Sermon summaries and audio files
The kingdom of heaven always comes in weakness, and we see this in countless ways: in the trials of Joseph in Egypt, in the Israelites being delivered from the mighty Egyptian army, in the little army of Gideon, in the armorless David against the giant, and in Jesus himself, scourged, beaten, crucified, dead, and buried. But thereby he redeemed the world and rose from the dead on the third day. So it is also that the sower sows his little seeds, which face many impediments: birds of the air, rocks and scorching sun, thorns and thistles. Yet somehow it still produces a crop, an hundredfold. This is always the way of the kingdom of heaven. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; and herein lies the secret of the kingdom, and the secret of contentment. For in life among us as well, the weakness that surrounds us on every hand shrouds the power of God in the word that is sown among us, even today. By grace we have ears to hear, and we hear, and the kingdom grows among us by the sheer power of God and his grace alone. Sermon for Sexagesima.
The simple expression of the psalmist is a reflection of the Lord's love for him. The 18th psalm expresses this love and the reason for it: the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, etc. We love him because he first loved us. Sermon for Tuesday Vespers in Septuagesima.
The salient difference between the laborers hired for the vineyard in the first hour and all the rest was that the first had no faith: they had a contract, and agreed for a specific sum, one penny. They were disappointed. But all the others were simply told that they would receive what was right. They went forth with no contract, but only trust in the goodness of the landowner. And they were rewarded with the works of Another. For Christian life requires faith in the works of Christ for us, and gladly receives gifts which he won for us. Sermon for Septuagesima.
Today's Gospel gives us two more epiphanies of our Lord's glory; in addition it shows that the Lord's glory is manifested by the faith of his people: the confidence of the leper and of the centurion. This confidence causes Jesus himself to marvel, showing us the source of this faith: God himself, the Holy Ghost. And we know how the Holy Ghost produces such faith: through the epiphanies and proclamations of Christ and his work, that is, by the Holy Gospel. So let us attend with diligence, for by this same confidence we shall reap eternal rewards. Sermon for Epiphany III.
The mother of our Lord provides us a wonderful example for faith: she prays to him with confidence, she does not shrink at his rebuke, but remaining confident turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever he tells them. This faith receives rich rewards: the finest of wine ahead of time. And so we receive the blessed Sacrament; though it appears common, it is not; as also the miracle at Cana was unknown to most, but a few knew what a wondrous thing had occurred. Sermon for Epiphany II.
At Jesus' Baptism, the Father's affirmation was of the highest order: This is my Beloved; I am well-pleased. And so it is that our own Baptisms, because of him, gain for us this same affirmation, through his merit and sacrifice. Not only does he take our sins upon himself; he also gives to us this gift of the Father's affirmation. It is like the blessing that blind Isaac gave to Jacob, thinking him to be Esau. Behold, the Father also blesses us who are covered with the skin, as it were, of Jesus our Sacrifice, and we receive the blessing meant for him. Sermon for the Baptism of Our Lord.
From this Gospel we learn that ordinary appearances can be deceiving, for the ordinary looking twelve-year-old in the temple was in fact the Son of God, and it was the word which proceeded out of his mouth that made that clear. So let us learn that ordinary appearing places, such as this church, also hide extraordinary things: here is the Son of God, where his word also sounds forth, and where we find his Sacrament. Not only so, but the dreadful experience of his parents, and their undoubted panic on realizing that they had lost him and could not find him for three days, was ill-informed: he was about his Father's business. So also let us learn that panic is never warranted, for Jesus, about his Father's business also for us, must sometimes bring us through trouble, and tribulation, that we might enter by grace the kingdom of God. Sermon for Epiphany I.
A second look at the Epiphany Gospel: the wise men came from the east, the orient, far away. Those who were invited were not worthy, so the light went to the byways. Gentiles sitting in darkness have seen a great light: we have seen it, we have been brought by the grace of God to the Christ, to hear and believe, when we had no merit or standing; so let us return home another way, in Christ who is the Way. Sermon for weekday in the Epiphany Octave.
Outsiders, Gentiles: these are the wise men, and they are devoted to the Christ whom they come from afar to worship, while the insiders, the people of Jerusalem, and Herod, are troubled. The wise men left behind their homes and came over treacherous terrain expecting to find the Coming One, and with ebullient hearts fell down and worshiped him. So let us shut out the world from our minds and do the same, and give him, as it were, the gold of a faith that knows his divine kingship, the frankincense of a trust in his perfect holiness prepared to offer himself for us, and the myrrh of hearts that believe in the sufficiency of his sacrifice for us. And then let us return by another way, the way of Christ and life in him. Sermon for Epiphany.
Pride is a deadly sin, for it was the devil's downfall, and Eve's when she took the fruit, and Adam's when he took as well. And pride is the cause of so much evil and terror and sorrow and pain. So marvelously, Christ comes in humility to undo the devil and pride. He is born in poverty and he now flees to Egypt by night to escape the terror of Herod. And his humility continues to his death by crucifixion, but so he defeats the devil and rises the third day. So let us learn to rejoice in our humiliations and sorrows, even as the sorrowing mothers of Bethlehem had to learn, for when we are humbled, then pride is done away and faith flourishes. Sermon for Christmas II.