Sunday, December 29, 2013

Video Killed the Radio Star

I made my final appearance regarding my "Thy Strong Word" series on KFUO's BookTalk on Friday, December 20. Pastor Zwonitzer discussed two books on Friday, the first being An Advent for Religious Liberty, a Pastor Stephen Grant Novel by Ray Keating. He then went on to interview me about One Thing's Needful. Right-click the link below to save the audio of the interviews for both novels. 

To hear the interviews for Love Divine and A Great and Mighty Wonder, right-click the links below.


My apologies for not posting this sooner. Thank you for listening! Thank you for reading my books! Thank you for supporting an independent author!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sermon for 12/25/13--The Nativity of Our Lord



God in Flesh

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

People everywhere have certain ideas about what God is or what He is like. But to look anywhere other than in Jesus is to have no real or true God at all. Blessed Martin Luther once said something like this: “I know of no other God than the One in the manger, on the cross and on the altar.” St. John tells us why: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God became man. The Son was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin's Womb. Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us” literally, because He is God and man in One Person. In fact, the most important thing you can say about God is that God took on flesh to save you from sin and death.

The Son comes into this world in the flesh not simply appearing and walking into town one day but by being conceived in the womb of the Virgin and born as a baby. This is so that we who are born in sin may be born anew from above. You see, ever since Adam, we have inherited the curse of sin. It is passed from one generation to another. We are conceived and born in sin. We don't like to hear it, but even when we are babies we are sinners. This curse of sin is passed from father to children. We are born with it, born under the condemnation of God. So Jesus is born in the flesh. He does not have an earthly father; therefore He has no sin. His holy and perfect and spotless flesh comes to us because ours is ruined and tainted. By His holy flesh, He gives us new birth.

The Son of God comes into this world in the flesh so that His flesh can suffer and die. Our sin has brought the curse of death. Sinners die. That's our fate. So God comes to take care of death by dying Himself. He takes our sins upon His spotless flesh and dies for them on the cross of Calvary. It is hard to think that the little baby in the manger is headed someday for the cross and death, but that is why He came. In our flesh is sin and death. Jesus' spotless flesh takes our sins so that He may die our death. And that holy flesh that is pierced and that holy blood that is poured out—these are the price of our redemption. The price paid by Jesus for our sins: “not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.” That's how He redeems and saves us: Christ comes in the flesh so that His flesh and blood may pay for our sins.

Christ also comes in the flesh so that He may give His flesh to us as food. Later in St. John's same Gospel Jesus says, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood and I will raise you up on the Last Day.” Jesus gives us His flesh to eat so that our flesh will be raised from the dead. Jesus has died and risen from the dead. So will you who have eaten and drunk His flesh and blood. Death couldn't keep Jesus down. It can't keep you down either if you have His flesh and blood in you. If sin and death want you, they have to go through Jesus! He's already beaten them. When we eat regular food, it gives some life to our bodies, at least for a little while, and then we must eat again. But the flesh and blood of the Son of God give us a life that does not end.

Christmas teaches us to look for no other God than the one who is in the manger, on the cross and on the altar. Beware of a god that isn't there in the flesh. Beware of a god who's too big and powerful to be a Baby, or too big and mighty to suffer and die or to distant and far away to be in the Sacrament. Beware of a god that's found in your feelings or in the ups and downs of life or the world around us. Beware of any god who doesn't have flesh. Beware of any Jesus who isn't truly God. And let us be reminded by this Christmas flesh of Jesus to repent of looking for God anywhere other than where He is in His flesh. God is not in our ideas and our notions about Him. He's in the flesh: in the manger as a baby, on the cross as a man, on the altar with the food of His flesh and blood. No other God saves you than the One who has taken on flesh for you! You have flesh. So now does your God. 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, December 26, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

My eldest child, Alexis, turned sixteen today. It's so odd to think of her that way, since I sometimes still think of her as the little six year-old girl I met in person the day before I asked her mother to marry me. She's grown quite a bit since then. It began with me being so scared of her that I was treating her with kid gloves--except, of course, for the time she got a scrape on her knee and I brought out a hacksaw and asked her if I could cut it off for her and make her feel better. (I swear it was funny at the time, and I wouldn't have actually done it, of course. Really.) I can't put into words...

Well, maybe I can. I gave her a gift today. It was supposed to be a song--I have a melody line and everything, but I don't have the instrumental skill to add music to it--but it works as a poem. It's only words, but it's a start. And I like to think she already knew all this, but it's good to say these things anyway. So...yeah, here it is.

The Chance to Call You Mine

 When I met your mom, I knew she had a daughter
And it scared me 'cause I didn't know what kind of dad I'd be.
But I loved her, and I knew you came together
As a package deal—a two-for-one—where one plus one makes three.
Before I asked her hand in marriage, first I asked for your permission.
Did you know how much depended on your single word that day?
But your tears of joy were for us all as we became a family—
A mom and dad and daughter. It was meant to be that way.

And I don't know how a father couldn't want you,
But I'm glad I've had the chance to call you mine.
And through the years, as you've become a woman,
I see the love between us as a sign

That God can make a family
From broken hearts and dreams.
His will is always stronger
Than our human plots and schemes.
It might not be how we would plan,
Yet still it's God's design.
So although you're not my child by blood
I'm proud to call you mine.

It may not be the way I planned,
Yet still it's His design.
So I thank God for the chance He gave—
The chance to call you mine.

© 2013, Alan Kornacki, Jr.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sermon for 12/24/13--The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord



The Gift

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

Though we haven’t gotten to this point in the Kornacki house, maybe you've gotten your presents wrapped by now. Maybe you’ve used those little to/from tags so everyone knows the giver and the recipient. Sometimes those tags fall off, and there’s a mad scramble to determine who gets what. The Lord's gifts, however, are never uncertain. When Jesus is born, we know for whom He has come. He is, as the angels announced, for “all people.” His name tells us that. His name in Hebrew is Yahushua, Joshua, and that means “Yahweh, the Lord, will save His people from their sins.” The name “Jesus,” is the Greek form of that. His name tells us two things. First, it tells us who this baby is—namely, God Himself. Second, it tells us He does—that is, He saves us from our sins. It’s a name given not because it's this year's top pop singer or because it sounds cool, but because it means something; it identifies this Baby as the Savior of the world.

When the angel told Joseph that the child’s name would be Jesus, neither Joseph or Mary really understood what was to come. They could not grasp what having this name would mean for this Boy. How could they understand or accept that He would grow up and be hated more and more and finally be crucified like a common criminal? How could they accept that He would die bloody and alone but for a few people looking on? How could they believe that, to everyone's astonishment, His tomb would be empty three days later?

All that Mary and Joseph knew was that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit and Joseph was to help to take care of him. This child came to have a birth like ours so that we might have a new birth from above. He came to be born of a woman that we might be reborn of the holy Church. He came to be under the care of an adopted father so that we would be adopted as sons of our heavenly Father. Everything Jesus did, even down to the details of His conception and birth, was wrapped up and described in that name He was given. In Hebrew, Joshua. In Greek, Jesus. “Yahweh, the Lord, saves.” That is exactly what He does. This is exactly the gift He gives: He saves you from your sins. 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.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Charles Dickens was not a Lutheran.

It's a classic novel. The one-time English major in me loves the novel for its literary value. The story has been adapted into stage plays and movies. It is a beloved tale of Christmas redemption. In fact, it may be, outside of Luke 2 and maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas, the most popular Christmas tale of all time. Yet A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is not a Lutheran story.

Ebenezer Scrooge begins the story as an exemplary picture of the Old Adam. Dickens describes him in this way: "Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" That is the permanent state of the unbaptized, and Dickens captures it perfectly.

You know the story. Marley, Scrooge's deceased business partner, doomed to wander the earth as a ghost in chains for his own avarice and disdain for mankind, appears to Scrooge to warn him of his similar impending doom, should Scrooge not change his ways. He then offers Scrooge the opportunity for redemption through the visits of three spirits--the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future--who will guide him along the path of personal redemption. 

By the end of the story, Scrooge has become a new man. "'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. 'The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!'" It is a beautiful tale of redemption.

It is beautiful, except for one thing: redemption does not happen that way. The three spirits preach the Law to Scrooge. The Law does not save people. Hearing that he is a sinner, a man can either acknowledge that he is a sinner or he can deny it. He cannot fix it. Man can try to redeem himself. He can try, but he fails. He cannot perfectly live as the Law demands. He can be told to say, "Please," and, "Thank you;" he can be told to behave well toward others. It does not come naturally to him.

But that's what Christmas is all about: redeeming the sinner. It is not the Law which redeems a man. It is Jesus who redeems man. This is Jesus, Immanuel, God in flesh made manifest, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Lamb who would sacrificed as the blood-price to redeem sinners. None of the spirits tells Scrooge, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." As Linus might say, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charles Dickens."

I don't mean to be a wet blanket or dampen your Christmas joy. Enjoy the story of "A Christmas Carol." I do. But like Scrooge did after he ordered the turkey for the Cratchit family, go to church and hear the real Christmas story, the real story of redemption. Hear the word of Holy Absolution. Receive absolution on your tongue in the body and blood of Jesus. It is the first and best Christmas gift: full pardon, full redemption, given to you freely, given from and in the person of Jesus Christ. 

A blessed and merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine! "God bless us, every one!"

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sermon for 12/22/13--Fourth Sunday in Advent


The Same Old Message

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

You can't sidetrack John the Baptist. His job is to people to Jesus, and that’s all he does. He sounds almost other-worldly: camel-hair and locusts and living in the wilderness. But when they realize he's not some rock star mystic out there by the Jordan, the people lose interest. The Old Adam loves to play the personality game: we like this pastor; we think this pastor has the goods. This preacher makes us feel good. But all this guy talks about is Jesus. Boring! A preacher whose message is a constant flow of Jesus and His gifts will eventually lose the interest of his hearers. The most popular preachers in our age are those who preach messages about prosperity and hope, messages where Jesus is a mere footnote. If Jesus is all there is week in and week out, the Old Adam will move on to something he finds more interesting.
That's how the world works. We want the next model, the newest version. And we view religion the same way. What’s new? What’s exciting? What’s different? But John preaches that the Jesus he is talking about, the one who comes after John, is the same one who has been before John. This is Jesus the Savior. He was before John and He comes after John. He was before you and He will come after you. You can't go anywhere where there is no Jesus. You won’t find some new and improved version of Jesus that wasn't there before. The Jesus who shows up is the Lamb of God, the One who never changes even though we desire something new and flashy. And it is this Jesus who saves us: the Lamb who was sacrificed for you. The good news of the coming Savior is that He comes to do what He does whether you think it's interesting or flashy or anything else. He is the One who hung on the cross, the One who rose, the One who suffers and dies for the sin of the world. If that’s not exciting enough for you, you’re out of luck, because that’s the only message John, the disciples, and your pastor are called to preach.

While the Old Adam hates this broken record Jesus stuff, the New Man clings to nothing else. Jesus every week? Anytime pastor opens his mouth, it's about Jesus? Thanks be to God! What or who else is there to forgive our sins and give us everlasting life? And what about all this talk about Baptism and The Lord's Supper? Well, that's all about Jesus too. The New Man cries out, “Never mind anything else, just give me Jesus! Mark me with the sign of the cross to remind me I'm baptized into Him. Give me His body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of my sins. Absolve me and preach to me the Good News that there IS someone who is before and after me, whose sandals we aren't even worthy to untie but who humbles Himself to suffer and die and rise for me! Give me that Jesus always,” says the new man in Christ! And that’s exactly what you receive. Jesus is all yours. That's why He came: to save you, to give you everlasting life. That's why you hear about nothing else but Him from this pulpit.

John had one job: to point to Jesus. That is the same job your pastor has. The Lord doesn't leave you to yourselves to find Him or seek Him out. He comes to you. He never wants you to be confused or in doubt about what it's all about, so He sends the prophets and then John, the apostles, and then pastors to deliver to you the Word which saves you because it delivers nothing other than Jesus. The way is ready. You have been forgiven. The paths are straight. Jesus is coming. He will be in manger for you, on a cross for you, coming out of an empty tomb for you, and for you at the font and the altar. He is the Christ, and He is coming—indeed, He is here to save 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.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sermon for 12/15/13--Third Sunday in Advent



Light in the Darkness

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

Life is not all cherries and rainbows and pixie dust. When hard times befall our neighbors, we know all the platitudes. Well-meaning Christians are full of spiritual one-liners. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” “Just have faith and everything will work out.” “Believe in the power of prayer!” Maybe you’ve said some of those to someone, not knowing what else to say. But what about when things go for us like they went for John the Baptist? John was sent to preach the coming of the Lord. He said, “His axe is laid at the root of the tree and he’s going to chop down everyone who has no fruit and toss them into the fire!” But then an evil king throws John in his dungeon, and it’s not long before John’s head is on a silver platter. So is it any wonder that John wonders whether Jesus is the real deal? “Are you the coming one or do we look for another?” John is stuck in prison, and Jesus isn’t freeing him. So, should he be expecting someone else? John knows Jesus is the Savior, but as he sits there in prison, he awaits with all of the Old Testament Church the day when Jesus will bring the promised consolation of Israel.

In answer, Jesus points John to His works: healing, raising the dead, preaching the Gospel. Those are the things the Scriptures promised the Savior would do. Jesus never promises John that he won’t die at the hands of an earthly king who makes stupid promises on his birthday. But He does promise John that He’s his Savior. But there will be greater stuff to come John won’t see but which is still for John: a Savior betrayed, tried, nailed to the cross and left to die. John won’t get to see all that. But you know about it. It’s the Good News that the One who heals and raises the dead and preaches Good News does so because He is the One who conquers sin and death. That is the answer Jesus gives to John. Jesus is the Savior. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He’s the Savior who chops down our self-righteousness and rescues us from sin, death, devil and hell. And that’s true whether John should be freed from the dungeon or be carried headless to his grave.

But what about you? What about when you doubt? What about when you hear that Jesus has risen from the dead, but still you see the people you love die? What about when you hear about Jesus healing people but you get sick? What about when you hear Jesus is the Savior but it feels like the axe is laid firmly on your neck? What about when you know that Jesus is the Savior and yet you wonder if He’s going to save you? What then? Is it time for happy-clappy Christian clich├ęs? No. That, more than at any other time, is when you look to the comfort of the Word of God. Look at what Christ does. He still performs the great works today. He washes you in the waters of Holy Baptism, where you receive His righteousness which covers your sins. He speaks the word of Absolution, where everything you have ever done is forgiven. He speaks His Word to you so you too know that Jesus is the One that was promised. He feeds you with His body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins, to sustain you in your own earthly trials. When you say, “Jesus, my heart is heavy!” He answers, “You are baptized. I forgive you all your sins. I have conquered sin and suffering and death.” That’s the answer…especially for those times when you doubt.

In most ways, the answer Jesus gives isn’t the answer we specifically want. “I’m sick. I’m hurt. I’m troubled.” Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” It seems so inadequate. Maybe that’s why we make up those silly sayings that don’t really mean anything. What’s true, what matters, is that Christ has conquered all things for you. Advent reminds us that we don’t need the quick, pat answer that doesn’t mean anything. We wait for the coming of Christ to fulfill all things, to make all things new, and to wipe away every tear. That’s exactly what He has in store for you. That is what sustains you in trial and persecution in this life, and it is what makes you fit 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.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Reading List: October and November

I fell a little behind on the project posting. And on the reading. Didn't even reach ten books in November. Then again, to be fair, November was a bit of a crazy month. Anyway, that puts me at 159 books for the year, which is an average of over 13 books a month. December is another crazy month, so we'll see what happens. Anyway, here's the lists.

  1. Gow, Kailin. Never Ending. The Edge, 2013.
  2. Hornby, Nick. High Fidelity. Penguin Books, 1995.
  3. Peterson, Tracie. The Icecutter’s Daughter. Bethany House, 2013.
  4. McGregor, Tim. Old Flames, Burned Hands. Perdido Pub, 2013.
  5. Carlson, Melody. Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless. NavPress, 2010.
  6. Anderson, Becky. In Stereo Where Available. Medallion Press, 2007.
  7. Pless, John T. Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross. Concordia Publishing House, 2013.
  8. Pless, John T. Mercy at Life’s End. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 2013.
  9. Clampett, Ruth. Animate Me. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2013.
  10. Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule. Tor Books, 1994.

  1. Labonte, Beth. Coffee Breath. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2008.
  2. Newland, Tahlia. You Can't Shatter Me. Catapult Press, 2012.
  3. Mason, Sally. Gone Hollywood. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2013.
  4. Blount, Angela N. Once Upon a Road Trip. Artifice Press, 2013.
  5. Roach, D. A. Tethered. Self-Published Kindle Edition, 2013.
  6. Hall, Tessa Emily. Purple Moon. Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2013.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sermon for 12/8/13--Second Sunday in Advent


What Endures?

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

Reading this text, it’s hard not to think of the way we celebrate Christmas. Seemingly out of nowhere, we have a season of lights and trees and music and presents and parties and candlelight services. But before you know it, it's all gone, and all that’s left is cold, dark winter. In the same way, this world is passing away. It will not be long before everything goes the way of all flesh at the coming of our Lord. For the world, this will be a horrible day, a day of terror. But for you, the children of God, it is the day to lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!

But the Old Adam doesn’t believe this world is passing away. All too often we live as if this is all we’ll have. We worry about how we're going to be comfortable and happy and have enough stuff or get what we want. We live as if the most important things are the things we can buy and worst problems we have are the things we lack. But Jesus says the world has bigger problems. There will be terrible signs of the end that tell us the day is near. Look around you. Wars and rumors of wars; horrible diseases; unspeakable acts of evil—these things are all around us. We are living in the end times! He tells us to pray that we may escape these things and stand before the Son of Man. Ask yourself: Do you really want to stand before the Almighty Judge in His glory on the Last Day?

If that Judge is Jesus, then of course you want to stand before Him! This Man is the Savior. He who is the Judge on the Last Day is the same Man who was born of the Virgin to save us. Jesus tells us that when we see around us these terrible signs of the End of all things, then lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near! Dear Christian, never think that Jesus is coming to condemn you! He is coming to save you! He has already come to give His life into death on the cross to bear your sins and take them away. Now He will come to bring you out of this world that is passing away into the eternal kingdom that has been prepared for you. Pray that you will stand before the Son of Man, because Jesus is the One person who can and does save us from a world that is passing away!

But we're not paying attention. The world wasn't paying attention when Christ came in the flesh. So the Lord says through the prophet Malachi, “I will send Elijah before that great and terrible day.” Who is Elijah? Jesus teaches us that this Elijah was John the Baptist. John was ordained to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins and to baptize sinners in order to prepare for Christ's coming. In the same way, in these Last Days, the Lord gets our attention by calling preachers to preach and baptize. So your preacher says, “Listen up!” You have been baptized to prepare you for the Day when Jesus returns and heaven and earth passes away. You have been absolved of your sins so that there is nothing that the Judge will have against you on that Day. You are filled with the body and blood of the Son of Man Himself so that you have His unbreakable promise that you will be raised from the dead on that Day and stand before Him with all your sins forgiven. And of course there is His Word which lays it all out. Christ's Word in the Scriptures teaches us repentance for our sins and faith in Christ and delivers Christ to us as the One in Whom we trust for all things. And it is that very Word which the Scriptures deliver that is made flesh in Christ that never passes away! And that means you will not pass away.

You know that there will be an End and a Last Day and that you will stand before Jesus. But you know that because you are baptized, because your sins have been forgiven, and because you have feasted on Christ’s body and blood, this Day is a Day of redemption. It is the Day when we shall be free from our sins forever. It is the day that we will pass from death to life. We who have been filled with Christ's Word will not pass away. Instead we will pass into eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth with Christ forever.

This is the season of Advent, and Christ is coming. It is a gift from our heavenly Father to enjoy the pleasures of this season: things like candles and cookies and trees. Even though all those things are passing away, they help us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whose Word will never pass away. The lights and tinsel will soon be gone again, but Christ and His Word remain forever to comfort us and give us life which never ends. 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, December 03, 2013

Sermon for 12/1/13 – First Sunday in Advent




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

Advent is about Jesus showing up and what happens after. The first time He showed up, He came in your flesh, to be born and be tempted in your place, to do battle with the devil and to suffer and die on the cross for your sins. He rose from the dead to conquer your death. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, they shouted, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And after He rode into Jerusalem, Jesus went to Calvary for you and accomplished your salvation. So let's keep track. The first time Jesus shows up, He dies and rises to save you.

This time there is no donkey. Instead He comes in water with the Word, in Absolution; in preaching; on the altar. We sing it too: "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of The Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" We sing it right before Jesus shows up on the altar. The Lord comes to you now in His church to deliver to you what He accomplished back then: the forgiveness of sins. As you live your life with that Old Adam hanging around your neck, chafing against God and trying to ignore your neighbor, the forgiveness of sins covers you. Here in His church, Jesus shows up to do battle with your Old Adam, to crucify him, and then to raise you to new life by His Word and forgiveness. Over and over Jesus shows up now, and He kills and raises you up by His gifts to save you.

The third time is yet to come. We don't know when. It's why we're watching and waiting. It seems like Advent has been "crying wolf" for 2000 years, doesn't it? Jesus is coming! Well…where is He? Sometimes it feels like you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than you do of seeing Jesus show up on the clouds in all His glory with His holy angels. But the season of Advent, the season of waiting and hearing about Jesus showing up, is preparation for when He will return. That way it doesn't catch us by surprise. And what happens when He arrives? The first time He came to save you. The times since then, He comes to give you that salvation and keep you in that faith. So the third time can't be anything else than to save you once and for all, to raise you from the dead, to give you life everlasting. As always, Jesus comes to save you. 

It’s a wonderful thing when Jesus arrives. Advent is the time when the church is reminded that Jesus is coming. There is nothing better than when Jesus comes to you. Advent is a season that looks to Jesus as He comes: His first coming in the celebration of His birth at Christmas, His second, continual coming to us in church; and when He will come again in glory on the Last Day. Take the time in Advent hear more of Jesus' Word. It's a time of anticipating and preparing for His final coming, when we will no longer walk by faith but will see Him face to face and walk in His eternal presence.

Advent is a time of repentance when we look at our lives as ask the question, "What is there keeps me from paying attention and being ready?" The preaching of Advent calls us away from a world that really has nothing to offer us, calling us instead to a Lord who shows up to give us everything and more! We lift our eyes to the Lord and we watch and wait to greet the King with our Hosannas, and we wait for the news of Him as He comes back. We see Him coming now by faith, and we look forward to Him coming again in glory. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! 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.

Sermon for 11/27/13--Harvest Festival/Thanksgiving Eve

Text only. Sorry.

Jesus and the Stuff

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

The guy in the crowd didn’t care about the kingdom of God. He cared about how much money he was getting from Dad. We’re not that different. We think the most important things are things. When we don’t have what we want, we worry about how we can get more. When we have what we want, we worry about how we’re going to pay for it and keep it. When we get old enough, we may realize we have too much and worry about how we’re going to get rid of it! And tomorrow the nation will pause to eat turkey and watch football while those of us who still have some religion will try to remember we’re supposed to give thanks for all of it. But Jesus nails it down with His words: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” In other words, life is more than your stuff.

So if our lives aren’t about our things, what are they about? Our lives are about Jesus—the Jesus who saves us from the sin of loving the stuff God gives us more than loving the God who gives it. He rescues us from idolatry by being the true God who saves us. He rescues us from our covetousness by hiding His eternal glory in the flesh, being born in the flesh and living as if the stuff doesn’t matter. He lives as if there is nothing to covet, nothing to worry about, nothing to want to grab and hoard. Jesus lives as if the only thing He is about, the only thing He came for, the only thing on His mind, is taking your sins from you, suffering for them, dying for them, and rising again to save you. For us who think our life consists in what we have, Jesus comes, and His life consists in taking you back from sin and death!

The difference between the church and the unbelieving world isn’t that they have more stuff than us or that as Christians we are supposed to get rid of our stuff. It’s not about the stuff. And the difference isn’t that the world makes idols out of its things and we don’t. We do. The difference is that we live by faith in the Son of God, knowing that for Jesus’ sake, God doesn’t count our coveting and idolatry against us. He counts the contentment and obedience of Jesus as ours. We who are so worried over possessions are now, through our Baptism into Christ, owned by the Lord. We are made His. All our idolatry and coveting and lusting after the things of this world, along with all our other sins, are blotted out by the words of Absolution. In the Supper, Christ who desires nothing other than to do the Father’s will and save you, dwells in you by His Body and Blood. Through Him you have the promise that your sins are forgiven and you will be raised up the Last Day. The difference between you, God’s child, and the unbelieving world, isn’t that you give thanks more than they do, but that you recognize all your gifts are from the Lord—especially the forgiveness for turning His gifts into gods!

So that means now you can give thanks properly for our gifts. You thank our heavenly Father for giving you “all we need to support this body and life.” Maybe you have more than you need. Maybe we want more than you have. Regardless, through faith in Christ you know that you have all you could ever want or need in Jesus. Stuff doesn’t really need to be a big deal. First of all, give thanks to your Father in heaven who has given you your stuff. That stuff is a reminder that your heavenly Father is taking care of you. He is the giver of every good gift. Your gifts are to enjoy and to be a testimony to others that your heavenly Father cares for you and them in Jesus.

The Lord doesn’t just rescue you and give you salvation so you can point fingers at an unbelieving world and look down on them! Rather, as Paul tells Timothy, the Lord wants all people “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The Lord blesses you with every blessing in Christ and teaches you to pray for a peaceful and godly life. Give thanks. Enjoy what God has given you. Share what you have. Pray for those who don’t yet have the gift of salvation. And enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, knowing that you are the Lord’s precious child whose life is not at all in what you have, but in Christ and what He has for you—both for this life and for the life of the world to come. 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.