Sermon summaries and audio files
Such a marvelous miracle! that God the Eternal Son and Creator should bind himself to the flesh of the human race, and become man! This wonder, however, is hidden from Mary's sight and from ours, in the tiny space of her womb. Yet she believes, and so must we believe: that faith is the conviction of things not seen. Her evidence was soon to come, but she believed first, in the face of all physical evidence to the contrary, that in her virgin womb she carried the Christ-child. And thus we, seeing sometimes what appears opposite to the promise, must believe. Behold even the horror of Jesus' crucifixion, the dreadful sight; yet it was this that reconciled the world to God. And so in our own lives, what sometimes appears dreadful nevertheless works out for our good, for God chastens whom he loves. Believe in the darkness, and joy cometh in the morning. Sermon for the Annunciation.
The Israelites followed Moses out of bondage and across the Red Sea into the wilderness, till he came to the mountain where he received the word of God; and the Lord fed them with manna. And now we see multitudes following Jesus, a greater than Moses, into a wilderness till he comes to a mountain, where there is much grass (for he makes me to lied down in green pastures) and feeds them miraculously with bread. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help: my help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. So we also, now in life's great wilderness, come to Jesus, to the hills where we find him, for refuge. And here he promises to feed us miraculously, not with earthly but heavenly bread, for he is himself the Bread of Life. Our greatest need now is for the Blessed Sacrament, which the Lord in his great wisdom has seen fit to take from us for a time; so we pray earnestly that this time may be short, and we wait on the Lord in confidence, and he shall strengthen our hearts. Here is the sermon for Laetare, and here, if you prefer, is the entire matins service which was live streamed yesterday.
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As the world reels from fears of a virus, we must remember a far greater enemy whose very existence is denied by many, an enemy more unseen than the silent killer that any disease can be. The devil, the strong man, is behind every ill, and his demons wreak havoc in every time and place. And they go through dry places--places untouched by Baptism--and in habit a faithless man and make his last state worse than the first. So let us flee to our Baptism, and let us also take our Antidote to the devil in the Supper. For the devil was present in the wilderness against Jesus, and again in the daughter of the Canaanite woman, and again, in today's Gospel, in a speechless man whom Jesus healed; and he also appears toward the end of Lent, when he enters Judas at the beginning of Jesus' passion, and he sees to the death of our Lord. But thus Jesus defeats him, for Jesus rises again the third day to demonstrate the demise and defeat of the strong man. This was a foregone conclusion already at the first moment of the passion, for the devil entered in on the very night Jesus instituted the Blessed Sacrament. So come to receive the Sacrament, and Jesus, and your eternal defense against all evil, and rejoice in this victory, saying with David, "Mine eyes (oculi) are ever toward the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net." Sermon for Oculi, the Third Sunday in Lent.
The desperate man with the demon-possessed son does not have the kind of faith the the Canaanite woman manifested; his was deficient and weak, much like our own. So he, and we, cry out, "Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!" And behold he does, he springs into action, driving out the demon and raising the boy up. See how gracious he is! Sermon for Midweek of Lent II.
The Canaanite woman is a great inspiration, and this Gospel is sweeter than honey to the taste. For she loves Jesus still, after he ignores her, turns from her, and insults her. She will not be moved; indeed her faith grows more fervent and insistent. So she at length receives her heart's desire, and is not surprised. This is also our own baptismal faith. Sermon for Lent II.
Satan is granted leave to sift the disciples as wheat: to prove them to be chaff to be discarded, much as he attempted with Job. But he failed. Their afflictions, like his, were great: and they all fled, and Peter especially denied thrice, and wept bitterly. But Jesus prayed for him, so he was restored and given strength and authority to strengthen also the others. So must affliction also come to us, along with the Word of the Gospel, for this is how faith at length flourishes: in the school of troubles. Sermon for Lent I Midweek.
The accepted time is now because at long last Christ has arrived. The fulfillment of all the Scriptures is upon us. So the help of the Lord is seen in Christ and cannot be denied. Sermon for First Tuesday Vespers (2 Cor. 6).
Behold, now is the day of salvation. So all that went before reaches its fruition in Christ. Now we see the greater Isaac offered for us and for our salvation; now we see the fulfillment of all the Scriptures. And so now we also must ponder his offering for us, and learn that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. For it is our daily fault that we so easily forget this, and turn to what we see and experience for our support and sustenance, and forget the weightier matters, the substance of things unseen: Christ the Bread of Life. And we see how he resisted Satan for us, and drove him away, so that we, who move through our wilderness pilgrimage through life, find Christ there in the wilderness with us. And though it is so easy to fast and engage in bodily ways to impress people with our spirituality (to our great shame), we find that he resisted all temptation in order that we through his resistance might be redeemed and saved. The journey through Lent is a voluntary one, and is best done by turning in confidence to him who endured all things for us. (there was no recording of the audio today)
Today we consider the stubborn, unyielding, confident nature of faith, as seen in the blind beggar crying out for mercy. When he was rebuked for it, he cried out all the more. So now we have opportunity to be like him. For here at the altar we are also blind, since we cannot see Jesus, and did not see what he did for us in his death and resurrection; and we cannot see that the Sacrament is truly his body and blood. Further, we cry to him whom we cannot see, as beggars, for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask. And so we cry for mercy, saying, Holy, holy, holy . . . blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, and he who is passing by today hears our cry and stands still: he comes to us in the Sacrament, and grants our desire for mercy. And we, like the blind man, receive exactly what good things we expected to receive. Sermon for Quinquagesima.
Two seed parables show that the power of God is in the word, and such immense power it is! It is not only unseen and hidden, it is also seen in the history of Israel: for generations the seed planted by the prophets lay dormant and dimly understood even by the prophets themselves. But in the fullness of time came the watering of the seed, as Christ came with Holy Baptism. And thus he himself revealed the full counsel of God, and was himself raised from the dead on the third day. Not only so, that is, not only the blade, but then the ear and the full corn in the ear: for we are his harvest, who have been baptized into him. For in us, through our ears, was planted this seed, and rises up to everlasting salvation. Sermon for Midweek of Sexagesima.