Wednesday, June 26, 2013

HYMN: The Holy Feast Is Ready

I've been working on something for about a month now, though the deep digging on it has happened in the last week. I had an idea for a hymn based on Luke 14:15-24, the Gospel appointed for the Second Sunday After Trinity in the LSB 1-year lectionary. Finally it came together about a week ago--at least, the bones of the idea. I wrote three verses, but it felt like it was missing something. I changed some things around and added a fourth verse, and this is what has come out. Any feedback would be appreciated.

The Holy Feast Is Ready

1. The holy feast is ready.
The Master bids you, “Come!”
His Gospel calls to many—
To ev’ry land and home.
The Lord in grace has spoken:
“Come forth, you lame and blind.
Come forth, you poor and broken.
You here a welcome find.”

2. With blood and body given,
Our hunger He would feed.
This living Bread from heaven
Would meet our ev’ry need.
But woe and condemnation
To those who love their hoard
And spurn the invitation,
For they have their reward.

3.We hear, compelled, unwilling.
Begrudging, we come near.
All shame forever stilling,
He calms the sinner’s fear.
The Master, holy Jesus—
Himself the Host and Feast—
In mercy He receives us,
The greatest and the least.

4. We are the guests invited
To eat this Gospel feast,
And by our Lord delighted
We are from sin released.
Forgiven saints, we gather
Your glory to confess,
O Spirit, Son and Father—
Our God, forever blest.

© 2013, Alan Kornacki, Jr.
76 76 D
Tune: EWING (LSB 672)--at least temporarily

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sermon for 6/23/13--Trinity 4



As We Forgive…

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

Judge not and you will not be judged.” As I’ve told you before, these are probably the most misused words in all of Scripture, and they are the words non-believers most enjoy using against Christians. So let's start with what these words don’t mean. They don't mean you can’t tell someone that what they're doing is wrong. In truth, the Lord gives us the authority in our various callings to do exactly that. Parents are to teach their kids right from wrong. Teachers have to discipline students who misbehave. Police officers have to enforce the law. Pastors have to remind people of the Lord's Word and call them to repentance. As Christians, the Lord gives us the task sometimes of speaking the truth to the world which doesn't want to hear it. That's when the world throws these words of Jesus back in our face.

But that's not what these words mean! When Jesus says, "Do not judge," He is urging His hearers to forgive. One who judges is condemning someone for their sins, treating them as their actions deserve. Forgiving means not treating someone as their sins deserve. Look at Joseph. If there was anyone who could punish his brothers for what they did, it was Joseph. He could have made them suffer just as he had suffered. He could have put them to death. Who doesn't like a good story where the hero suffers at the hands of villains, and then in the end finally brings justice?

These words might sound familiar: “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We don’t like those pesky words in the Lord’s Prayer. It's much more satisfying when the bad guys get what they deserve. That's because we'd rather pay back than forgive. When someone wrongs you, do you act like it never happened? That's forgiveness! Or do you condemn them or give them the silent treatment? That is the judging which our Lord forbids. We like to forget how our Lord deals with us. God Himself becomes man and makes Himself our brother. We sell Him into the slavery of our sin, give Him over to the hands of evil men and kill Him. In our sinfulness we put Him to death and pretend to the Father that it's not our fault. And just as Joseph rose from the dungeons to be Pharaoh's right hand man, even so Jesus rose from the dead to sit at the Father's right hand with all majesty and power. When we stand before Him now, will He condemn us? No. He treats us like brothers, like we had not done all those things to Him, like we are holy and righteous. He takes us to Himself so we may share in His eternal glory! Jesus does not judge; Jesus forgives.

The Lord promises that there is no judgment or condemnation for you. Your baptism says so. Holy Absolution says so. The body and blood of Jesus say so. Christ's Word and gifts are His promise that He who could condemn you without a word instead loves you, forgives you, and has prepared a place for you with Him. When someone sins against you, forgive as you have been forgiven. Don't judge. Be merciful and forgive them, treating them as if they haven't done anything wrong. That’s the way the Lord sees you. But what about when you don't want to? What about when it's hard to do? Then go back to your Baptism and the Supper and the Word so that you may hear again your own forgiveness—for it is through those gifts that the Spirit enables you to forgive others.

Dear brothers and sisters, the plank has been removed from your eye. God's judgment is turned aside. For you it's all mercy and forgiveness from the Lord. For you it's a good measure, pressed down and overflowing. In Christ, you too are merciful, forgiving and not judging, able to gently remove the speck from your brother's eye—not by pointing it out in judgment, but by taking it out with forgiveness. 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, June 19, 2013

Sermon for 6/16/13--Trinity 3


A God Like You

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

God doesn't make sense. He is supposedly a just God, yet He pardons iniquity and passes over transgressions. God is supposed to bless those who live good lives and punish sinners. What's with all this forgiveness? The Pharisees and scribes thought that way. Jesus was preaching and teaching to tax collectors and sinners and even ate with them! If He was really God, He would know what kind of people those are. And He does. But Jesus is not the kind of God who slaps the back of good people. Jesus comes for sinners. By sending His Son, God the Father is seeking lost sheep and lost coins—sheep that have wandered off in their sins and are perilously close to getting eaten by a wolf; coins that have rolled into the farthest corner under the cabinet where the cobwebs and dirt are. Jesus came for sinners: people who don't love God or their neighbors as they should; people who don't pray and learn the Scriptures as they should; people who are messed up parents and spouses and children who seem to break a commandment whenever they take a step!

That's who Jesus comes to rescue. He comes for them by taking their sins Himself and carrying them to the cross, where He bleeds and dies to pay their price. He searches them out and finds them through the preaching of His Gospel in the world, through the water and word of Holy Baptism. He finds them and brings them into His church. We talk about repentance, and it’s a big word. Repentance is not some showy display that you got your life straightened out. Repentance works like this: You sin, and Jesus finds you and saves you and brings you into His Kingdom. He does it with water and the Word and the preaching of the Gospel. He keeps you in the faith by His Word and Absolution and His body and blood. That's why the tax collectors and sinners came to hear Jesus: He did not preach as the god of the Pharisees to demand that they clean up their act. They came to Jesus because the Law was of no help to them. Try as they might, they could not love God and their neighbor as they should. So they came to hear Jesus because He spoke forgiveness to them.

But watch out! Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. And how will the Devil eat you up? He will do it by turning you back into a Pharisee! The great danger to faith is refusing to believe you are a sinner.  Christians are always faced with the temptation to think we're basically good people. But that's the inner Pharisee speaking! It doesn't matter who you are or what you do—you will always think there are worse people than you. You can drive better. You can raise your kids better. You have a better marriage. You have a neater yard. You are better pastor. You're a better Christian. The Pharisees thought God was like them and showed favor to them because they were so holy. Today, hearing about lost sheep and coins, we must confess that, when it comes down to it, we don't really think we're sinners!

If you're not a poor, miserable sinner, then Jesus can't help you. If you come to this place because you think this is the place where the righteous people hang out, then your pastor has nothing for you. You’ve wasted your time today. But if you come to church because you are beat down by the devil, the world and your sinful nature, then Jesus has given your pastor plenty of Good News to speak to you. All we have going on in this place is the forgiveness of sins for sinners. The Lord spares no expense to find us and rescue us in our sins! The shepherd searches high and low until he finds that lost sheep. The woman doesn't stop sweeping and scrubbing until she finds that coin. In the same way, our Lord stops at nothing to rescue us from our sins. He goes through arrest and beatings and spitting and mocking and flogging and the agony of crucifixion and the rest in the tomb to bring you back to God. There is no sin too big, no iniquity hidden so well that Jesus cannot wipe it away with His blood. If you are troubled by your sins, rejoice in the God who comes to take them away! If you are worried that you haven't lived the life you should, rejoice in the Savior who lived in perfect obedience for you. If you are certain that you are no lover of God and no lover of your neighbor, rejoice that the Lord has come and found you by His cross. Rejoice that those sins have been blotted out. Rejoice that through Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, our Lord has made you holy and righteous in His sight, and then share that forgiveness with other sinners.

Who is a God like you?” asks Micah. Indeed, who is a God like Jesus? He is not the God we expect. He doesn't come to congratulate the righteous. No, He comes to be a Savior for the sinners. Thanks and praise be to Jesus who come to be a man, and yet was without sin so that He could take away our sins. Jesus is for sinners. Jesus is for you. Here is your repentance all you sheep and lost coins: You have been found in Christ. And the angels rejoice in heaven over what the Lord has done for 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. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Reading List: May

May saw me slow down a little bit again on the reading. Life has a way of imposing itself. Mom and Dad Kornacki visited us in May, as did a friend of ours who just finished his studies and has become an intern in a hospital setting. I've been doing some research for a possible writing project--my fourth novel, this time in a different genre, anyone? And of course being a husband, father, pastor, friend, and all-around good guy (*wink*) tends to take some time. All that being said, I still did some good reading in May. I should hop the 100 book mark in June, even should I continue to do novel prep.

Without further ado...

  1. Apuzzo, Nick. Nine Hundred Nights. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  2. Pekkanen, Sarah. All Is Bright. Washington Square Press, 2010.
  3. Brown, Christopher Boyd. Singing the Gospel. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2005.
  4. Ragan, Theresa. Taming Mad Max. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  5. Vargas, Kimberly. Gumbeaux. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2011.
  6. McClure, Mark D. Her. Self-Published Kindle edition, 2013.
  7. Eads, Michael L. Leap Year at the Coffee Shop. Red San Publishing, 2011.
  8. Rosenberg, Joel. The Fire Duke. Keepers of the Hidden Ways, Book 1. Eos, 1996.
  9. James, Brooklyn. The Boots My Mother Gave Me. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2010.
  10. Brown, Carolyn. The Ladies’ Room. Montlake Romance, 2011.
  11. Cates, Georgia. Beauty from Pain. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2013.
  12. Gaiman, Neil. How to Talk to Girls at Parties. William Morrow, 2006.
  13. Burkhart, Stephanie. A Polish Heart. Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery, 2012.
  14. Bishop, Paul. Penalty Shot. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2011.
  15. Duck, Julie Rieman. A Place in This Life. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2011.
  16. Kurtz, Katherine. Camber of Culdi. Legends of Camber of Culdi, Book 1. Ballantine Books, 1976.

Sermon for 6/9/13--Trinity 2

No audio this week. Yesterday was a concatenation of silly little blunders: waking up at 8:45am for the 9am service, my interesting pubescent voice change during the Salutation, and a complete mind-blank on my sermon when a page of my manuscript went missing (which wouldn't have been a problem if [1] I'd had time to review my sermon text a few times before the service as I usually do or [2] I'd been more awake--for which, again, I have no one to blame but myself). So...for the members of St. Peter who didn't get to hear the portion of this that got lost between printing and preaching, the bold print is what you missed. My apologies. I'd like to say that it won't happen again, but instead let me say that I'll do everything I can to prevent this from happening again.

Ringing the Dinner Bell

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

"A certain man gave a great supper and invited many." This certain man is God the Father. The supper is the banquet of forgiveness and life which Christ His Son purchased by His death for sin and by His victory over the grave. In fact, Jesus is Himself the meal, the bread of life given in His body and blood. God has sent out His Holy Spirit to invite many through the preaching of the Gospel to come to the feast. All things have been prepared by God; there is no cost to you. Those invited may freely dine on the finest of fare which God has to offer.

"But they all with one accord began to make excuses." They all had other things they thought were more important to do.  Being with the Giver of the feast and sharing in the joy of His meal was low on the priority list. They all demonstrate unbelief in the Gospel invitation. The first said, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it.  I ask you to have me excused." This man is caught up in his property and does not believe that in Christ the meek shall inherit the earth. He seeks to gain the world and in the process forfeits his soul. He sees the value of land but does not desire the priceless land of the new creation. He elects to go and see his piece of ground, showing his destiny to return to the ground in temporal and eternal death.

The second said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them.  I ask you to have me excused." This man prefers his work to the work of Christ. This man seeks to produce His own righteousness before God, walking under the yoke of the five books of Moses' Law, rather than trusting in the righteousness of Christ, walking in the freedom of the Gospel. He will find no rest. His labor is in vain.

The third said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." This man prized his earthly marriage over the heavenly wedding of Christ and His Churchly Bride. He desired a fleeting wedding celebration more than the everlasting marriage feast. He loved union with his wife more than communion with his Creator. When death parts him from his wife, there will be nothing to restore him to life.

On the surface all of these excuses seem pretty reasonable. Taking care of land and business concerns and being with your new wife sound at first like pretty legitimate justifications for saying "no" to the invitation. And it's that same sort of seemingly reasonable excuse-making that we are tempted to engage in when the Gospel invitation comes to us. We too can come up with our own rationalizations for saying "maybe later" to God and His invitation to the feast. And this is true in every stage of life. In youth, sowing our wild oats seems like the most important thing. Reaching adulthood, it’s the responsibilities of family and employment. In middle age, we must work hard for retirement. And then it’s time to retire, when we can finally afford to travel and do all the things we missed while we were getting ready for this day. Please, Lord, have me excused.
And lest we who are here today become self-righteous, what about when we come to the banquet of the Lord but don't eat? What about when we hear the Word of the Lord that is read and preached in this place but refuse to pay attention to it and receive it? What about when we starve ourselves, lest we believe the Supper loses what makes it special? We're at the table, so to speak, but our attention is elsewhere than on God's free gifts of mercy and life in Christ. The food is in front of us, but we're not hungry. We've lost sight of our need for Jesus and what He has to give.
God will have a full house on the Last Day for His feast. And if those who should come don't, then many whom you might not expect will: not only the poor and the lame and the blind, but also even many from among the heathen nations will be brought to believe and be saved. This meal is given not on the credentials of the invitees but on the graciousness of the Host.

Our Lord Jesus offered up His body on the cross to be "roasted" in the fire of judgment. He suffered hell in our place at Calvary. Having rescued us from sin and Satan by His holy death, and being now raised from the dead, Jesus offers Himself to the whole world as heavenly food that we might receive His saving gifts and be nourished by them. Jesus said, "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." And if Christ dwells in you, then the sin and death which troubles you ultimately cannot harm you, for in Christ you have pure righteousness and life which conquers all, even the grave. He will indeed bring you who believe to the resurrection of the body at the close of the age.

And so the Spirit's call goes out to you again this day: "Come, for all things are now ready." The banquet table is laid before you, not only in the Word of God you are hearing, but also in the Sacrament of the Altar. Partake of this holy, life-giving food.  Believe in Christ and be saved. Receive the foretaste of the Feast to come, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which will have no end. 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.  

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sermon for 6/2/13--Trinity I



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

We live in a funny world. All around us, people are mad at those politicians and corporate bigwigs who make huge salaries and get huge bonuses. They live in luxury and despise all the people that are beneath them. But why do the 99 percent protest those one percent? They protest precisely because they are greedy too! They begrudge the rich because they themselves are not rich. Greed is everyone's problem. Consider yourself. We love to complain about those congressmen and how they make all that money while they tax us into oblivion. If we have it good, our employers better let us keep it; if we don't have it so good, there's always those people to complain about who have it better than we do. Yet we find it hard even to take the bit God gives us and use it for the benefit of our neighbor.

But there are greater riches with which we are stingy. Hoarding our cash or racking up our credit cards has got nothing on how we clamp shut the vaults of forgiveness. Your pastor could probably beat you over the head enough to guarantee our food pantry bin back there is full, but what could he preach to make you open up the vault of forgiveness? Everyone has at least one person in his life who suffers because we won't let go of their sins and forgive them. Your neighbor festers in the sores of what he has done, and you pass him by every day without so much as a nod. When you are at fault, you demand that everyone accept your excuse and let you off the hook. But when it's your turn to forgive, you pass by and enjoy the forgiveness you receive, and never mind the person who needs you to forgive him. And whether you are stingy with money or with forgiveness, the end result is the same: flames that can't be quenched even with a fingertip's worth of water!

Jesus tells this story to bring us to repentance, to keep us out of the rich man's new dwelling. Repent of hoarding your riches whether it's your cash or your forgiveness. What saves you? Moses and the Prophets, the Apostles and Evangelists. The Word saves you! The Word says that Jesus who was rich became poor for us. It says that He who is highest in heaven became the lowest on earth. It says that He who to whom all praise and glory belongs became despised and hated more than anyone. While the world sat at its feast wearing its fashionable clothing, Jesus was tossed outside the city, naked and nailed to a cross. The Scriptures tell us our problem: sin displayed in our horrible selfishness. But Scripture also tells us our forgiveness: God wipes out that sin and selfishness by dying for us on the tree and rising again. Where that Word is, there Christ is to drag us away from our sins and make us new people in Him, teaching us to walk in the way that glorifies Him and loves and serves others.

The Word that does this; nothing else. Some of those who crucified Jesus came to faith in Him. But it wasn't because He showed Himself to them after He rose from the dead. No; they heard it from the preaching of the Apostles. The only thing that rescues us from our sins is the Word: the Word preached, the Word heard, the Word and water splashed on the sinner, the Word and the bread and wine fed to sinners. The Lord doesn't send people back from the dead to preach. Instead He sends Apostles and pastors to His church. Jesus directs us to His Word: the Scriptures and the Sacraments. There the Holy Spirit is doing His work of forgiving our sins and giving us faith. There sinners learn to abandon their stinginess of money and of forgiveness. By the Word, the Spirit puts to death that old sinful Adam and raises the New Man to life to love and serve our neighbor. Where Christ's Word is, we are richer than we can imagine. Where Christ's Word is, there is Jesus with forgiveness and life and salvation and everlasting joy. Those are true riches—riches for us and riches for our 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.