Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sermon for 10/19/14--Trinity XVIII

Audio:




Text:

True Love

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


The Pharisees asked what the greatest commandment is. But Jesus gave them two. By teaching them to love God and to love their neighbor, Jesus is teaching them that there is no love of God apart from love of neighbor. This was a hard lesson for the Pharisees to learn. They knew doctrine, but they did little to care for others. Last week we saw their concern that Jesus might actually heal a man on the Sabbath! My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you come here to church, and you sing and pray and say all the words so that people can drive by and see your car here, but then you go back into the world with only your own welfare on your mind, then you have not let the Word of God dwell within you. If you are proud of being a Christian and a Lutheran, and you are glad you are a churchgoer, but you walk out the door and back to your grudges against others and playing favorites and ignoring others, then repent of your sinfulness! There is no loving God apart from loving our neighbor.

The only answer to this sin is Jesus, the Son of David and David’s Lord. The Commandments and the Law are wrapped up and hang upon Jesus. Jesus is teaching about his divine and human natures. Let’s be clear: What Jesus teaches, what the Pharisees don't get, is that Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man. He is David's Son because He takes on flesh and is born into David's line. But He is David's Lord because He is the eternally begotten Son who is true God. Here is the miracle of the Incarnation: the divine nature of the Son of God takes upon Himself a human nature, together as one Person: Jesus.

But there’s more. Jesus is God and man, and that means Jesus is the focus and substance of the Law. Love God and love your neighbor? Jesus is both at the same time. He perfectly loves God and His neighbor at the same time. Jesus, true God and true Man, hangs upon the tree of the cross. Where we have failed to obey God and failed to love our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Where we have falsely served God and abandoned our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Jesus keeps the commandments and is killed by our breaking them. He makes that death ours in the waters of Holy Baptism, and He raises us to life again in His own resurrection.

Now in Christ we have everything settled. How do you love and glorify God? Love God by receiving what He has for you: forgiveness, life and salvation. Hear and learn His holy word. Live daily in the washing given to you in Baptism. Confess your sins and be absolved. Be filled with the body and blood of Jesus by which He lives in you to do good works for others. Receive what the Lord has for you in His church, and not merely for your own sake. In receiving these gifts of God, you are made into a gift for your neighbor. Baptism, Absolution, the body and blood of Jesus: these are all given to you that you would have in you the One who kept the Law, so that you would love and serve your neighbor. You are forgiven of what you have failed to do and taught by the Spirit what good works you are to do.

But your salvation does not hang upon your good works. Your salvation does not hang upon the Law. Thanks be to God for that, for the Law will only accuse you, and your works will only fail you. Jesus, true God and true Man, loves the Lord your God with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind; and Jesus, true God and true Man, loves your neighbor as He loves Himself. This is what matters most, because your salvation hangs upon His perfect love. Your salvation is this: Jesus Christ has died bearing your sins, and He has risen to raise you up with Him. That is true love: love of God and true love of you, His neighbor. 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, October 19, 2014

PARODY: All About That Cross

A little Lutheran levity for your Sunday morning...


All About That Cross
(A Smash Hit Praise Parody of
"All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor)


Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Yeah, it's pretty clear
I'm not with FiveTwo.
I like to preach it-preach it
Like I'm supposed to do,
Cause I do that chant-chant,
A smile on my face,
With all the right notes
In all the right places.

I see them marketing.
They're selling Jesus out.
They say that doctrine's junk—
"That's not what He's about.
If you are lovey-dovey,
That's quite enough,
'Cause we know sinning doesn't matter.
Love and smiling is the stuff."

Yeah, my pastor, he said,
"Sacramental entrepreneurs,
Well, they shovel their garbage.
It stinks worse than cow manure.
You know, they call themselves 'Luth'rans,'
But Luther would call them wrong.
So if that's what you're into,
Then go ahead and move along."

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

I'm bringing doctrine back!
Go ahead and tell those sad apostates that.
No, I ain't playing. They think they're all that,
But let me tell you
Every bit of that is rotten
From the bottom to the top.

Yeah, my pastor, he said,
"Sacramental entrepreneurs,
Well, they shovel their garbage.
It stinks more than cow manure.
You know, they call themselves 'Luth'rans,'
But Luther would call them wrong.
So if that's what you're into,
Then go ahead and move along."

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sermon for 10/12/14--Trinity XVII

Audio:




Text:

At the Table

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


The Pharisees believed the most important thing was where you sat, whether you were at the head of the table or the other end. But Jesus says that the most important thing is that you’re at the table. The rest of it sort of worked itself out. This is a picture of faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, which is what’s going on in our text. Jesus is going to eat bread at a Pharisee’s house, and a man with a horrible disease stands before the Lord. The man doesn’t say anything. He just stands there. It is obvious what this man wants and needs. He needs Jesus to heal him.

The Pharisees kept close watch to see what Jesus would do. Would He break the law of the Sabbath and heal the man? The answer, of course, is yes. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, to heal the broken and to forgive the sins of the penitent. He healed the man and sent him home. The Pharisees were aghast! Jesus did work on the Sabbath, and this was a great insult to them. The Sabbath hearkens back to creation, when we hear in Genesis that God ended His work of creation, and He rested on the seventh day. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His creative work. It was the Day when He blessed His creation.

And then He blessed it again with Jesus. God set apart the Sabbath Day because that is the day Jesus rested in the tomb. He died on Good Friday, rested in death on Saturday, and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was saying that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and that He can bless His creation on the Sabbath day just as He did when He created the world.

You spend your life working and striving and trying to get ahead. Like the Pharisees in our text, we are all obsessed with the pecking order of things. We want to be at the head of the table; we want our place at the top. But you can’t do it. No matter how hard you try, you will fail. Like the man with dropsy, your failure before God is obvious to everyone, especially to the One who knows all and sees all. And the more you strive and work and struggle, the more obvious it is that you can’t make it on your own. You are trapped. Just like this man with the dropsy, just like the young man of Nain from last week, you’re trapped. All of your striving and working and struggling to be more spiritual or more Christian will never get you anywhere in the Christian faith. The only one who can get you to the Table and give you a place of honor is the Lord of the Banquet, Jesus Himself.

And He does invite you to the table. His great gift to you today is that He invites you to the heavenly wedding banquet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the head or the foot of the table. It doesn’t matter how dirty you are or how ill equipped for being at the banquet. That’s not your call to make. The Lord of the Banquet has called you to His eternal Table. He’s the host. It’s His decision, not yours.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is very good news. It doesn’t matter where you sit at the Table. The important thing is that you are at the Table. The Father has invited you to the banquet, where Jesus feeds you with His own body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. So come to the eternal Table of the Lord. The Table is set. The meal is ready. Come and feast on salvation for all eternity. 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, October 05, 2014

Sermon for 10/5/14--Trinity XVI

Audio:




Text:
 
God Visits His People

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


One of the most frequent things a pastor does outside of his normal routine is to bring the comfort of the Word of God to the bereaved at the death of a loved one. Funeral home visitations and funerals are times of great affliction and sadness for everyone involved. Obviously the family of the deceased is suffering grief at the death of their loved one. The friends of the family feel the burden of the grief their friend is going through, and no one is quite sure what to say. Now, imagine if the pastor were to walk in without a care in the world, and he said to you, to your family and friends, “Don’t cry.” There’s a pretty good chance the pastor would be walking out holding his broken jaw. Of course death is a time to mourn. Someone you love is gone from your life, and you will not see them again until you yourself have died.

But Jesus doesn’t work the way you think He will work. He came upon a funeral procession for a young man who has died. He walked up to the casket and told the mother of the deceased, “Don’t cry.” And then He told the dead man, “Get up. Arise” And the young man got up! This is what makes the Christian faith the Christian faith. You don’t need Jesus to preach morality—He has written the Law on your heart. You don’t need the Jesus to make an effort to improve your life. But Jesus does the one thing no other god or religion can actually do. He defeats death.

The witnesses said, “God has visited His people.” God shows up, and people are brought to life. This is why Jesus came. Adam and Eve brought sin. Sin brings death. Jesus came to overcome sin so that death would also be undone. Sin and death are overcome with the forgiveness of sins. Death is overthrown. Jesus walks up and raises that boy to show each of us what our future is. You will fall asleep. And then Jesus will wake you up. We don’t call it death anymore. Now that Jesus has removed its sting, it’s just sleep. It’s nothing to fear. Death has been smacked down. It has been robbed of its power. Your sin means your death. But now, in Jesus, because your sins are forgiven, you only sleep. You rise on the Last Day, and there is no more death forever and ever and ever. The resurrection of Jesus means you can’t die any more. You’ve already died. You’ve been drowned at the font in Holy Baptism. You’ve been crucified with Christ. And if you died there, you can’t die again. You will only sleep, and only for a little while.

We think death has more power than it does. We think it’s the worst thing ever. When it happens, we join the world in making all kinds of clich├ęd statements about it. The world seeks comfort in memories and coping mechanisms instead of the promise that Christ has defeated death. When we fall asleep, we will wake up. Maybe it’s your own death that terrifies you. Maybe it’s the death of someone else that hurts so bitterly. But the baptized child of God has a defiant answer to shout at death:

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes,
faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
to make life immortal mine.

Jesus has conquered sin and death with it, and so we despise death. We mock it. We can no longer fear its power. Where Christ is present, there death must yield. Where the Father’s baptized children are, there death must let go. And where our Lord’s people stand, filled with His body and blood, death must run away in fear. God in Christ has come calling, bringing life with Him. Death no longer has any power, for God has visited His people. 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.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

CRM and the Battle

I wrote a book about a problem. Yeah, it really hasn't seemed like it made a lot of difference. Nothing has changed. In fact, the task force that was formed to address the problem of pastors without congregations seems to be recommending a fix for the problem that resembles the current methodology which exascerbated the initial problem.

I wrote a book about the problem. I made the book about the problem available for free, and I also offered an option which would allow me to raise some funds to address the problem. I sent e-mails and letters and press releases about the book about the problem. I did a radio interview about the book about the problem. No, I haven't been a one-man explosion of CRM awareness to light up the whole of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. I have not received any hate mail or threatening phone calls. Perhaps that means I haven't been aggressive enough. 

Or perhaps that means I haven't been persistent enough. And I'm going to behave as if that's the case. I'm going to keep addressing the problem. I wrote a book. I sent letters and e-mails and press releases. I even sent the book itself in some cases. And I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to keep sending letters and e-mails and press releases. I'll even send some more books. I'll make presentations. I may not be a major affliction, but I will continue to be a persistent irritant. And I'm not the only one fighting the battle. Maybe we'll all find a way to make a difference in our own ways. 

I'm not a Marine. But I am a survivor, and that's something.



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Thank you for your time and attention.

Sermon for 9/28/14--Trinity XV

Audio:




Text:

Doves and Dandelions

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


God has given you all that you need, both for this life, and for eternal life. The sins that once stood against you have been cast aside by Holy Absolution. The Body and Blood of Jesus are your regular feast. The Good News of the death of the Son of God for your sins shows that the Lord Himself loves you and cares for you. That is true riches! So why do you get all worried about things? Why do husbands and wives have to fight about who spends what and how much? Why do kids hate their parents when they don't buy them what they want?

To be fair, your idolatry is not that you have stuff. After all, God in Christ is the giver of every good gift, and that includes material things. Your idolatry is that you don't believe that the Father has given you every good gift in Jesus Christ. You are baptized and have the Holy Supper and the preaching of the Gospel. But does that put food on the table? Does that mail a check to the credit card company? My brothers and sisters in Christ, repent of that thinking, as if every good gift in Christ is somehow not enough.

To rescue you from the despair that mammon brings, Jesus lifts your eyes to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Think about this. Every time you see the mess that a bird left on your windshield, you know that your Father in heaven is still feeding the birds. Every time you see the dandelions growing in your yard, you can be certain that your Father in heaven is making the flowers look beautiful. He will certainly provide your nourishment and clothing. You are the crown of creation. You are more valuable than doves and dandelions.

You are valuable because you are God's own child through Jesus. You are priceless because the Son of God took on your flesh, taking on your sins and bearing them to the cross. The value you have is that you have been redeemed, bought back from sin and death by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you think He's just going to throw you to the wolves? Do you think He will let you starve? Do you think He will keep you out of heaven? Of course not. You are His. Do you suffer? Jesus has suffered even more. He came into this world to take every bit of your pain, your suffering, your worry, and all your sins upon Himself, to take them away. When you are tempted to worry, to get all worked up over the stuff of this life, then stop a minute and behold the cross. In the cross you can be certain that your heavenly Father is looking out for you.

So what about your clothing? You have been dressed in the robe of Christ's righteousness, given you at your Baptism. By water and the Word, the Lord has claimed you and marked you as His own. What about nourishment? He gives you a never ending feast: the body and blood of Jesus for you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sins. Everything is yours in Jesus! It won't run out. You can never run out of Jesus. He always has more to give.

It's easy to worry about mammon, but Jesus teaches you that such worry is an attempt to serve mammon. You cannot have two masters. So Jesus comes and He has one Master, His Father, to whom He is obedient by dying to pay the debt owed by sinners. He gives His life into death for your sins. He rises again to show that He has conquered sin and death and your worry about mammon. He has washed you at the font, making you His own, clothing you in robes more beautiful than lilies. He feeds you with His own body and blood, a feast far better than the birds get. Your Father has given you all you need to support this body and life. More importantly, in Christ, you have been given everything you need for eternal life. 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, September 22, 2014

Sermon for 9/21/14--Trinity XIV

Audio:




Text:
     
Arise

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

        
The question is this: Do we just need Jesus when things aren’t going our way? Or do we need Him all the time? From day to day, it’s fairly safe to say that most of us probably spare little thought for why we need the Lord. But when we’re in trouble, then we suddenly need Him. And if things work out, we can go back to not really thinking about Him all that much. We work much in the same way as those lepers. Leprosy is terrible. Not only did it destroy the body; it also made the leper unclean. It cut the leper off from civilization. It ruined lives. No wonder these ten lepers wanted Jesus to help! But when He did help them, when their leprosy was gone, they went their way. Only one came back, and it was the Samaritan. He came back to glorify God. He realized that Jesus wasn’t just the guy who cures lepers. He saw that Jesus is the Savior. Jesus tells this one, “Arise. Go. Your faith has saved you.” Jesus has saved you. Get up. Rise from certain death.

Jesus didn’t come to solve every earthly problem you have. He came to give you a true and lasting salvation and eternal life. Jesus didn’t come to make sure your life is easy. He came to save you from your sins. He came to cleanse you of a leprosy that is a lot worse than the flesh-eating kind. He came to cleanse you from the leprosy of sin. He came to overcome the one disease you cannot beat: death. When Jesus tells the Samaritan to get up, it’s like He’s declaring new life. It’s like He’s saying, “You come to me with leprosy, which is a symptom of the sin and curse of death this world is under. But I tell you that I have defeated sin and its curse of death. Now you are truly free—not because you don’t have leprosy anymore, but because your sins are forgiven and you are a child of God, even if you’re from Samaria!” That’s what He says to you, too. By His death and resurrection, Jesus has you covered for sin and death. He has beaten them by His blood and suffering and death and Easter. As He does with the lepers, He tells you, “Arise! Go in peace. Your faith, Your Jesus, has saved you.”

When you were baptized, Jesus says to you, “Arise.” Be alive again. Be rescued from sin and death. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. Now you’re alive. Be raised up. You have beaten death. When you hear His Word and then eat and drink His body and blood, what does He say through His pastors? “Depart in peace.” He says that because your Jesus has saved you. He has taken away your sins and overcome your death and promises to raise you up on the Last Day and give you eternal life. Your problem is not your bills or your health or your marriage or your kids or your job. Your problem is sin, and that has been overcome—not just once, not just for a while, but once and for all and forever. Jesus takes care of it; it has been taken care of for good. That’s why you, like the Samaritan, come back to church: to glorify God for His goodness toward you, His mercy, His love, His forgiveness, His work of healing your body and soul. And what does it mean to give God the glory? Nothing other than to receive the good gifts He has for you. It’s not merely about telling Him “Thank You,” though we do that. To truly give glory to God is to confess that all your good comes from Jesus. And here in His church, the promise is always given: Arise and go. Your faith, your Jesus, has saved you. 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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sermon for 9/14/14--Trinity XIII

Audio:




Text:

Brought to the Inn

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


The young master of the Law knows he should love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Jesus even commends his answer as the right one! But he wanted to justify himself. Imagine that! He wanted to make it seem like he really could love God and his neighbor, and he thought to impress God and earn eternal life. What does it mean to justify yourself? It means to show someone else why you're right, why you are allowed to do what you do. We know all about that. We try to excuse ourselves, to explain why we had to do what we’ve done. This law expert wanted to justify himself. He wanted to prove to Jesus that he knew the content of the Law, and he also wanted to assert that he could actually keep the Law.

When we think we can somehow talk our way into God's good graces, that we can fool the Lord into believing we're worthy, then the Law does what it always does: it accuses! Like a bandit it comes to strip us naked, rob us of our supposed worthiness, beat us up, and leave us within an inch of our lives, naked and bleeding in a ditch. The law always accuses us. That is all the Law can do. It robs us of any notion that we can actually earn God's favor by what we do. When we are laying beat up and robbed by the Law, who do we want to save us? The Law! We want to figure out some way to obey the commandments and work ourselves out of our sin and punishment.

But the priest and the Levite just pass by on the other side. They represent the Law. The Law, the neighbor we lift our bleeding hands toward, ignores us. We are unclean, unworthy. So who comes to save us? It is a Samaritan, someone the Jews would never even want to touch them! Our Samaritan is Jesus, the God nobody wants. The world wants a glorious God. But this is Jesus, God in the flesh. This is the One who was nailed to a cross to shut him up and make Him go away. Jesus comes to save us by giving us His goods to rescue and take care of us. By His death on the cross, Jesus allows Himself to be the one numbered among the criminals, hung there in our place. And this death and His triumph over death are our rescue from the ditch. He heals our wounds by pouring in the oil and wine of the Holy Sacraments. He washes us clean in the waters of Baptism and feeds us with His body and blood. He takes us to the inn, His holy church, where He provides His gifts to the innkeeper, the pastor, who administers care and comfort to sinners. We who could do nothing to save ourselves are rescued by Jesus, our neighbor and good Samaritan.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, blessed are your eyes and ears! You have learned something the world doesn't care to know: You don't have to try to get on God's good side. You are already on His good side in Christ. And more than that, you have learned what it is to love your neighbor, not because it benefits you, but because it benefits them. This notion that we need to be saved by Jesus alone and that our good works are only for our neighbor—these are the things the world doesn't know anything about. But you, as you heal from your wounds in the inn that is the church, as you savor the comfort and healing Jesus gives in His holy sacraments, rest easy. Rest easy knowing that you are safe in Christ. And when the opportunity comes for you to help and do good to other people, don't worry about making God happy. Jesus has already done that for you. Instead, when you see your neighbor in need, just go and do likewise. Jesus is neighbor to you, and you are neighbor to others. 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, September 13, 2014

Sermon for 9/13/14—Funeral of Myrna Miesner

Audio:




Text:

Refuge

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


The burdens and cares of life often seem overwhelming—the project at work or school that’s due tomorrow and you’re still not sure how it should go; the bills that seem to pile up without any relief; the relationship that you’ve somehow damaged and you have no idea what will work to repair it. Or maybe, as it was for Myrna, the burden is an ailment, a disease, one that steals away bits and pieces of your thoughts and memories until it seems as though there’s nothing left. And in our case, the cares of life were made to seem even more overwhelming as we sought to care for the woman we all loved as she fought an overwhelming battle against her own mind and body.

There is another overwhelming enemy that we deal with this day. It is not an external force like ISIS, though such enemies are real. This enemy is even more fearsome, for this is an enemy within. This is no mere illness which could debilitate the body or mind—although we know disease can be fearsome and deadly. This is an enemy which makes slaves of people, many of them never knowing that they’re being attacked. This enemy is sin. Sin captures you. It tempts you to think evil thoughts, to desire evil desires, to perform dark deeds. Sin is the most fearsome enemy of all, for, as the Apostle Paul writes, “The wages of sin is death.” Sin carries death with it like a fisherman carries a pole. Death is what we earn with our disobedience to God and His Word and will. Those wages are evident in the aches and pains we feel. Those wages are evident in our worries and frustrations and grief. And those wages of sin are all too apparent in the body lying in the coffin before us today. Death is sin’s greatest tool, its doomsday device.

The faithful, however, do not need to be afraid of death. Christians don't have to fear whether or not they have done enough to merit salvation. There is no doubt. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." He has won salvation for us. He is our guardian and protector. We have nothing to fear. This is exactly the hope and confidence Psalm 46 gives to us today in our grief. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” When we experience pain or suffering or grief or shame or loss, we still have no cause for fear. God is our refuge and strength. God is our help in trouble. The Lord is a refuge for His Church. He has made His people glad in the rushing waters of Holy Baptism. We are protected. God will help us when morning dawns.

And for Myrna—for all of us—that morning has dawned. It was the morning of the first day of the week. The Son had been crucified. He had died and was buried. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, died on Calvary's cross, bearing the sins of the world. He made complete satisfaction for the sins of the world. Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Sin is defeated forever. Death is merely a rest from the cares of this life, a rest as we await our resurrection in bodies that will not become diseased or decay, with hearts that will know no evil desires, with flesh that will perform no evil deeds. 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, even as you mourn, you have cause for great joy. Rejoice for Myrna, for our heavenly Father, through the merits and work of His Son, has called her to rest from her labors. And rejoice for yourselves, for the battle against sin, death, and the devil is not your battle to fight. Our Lord Jesus has already defeated them by the power of His blood. Be still, for our Lord Jesus Christ is present with you today. He is your mighty fortress, your refuge and strength, your very present help in trouble. 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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sermon for 9/7/14--Trinity XII

Audio:




Text:

Ears and Tongues

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


The Lord gives us ears to hear with and tongues to make words and talk. He gives us ears because, as the Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing." Those ears are also meant to be used to hear our neighbors. He gives us tongues to speak His Word back to Him, mouths that declare His holy name. That same mouth is also to be used for speaking love to our neighbor. But how do you use your ears and tongues? You selectively hear the Word of God. What is it that fills your ears, making you deaf to God's Word? And as for your tongues, you might have a hard time thinking up something nice to say, but you can easily gossip or lash out with an insult. What destruction has been caused by your tongue and your words? My brothers and sisters in Christ, you are deaf and dumb even if you can hear and speak!

That is why the Word became flesh: to take deaf ears and put His Word in them, to take tongues that spout gibberish and to make them speak rightly. When the man in our text is brought to our Lord, Jesus takes him aside. He sticks His fingers in the man's ears. Only the Word of God, only Jesus, can open his ears. Jesus spits and touches the man's tongue. It is water and the Word which opens this man's mouth, loosing his tongue to make him speak rightly. This man's ears are opened and his tongue loosed because the Word of God touches them. Jesus is the Word, the only thing that saves the sinfully deaf and mute. He is the Word who became flesh, putting on ears and a mouth and a whole body of flesh to carry the sins of the world. He is the Word who hangs on the cross and cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!" Think about that. When Jesus is on the cross, the Father is deaf to His Son. The Father speaks nothing to His Son. Jesus suffers and dies alone for our sins. He hears the mocking of us sinners and yet speaks forgiveness. On the cross the Word hangs for sinners, for us, for wayward children who have shut our ears to our Creator's Word and tied our tongues with their wickedness. For all that, the Word gives His life on Calvary.

As he did for the man in our text, Jesus opens your ears and looses your tongue. He does it the same ways: by the Word going into your ears in absolution and preaching; by water and the word poured at the font in Baptism. The Lord desires to fill you with His Word, to open your ears to hear His Word, to loosen your tongue to speak that Word back to Him. The Word that your sinful flesh doesn't want to hear is the very Word that saves you! You could stick your fingers back in your ears and say, "I can't hear you!" But why would you? This preached Word, this Word poured out, this Word that touches your tongue—this Word saves! It goes into your ears, giving you the forgiveness of sins. Then it comes out your mouth, praising and glorifying God, confessing and speaking rightly that Jesus alone saves.

Jesus opens your ears so that you will delight in hearing the Good News that saves you! He loosens your tongue so that your words will speak what you have heard: that Jesus is the One who saves you. He opens your lips that you might use them for good, for blessing your neighbor, by speaking well of others, explaining everything in the kindest way, putting the best construction on everything.

What goes in your ears comes out your mouth. It's true for kids learning to talk and learning to cuss. It's true for God's people learning His Word. Isaiah prophesied the time when the deaf would hear and those who murmured would learn doctrine. That time is now. Jesus has opened your ears and untied your tongues. He has rescued you from being deaf so that you would hear and believe His saving Word. He has loosened your tongues to speak His Word and bless those around you. By opening your ears and loosing your tongues, Jesus, the Word of God, has saved you. 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.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Sermon for 8/31/14--Trinity XI

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Who Are You?

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


Almost without exception, whenever we have something good to say, it's about ourselves. And almost without exception, whenever we have something bad to say, it’s about somebody else. We are very good at saying what good we've done and we are very good at saying how other people have failed. What's worse, if you think you don't live like that, then you prove the point! When it comes down to it, you and I are Pharisees.

In sharing this account of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the great danger from which Jesus would rescue us is that when we are Pharisees, we cannot be justified. You cannot claim salvation and forgiveness of sins when you see yourself as better than everyone else around you! The one who walked out of the Temple with a right relationship with God was not the guy who saw himself as holy. St. Luke records that Jesus told this parable to those who thought they were righteous and who looked down on others.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector teach us that there are really only two kinds of religion in this world. In the religion of the Pharisee, it's all about what we do and how we make ourselves look to God. The religion of the Pharisee is a popular religion because it makes the individual look good. Here's what I've done. Here's what I've accomplished. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if that's your day-to-day religion—and you can't deny that it is—then repent! Repent and recognize that such a way of thinking leaves no room in your life even for God Himself!

The Tax Collector show us the other kind of religion. He came before the Lord and confessed that he was nothing: he was worth nothing, and he could do nothing to save himself. All he had was God's promise that He would send a Savior. That was his only hope. He didn't even look up to heaven. He cried out, "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner." He walked out with His sins forgiven because he relied on God's mercy alone. The Pharisee wanted no mercy from God; he had already justified himself by his pride.

Two kinds of religion means two kinds of Jesus. In the Pharisee's religion, Jesus is nothing but a teacher of wisdom and good works. Jesus is the one who is supposed to pat good people on the back. But in truth, the only Jesus for those believe that way is the Jesus who will stand in the Last Day in all of His eternal glory and burns to ashes all who behold His face in their sinfulness. Indeed, brothers and sisters, if you think you are better than anyone else, more holy, more religious, then just make sure you can prove it when you stand before the Judge. But the Law will testify against you; your condemnation will be swift and certain! For the Tax Collector there is another kind of Jesus. He is the Son of God who was born of the Virgin and lay in a manger. He is the Son of God who patiently taught His disciples. He is the Son of God who allowed Himself to be captured and nailed to a cross. For the Tax Collector and for every other sinner who acknowledges their wretchedness, He is the Jesus who takes their place on the cross and bleeds and dies for them. This is the Jesus who delivers the forgiveness of sins. This is the Jesus in the water of Baptism. This is the Jesus who is present, body and blood, in the Supper.

Let us learn to count ourselves as nothing, for it is Christ who makes us into something—and what’s more, something holy and precious. Because of what Jesus has done and given to you, you are numbered with the Tax Collector who had nothing in himself but sin, but who in Christ is filled to overflowing with all of the Lord's holy and saving and everlasting gifts! And so like the Tax Collector you go away from this temple today justified in Christ. 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.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sermon for 8/24/14--Trinity X

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Shelter

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


The people of Israel weren't sorry for their sins. They thought that having a temple meant they could just do whatever they wanted out in the world. After all, they could just cry, "The temple! I'm at the Temple!" And it's no different for Christians. You know the attitude: I can do whatever I want, live how I want, because it's all just forgiven in church anyway. You go out into the world and forget all about the Lord for the week and do whatever you feel like, despising your neighbor and doing whatever pleases you, and then stroll through these doors as if it's all magically gone. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have the same problem God's people have always had: you are in danger of turning His grace into a joke. You are in danger of turning His church into a hideout for bandits. You turn showing up for church into the work that saves you. Jesus warns Jerusalem that, because that's the way they've received God's Word, the city would be wiped off the map. Tremble at the judgment of God that is in store for those who make His house into a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

But see then what our Lord Jesus does. Jesus comes to you. He comes to robbers and thieves who would make a hideout of His church. He comes, hidden in the flesh, that He might hide us from God's wrath and punishment for our sins. Like a common criminal they nail Him to the tree between two thieves. And there, on the cross, the Lord dies like a thief. He dies for the thieves. Jesus forgives both thieves. One of them hangs there and holds onto his sins, denying that Jesus is accomplishing His salvation. But the other thief beholds Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The man can do nothing on his own but plead for mercy. Jesus speaks to Him, declaring that He Himself is this thief's eternal refuge and shelter.

Here is the Good News of the Gospel: Christ's wounds are your hiding place, your refuge against all sin and evil. Christ dies on the cross and hides you in Himself so that sin, death, devil, hell, and even God's own wrath cannot touch you. And then, dead for your sins, Jesus is laid in a tomb. And on the Third Day He rises from the tomb, leaving behind your sins in the grave. His triumph over death and the devil means that His church, His Temple, is now the place where He dwells, and it is no longer a hideout; it is a shelter. It is no longer a place to "get away with” something; it is a place where our sins are paid for and covered up and taken away by Jesus' blood.

Christ's church is your shelter, your refuge, your place to flee from your sins. And what is given here? Here you receive the water of Holy Baptism to quench your thirst. Here you receive the body and blood of Jesus to nourish you. You receive forgiveness. Whatever you have done against God and your neighbor has been blotted out by the blood of the cross. Your sin against God and neighbor has been washed away at the font, declared null and void by the Absolution. Because these gifts are given by Christ, your sins truly are taken away. What was gained for you by the innocent suffering and death of Jesus is given to you in His church. You can flee here, to Christ's church, as a refuge and a shelter. When your sins overwhelm you, when the devil accuses you, when the troubles of this world rain down on you, then rest easy in your Lord's church, the place of safety and shelter.

Come to His church, not for a hideout but for refuge. Come to Christ's house, not as bandits trying to escape, but as sinners who are truly safe nowhere else. Here at the font, the altar, and the pulpit, Christ has all that you need for your peace: forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus. Here in Jesus and His gifts is your true and safest shelter. 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, August 24, 2014

Sermon for 8/17/14--Trinity IX

Sorry, no audio this week.


Forgiving Debts

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


Our Lord commends the sons of this world for their single-mindedness and zeal. They are shrewd. They know what they want and they focus upon it. They guard and protect their treasures. On the other hand, even though the sons of light have a far greater gift, they guard it with less zeal than criminals guard their loot. The loot and plunder of this world will not last. Its value is temporary. And yet, without a second thought, you can rattle off the price of what you covet, whether it’s a new car, a new house, a video game, whatever it might be. We all spend a great deal of time counting our money and adding up our debts and the cost of what we wish we had. Why then are you so tongue-tied and confused when asked about the hope that is in you?

The master of the unjust steward commends the steward for his shrewdness. He commends the man for giving away his master’s goods and canceling debt. This is not a master like the masters of men. By this parable Jesus would show you how the Kingdom of God works: where goods are given away for free, debts are canceled, and sinners—liars, cheats, thieves, the unjust—are praised and loved. The Father has given all He has, right down to the life of His Son, to have you. He is like the shepherd who leaves the rest of the flock behind to secure the safety of one sheep. He does not calculate or analyze the cost. The Church is not a business. God is one of us in Christ, but He is not like us. He is holy. He bestows His holiness on you through holy things—Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, Holy Absolution, Holy Word. He gives you faith. Even so, because of the old man still with you, His ways baffle you and mock your wisdom. They are not your ways. But by the faith that He has planted, you know that His ways are good.

So…what goods of the Lord's have you wasted or stolen? How have you been negligent or miserly with God's love? Are you holding grudges? Do you secretly desire vengeance? Are you willing to lie and cheat to gain honor with men? What have you done? How have you violated God's law and spurned His gifts? It doesn't matter how long your list of sins is. It doesn’t matter how you have squandered His gifts. He still wants you back. The debt is canceled. You are free. After all, He is not a master like the masters of men. He loves to forgive. He is gracious. He is holy.

This is a Love so consuming that it would sacrifice a Son. This is a Love so bent on giving that it suffers constant abuse and betrayal. This is a Love so pure that it cannot be spent or end or ever taken away, a Love that cancels debts, ends death, and adopts rebels as sons. Such love seems foolish to the sons of this world. It even seems foolish to many who consider themselves sons of light. This is the incomprehensible Love of God in Christ Jesus. This is the work of the Father in the Spirit of Christ. God has loved you by sending His Son. In His suffering, death, and resurrection He has canceled your debts. He has bathed you in this Love by His Name and water, fed you in this Love with His risen Body and Blood, encouraged and taught you in this Love by His holy Word. These are treasures that moth and rust cannot destroy, that thieves cannot break in and steal. These are the treasures of heaven—even Christ Himself—and it is He who guards, protects, and preserves them for you, who continues to give them to you. He is the steward of the Father who gives away the Father's kingdom and cancels debts. The Master loves to cancels debts, and His love cannot be contained in the vessels of men. With God, there is always more. 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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sermon for 8/10/14--Trinity VIII

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Good Fruit

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


Our Lord Jesus tells us, "Beware! Watch out for false prophets who come in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Jesus is warning us that the world is full of preachers and writers and speakers and ideas that all sound good. They might even say stuff about Jesus and sound religious and pious. They have crafty and sneaky ideas designed to make it sound like they’re preaching God's Word, but in fact they would lead you astray from God's Word into death and darkness and eternal hell.

The Lord calls your pastor to preach and teach God's Word and administer Christ's holy sacraments. Scripture tells us, "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God." You must do that even with your own pastor. Don't ever take my word for something. Open the Scriptures and see whether what I'm telling you is what the Word of God says. But if you don't know the Word of God so well, let me teach you. We will study it together. Let me show you how Christ Himself teaches that He is the heart and center of all the Scriptures. From cover to cover, it's all about Jesus. It's about the Son of God coming into this world, obedient to His Father, to do the work of saving us from our sins by taking our place and dying and rising again.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, learn what a true prophet is. A true prophet, a true preacher, is one who delivers Jesus. Look at Jesus Himself. Jesus is not just wearing sheepskin. He is the very Lamb of God who takes away sins. He never acts like a wolf, fooling people and then eating them up. He brings the comfort of God's grace to them by preaching the forgiveness of sins. His fruits are blood and water: water that washes away our sins in the font, and blood that nourishes us with the forgiveness, life and salvation He won for us by His death and resurrection. There is no truer Prophet than our Lord. He is the Lamb, the One who bears the fruits of salvation.

So if Jesus is such a prophet and such a Savior, anyone who comes preaching in His Name should give out nothing other than the repentance and forgiveness Christ died and rose to provide. A preacher is to do what Christ has sent him to do: to preach and teach God's Word, to call sinners to repentance, to deliver Jesus at the font, to speak for Jesus the words of absolution, to give Christ’s body and blood to Christians to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. If you go to an apple tree, you expect apples. If you go into a peach orchard, you expect to pick peaches. When you go to a Christian pastor, most especially your own pastor, you should expect Him to warn you away from your sins and point you to Christ. You should expect Him to point you back to the font, to absolve you and to call you to the Holy Supper where Christ feeds you. The fruits of a preacher's ministry are nothing other than the fruits of Christ Himself.

This is why Jesus tells us to watch out for false preachers! It's easy to be deceived into thinking that something other than the forgiveness of sins is what preaching is all about. Don’t trust a pastor who is looking out for himself. Don’t trust a pastor who is in it just for the money or status or authority or popularity. Don’t trust a pastor who claims to be your life coach. If a preacher is preaching for any of those reasons, He is a ravenous wolf. At the same time, don’t measure preachers by looking for the wrong kind of fruit. “That preacher is friendly.” “That preacher makes me feel good.” “That preacher keeps the young people in church.” “That preacher does what I like.” Judging a preacher apart from Christ and the forgiveness of sins welcomes false preaching. You might as well baste yourself to be tasty for the prowling devil.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, listen to the Lord's warning today! Watch out for false prophets! Beware of anything and anyone that doesn't preach Christ crucified for you and point you to your Baptism. Watch out for any preaching or teaching that merely exalts you rather than speaking Jesus into your ears. Beware of any religion that exalts the man who preaches rather than the Son of God who died and rose for you. Don't blindly trust your pastor; test him by the Word of God. Test the spirits, knowing that in Christ alone you have salvation. And then, on the Last Day, there will be no need to try to convince Jesus that you were faithful to Him, for Christ Himself will be your boast, your confidence, and your certain entrance into eternal life. Covered by the Lamb Himself and bearing the fruit of His cross, you will have eternal life in Jesus. 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, August 04, 2014

Sermon for 8/3/14--Trinity VII

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Trusting God for Bread

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


Our heavenly Father promises to give us all that we need for our body and life. We are to trust Him because He gives us his Word of life, and that same Word of life gives us salvation and tells us that the Lord will provide for us in this life. Adam taught his wife differently, and that sin has been with us ever since. Rather than having God's Word first, we run around trying to grab all the stuff of this life. Rather that having God's Word as our highest treasure, we think the most important things in our life are the things we can buy. The Devil loves to tell us the lie: "God's Word can't keep your belly full and a roof over your head." And we believe him!

The disciples were all excited to hear Him preach and teach too, until their tummies started rumbling. The Word of God is great…until you've been with Jesus three days and you're starving. Then what? Jesus feeds them. It doesn't matter how much bread or fish there is; Jesus makes it enough. Jesus comes into this world for unbelieving, worrying, ungrateful idolaters who think they need stuff but don't need God's Word. For our worry, for our idolatry, for our coveting, for our unbelief, for all our sin, Jesus hangs on Calvary, giving His body into death. Over and over Jesus gave up earthly treasure to redeem us from our sins. All Jesus had was the cup of suffering and the ashes and dust of our sins. Yet Jesus trusted in His Father's Word, and that sustained Him. Our sins are His sins, our death is His death. And His life becomes ours. And He rose and lives to give us salvation and all that we need for this body and life.

That's why He feeds the 4,000. Why were the 4,000 there? They had been listening to His Word. Their first concern was His Word. After all, His Word saves them. His Word is true food. His Word is life. His Word is life, but that doesn't mean daily bread is unimportant. So Jesus feeds them. My brothers and sisters in Christ, there is such a temptation for us to think that God's Word and gifts are not the most important thing. Gas prices go up. That means food prices go up. The price of everything is going up. With that comes a huge temptation to worry that we won't have enough for what we need. Jesus fed four thousand with seven loaves of bread. Do you think He can’t or won't provide for you what you need?  We question His goodness. After all, sometimes that next paycheck seems so far away. Even so, did you go hungry? Did you have no place to live? The Lord has made you His own. Do you think He'll let you starve? And even if He did, you still have forgiveness and eternal life and all things.

It's no random detail that St. Mark throws in when he writes that Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and broke it and distributed it. That reminds us of the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper teaches us that Jesus is our Lord—both for eternal life and for now. He doesn't just give us forgiveness of sins. He provides for and cares for us now. God is not just for spiritual things, but also for bodily gifts. When we eat and drink the Lord's body and blood, it feed our bodies and forgives our sins. Just as He dies to bear our sins and makes us God's children, in the same way He provides for us all that we need to live in this life.

Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God. From the Words that make you His own at the font to the words that feed you with His own body and blood, Jesus is your Lord for this life and for the life to come. Jesus comes so that there will be One who really does live by God's Word. And that living done by Jesus counts for you. That's what gives you life. Food, clothing, and shelter are no problem for a Lord who can die and rise again and take away your sins. After all, you've got Jesus Himself, and that means you have everything. 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.

Friday, August 01, 2014

HYMN Updated: Saints of God, the Devil, Prowling

Thanks to some helpful advice from Kathryn Hill on a different hymn at the 2014 Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music (about which I will post later), I've re-worked my latest hymn. It still needs more work, but for once I plan on keeping track of my progress as I make it. Let me know what you think or what advice you might have.




Saints of God, the Devil, Prowling

 
1. Saints of God, the devil, prowling,
Seeks God's children to devour.
All his demon horde is howling
In this persecution hour—
Tempting, blaming, sin-befouling.
Who on earth resists his pow'r?

2. Saints of God, our holy Father,
Looking from eternity,
Saw our fall, but still would gather
Sinners who from Satan flee.
He sent Christ to be our brother—
Sent the Christ to set us free.

3. Saints of God, the Son, our Savior,
Born of woman, born of God,
Bore the brunt of man’s disfavor,
Bore the curse of death’s foul rod.
Now death’s sting is gone forever,
Overcome is Satan’s fraud.

4. Saints of God, the Spirit crying
Comforts us in ev’ry need.
Death, the world, the devil’s lying
Can no more our souls impede.
Now the Spirit, ever vying,
Calls God’s children free indeed.

5. Saints of God, our flesh betrays us.
Lo, the prince of earth conspires.
All who hate the Word would slay us,
Sentence us to angry fires.
Though they beat us, mock, or flay us,
None can dare our souls require.

6. Saints of God, the world deplores us—
Rage and spite, our earthly lot.
Boldly face the cross before us
Let the faithless scheme and plot.
You, though all the world abhors us,
By Christ’s holy blood are bought.

7. Saints of God, though death comes near us—
Blessed to face the fearful blade—
Rise to pray. The Father hears us.
Tremble not! Be not afraid!
Sing for joy! The Lord will cheer us
With white robes which never fade.

8. Saints of God who live hereunder,
Hail the Lord with heav’nly host.
Martyrs, with the voice of thunder,
Praise the name of which we boast.
Worshipping in endless wonder
Father, Son and Holy Ghost!


(c) 2014 Alan Kornacki, Jr.
87 87 87
Tune (for now): Ascended Triumph
(LSB 491, © 1973 Henry Gerike)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HYMN: Saints of God, the Devil, Prowling

I'd been looking for an idea for a hymn for next year's 125th anniversary of my current congregation, St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill, Illinois. With the events happening all over the world with Muslims marking out Christians for death, I was inspired to write this. As you can see, I Peter 5 and the Sermon on the Mount influenced this text. I wanted to talk about persecution and how the three Person of the Trinity answer it. Whether or not I succeeded, well...I'll leave that for you to say.

This is a very rough first draft. I'd appreciate any feedback you'd want to give.


Saints of God, the Devil, Prowling


1. Saints of God, the devil, prowling,
Seeks God's children to devour.
All his demon horde is howling
In this persecution hour—
Tempting, blaming, sin-befouling.
Who on earth resists his pow'r?

2. Saints of God, our holy Father,
E’re He did the world create,
Saw our fall, but still would gather
Sinners from their wretched state.
Sent His Son to be our brother—
Sent His Son to bear our fate.

3. Saints of God, His Son, our Savior,
Born of woman, born of God,
Bore the brunt of man’s disfavor,
Bore the curse of death’s foul rod.
Now death’s sting is gone forever,
Overcome with Satan’s fraud.

4. Saints of God, the Spirit crying
Comforts us in ev’ry need.
Death, the world, and Satan’s lying
Can no more our souls impede.
Now the Spirit, ever vying,
Calls God’s children free indeed.

5. Saints of God, your flesh betrays you.
Lo, the prince of earth conspires.
All who hate the Word would slay you,
Sentence you to angry fires.
Though they beat you, mock, or flay you,
None can dare your soul require.

6. Saints of God, the world deplores you—
Rage and spite, your earthly lot.
Boldly face the cross before you
Let the faithless scheme and plot.
You, though all the world abhor you,
By Christ’s holy blood are bought.

7. Saints of God, though death comes near you—
Blessed to face the fearful blade—
Raise your prayers. The Father hears you.
Tremble not! Be not afraid!
Sing for joy! The Lord will cheer you
With white robes that never fade.



∆ 8. Saints of God who live hereunder,

Hail the Lord with heav’nly host.
Martyrs, with the voice of thunder,
Praise the name of which we boast.
Worshipping in endless wonder
Father, Son and Holy Ghost!


(c) 2014 Alan Kornacki Jr.
87 87 87
Tune in my head as I wrote: Ascended Triumph (LSB 491, (c) 1973 Henry Gerike)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sermon for 7/20/14--Trinity V

There won't be a new sermon for July 27, as I will be heading to a conference. See you in August!


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Fish in the Net

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


Everything in our Gospel points us to how Christ makes salvation happen. The church is the boat. In the church is Christ, whose Word is preached to the world. In the boat, Christ's servants, humble, sinful preachers, cast the net of His Word and draw people up out of the baptismal waters and into the boat. In this world, Christ reels us in through His Gospel and Sacraments. Drawn from the waters of Holy Baptism and fed with the life-giving body and blood of Jesus, we are now safe in the boat, the church. We are drawn by His Word, feasting and feeding upon the crucified and risen Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Just as the fish are drawn into the nets by the Word of Jesus, so we are drawn by that same Word into the church, to faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Our thinking, our planning, our doing, our wishing and wanting and trying are all worthless. In the church, we learn that our ways are not His ways. We learn, as Elijah did, to stop worrying about ourselves and instead be concerned with the kingdom of God and the promises that the Lord Himself gives. In the church, we learn to despair of ourselves and place all of our hope and faith and trust in Christ alone. Just think: Peter is a master fisherman, but he catches nothing. Then Jesus tells him to fish in broad daylight in the deep. Then he finds a catch! So it is in our lives and in the church. Follow your own ways, devise your own plans—try to perfect your marriage, to raise your kids, to live your life on your own terms. This will give you nothing but empty nets. But hear Christ's Word: your sins are forgiven! Live by His Word. Live by His grace and mercy and promises that your nets will be full of fish. Of course this is easier said than done. That’s why Jesus gives full nets even to a sinner like Peter and promises forgiveness, life and salvation even to doubting sinners!

We agonize at times that our pews are no longer full on Sunday morning. We worry at times about our financial situation. We fret that maybe we’re doing things in a way that keeps the fish from our boat. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Peter learned that the purpose of Jesus' power was not to frighten and destroy that sinful man, but to save him. In the same way, Christ has not come to condemn you but to save you. Confess your sins! Say with Peter that you are not worthy to be anywhere near God. Then hear the words of absolution which declare your sins forgiven. Remember the baptismal water from which you were pulled and rescued from sin and death. Feast upon the body and blood of the who would have you in the churchly boat! Never mind your own plans and purposes. Rather say with Peter, "At your Word I will do it!" That's the very Word that saves us from sin and death and puts Jesus in us, the reason for our hope. Trust that Word when you look at the empty pews, at the red numbers on the financial statement, on the small number of students in Sunday School and Bible study. The Lord provides, and He does so in His way and in His time and to His glory. That’s His work. We’re just the fish.

We have been pulled from the water by the fishermen who have been commanded to do so with the nets of God's Word. Jesus has spoken His Word and brought us into this boat, His church, where He and His life-giving Word are. Our little congregation has its share of struggles and problems. In our own lives we have our share of struggles and difficulties and heartaches. Repent of trying to work all these things out yourself. Hear again the words of Jesus: "Do not be afraid." Fear not, for Jesus is the reason for the hope that is in you. Cling to Jesus and His Word. "Do not be afraid!" 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, July 20, 2014

Sermon for 7/19/14--Wedding of Daniel James and Ashley Young

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Text:

Man's Wish or God's Word

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


In God’s great wisdom He has divinely designed husband and wife to be the very expression of His will. Men and women are divinely designed to be a perfect fit for one another. We are designed to fit each other emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. When you join together in marriage this day you will become more as one. Marriage, therefore, is an age-old and sacred practice. Despite all the voices in our world that denigrate marriage, despite the curses our society chooses when it opts for easy divorce and a distorted image of what God designed marriage to be, what you are about to do is certainly ordained by God.

The union you are about to enter is a sacred mystery. The language of Jesus is puzzling from a human perspective. How can two become one? God is describing a totally new way of relating as human beings. He is not describing two independent people who have merely chosen to live together, but rather the creation of an entirely new entity, two people who are taking sacred vows to live as a sacred unit.

In the holiness of marriage we can begin to comprehend the graciousness of God. Here is a view of God personified. Christ was willing to give up the glory of God to become a man. He was willing to become the servant of another because of our desperate need for a restored relationship with Him, a relationship that had been broken by humanity’s sinful rebellion. Christ was willing to sacrifice His life for the sake of His beloved people.

In the same way, Marriage is a place of considering the other person’s needs ahead of your own, a place of mutual service for the sake of another, a place of personal sacrifice for the love of another. The more you look at the love of Christ for us, the more you will understand your own marriage and how marriage works. If you wish to learn how to love one another as husband and wife in such a way that the quality of your love continues to grow with the passage of time, then you must learn more about the love of God in Christ Jesus. God is love, and He will teach you what love truly is.

As you begin this mysterious and sacred journey today, remember that it is God, the Creator of this holy and blessed institution of marriage, who stands ready to show you how to live confidently in His love and His forgiveness together for as long as you live on this earth. This is a time blessed by God and established in His name, and in this blessed union, you can find your mutual joy 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, July 13, 2014

Sermon for 7/13/14--Trinity IV

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Text:

Forgiven

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


Just as Adam and Eve sought to be like God, we want to be like God. In fact, we want to be God because God being God isn’t good enough for us. No, we must be God so we can be in control of our lives and that of our neighbor. We want our neighbor’s life to spin out of control so he can be served that ice-cold dish of revenge, while we eat the warm plate full of satisfaction, power, and control. We want God’s power to judge and condemn every soul.

But God has not measured you in wrath. As you stand alone before God, He measures you graciously. If He were to assess you according to what you deserve, you would deserve only His wrath. You would deserve to have the earth swallow you up. Your entire life, you have conducted yourself in such an evil way that you rightly deserve death and hell. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Why do you seek revenge when your neighbor comes to seek forgiveness? This is not God’s way. He throws out everything that we deserve: the anger, disgrace, judgment, death, and hell. In its place He gives us heaven, grace, and freedom from the Law’s accusation and our bad conscience.

Your hypocrisy is forgiven. Your arrogance is forgiven. Your anger is forgiven. Your quest for revenge is forgiven. You are forgiven because of Jesus Christ. Jesus takes all these sins and dies for them. Jesus allows his flesh to be hung on the cross, His head covered in a crown of thorns, to pay for your sins. Jesus breaks the bonds of death and rises from the dead to destroy death and hell, giving you everlasting life. Vengeance truly belongs to the Lord, for He alone destroys death and hell for us.
Our Father’s loving mercy to us is to be the motive and measure of our mercy in our relationship with others. To love as we have been loved, we must be merciful in the same way our heavenly Father is merciful—not merely to our friends, not only to those engaged in wrongdoing, but to everyone. That includes those whom we dislike, those who dislike and persecute us, and people to whom we don’t even want to say hello when we see them. God would have His children live in His mercy.

God would have us live as Joseph lived. Joseph forgave his brothers. He thought nothing of all the evil that happened to him. He forgave, forgot, loved them, and took care of them and their families. Saint Paul writes, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Nothing our neighbor does against us is so bad that we cannot answer it with the love of Christ within us.

God’s House is the place where we start living as brothers and sisters in Christ, anticipating Christ’s return. We sit together as the family of God. We confess our sins. We receive Holy Absolution. We give thanks and praise to God for all He gives us. We hear the Good News of forgiveness, life, and salvation. We receive frequently that Good News of forgiveness in the Body and Blood of Christ under bread and wine. We depart from this house redeemed, restored, forgiven, at peace with God and our neighbor.

God gives to you today as He does every Lord’s Day. He gives more: more forgiveness, more life, more salvation. He gives to you that you would then give to your neighbor. Though you walk in the midst of trouble, the Lord will revive you; He will stretch out His hand against the wrath of your enemies. His right hand will save you. "Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; for His mercy endures forever." And it does endure, for you and for your neighbor. 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.