Sermon summaries and audio files
The kingdom of heaven, said Jesus, is like a marriage; for he is the Bridegroom and his Church is the Bride. They share all in common: he takes her sins, and she takes his righteousness. And herein is the heart of love, which must involve sacrifice. He gives his all into death for his Bride. And this wedding has a feast, from the king. It is a lavish, gala event: all things are prepared. See, no guest need bring anything. And even if a guest should bring his own garment, he will be found out and cast out. So is the grace of God: all things are accomplished, and nothing is in our hands. Let us wear the baptismal gown of his righteousness, trust in him, and live in this baptismal faith all our days. Sermon for Michaelmas II.
The paralytic received the forgiveness of his sins because Jesus saw the faith of his company: they knew he was the Messiah. And he also taught them what this meant: not only can the Messiah heal; he can also forgive. For the Messiah is God in the flesh. And so let us rejoice in forgiveness--which we receive here, at the altar--for there must follow healing and resurrection and an eternal home. Sermon for Michaelmas I. Also, here is the prelude for this day.
Consider the angels, and there is much to learn. They are severally named by the Apostle: thrones, dominions, powers, etc. See, they have ranks, for they are a military host. They are mighty and fearsome creatures; they have dreadful power, than which no creature on earth has greater. They are rightly to be feared, unless they are on your side. And if you are one of Jesus' baptized little ones, they are indeed on your side. Here is the other side of God's own wrath: it is proportionate to his love for his own; he will not allow them to be harmed. And see, they do always behold his face. So most especially they were present in multitude at the birth of the Incarnate One who came to become a little one himself, to be crucified to redeem us from sin and death. And they were present at his death and resurrection as well; and they are present here, now, as his people receive him here at the altar: angels and archangels, with all the company of heaven. Sermon for Michaelmas.
Two large processions meet in Nain: a procession of death with weeping and wailing and sorrow and grief; and a procession with Jesus and gladness and joy, for he healed their every disease. Both these processions began much earlier. The procession of death began in Eden, when the devil enticed the woman and her husband to sin, and so they died. This procession's beginning marked the winning of a battle by the devil. But he lost the war, for the procession of life also began in Eden, when God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and announced victory over the serpent. And so this procession continued until the blessed incarnation, and the Son of Man met the procession of death in Nain, stretched for his hand, and stopped it in its tracks, and raised the dead. For this procession of life continued through Palm Sunday, and to the cross, where he paid the penalty for man's sin by his own bloodshed and death, from which, necessarily, he rose on the third day. And so the procession of life continues to the present day, and it has entered this church, and we join it again, singing hosannas, and receiving Christ our Life at the altar. And this eternal procession continues from here. Let us leave off the procession of death and join the procession of life. Sermon for Trinity XVI.
A father who tells his young child not to worry thereby comforts him; a physician telling his patient that his future looks good gives him hope. How much more, then, if the maker of heaven and earth tells you not to worry? And that is what Jesus is, in the flesh. Your Maker. And he is the embodiment, the enfleshment, of the Father's love. Consider the birds, who do not sow, nor reap, nor gather. But what do they do? They devour the seeds which the sower has scattered by the wayside. They eat what the ground gives them. So also, Christ the Seed of the woman was crucified, dead, and buried, and planted in the ground, from which he arose the third day. And here in the Supper we feast on him like the birds of the air. Consider the lilies, more beautiful than even Solomon. And you have been clothed with the very baptismal righteousness of Christ; your adornment is better even than that of the lilies. So do not worry about tomorrow, but rejoice today, for this is the day which the Lord has made. This is Sunday! It is the day of the resurrection, the beginning of the eternal Day of days, on which, when the Lord returns, there shall be no more sighing nor tears anymore, nor any darkness or night. So let us live in the day, and feast here at the altar like the birds, and rejoice in the garment of Christ's righteousness. Sermon for Trinity XV.
The five pools at Bethesda could not help the poor weak man, but Jesus healed him. So is the healing of the Gospel itself: it is for the poor, the weak, and those who cannot help themselves. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XIV.
The leper who returned is worthy of all emulation, a fine example for all Christians. First he stood afar off, knowing his place and not complaining. But he stood with his fellows, as we stand when we worship together; and he cried for mercy, as we also do, leaning only on the merit of Christ. And he did what Jesus said, not questioning, as we must. And he went to the priests before being healed; then when he was healed he turned back, with no law or direction, for he instinctively knew that he must acknowledge the Source of his healing; he knew there was no other God than this Man; and he fell down and worshiped with a loud voice, in spite all who against him did not: the nine, and indeed the priests. So let us give thanks, and expect from him and his mercy all good things. Sermon for Trinity XIV.
James and John must have known that their request was born of pride, for they were unwilling to make it themselves: they sent their poor mother, whose piety was naïve and simple. So Jesus does not answer her, but them directly: Ye know not what ye ask. And when the request, to sit on Jesus' right and left hand in his kingdom, was made clear to the others, they became indignant, an indignance born of their pride. So Jesus had to teach them of humility, for pride is deadly and fierce, and leads to death. So the antidote is to consider him, the son of man, who came in humility to give his life a ransom for many. Sermon for Trinity XIII Midweek.
Whose eyes and ears are blessed? Not only of the disciples themselves, but of others: those who would hear them, who are sent by Jesus. For what you see and hear in your pastor is a representative of Christ, as if Christ our dear Lord had dealt with us himself. There is no difference between the medicine the Good Samaritan applied to the poor wayfarer himself, and the medicine applied by the innkeeper whom the Samaritan commissioned in his stead. And how the wayfarer needed that care; how you need it. For your flesh, the devil, and the world are of no help to you. Especially in these pandemic days, when you may conveniently think you have done well simply for staying safe! Meanwhile your neighbor is the person who sits beside you in the pew; your neighbor is the policeman down the street who is being condemned as a racist! You have sinned, while you thought you were doing well because you were following the government's guidelines. But your Good Samaritan has had compassion on you, and has applied his healing medicine to you through the forgiveness of your sins. And if Christ himself were here in person, the medicine he would give is no different; it is the same as what you do receive in the means of grace here. See, your healing is complete because of his compassion. So now you, go and love your neighbor: do likewise. Sermon for Trinity XIII.
The sign of Jonah is more than the three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, though that is significant: as Jonah was wrapped in death, his grave clothes were seaweed, and on the third day he was vomited out on dry land, so also the Lord Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried, shrouded in linens, and on the third day he rose from the dead. But there is more. for then Jonah went and preached to the great Gentile city of Ninevah. He's the only prophet who did this. And upon Jesus' resurrection, he likewise began to preach to the Gentiles through the Apostles he sent. And so also, the queen of the south, a Gentile from the far reaches of the earth, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. But Jesus is greater; he is Wisdom, and his Gospel sounds forth to all the ends of the world. And this is the heart of his message to an evil and adulterous generation. For even his resurrection from the dead will not help them or bring them to repentance, unless it is preached by his faithful witnesses, as Abraham told the rich man in hell: if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. So let us regard the preaching of the Gospel as sacred, precious, and sweeter than honey to our taste, and gladly hear and learn it. Sermon for Midweek of Trinity XII.