glad to know that, being found by the Good Shepherd, you cause angels to rejoice. And then fear departs, for why should you fear if you know that you are hanging about the neck of the shepherd? To fear is to think yourself still lost in the thicket. Rather, let us, in faith and confidence that we have been brought home, rejoice that this man, our Lord Jesus, receives sinners and eats with them. Sermon for Trinity 3.
Those invited to the great feast had no interest in it because of what was tangible in front of their eyes: a plot of ground, five yoke of oxen, a wife. They did not see the great benefit of this supper. Let us repent of our like blindness, that we may not miss it, for here is the feast of heaven. This is Christ himself, the Creator and Redeemer of us all. Here is his Body and his Blood, the very elements of our atonement, which forgives our sins a thousand times over. Here angels bend the knee and worship, even though he was not given for them. He was given for you! Come, for all things are now ready. Sermon for the Second Sunday after Trinity.
The rich fool of Jesus' sermon to the multitude (St. Luke 12:16-21) had so many things that lured him away from his God. Be warned! This man was like Solomon, the king who had everything: exotic animals, horses, riches, purple and fine linen. But Solomon fell away from the true faith and into idolatry. By the grace of God he was brought back in his late years, and wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, in which he uttered the warning: "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth." So let us be on guard against the riches and cares of this life, and not suppose that our life consists in those things which we possess. For this is folly, as God said to the rich man, who ended up destitute; and Jesus warns here: So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Sermon for Midweek after Trinity Octave.
The rich man cared nothing for Lazarus laid at his very gate, for he had no love. He despised him for his heart was set on other things. So too, he cared nothing for Moses and the Prophets, that is, for the Word of God. Contrast Lazarus, whose name Jesus knows. Lazarus did not desire the rich man's riches, but the crumbs the rich man despised. So Jesus knows the names of those who have been baptized and live by this faith. Emblazoned on your Baptismal certificate is you name. Jesus knows it because you were baptized in his name. And so by this faith let us live, mindful of the love of God for us in Christ and learning then to love him and to love our neighbors. And this faith cares little for the riches of this life, but looks for the kingdom of heaven, and for the angels who carried Lazarus to Abraham's bosom. Sermon for the Octave of Trinity.