Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sermon for 6/28/14--Wedding of Nick McConachie and Courtney Volkman




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

It is from our Lord that we learn the true nature of marriage. Christ gave Himself, poured Himself out in suffering and dying for the sins of humanity on the cross. He is not meant to be merely an example of self-giving. After all, we can’t emulate Him. We are sinners. We can’t pay the price of our own sin. So we do not look on our Lord’s self-giving as a model to follow. Rather, devoid of any power of our own, we ask for His Holy Spirit to do that in us which we are unable to do. As Scripture says, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” As the apostle Paul says, it is “Christ in you.” Being “Christ in you” to each other can make your marriage first and foremost a place of forgiveness.

Here’s an example: a man had made a fool of himself at a party. The next day he felt remorse for his actions and begged his wife to forgive him. “I do, honey,” she promised. But over the next few months, whenever something came up that displeased the wife, she would bring up the party incident. “I thought you forgave me for that,” the husband said. “Darling,” she replied, “I did forgive you—I just don’t want you to forget that I forgave you.” God’s forgiveness is not like that. When He forgives, He forgets. He does not keep a record of our sins, for His Son Jesus has taken them away. Therefore, you and I are called to “forgive and forget” daily. Humanly speaking, we may remember what happened, but God calls us to forgive and not keep on holding against the other person the wrong that happened.

The best of marriages requires constant forgiveness. Each day you walk as a man and woman forgiven by God, not because we’re doing a pretty good job in being a faithful, but because Christ has absorbed our sinful selfishness into Himself by His death on the cross. So forgiveness is the key to your new relationship of marriage. We are all imperfect; we are sinful human beings. In the intimacy of marriage, selfishness will get in the way. But because you love each other, because you are committing to each other for a lifetime, granting forgiveness to each other will keep your marriage strong.

As Scripture says, “Love one another as [Christ] has loved you.” That includes daily forgiveness. This is not an easy forgiveness, nor a plan to overlook sin. His holy calling to both of you is to be a “little Christ” to each other in thought, in word, and in action. When you sin against each other—and you will—don’t just express regret. Apologize, and then ask for forgiveness. And then speak that forgiveness to each other. When that happens regularly, the Holy Spirit will cause your love to grow, a self-denying love from Christ within you, a love that lasts for as long as you both shall live. 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 25, 2014


As most of you probably knowand by now you've probably heard me talk about it to the point that you're ready to beat your head (or mine) against a brick wallI was a pastor without a congregation for over four and a half years. It was a horrible time in the life of my family, and I thank God every day that it's over. I've written a booklet about that experience, and I also share the experiences of other pastors who have experienced similar circumstances in their life. On any given day, we have over 200 of these pastors, and a number of these brothers in Christ have graciously shared with me the horrible conditions in which they and their families now live. God continues to be gracious and provide for His children. Now we, too, must show compassion to them in their need.

Lutheran Purgatory: Pastors Without Calls takes us through the whole story: how pastors become Candidates (which is another name for pastors without congregations), what happens right after they lose their positions, the day to day struggles they face with their families, and the long and hard road they face to return to parish ministry. We also see the difficulties they face once they do return to parish ministry—for the scars remain. Finally, I offer suggestions for steps the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod can take to minimize the problem. 

I don't plan on making any money off of this project. I wrote this to help educate our pastors and laypeople about this issue. I will offer a free .pdf download of this document, but any money that comes in to me (after Amazon takes their part of the royalties after expenses) from those who buy this book will be donated to an entity which aids such pastors: possibly the Augustana Ministerium, which has handed out over $172,000 in aid directly to pastors and their families in their need; or possibly Soldiers of the Cross, a program of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod which works through district offices to provide for pastors in need. 

FROM THE AMAZON WEBSITE: "The Office of the Holy Ministry within the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is in crisis. It is under attack from pastors who act like corporate executives and arrogant overlords, from bureaucrats who believe a pastor is a failure if he doesn't act like a corporate executive or a used car salesman, and from congregations who believe pastors are merely employees to be hired, evaluated, and fired. Too many pastors have fallen prey to these attitudes and the actions which follow. We call them Candidates, but these men and their families are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are suffering. These Candidates, pastors without congregations, suffer in the closest thing Lutherans have to purgatory. These are their stories. Lord willing, we can end their suffering."

To purchase a Kindle copy of this book for $2.99 (and each copy purchased will bring in $1 for charity), click this link: KINDLE EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY! Amazon Prime members can also borrow this document for free, and Amazon will give me a small royalty which will go directly to charity.

To purchase a print edition of this book for $4.99 through Amazon (and each copy purchased will bring in $0.84 for charity), click this link: PRINT EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

To purchase a print edition of this book for $4.99 through CreateSpace (and each copy purchased will bring in $1.84 for charity), click this link: PRINT EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

To download a FREE .pdf file of this book, which I offer so that money isn't a deterrent in the spread of this important information, click this link: DOWNLOAD FREE PDF OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

Please share a link to this blog post with as many of your friends and congregation members as possible! We need to get this information out! And please pray for these pastors and their families.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



It's been just under two months since I released Lutheran Purgatory: Pastors Without Calls, and the response has been amazing! I have no way of tracking how may people may have downloaded the free PDF file. However, despite the fact that the book is available for free as a PDF file, over one-hundred people have paid for either Kindle or print versions. That means I will be able to donate over $200 dollars to aid pastors without congregations. That amount is a mere drop in the ocean of what is needed to help these pastors as they await the repair of this broken system, but even a drop can make a difference! I would like to thank everyone who has downloaded or purchased this book. I apologize for any typos or proofreading errors you may find. That's a danger of self-publishing, of course. As I find these errors (or as others point them out to me--hopefully gently), I will fix them in the Kindle edition and in subsequent print editions. I also hope to update the book in time. More pastors have shared their tales with me, and readers have shared questions or concerns about what I've written.
In the meantime, I have heard a lot of good things from readers who have shared their responses with me. You can see some responses on my Amazon author's page. In addition to these, I have seen responses on independent blogs and on Facebook, and I would like to share some of those with you, especially if you're wondering if this is worth reading.
"Stop whatever you are doing and READ THIS BOOK. Just remember, once you've read it, you can't unread it." -- Rev. Todd Wilken, host of Issues, Etc.

"This is non-fiction--scary non-fiction. ...We commend this for your reading, edification, and action, as the 2013 LCMS Convention acted in care and loving concern for pastors without a call." -- Rev. Paul Cain, host of the Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review blog

"This book should not only be required reading for members of the synod’s candidate committee. It should be read and placed on the agenda of the Council of Presidents. Pastors should make sure their DP’s have a copy. Ask them to discuss it with other District Presidents. Then follow up after COP meetings and see if they did so. Everything he says about what a pastor goes through is true." -- Rev. Lincoln Winter, host of the Musings of a Country Parson blog"

"Pastor Kornacki accurately describes the 'heavy, pressing emotions' (my description) that accompany these statuses. He accurately describes the inability to pray, to worship, and to otherwise participate in the life of the church. People who have 'been there' need to know they are not alone; and their feelings and responses are common with others. Members of the LCMS Council of Presidents and the Resolution 3-10a Task Force all need to buy the book and put it in their library. They have no excuse, because they can even get it for free to put on their laptops, or in PDF on their smart phone.They need to read this book carefully and then ask, 'How could this be happening to our own people? What is wrong here?' Because some of the cases cited describe improper actions by the District Presidents. Or in some cases, the actions are clearly unjust, even when the District President followed the Sohns 'Divine Dismissal' document. This book will open eyes to real problems to which many are clueless." -- Rev. Martin Noland, former Director of the Concordia Historical Institute, former Candidate
I hope that, should you read it or if you already have read it, you will send me your comments, questions, and concerns. Also, please keep praying for our pastors and their families who are mired in Lutheran Purgatory.
Thank you!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sermon for 6/22/14--Trinity I



Named Before God

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

The Lord tells us of the man who is rich in this life but poor in faith, poor in compassion, poor in sensibility toward his sin of greed, selfishness, and indifference—not only to his fellow man but, more importantly, to Moses and the prophets, to the Word of God. So easily do we find comfort in wealth, in health, in things. We rush past the poor all day. They may not be sitting by our driveways, licked by dogs. Of course we would not ignore a person in that plight. I’ve witnessed your earthly charity firsthand. But there is a greater charity. There's a world of people in poverty, with no one telling them the Gospel, no one carrying them to the healing font of Holy Baptism. Our own children are left lying at the gate, because we are too lazy, too self-absorbed, too busy with this life to bring them consolation of the Gospel in our homes. Too many see themselves as too rich to think the Gospel is a gift worth receiving. They are so satisfied in their sin that they don't beg for the crumbs of the Body and the Blood of Jesus. And even we who have done so are often unwilling, unable, or scared to share that bounty.

It’s not about money. Our Lord today is not preaching that having wealth is the fast track to hell. Nor is He preaching that lacking earthly wealth or health or kindness is the fast track to heaven. But, as Luther put it on his death bed, "We are beggars. That is true." Look at Abraham. Abraham was wealthy in this life. More than just money, he possessed his wealth in faith. In view of God's promise that He would send a Son, a Savior, Abraham did not consider even his son Isaac of such value that he would not trust more in what God said. And so, when told to lay his son upon the fire heap, that rich man confessed, "The Lord will provide a lamb for sacrifice." And God did provide: in this case, He gave a ram. Isaac went free. This is a picture of all poor beggars who have no hope but that God shows mercy, sending us His Son to die in our place.

But then our Lord speaks also of Lazarus, a man who possesses nothing but sorrow in this life, with sores and a few dumb animals to lick his wounds. But he also has a name. The rich man doesn't, at least no name that God will ever mention. But the name Lazarus means, "the one whom God has helped!" He is rich: rich in the Lord's forgiveness and salvation; rich because his only hope is that the Lord has mercy in Christ Jesus. He had only God's help to sustain him. That was enough; Lazarus is gathered into Abraham's bosom, gathered into closest communion with the saints.

So who is Lazarus today, dear people? Take comfort in this: you are. You are Lazarus because Christ is! Of all the poor, none emptied Himself out more than Our Lord. None took a deeper poverty, a greater shame. Not even His own people, who boasted in their fortitude and faithfulness, would show Him any comfort or mercy. Only a few women attended His wounds when He died. In Him, we are beggars before God, but we rejoice to be satisfied with crumbs from the Master's Table, waiting for the wounds of our sins to be licked by the mangy dogs in these silly white collars whom Christ calls to comfort us with His Word of Holy Absolution.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you are wealthy. God has sent His Son who has died for you. Christ has washed you and clothed you in His robe of righteousness, more beautiful than Armani. It guarantees your names are known by God in heaven, written in the Book of Life. We should be nameless like the selfish man, but we aren't. We have Baptism, Absolution, the Holy Supper, and the preaching of Christ by Moses, the Prophets, the Evangelists and the Apostles. Because of that, we have a Name to trust above all other names. Indeed, “our help is in the Name of the Lord!" 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, June 19, 2014

Sermon for 6/15/14--Feast of the Holy Trinity



Righteous or Loving?
John 3:1-17

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

Most people think of God in one of two ways. Some view God as a condemning God. They usually think this because they consider themselves better than others. They worship the mighty God we see in Isaiah: the divine Punisher, ready to smite sinners and burn them to ashes. Others view God as the forgiving, merciful God—a God so loving and so caring and so nice that He would never actually condemn anyone for anything. Sometimes we try to believe in and confess both: the angry God who punishes others, and the free-love God who would never condemn anyone—or at least, not us. Both of these are false gods, and believing either way about God will lead you to eternal death. 

Jesus says, "The Father did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." With these words, Jesus teaches us repentance and faith, destroys our sins, and saves us for all eternity. Jesus did not come to condemn us, to keep a record of our sin. He came to save us by being lifted up on the cross. Jesus saves us by taking our sins away. He saves us by suffering and dying for our sins, by taking our sins upon Himself and suffering death to rid us of them. Jesus came to shed His blood to wash them away. God the Father doesn't send the Son to pound the nails deeper into our coffins, but to set us free from sin and death.

So now we don't need to worry about our sins, right? Now we don't have to figure out what our sins are. We can live however we want and do whatever we want, right? After all, we're forgiven. Right? No. The Law that God gives, the Commandments, condemn us. They show us clearly and plainly how we should love God and our neighbor. And the Commandments show us clearly that we do neither. Apart from Jesus, there is nothing but the Law, and the Law can only condemn you. You can't try harder to keep the commandments to make up for the ones you've broken. And if you live as if your sins aren't sins, then you despise Christ who died for them and show you would rather be under the Law. Jesus is teaching us what the world absolutely does not want to hear. In Him, there is no condemnation. Apart from and outside of Jesus, there is nothing but condemnation. No one outside of Christ will survive the judgment against them on account of their sins. No one who is in Christ will suffer the punishment of their sins because it has been taken and laid upon Jesus for your sake.

So the question is, do we want to try to deal with the Father directly? Or do we approach the Father through Jesus? Obviously, if we will be saved, there is no dealing with the Father apart from the Son. So how do we get to God? How do we deal with the Son? Jesus tells Nicodemus that the only way into the Lord's kingdom is to be born again, from above. To be saved from our sins means being born by water and the Spirit in the waters of Holy Baptism. It's not something we can do for ourselves; it's something that must be done to us and given to us by the Spirit. And He does so freely. From the font, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has rescued you. Absolution declares that you do not stand condemned for yours sins. The gift of the Supper says that Jesus' body and blood are given for forgiveness. With these gifts, you have the Spirit giving you Jesus and He brings you to the Father. Apart from Christ, there is no love of God, no grace, no mercy. Without Christ, there is only sin and death. But you are in Christ, in His church. With Him there is no sin and death, only forgiveness, life and salvation. If there's ever a doubt, ever a question, just look to the font, and there your doubts will be answered. 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 10, 2014

Sermon for 6/8/14--Pentecost



Means for Peace

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

God always works through means. He never just does stuff. He always deals with us and comes to us and blesses us through earthly things that have His Word and promises and gifts attached. Jesus tells His disciples that He has been commanded by the Father to save the world…and He does it. When the Father rescues us from sin and death, again, it's not some thunderous proclamation from heaven that we can't be sure we heard correctly. He sends His Son into this world, born of a woman, born to preach and heal. The sins of the world—our sins—get laid upon Him at His baptism, and He carries them to the cross. By His death on the cross, the sins of the world are wiped out. By His resurrection, the power of death is defeated. By His ascension, our salvation really is wrapped up in Jesus in the heavenly places. By His real, actual, physical existence in this world, the Son of God does the work of saving sinners. God works through means. He doesn't just magically make our sins go away. Through the means of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Father no longer counts our sins against us. You see? God works through means, through the real flesh and blood of His Son, to accomplish our salvation.

But the means don't stop there. Jesus tells His disciples that the Comforter will come and will remind them of all things that He said to them. This is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit it poured out on those Apostles. And then the Apostles become the means. Sent by Christ, filled with the Spirit, they preach Jesus. They speak God's Word. Again, rushing wind and tongues of fire are all neat and exciting, but what is the end result? Through the voice of His chosen men, the Spirit speaks Christ's Word of salvation and forgiveness to sinners. This is the Christian Church, in which the Spirit is at work through means, preaching the Gospel and giving new birth to sinners.

This is Pentecost, when the Spirit comes upon Christ's church and gives us life! God works through means continually in His church, giving us Jesus by water, word, body and blood. But world doesn't want God and His gifts. The world wants to make its own way and do its own thing. And so it despises Christ and His Word. Just as some people laughed at the apostles on Pentecost, so now the world laughs at the Church and the preaching of Christ. It mocks the Good News that we don't have to try to save ourselves because we have a Savior in Jesus Christ. The world jokes and makes fun of those who believe their only hope and confidence is Christ and what He has done for us and gives us. And we’re all too happy to laugh along with them, lest we be thought of as foolish. But the joke is on us. The world runs from the gifts God gives through His church, and it starves to death apart from God's grace.

God works through means. He doesn't just do things out of the blue. He saves us by the blood of His Son. He delivers that forgiveness by the gifts we receive in the Church. By water, word, and body and blood, the Lord comes to us, blesses us, forgives us, and does what nothing else in the world can do: He gives us peace. Our Lord Jesus promises us: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid." Do not be afraid, for Christ has won all salvation for us. The Spirit has come preaching and washing and feeding the Church. And these are gifts, given from our heavenly Father for our good. 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, June 01, 2014

Sermon for 6/1/14--Easter VII



Christ in Suffering

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

The greatest threat we will face is not from those who deny that there is a God, but from those who not only believe in a god, but think they are his chosen instruments to bring about his kingdom. Hear Jesus again: "The hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think he does a service for God." St. Paul, when he was still a Pharisee, was absolutely convinced he was doing God's Work by killing Christians until the Lord brought him to repentance, baptism, and faith. And then, instead of persecuting the Church, Paul suffered with her. Like Paul, we like to believe we can do great service to the Lord in our own ways, ways in which the Lord never asks us to serve. But we too will serve the Lord by suffering for the sake of His name. Though don’t suffer great trials here yet, Christians around the world are jailed, tortured, and even put to death because they confess the name of Jesus.

The one comfort we have in this world against all persecution, against all suffering, is that the Holy Spirit gives us Jesus, who speaks to us today, telling us that we will suffer, but also telling us to take heart because He has overcome the world. Christians suffer because Jesus suffered. But Jesus suffers to save sinners. Into a world that wants nothing to do with its Creator, the Son of God comes in the flesh to carry our sins to Calvary and drown them in His blood. Christ came, not to show His holiness and prove to the world how godly and holy He was. He came to demonstrate God's love for us by dying in our place on the cross. And He came not to set up an army of zealots, but to send forth preachers to extend His kingdom by the Spirit preaching through them and delivering the forgiveness of sins.

When you suffer, when you are sick, when you have trials and burdens, but most of all, when you suffer for bearing the name of Jesus—don't take any comfort other than what the Spirit gives you. Look to the preaching of Christ to comfort you against sin and death and persecution and suffering. Look to the waters of the font in which the Lord has promised to save and deliver you. Look to the comfort of Holy Absolution by which Jesus fills him the sinner forgiveness. Take comfort in the body and blood of Jesus which was given for you to keep you in the faith. Believe, dear redeemed in Christ, that your salvation, your standing with God, is anchored not in what great deed you do for Him, but in what He gives to you in His Divine Service of Word and Sacrament.

Ezekiel preached to the house of Israel which profaned God's name among the nations. They did so by following their own religious ideas instead of worshiping the Lord and serving Him by serving the people around them. Nevertheless, the Lord in His mercy rescued them, washed them and gave them new hearts. He has done the same for you. He has rescued you from this world, baptized you into Christ and given you a new heart and His Holy Spirit. Now, freed from trying to do false service to God, you can keep God's name holy among the people around you: by living in the forgiveness of sins, by clinging to the name of Jesus in suffering, by caring for those whom the Lord has placed in your life. The time is short! Christ will be here again soon! When you suffer and are persecuted for a faith which trusts only in Christ, then rejoice and remember Jesus' words! The Spirit who testifies of Jesus will keep you unto eternal life, until you receive the crown of glory that awaits you. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Sermon--The Wedding of Jeff Richelman and Penny Brown

No audio. Sorry. Someone (me) forgot to record it.

I John 4:7

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text is Chapter four, Verse seven, of the First Letter of St. John, where John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Some people would say, “You must be crazy to want to make marriage promises to each other in this day and age.” Today, you will promise to give yourselves to one another in “heart, body, and mind.” It doesn’t matter whether you are experiencing “better or worse,” “richer or poorer,” “sickness or health.” Today, you will promise “to love and to cherish,” to give yourselves to one another “for as long as you both shall live.” These sound like crazy vows to make. After all, no couple who has made these promises has perfectly kept them. No wife has perfectly respected and esteemed her husband. No husband has perfectly loved and cherished his bride. No marriage yet has been free from sin and selfishness.

What’s more, both of you has lived through the pain of divorce. What God joined together, man has put asunder. Vows that were meant to last a lifetime were broken. The worse overcame the better. Yet now you want to make these vows again. You want to unite yourselves as one flesh, to be joined together as husband and wife “for as long as you both shall live,” to unite your families as one family. Maybe you really are crazy.

Or maybe you understand sometime about true love. True love begins with Jesus, who loved you with a crazy love, an impossible love, a love that took Him all the way to the cross to forgive our sins. Included in that forgiveness is forgiveness for broken vows. Included in that forgiveness is forgiveness for failed commitment. Included in that forgiveness is forgiveness for all that has gone before. This is true love. What’s more, this is true commitment. Jesus did not stop on the way to the cross and turn away from His bride, the Church. Instead He went to the cross to make her, as Paul writes, “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” This is true commitment. This is true love. And this love, this commitment, this forgiveness, is what brings you here today, to once again exchange vows, to rejoice that God has given you another chance at a lifetime of wedded blessings.

Jeff and Penny—if, indeed, you are crazy to be doing this again, then God, too, must be crazy, for He is the one who has brought you together. But truly, it is not crazy to believe that God has given you this love to share. It is not crazy to believe that your heavenly Father will give you even more love in the years ahead. Make your promises gladly. Commit to each other for a lifetime. Love each other, for "love is of 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.