Monday, May 30, 2016

Sermon for 5/29/16: First Sunday After Trinity

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Enough

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


Our Lord’s account of the rich man and Lazarus has much to teach us. It’s a reminder to believers and nonbelievers of what is most important in this life. The rich man liked his stuff. He didn’t like to share. He watched others suffer, like the poor man who begged at the rich man’s gate for mere crumbs from the table. The rich man died and went to hell. And then there was Lazarus. We don’t know much about him, other than that he was poor. He had sores. He begged. He also died, yet he went to heaven and reclined in the bosom of father Abraham.

So do good to your neighbor, or you’ll go to hell. Amen. Good sermon, right? Those who think the Church should only be about social justice would be satisfied if we were to leave it at that. And one could make a good case for social justice out of this text, showing the need to help others less fortunate. You certainly should be good to your neighbors. After all, Jesus teaches you to love your neighbor as yourself. But that’s not the main point of what Jesus has to teach you today. What saved Lazarus, and what condemned the rich man, was trust. Lazarus trusted the Lord to provide for him, even when that meant dogs to lick his sores. The rich man trusted himself and his wealth, so much so that he wouldn’t even sacrifice the crumbs from his table. 

Last week, Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” But the Kingdom of God is of the Spirit. So, as Jesus says, “Unless a person is born of Water and the Spirit, He cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus shows us what that looks like in this morning's Gospel. It isn't pretty or pleasant, is it? Life apart from Jesus isn't comfortable. Oh, it may seem pleasant enough this side of death. It seemed pleasant enough for the rich man. It seems pleasant enough for people caught up in their lives, too busy for the love of God delivered in Christ's Means of Grace, too busy to put personal hustle and bustle aside to care for others. Parents, are you too busy to bring up your children in the Ways of God? Neighbors, are you too busy to share the Word of God with those you encounter in your life? Workers, are you too concerned with your paycheck to sit at the Lord’s feet and receive the gifts He has for you? Are you too concerned with the leisure of your day off to spend one bitter hour with the Lord of life?

Dear Christian, you have enough—not in yourself, but in Christ. Don't fear poverty, or even the sacrifice of that little bit that goes to help another, to support the Gospel in your midst, to carry Christ to the nations. If all you can do is hold on to the little bit you have, as if it's all you have, you are miserable indeed. But in your poverty, learn how much God has for you in Jesus. You are baptized into the Body of Christ, which means you are clothed with something greater than the finest linen. You're clothed with Jesus. You have God’s name now—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—so your name will be remembered for eternity, recorded in the Book of Life! And you are fed His Body and His Blood, by which Christ promises to raise you up in glory. These are your riches in this life, no matter what you suffer. They are your security, so that you can let go of things that will not last. 

God has given you His Son to set you at the gate of heaven. He provides you a pastor, poor dog that he is, to lick your wounds and tell you that your sins are forgiven. He gives you crumbs from His Table, and more than crumbs: the Body and the Blood of Christ who died for you and rose again, and who now begs the Father for your life, forgiveness, and salvation. He is love, and in love He is ever mindful of you, the beggar at His gate. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sermon for 5/22/16: Feast of the Holy Trinity

A blessed Feast of the Holy Trinity to you and yours.


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Good News for You

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus couldn’t quite get the idea of being born again. Perhaps he would have been better off if he understood Jesus as saying, “Unless one is born from above.” For it is only from above that you can even begin to understand the Trinity. There is more than enough evidence in the Scripture of the existence of the three Persons of the Godhead. It starts in Genesis with creation: the Father creating the world through His Son, with the Spirit of God hovering over the deep. We see it when Jesus was baptized: our Lord in the Jordan River, the Father's voice from above, the Spirit descending as a dove. And we see it plainly when St. Matthew records our Lord’s imperative to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And it continues throughout Scripture.
No one is born dry. No matter how you emerge from the womb of your mother, you are born wet. And no one enters the Kingdom of heaven dry either. “You must be born of Water and the Spirit,” Jesus says, and that is Holy Baptism. At the Font you were named with the Triune God. He called you His. He gave you the Name which is above every name, the Name of Jesus, which is His alone to give out as He pleases. That's being born from above.
It's easy for those who think that they are something in God's eyes to dry faith off, to pull it away from God's saving work in Holy Baptism, or His saving Gifts at the Table of Christ. People don't need their ears wet with God's promises or their lips wet with Christ's Blood, when they think that they have some standing, some deserved place before God. But when Jesus says, “God so loved the world,” He isn't saying that God was just so head-over-heels in love with sinful man, but that God loved the world in this way. He loved the world in this profound way: that He gave His only-begotten Son, Who died for you and rose again so that you would have eternal life.
You are born into God's Kingdom wet with the Water and Word, and thereby drowned and raised again. St. Paul says, “We were buried with Christ through Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.” You are washed in Jesus, clothed in Jesus; His life, death and resurrection are poured out and laid upon you. It is His work, not yours. This is His gift to you, just as life and love and your parents' name were all given you freely on the day that you were born from below.
Being “born from above” in Holy Baptism enables you to see the work of this Triune God in your own life. You have a Triune God who lavishes you with the gift of His creation. You have a Triune God who shows you the manner of His love in a once-for-all sacrifice that would make peace between you and the Father. You have a Triune God “who calls you by His Gospel, enlightens you with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps you in the true faith.” And all of this goes back before the world was created!
You'll never get old enough to find an end to learning what that means. Your guilt is atoned for. Your sin is covered. This birth from above takes your sin away. Though you are unworthy and unclean, the God Who made you, also makes you right in God the Son, Who sends His Holy Spirit to comfort you, to give you faith to confess your sins and receive forgiveness and give that forgiveness to your neighbor. See what kind of love the Father has given to you, that you may be called a child of God, baptized into His holy name: the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

HYMN: O God of All Compassion

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and it has been a source of distraction and has kept me from being very productive outside of the things which are necessary--things like sermons, sermons, and more sermons. I received a bit of a reprieve today, though I wouldn't have asked for the the events which led to the reprieve. But I decided to take a moment for myself today, and this text is the result. It's based on the readings for the Fourth Sunday After Trinity, where Jesus gives us what may be the most misunderstood text in all of Scripture: "Judge not, and you shall not be judged." Anyway, here it is. Feedback is love. And if you don't like it, don't judge me. *wink*




O God of All Compassion

1. O God of all compassion,
Who calls me by my name,
My sin cries out against me;
My foes announce my shame.
In mercy draw me near.
In every trouble, hide me.
To Your own refuge guide me
And free my heart from fear.

2. Your mercy, holy Father,
A sinner cannot earn,
But for the sake of Jesus
You show Your great concern.
As You in grace forgive,
Let my own heart not harden,
But let me offer pardon,
Confess my sin, and live.

3. O Jesus, righteous Savior,
The sinless Judge of all,
You use for greatest blessing
The evil I befall.
Lead me in charity
So, should my neighbor falter,
I lead Him to Your altar:
Redeemed, forgiven, free.

4. And come, O Holy Spirit:
Oh, come and make me wise,
That I may find and banish
The plank from my own eyes.
Then, Spirit, dwell within,
That I may ever labor
To love and serve my neighbor
And cover all his sin.


© 2016 Alan Kornacki, Jr.
76 76 67 76
Tune: AUS MEINES HERZENS GRUNDE (LSB XXX)
Occasion: Fourth Sunday After Trinity 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sermon for 5/15/16: The Feast of Pentecost

This morning we were blessed to witness the baptism of Torin River Weakley as we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost! By the way, this is how St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill looks on the Feast of Pentecost when we have a Baptism.



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True Love

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 


Sunday after Sunday, the faithful throughout the world confess their love for the Lord by sacrificing their time to attend the Divine Service. They also sacrifice some of what they have and some of who they are for the sake of their parish. With that in mind, in the weeks and months ahead, as we consider what the future of this congregation will look like, we also should ponder the question, “What does it mean to love the Lord God?”

Jesus says, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. To love the Lord God means to take Him at His Word, to rely on Him, and to expect every good thing from Him. It also means that you can say, “Whatever I go through, whatever good or ill comes my way, whatever joy or sadness I experience, whatever direction my life takes—our heavenly Father, through His Son, by His Spirit, is beside me and remains with me. No matter what happens—in good times or bad—He blesses me, comforts me, endures with me and helps me.”

But from where does this love for God come? Is it blind allegiance? Do you love the Father only because you’ve been convinced that you should? Is your love merely a hope that things go well and a vague faith in the goodness of God or man? For many, that is all loving God is—just the way they express their faith that things will be okay and get better. Is your love for Jesus a love and trust in the Man who was born of Mary? Or is it loving and trusting the idea of a Savior? When your love for Jesus depends on your own notions of what a Savior should be, your love for Him grows cold, and you do not let His love have its way with you. That Christ you love looks an awful lot like what you see in the mirror.

Today our Lord says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” With those words, our Lord Jesus urges you to remember that He is not an idea or an invisible childhood friend. Loving Him means holding to His Word and holding Him to His Word. And that gives you courage to live not for ideas or justice, but to live confident that your Jesus comes through, that He never lets you down, and that even in the darkest days your Jesus does the best for you.

Remember what St. John has said: God is love.” So love is more than a feeling; Love is God Himself. Yet you cannot see God or put your arms around Him. And so, that Love which God is, the Holy Spirit implanted that love in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There, God became man. There, God became someone you could hear, someone you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands. There, from the flesh of Mary, came Love in the flesh. All of this is because of the Holy Spirit. That Love of God born of the Virgin Mary lived the love that He is. While we were still sinners, He died for us. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” All of this is because of the Holy Spirit. Yet the Spirit doesn’t stop there. After the Love of God is killed and sacrificed and raised from the dead, then the Holy Spirit comes again to unite Jesus to your flesh and blood. When does the Holy Spirit do this? He does it first when you are baptized. In the waters of Holy Baptism, the Spirit buries you deeply within the flesh and blood of Jesus. And so you come alive—truly alive—in Him, even as young Torin was made truly alive this day. And then, when you receive the Holy Sacrament, the Spirit implants Jesus Himself into your flesh in His body and blood. And so now you really live. And no longer do you live to yourself. Now, by the Spirit, in Christ you live and move and have your being.

With the Lord God, who is Love, at home in you, what can anyone do to you? This is the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, the same God who has promised that He will not let His saints see destruction, the same God whose gracious good will is always done and whom death and the devil cannot stop. He is trustworthy, and whoever trusts in God has the love of God abiding in Him. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sermon for 5/8/16: Seventh Sunday of Easter

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Comfort

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


Once again this morning, Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit. This week, Jesus tells you what the Holy Spirit is all about and why He will come and what He will do. Jesus calls the Spirit the "Helper" or "Comforter." That's because the Spirit's job is to give you comfort against sin and death and the power of the devil. Pay close attention to what Jesus is saying here today, because it will keep you from despair when the world seeks to destroy you for being a Christian. These words of Jesus concerning the Spirit's work will preserve you from all false belief and wrong notions about God and the Spirit. These words of Jesus teach you that the Holy Spirit brings you true, eternal comfort by keeping you in Christ against what the devil, the world, and your sinful nature throw at you.

There are many people out there who want to talk about God or worship God or have something to do with God apart from Jesus. That is not the witness of the Holy Spirit. That's not the faithful witness of the Apostles. Every religion under the sun is concocted to try to figure that God out, to understand what He wants and what you have to do to please Him. With that kind of god, you can never be certain that you’ve done enough. But the Holy Spirit doesn't lead you to that god. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and, through the preaching of the Gospel, He bears witness of Jesus who has taken God's wrath upon Himself. The Spirit points you to and delivers Christ in whom you have forgiveness and life, in Whom the Father smiles upon you, in Whom the Father no longer counts your sins against you.

But such a Jesus doesn't flatter you. Such a Gospel and such a Spirit don't teach you that you have the power to save yourself. Such a Gospel teaches you to put all your hope and trust in Christ alone. Such preaching that the Holy Spirit does, such faithful preaching He delivers through faithful pastors, tells you to go looking for Jesus nowhere else than in Word and Water and Body and Blood. The Spirit teaches that you will find Jesus nowhere else. And if there is no Jesus, there is no forgiveness, or salvation or heavenly Father. That's why Jesus tells the disciples that they will suffer for His sake. People will throw them out and kill them and think they are doing God's work! When you've got God all figured out apart from Jesus, that's what you do: you take down those whose only hope and trust is in Jesus. It’s why Christians are killed every day all over the world: religions who deny that Christ is God can't stand the thought that they cannot save themselves. You only have to tour our little Synod to see that faithful pastors are being thrown out of their parishes because they will only teach Jesus and His means of grace. They preach faithfully that there is no looking for God apart from Jesus and the Spirit is not at work apart from His Word. So their congregations or the Synod find some reason to stop supporting them and their families and finally throw them out.

Against such persecution, against such trouble, against such suffering, the Helper comes to Comfort you. And the comfort comes not be taking away the suffering but by bearing witness to Jesus by turning you to what is true: in Baptism you have been washed clean and made fit for eternal life; in Absolution your sins been removed from you; in the Supper Christ died for you that you might live and be free from sin and death. The Spirit and your pastor bear witness of Jesus: they testify from the font, the pulpit, and the altar, that God smiles upon you in Christ and has forgiven all your sins. They tell you that, throughout the suffering of this life, the Lord will guard you and keep you and comfort you until one day you pass through death and away from this world and its evils to the eternal kingdom and paradise the Lord Himself has prepared for you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have the witness of the Spirit, the testimony of the Apostles, the Word and the holy Gifts, all of which deliver Jesus to you. And having Jesus, you have far more than the world can ever give. Praise God for such a faithful and comforting Helper as the Holy Spirit, for He gives you only true comfort: the comfort of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Savior. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Sermon for 5/7/16: Funeral of Mildred Kuhlman

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I Am Not Ashamed

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

St. Paul writes, “The just”—that is, the righteous—“shall live by faith.” But it is not at all an easy thing to live by faith. We recently heard the account of Jesus appearing to the disciples, and Thomas refusing to accept their word of the Lord’s appearance. “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” It was not until Jesus showed Thomas those wounds that Thomas was able to confess, “My Lord and my God!” Even this follower of Jesus, having spent three years learning at His feet, could not easily live by faith; he had to see. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, to be faithful means to trust the testimony of those who confess the Truth. That’s why it’s such a blessing that we have the eyewitness accounts of the Apostles. St. John the Evangelist, after giving his testimony regarding the life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus, explained that he shared these things “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

We live in a world that wants to be ruled by physical evidence. It’s not a bad thing to observe the world around you. But at the same time, not everything can be explained by the Scientific Method. Those who believe about God only what they can observe and prove would be hard-pressed to rely on such faith when things get rough. But those who believe the good news about Jesus and His life-giving work do not rely on their own reason or strength. Those who live their lives trusting in the Lord—those who cling to the Lord who bore their sins to the cross, who were raised with Him in the waters of Holy Baptism, who hunger and thirst for the Word of Holy Absolution and for our Lord’s Holy Supper, those who confess their faith in Him until their dying breath—these are not put to shame, for in these gifts, in the Gospel of Christ, salvation is given to those who believe.

It was my privilege and blessing to serve as Mildred’s pastor for nearly six years. But it did not take six years to recognize Mildred as a woman of faith. Mildred was a good woman, as the world views goodness. She was loving, compassionate, caring, generous, wise, prudent, and any number of other virtues which the world commends as good and worthy. But more than these things, Mildred was a woman who lived and walked by faith in Jesus Christ. Oh, we cannot deny that Mildred was a sinner. We cannot say that Mildred earned her way to heaven by living a good life, any more than anyone can reach heaven by the power of their own merits. She had moments of doubt and despair, moments when her willing spirit was overwhelmed by the weakness of her flesh. Those who served her in the nursing home could tell you of times when Mildred struck out in anger and frustration, attempting to do physical harm. And it was not uncommon, especially once she moved into one nursing home and then into another, to hear her groan and question God: “Why am I still here? Why hasn’t the Lord come to take me home?” But even in these moments of weakness—especially in these moments of weakness—Mildred hungered and thirsted for the Word of God, and she kept it close to her heart. She was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Once she was no longer able to come to church, if I hadn’t seen her in what she considered to be a reasonable period of time, she wouldn’t hesitate to call me and let me know that she wanted the body and blood of Jesus. Like Mary, who knelt at the feet of Jesus while her sister Martha fluttered about, Mildred rejoiced to hear of the one thing needful, the good news of her Lord Jesus. The faith which had been given to her in the waters of Holy Baptism cried out for her Lord, and Mildred, like all those who live by faith, was not put to shame. Just like Simeon in our Gospel, she beheld her Savior, and she was blessed to “depart in peace.”

So what about us? What about those who love Mildred and will miss her? Our Lord has good news for us, too. Our Lord Jesus Christ knows the grief we feel right now, for He felt it at the death of His friend Lazarus. But our Lord, after grieving, proceeded to raise Lazarus from the dead! And then He went on to the cross, where He died the death we deserved, carrying our sins and the sins of the whole world, bearing the righteous wrath of our Father for us. And then He rose from the dead, leaving our sins—our doubt, our despair, our weakness—buried in the tomb, destroying forever the power of death. Finally He ascended to the right hand of the Father, where His wounds plead for us. When our last hour comes, we who have been baptized, who have been fed with the flesh and blood of our Savior, who have been forgiven of all our sins, will join Mildred in a holy rest. And then, on the Last Day, we will be raised. We will be reunited in eternal life with Mildred, with Bill, with Julie, with all those we love who have gone before us in the faith, nevermore to suffer, nevermore to mourn, nevermore to die. 

As we await that day, there is no shame in grief. Mildred was a good gift from God to us, and we will miss her. But we do not grieve like those who have no hope, for we know that a holy reunion awaits us on the Last Day. And as we await that eternal raising, we rejoice to receive the body and blood of Jesus, a heavenly Feast where we are reunited with Mildred along with “angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven.” Even though our weak flesh will continue to sin, our willing spirit will continue to walk by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, clinging to His Word and trusting in His work for us. And putting our trust in Him, we will never be put to shame in the eyes of the Lord. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.



Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sermon for 5/1/16: Sixth Sunday of Easter

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Whatever You Ask

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


“Ask anything.” That's what we hear Jesus saying in today's Gospel. “Ask anything of the Father in My Name and you'll get it.” And so our mind races to think of the many “anythings” we want. And nearly all the “anythings” are things that we are sure will make our life easier, better, smoother. Or they're things that will help others—or help us all. But then comes doubt. After all, how many times have we asked for something? How many times have we prayed and begged God to give us the things we know will help us, and yet God has turned a deaf ear. We haven’t received a single one of them. And so we're not so sure about our Lord’s “ask anything” policy. We count it as just one more exaggeration: God speaks like us, overstating His promises to get our attention or make a point. And then we point to St. Paul. He didn't ask just anything. Three times he pleaded with the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh”—the ailment or temptation or weakness that afflicted him. Yet even this great apostle didn't get what he wanted. Instead, we hear Jesus tell him, “Live with it. Deal with it.” Oh, He makes it sound prettier: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. That’s the same answer we always seem to get. So much for “ask anything.”

But “Whatever you ask the Father in My name” doesn't mean to ask for the things you're sure are best for you. Neither does it mean, “Ask for anything you like.” For the things we like, the things we're certain we need—those are often things that gratify our passions and serve our selfish desires. Or they're things that will soon fade or be consumed, and so we're back asking again. The problem is that our field of vision, our field of faith and prayer, is too small. Our concerns are all too often centered on the things in this life—the things Jesus told us not to fret about—and so our prayers are not really prayers, but worrying and complaining expressed as desires. Do you really think that when Jesus taught us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He was only talking about bread or food? And do you really believe that when you say, “Forgive us our trespasses,” you're only referring to the things you know you did yesterday or last week or a few years ago? And does “deliver us from evil” only mean that we hope we don't get in an accident, or that no one hurts us?

When Our Blessed Lord Jesus says, “Whatever you ask,” the “whatever” is not about the things that bring you pleasure now, but the Thing that will increase your joy both now and forever. The “whatever” and the “anything” our Jesus urges you to ask for is the “whatever” and “anything” that lets the Lord bless you in spite of yourself, have mercy on even though you constantly do your own thing, and pull you through sickness and death even though you are dust and should return to dust.

So the “whatever you ask” is not aimed at the “anythings” that will make life easier now. “Whatever you ask” is aimed at the one thing needful that hauls you through this life to the life of the world to come. So when Jesus says “whatever you ask,” He is really urging you to ask for the Holy Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit who gives you the faith to see past today's fears and sicknesses. And it is the Spirit who gives you the faith to look beyond now, to yearn for the true and perfect gifts of God. And it is the Spirit who teaches you to see not the little things in life, but Jesus, who is Life Himself. And it's the Spirit who brings to your remembrance that everything you've been through, everything that keeps you back, everything that frustrates you—all of that works together for good. But most of all, it is the Holy Spirit who gives you the courage and the desire to ask the Father anything in Jesus' name.

When you ask, the Holy Spirit also helps you see and believe that all your asking, all your praying, all your true godly desires, come not from the many “anythings” your sinful Adam desires, but from the one thing needful that is concentrated and unfailingly given at this holy altar. For from this altar you receive the mercy, the forgiveness, the strength, the compassion, the grace, and the life of God Himself inseparably resident in the flesh and blood of His Son. The Holy Spirit shows this to you—to your heart and mind. And so the greatest “anything” we ask of Our Father is that He would send down His Holy Spirit upon us and upon His gifts of bread and wine so that He might bless them and hallow them and show that the bread is the precious Body of Christ, and the wine is the precious Blood of Christ which was shed for the life and forgiveness of the world.

All this is yours for the asking when you look beyond what you want and ask your Father for your salvation. All this is yours, because you asked the Father for the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sermon for 4/24/16: Fifth Sunday of Easter

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All Truth

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


The Holy Spirit is a big deal. Flip through the channels on your TV, and you'll see all kinds of Holy Spirit stuff supposedly going on. But these words and phrases are often as misunderstood as the Holy Spirit Himself. If you listen carefully to the Holy Gospel readings in these Sundays of the Easter Season, you will hear our Lord Jesus speaking Words that will teach us the truth about the Holy Spirit. For Jesus teaches exactly this: the Holy Spirit is doing His job not when you hear about the Spirit, but when you hear Christ preached and the forgiveness of sins delivered. Jesus says, “[The Spirit] will not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He hears He will speak.” The Holy Spirit does not do fancy tricks to make you shake or fall on the ground or speak in gibberish. The Holy Spirit directs you to Jesus by the preaching of the Word, and through that Word and the Sacraments of the Church He delivers Christ's forgiveness to you. The more you hear of Christ crucified and risen and delivered in the Means of Grace, the more you can be sure the Holy Spirit is at work. On the other hand, the more you hear about the Spirit, the more you can be sure that the Spirit is not preaching.

Jesus said, “When that one comes, the Spirit of truth, He will lead you into all truth.” What is the Truth? The Truth is Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Truth is that God does not count your sins against you but counts instead for you the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. This He does through the Word and in the Water and at the Supper. This is all laid out for us in Holy Scripture. Speaking through the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible, the Spirit speaks and testifies of the truth, which is this: in Christ, God is reconciling the world to Himself. Many people say that no one church has all of the truth. They say, “We're all on the same path to God.” But be wary of such thinking! The Spirit has been sent by Jesus to lead us into all truth. Never think that the Word of God is insufficient. It would be easy to think so in our day and age when everyone claims to have a piece of the truth, when everyone claims to be spiritual but not necessarily religious. But what does Jesus say? “The Spirit will lead us into all truth.” You have the Word of God which rescues you from your sins, delivers Jesus to you, and through which the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth. Let there be no doubt that the Bible is all you need to know the will of God, that is, your salvation in Christ.

Jesus goes on to say, “The Spirit will glorify Me because He will take of what is Mine and announce it to you.” The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus by delivering Christ’s gifts to you. Jesus is not glorified if the Spirit preaches about the Spirit. If the Spirit just promotes the Spirit, then He has not carried out His work. Jesus is glorified when what He has done is given to you. Jesus, the Son of God, has come in the flesh to carry the sins of the world and to die for them. Christ has conquered your sin and death. By suffering on the cross, Jesus declares your salvation is finished. By rising from the dead, the Lord confirms that your sins have been paid for and your salvation is won. It is Christ who owns the victory over sin and death. And it is the Spirit who teaches this to you through the testimony of the apostles who wrote down what they saw and heard. All that the Father has belongs to Jesus, and all that belongs to Jesus is given to you by the Spirit in the Word and Sacraments. Where Baptism is preached, where Absolution is spoken, where Christ crucified is preached and the Supper of our Lord's body and blood are given, there you may be sure that the Spirit of Truth has led you into all Truth by delivering to you all that belongs to Christ.

Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. And Jesus sends Him—not for the Spirit’s sake, but for yours, that you might receive from Him all the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation that Christ won for you. The Holy Spirit points you to Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches you to live in your baptism, to confess your sins and to eat and drink the flesh and blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit teaches you not to glorify yourself but to humbly serve your neighbor. And that same Spirit waits until that Last Day to give you that one last gift of Christ: the resurrection of your flesh from the dead. From birth to death to rising again, it is the Spirit of Truth who leads you into all truth by bringing you to Christ and keeping you in Christ forever. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

HYMN: O Lord My God, in You I Put My Trust

It's a bit of a surprise to me that I'm posting a hymn today. About five hours ago I was looking at the readings for the First Sunday After Trinity and the notes I'd taken, and I had no idea what I would write about them. The theme of the Sunday revolves around trusting in the Word and promises of God, which is an easy enough topic, but how to approach it? And then I saw how the Psalmist approached the Lord: "O Lord my God," he said. And that gave me an opening. The Gospel appointed for the day is the rich man and Lazarus, "He whom God has helped." It's such a rich text--no pun intended--with a lot to grab on to as a writer. Here's my attempt at bringing it all together. Feedback is love.



O Lord My God, in You I Put My Trust

1. O Lord my God, in You I put my trust.
Sick with my sin, I cower in the dust.
I have no merit of my own to claim.
Down at death's gate, I call upon Your name.

2. Hear my petition. Listen to my plea.
In Your great mercy, hear and answer me.
You will provide for each and every need.
You are my Father; I, Your child, indeed.

3. When I am called to suffer earthly pain,
Use it to draw me near to You again.
You are my Shield. You calm my deep distress,
Meeting each need with manna in excess.

4. Teach me to love as You have first loved me:
To serve and honor neighbors selflessly,
Giving the bread You give me every day
So we may thank You and our praise display.

5. When in the end You call me to my rest,
Let angels lay me home at Abram's breast.
Then, Father, raise me so that I may see
Your Son, my Savior, for eternity.


(c) 2016 Alan Kornacki, Jr.
10 10 10 10
Tune: ELLERS (LSB 917)
Occasion: Trinity I

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sermon for 4/17/16: Fourth Sunday of Easter

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Joy

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


For better or for worse, there are times when I look at my children—especially Michael—and I think to myself, “I just want them to be happy.” In the world in which we live and the uncertainty of our times, happiness seems like the best we can do, and often even happiness seems unlikely. Still, parents want the best for their kids, whatever that may be. That’s the way our Lord looked upon His ragged band of disciples on the night in which He was betrayed. All their faults—their dusty feet, their vain thoughts of glory, their sleepiness and fear—all were exposed for the world to see. Jesus just wanted them to have joy. So He washes their feet. He feeds them with His body and blood. And He warns them of what is to come: “A little while and you will not see Me. And again a little while and you will see Me.” Their minds are too feeble to understand, so He makes it simple. “You will have sorrow. But your sorrow will turn into joy.”

And so it was. To their great sorrow, the very next day, Jesus went to Pilate’s judgment Hall. He endured Herod’s false worship and cruel jests. The scourge tore the flesh from His back and sides, His legs and His arms. He was displayed before the world: naked, dying, weak, and alone. The ironic title nailed was above His head: “The King of the Jews.” His ragtag collection of disciples scattered in fear. The beautiful people all laughed and sneered. “Look at Him! There is your God, strung up on the cross. There is your one chance at happiness, and what good will it do you?” But our Lord’s Word is true. And while the disciples are a sad sight to behold, they know exactly what they are. Jesus told them. They expect their own imperfection; they expect their suffering to mirror His suffering. Look and see your God upon the cross! Look; do not be ashamed. He let them do all that to Him so divine justice would be served, so our debt would be paid, so the devil’s head would be crushed. He let sinners do that to Him so that they would have joy. He died, but He is not dead. He lives. He forgives them, comforts them, breathes His Holy Spirit upon them. Even in their weakness, they were wiser than the wise fools of this world. The world groups us together with our Lord in contempt, but in truth, there is nothing better. Yes, holy Father, make us like Jesus! They may kill us, but You have forgiven us. You have reconciled us to Yourself. You have turned our sorrow into joy! 

Still, joy is not the same as happiness. Joy as we await our rising is always stained with sorrow. Nothing here is yet perfect. The willing spirit still lives in the weak flesh. The chaos of sin is still upon us: contempt for the Word of God and the Christians who cling to it; abortions as commonplace as breathing; corruption in government; so-called preachers mislead people in the name of human love; families, marriages, and children are all under attack. Our joy, fully won and paid for, is not yet complete. We weep and lament. We are hurt and confused. We suffer satanic attacks upon all God gives. Repent. Fear God. Believe His promises. Cling to His Word.

We may be under attack, but it is not in vain, for our God is not dead. He lives. He rose and He ascended. And we are not ashamed of His death. After all, we know that He rose! He has defeated death for you. Your sins are forgiven. He is coming back! Now you see Him by faith in bread and wine. Then you will see Him as He is, begotten of the Father from eternity, ascended, exalted in human flesh, when at last we shall all be free. This is how we live. We endure in hope. We lick our wounds in faith. He is coming back, and we are not afraid. As we wait, we do what He has given us to do. We receive Him as He comes to us in His body and blood. We love and serve our neighbors. We teach our children. We turn the other cheek. We support the Church. We pray for our country. We do not do it perfectly, but God is gracious. He forgives. He is not a parent who pines away helplessly for your happiness. He delivers joy here in time in Word and Sacrament, in the love of wife, children, and friends. And He delivers the joy to come, joy that will not end, joy that no one can take away from you. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

HYMN: Oh, Come to Me, Lord Jesus

Now that I've caught myself up in my project to write a text for every Sunday in the 1-year lectionary with the completion of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Lent, it's time to catch up with the rest of the Church year. This text is written for the Second Sunday of Easter and the account of Jesus appearing to His disciples on Easter evening. As Jesus would have us believe the testimony of those first eyewitnesses, this is a prayer for that faith, faith which trusts the gifts He would give us by the hands and mouths of those He has sent to forgive sins in His stead and by His command. As always, feedback is love.


Oh, Come to Me, Lord Jesus

1. Oh, come to me, Lord Jesus,
And still my doubt and fear.
When enemies assail me,
Be present with me here.

2. Speak peace to me, Lord Jesus.
Speak absolution sweet!
Through mouths of faithful pastors
Your Word of grace repeat.

3. Oh, breathe on me, Lord Jesus,
Your holy, living breath.
Give me Your Holy Spirit
That I may conquer death.

4. Send pastors, dear Lord Jesus,
To give Your gifts to me,
To speak Your Word of comfort
As You Yourself decree.

5. Oh, grant me faith, Lord Jesus,
To trust what I have heard
From every faithful witness
Who shares Your holy Word.

6. Give life to me, Lord Jesus,
Through Your most holy name.
I trust the Word and wonders
Your ministers proclaim.


(c) 2016 Alan Kornacki, Jr.
76 76
Tune: CHRISTUS, DER IST MEIN LEBEN (LSB 919)
Occasion: Second Sunday of Easter 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sermon for 4/10/16: Third Sunday of Easter

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The Voice of the Shepherd

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 


Do you remember a while ago, when we heard the account of Jesus calling that woman a “little dog?” Well, today He calls us “sheep.” And as cute as we think sheep are, and soft and cuddly, the truth is that sheep are dumb, stubborn animals, prone to wander off and get in trouble. This is not a flattering thing. To be a sheep means to confess that you are stupid, stubborn, obstinate, you like to wander off, and you wouldn't know a wolf until he took a took a bite out of you! But the news is not all bad. If we have to be sheep—and we do—then the Good News today is that Jesus, the Son of God, is our Good Shepherd. And with Jesus as a Good Shepherd, there's nothing to fear. Don't worry about being a stupid, stubborn sheep. Your Good Shepherd will take care of you and make sure no wolf eats you.

No matter how stupid they are, sheep have one thing going for them: sheep have very good hearing. Amidst all their bleating, a sheep can hear and recognize its shepherd's voice. From all the sounds around it, a sheep is able to pick out and follow that one voice that it knows is its shepherd. Jesus says the same thing: He knows His sheep and He is known by them because they know His voice. That voice of Jesus is His Word. What does the voice of that Shepherd say? He says, "I lay down my life for the sheep." How do we recognize the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd among all the voices we hear in this world? The true voice of the Good Shepherd is the one that speaks of what He has done for us. The voices around us all speak about what we should do, what we must accomplish, what debt we must pay, how we must find our way back if we get lost. But the voice of the Good Shepherd calls us to Himself: the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep, who goes to the cross and dies as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. The only true shepherd is the Good Shepherd.

Any voice which does not declare the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for you—run away from such a voice! That's the snarl of the devilish wolf. Though he wants you to believe that he’s your shepherd, he’s already got his grill fired up, ready to roast you. The devil, that big bad wolf, wants to snatch you up and scatter Christ's church. It's always his aim and goal to drag you away from faith and trust in Jesus alone. He wants you to believe that you can save yourself. He wants to divide and separate the church so that, instead of a congregation of those who hear the Shepherd's voice, everyone instead wanders off and does his own thing. A sheep on its own is in trouble, just as Christians on their own are in danger. When the wolf gets in, the flock is scattered and troubled! It's suddenly every sheep for himself, and we are done treating one another like fellow children of God. Beware that behavior! Repent of the desire to run away from your Good Shepherd and the rest of the flock! Instead, prick up your ears to hear the Good Shepherd's voice calling you back to Him and to the flock.

But again, what is His voice? How do we hear and recognize it? Remember: it’s the voice of the One who tells us what He has done for us. We recognize His voice through the preaching and the holy gifts which deliver His death and resurrection to us. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one that preaches that the Lamb of God alone takes away the sin of the world by His death and resurrection. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one that calls you to the still waters of Holy Baptism to wash away the grime and dirt of your wandering. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one that comforts you with the rod and staff of Holy Absolution, pulling you out of the pits and crevices into which you blunder in your sins. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one which calls you to the table prepared in the presence of your enemies, a table filled with the feast of the Lamb's own flesh, a cup running over with His own blood. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the one which declares to you that in these holy gifts, He lives in you and you live in Him, and He will carry you through the valley of the shadow of death to raise you up on the Last Day. Hear and learn that voice, dear little lambs! Learn what the voice of the Good Shepherd promises and directs you to receive. Learn that voice and always prick up your ears to listen for that voice and hear it! And run away from anyone who calls himself a shepherd but doesn’t speak with that voice! For it is the voice of the true shepherd that will call you to Jesus and rescue from the wolves! Rejoice that you have Good Shepherd who fends for you, keeps you safe, and will bring you to His eternally green pastures! ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.   

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Sermon for 4/3/16: Second Sunday of Easter

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Sent for Peace

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


Irony of ironies: Unlike most of the rest of Christians, Thomas missed church on Easter! He only knew that the Risen Lord had appeared to the other apostles because they told him. And he didn't believe it! But he was there the next Sunday—also unlike most of the rest of Christians—and he believed when he got to stick his fingers and hands in the nail and spear holes in his Savior’s body. But the Lord says, "Do you believe because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." Our Lord is preparing the disciples for their next task, because then He said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you." With those words, Jesus establishes the Office of the Holy Ministry; He places those men into that Office to do the work of preaching the Gospel and forgiving and retaining sins. What Jesus points Thomas and us to is not a vision of Himself that we can see and touch, but the preaching of Him through which He comes to us. Thomas teaches us our post-Easter repentance: we are not to seek Jesus on our terms but upon His; not looking with our eyes, but hearing the preaching which forgives and saves.

Jesus says to the disciples: "As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you." Thus He makes them apostles, “sent ones.” By sending the apostles to preach and forgive sins, Jesus teaches us that He will use the mouths of pastors to preach His Word. It is true that Jesus accommodates Thomas' weakness by allowing Thomas to see Him and touch the nail and spear holes. But He will not be visible to the world that way for long. Therefore He directs even Thomas to the preaching of the disciples, of which Thomas would also be a part. Through these apostles sent by Jesus, the forgiveness of sins would be delivered to the world. And as these apostles went and preached, they ordained men to preach, and these men did the same, and so on, down through the ages even to the present time, where the Lord still calls and ordains men to be His preachers and to deliver His gifts: Baptism, Absolution, Supper. And it is through these preachers that Christ comes to the world and deals with us, rebuking and correcting us in sins and comforting us with the preaching of the Good News of forgiveness. This is the way the Lord has always dealt with His people. Consider the valley of dry bones. How did the Lord make these bones come together and come to life? By a preacher. It is the Lord's Word that makes these bones come to life, but it is spoken through a preacher. The Lord deals graciously with the children of Israel, dead in their trespasses and sins, but He does so through the preaching of Ezekiel. Ezekiel is an integral part of how the Lord deals with His people, and yet he is just a mouthpiece, so that the Lord Himself can say, after Ezekiel preaches, "'I have spoken and I have done it,' says the Lord."

Dear Christians, the job of the pastors that Christ calls is not to be the information guy and just give you some facts to accept or reject. Christ calls pastors to deliver His Word to you. His pastors act as His mouth, announcing His victory over sin and death to the world. They act as His hands, laying upon sinners the comfort of His life-giving, sin-erasing gifts. The ministry that Jesus sends His apostles to carry out is summed up in Christ’s command that they forgive and retain sins. Our Lord doesn't leave faith and salvation up to our wishy-washy notions; He gives us preachers to faithfully declare His Word to us and to rightly administer His holy gifts of salvation. Sometimes that means speaking harsh Law to those who are willfully unrepentant, persisting in their wickedness; and it also means proclaiming the word of forgiveness. In these means, Christ Himself comes to us—not figuratively, but for real, so that we have all confidence that our Lord has rescued us from sin and death.

St. John, who recorded all these words, also tells us that this ministry of Gospel and Sacraments is the witness to Christ that the Father gives. He tells us that these three bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood—the Spirit, who is active in the preaching of the Word; the water, which is Holy Baptism; and the blood itself, which is Christ's Holy Supper. The witness, the testimony, is given: your Baptism—the water; the preaching of the Gospel—where the Spirit is; the Supper—where the blood is given. In these you may be certain that you have Christ. Crave the Word; crave the gifts given in your baptism and by absolution; hunger and thirst for the Holy Supper of Christ’s body and blood. Eagerly desire the gifts your pastor has been called to give you. Cry out for them constantly and partake of them as often as possible. These gifts save you because they give you Jesus. You don't have to see with your eyes as Thomas did. The Spirit opens your eyes of faith, and you receive Jesus. As the Father has sent Christ, so Christ has sent His preachers to deliver His saving gifts, gifts giving you the peace which the world cannot give. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.