Saturday, September 24, 2016

PARODY: We Know a Lovely Story

It's been a while since I've written a parody, but this one could get me in trouble. It's not always good to lampoon an old favorite, but the irony of the song is just begging to be redone. Apparently the four verses we sing so loudly are only the beginning of the hymn, which goes on to summarize the Gospel. (Imagine that!) But since we don't sing the actual Gospel part, here it is.

We Know a Lovely Story
(Parody of "I Love to Tell the Story")

1. We know a lovely story
Of Jesus and His love:
He set aside His glory,
Descending from above,
To die for our transgressions
And rise to give us life.
To Him we make confession
And cling to Him in strife. (Refrain)

(Refrain) I love to hear the story.
The facts are mandatory.
So tell me Jesus' story:
His death and life for all.

2. Some sing about this Jesus
With voices clear and bold.
But though the singing pleases,
The story's never told.
The irony is stunning--
Alanis, listen, kid!--
For, though their song is running,
The Gospel light is hid. (Refrain)

3. Oh, it would be so easy
To sing a story song
That's not so very cheesy,
Nor must it be so long,
Which tells the story clearly
Of Christ the crucified,
Who held us all so dearly
That for us all he died. (Refrain)

4. So if you sing the story,
No need to sing with fear.
That tale, so proud and hoary,
Your neighbor needs to hear.
All praise to Christ, our Savior,
Our Lord, the Crucified.
His death, our Father's favor;
His life, new life supplied. (Refrain)

76 76D with refrain

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sermon for 9/18/16: Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity

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A Sabbath Remains for the Weary

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

It should come as no surprise to us that Jesus would find Himself challenged regarding the Sabbath. After all, sinful man loves to put the Lord to the test, especially when it comes to His authority over His creation. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were watching Him closely as a suffering man approached. So He asked them a simple question: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” These men who made their livings with their mouths found themselves speechless. They were very good at teaching the letter of the law, but very poor at living the true spirit of the law. Any answer they gave would convict them. Since they would not respond, Jesus answered His own question—not with words, but with actions. He healed the man and sent him on his way.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out that way. They thought they had this upstart Rabbi over a barrel. They had invited Jesus so they could keep an eye on Him, so they could find a way to trap him. They didn’t care one way or another for the sick man, whether he lived or died; they just want to show Jesus what was what. They wanted to show Jesus that they were the big thing. They were the ones who mattered. It didn’t matter what Jesus did; He would be in trouble either way. If He healed the man of his dropsy on the Sabbath, Jesus would be accused of ignoring the Law of God by doing work on the holy day of rest. If he didn’t heal the man, he would be accused of being unloving and insensitive to the man’s needs. Either way, the Pharisees would accuse Jesus of being a fake. But Jesus doesn’t care about passing their tests. Everything Jesus does, He does to glorify His Father. He heals the man, and He does no wrong in doing so. Jesus has the impossible answer; they Pharisees are speechless.
That’s where the Law left the Pharisees. And that’s where the Law leaves us. Just like our Father, we children are to rest for a day from the labors of our hands and mouths and minds. The Sabbath is about rest—godly rest. The Sabbath is a day of mercy, not a day of rules by which you may earn eternal life. But how often do we take our rest in things apart from Jesus? Why do we constantly seek our peace in worldly things to the exclusion of Jesus? When our Sabbath is constantly all about the Cardinals, when it is only about the comfort of our bodies, when our Sabbath is constantly opposed to the Word of God, it is then that we despise preaching and the Word of God. It is then that we stand silent with the Pharisees, when any word which we could utter would convict us.
With all that in mind, let us answer the question: Yes, it is, indeed, lawful to heal on the Sabbath. In fact, it is the very spirit of the law to love your neighbor on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day for healing. And more than that, the Sabbath is a day to remember deliverance. Just as Jesus delivered the afflicted man from his disease, the Lord has delivered you from your bondage to sin and death. Those chains which held you in captivity to the power of the devil have been dissolved in the waters of Holy Baptism—the water combined with the Word of God which washes away the dreaded disease of sin. Instead of leaving you to drown in those waters, the Lord Himself pulls you out into new life in His name.
All of this is yours through the death and resurrection of Jesus on your behalf. We remember the Sabbath day as the day when Jesus rose from the dead, celebrating the healing He gives us in His body and blood. Every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the Sabbath, for we receive our promised rest. As He did with the man with dropsy, He reaches out and touches you, blessing and healing you with the forgiveness of your sins. And as forgiven children of God who have found rest in Him, we are ready for another week of labor in the midst of our various vocations. And we are blessed that we may receive a measure of that Sabbath rest every day, for we may return to our baptism daily to receive rest for our souls in His holy Word.
Just as it is lawful for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath, it is lawful for us to seek healing from Him on the Sabbath; for we know that He will graciously hear our prayer and deliver us. God grant that we always seek our rest 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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

HYMN: The Man of Flesh is Earthly-Minded

It seems like, every time I get sick, something in my brain says, "It's time to write a hymn." The first time it was my Litany hymn; this time, it's bringing me out of my unintentional hiatus from hymn writing. I had a mad dash of productivity in February, and then...pretty much nothing. It's nice to be back. Anyway, here's a hymn for the Eighth Sunday After Trinity. (I'm very far ahead for next year!) The appointed Gospel is Matthew 7:15-23, where Jesus warns us to beware of false prophets. Let me know what you think. Feedback is love.

The Man of Flesh is Earthly-Minded

1. The man of flesh is earthly-minded.
With itching ears he seeks to hear
From teachers and false prophets, blinded
By love of wealth and mortal fear.
They speak a word to please the crowd:
Self-righteous, haughty, vain, and proud.

2. All heresy is formed and founded
By human pride and Satan's spite.
The saint on every side is hounded
By those who will not teach aright,
Who seek to blaspheme and profane
God's Word and His most holy name.

3. O Father, send Your Holy Spirit
To keep Your children steadfast, true.
Your Word is truth; oh, let them hear it
And always seek the truth from You.
Send prophets whose delight will be
To preach the Gospel faithfully.

4. O Christian, cling to Christ, your Savior!
Be diligent in word and deed
To test the prophets. Never waver!
Reject each fruitless, Christ-less creed
So, when the wolf seeks you as prey,
God's Word shall hold the beast at bay.

© 2016 Alan Kornacki, Jr.
98 98 88
Occasion: Trinity VIII

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sermon for 9/11/16: Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity

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He Sees You

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

What a strange day it must have been for the widow. She had already lost her husband, and now she’s in mourning as she goes on her way to bury her son. His body is being carried to its tomb, and she’s steeling her heart to leave him there. Parents are never really prepared to bury their own children, but she somehow had to let him go and go on with her own life. And then Jesus intervenes. He sees the woman and has compassion. He stops the funeral procession of her son. He touches the coffin. He tells the young man, “Arise!” And suddenly life emerges from death. The young man sits up, very much alive, and Jesus leaves him in his mother’s care. Nothing would ever be the same again for the widow or her son, and it all started because Jesus saw this widow. She was no longer in this alone; Jesus was with her.
It’s been fifteen years today since the terrorist attacks in New York City and the Pentagon as well as the crash from the thwarted attack in Pennsylvania. In the years before and since, we have seen our own share of death right where we are. We have buried parents and grandparents, spouses, children, and friends. It’s been a month since we buried Ruth Bunton at Bethel; yesterday we had the funeral at St. Peter for Lyle Wydeck. Death has been a savage enemy. No one who died on 9/11 has risen from their grave. None of those who have gone before us into death have walked away from their funeral procession. Does Jesus not see us as we mourn them? “Yoo-hoo! Jesus! I’m right here! Don’t you see me mourning? Where’s my resurrection story? Where’s my compassion?” 
Luke does not record this account to tell you that Jesus will bring your loved ones back from the grave to resume their sinful and suffering existence. What a horrible God He would be if that was all He could do for you. Yes, He raised this young man. Yes, He raised the daughter of Jairus. Yes, He even raised Lazarus. All of them would die again. But He has bigger plans for you. He has something better in mind for you. Never doubt that He has compassion for you. 
You see, he raised this young man and Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus to point forward to His own resurrection. He didn’t die and rise again for His own sake. He went to the grave for you. He rose for you. After three days, during which the disciples mourned the death of the One who loved them most of all, Christ rose victorious from the grave. He stilled their grief in the resurrection. Remember how the women came weeping to the tomb; they left with joy. He stills your grief too. Christ is risen! Sin is put to death.  Death has been overthrown; its teeth have been pulled. Death is powerless before our Lord. Satan kneels before Him, the last conquered enemy. Our Lord has won the ultimate victory. And He has done all of that because He has compassion for you. He puts sin to death for you. He overthrows death for you. He conquers Satan for you. He sees you. He knows your grief. And He takes it away. In its place he gives you the sure and certain hope in the resurrection of the dead unto eternal life. It points you to Jerusalem the Golden where God will wipe every tear from your eyes, where there will be no more sorrow, no more hunger or thirst, and no more death.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have already been put to death. You have been drowned in the waters of Holy Baptism. You have been crucified and raised with Jesus. I tell you, it is okay for you to weep and to mourn the loss of those you love. You are not a stone. But do not weep and lament like those who have no hope. The Lord sees you. He sees your grief. But as you weep, remember to fix your eyes on Jesus, the One who died and rose from the dead. Lift up your heads. The Day of your redemption draws near. The day of weeping will soon be over. Christ our Lord sees you. He has compassion on you. He draws near to you to still your tears and give you joy. Hear His voice as He comforts you with the forgiveness of your sins and all the heavenly gifts and blessings that come with it. 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 10, 2016

Sermon for 9/10/16: Funeral of Lyle Wydeck

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Hands and Habitations

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our text is Psalm 90, and we consider these particular verses: Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. …Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” Thus far our text

When he was an old man nearing the end of his life, Moses, prompted by the Holy Spirit, wrote the words we just heard. If you read Psalm 90 in its entirety, you realize that Moses doesn’t pull any punches. Moses knew the Law—who better than the one through whom the Lord delivered it to His people?—and he knew his own sinfulness. Sin draws the wrath of God upon sinners. Even if we are permitted to grow old, we still sicken and grow weary and eventually die. It’s not natural—we weren’t created that way—but death is God’s reaction to sin: the sin we inherit as children of Adam and Eve, and the sins we commit in thought word and deed, by what we do and what we leave undone. St. Paul wrote, “As sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”
But as you read Psalm 90, you realize that the Lord’s wrath toward sin is only exceeded by His love. For the person whose God is the Lord, the steadfast love of God comforts the believer for as many days as the Lord gives. God makes His dwelling place with and in the believer, and He allows the believer to live with Him.
This is the reality in which our beloved Lyle lived his life. If ever there was a man who knew about dwelling places, it would be Lyle. In his work as a carpenter, not to mention his work with Laborers for Christ, he knew something about building a dwelling place. He knew what it took to build a house, to assemble a meeting room for a church, to erect something meant to last. He also knew how wrath could affect those dwelling places. Whether it was storms or the wrath of earthquakes or the devastation of floods, what can be built up with human hands can be so easily torn apart and left to decay. While he built things to last—while he prayed that the Lord would “establish the work of our hands for us”—he also was smart enough not to put his trust in things that moth and rust can destroy. He knew the truth: “The wages of sin is death.” And because of that, He knew the day would have to come when the Lord would make all things new. There was only one dwelling place Lyle trusted, and that was in Jesus Christ, who has been our dwelling place in all generations,” who is the “Word made flesh” to “dwell among us.”
Lyle was a baptized child of God. He heard the Word of God and believed the Word of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. He trusted in the promise of his Lord who said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” What a wonderful blessing and honor, to have the Lord be Lyle’s dwelling place! And on the 7th of August, that promise was fulfilled in full, when the Lord called Lyle home to dwell with Him forever. On one occasion when I visited Lyle in the hospital, I remember him and Sarah asking me if the Lord would have any use for Lyle’s abilities in heaven. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer for that. I still don’t. But I can tell you this with certainty: Lyle is now “before the throne of God, and [serves] Him day and night within His Temple; and He Who sits upon the throne will shelter [him] with His presence.” I don’t know what kind of service the Lord will require from Lyle, but I know the Lord will have something for Lyle to do, and whatever it is, it will give Lyle great joy.
The same is true for you. The day is coming when you will be carried away “like a flood;” you will finish your years “like a sigh.” But you will not face that end alone—if, indeed, you can call it an end—for the Lord will be with you, dwelling with you and in you, just as He is now. When the number of your days is complete, He will grant you a blessed end and graciously take you from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven, where He “will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain…” And as you await that day, just as He did for Lyle these many years, the Lord will dwell with you and within you “establish the work of [your] hands,” using your work for His glory. God grant it for the sake of Jesus Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Sermon for 9/4/16: Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity

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Trust and Believe
Matthew 6:24-34

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

What does Jesus mean when He says, “You cannot serve God and mammon?” He means simply, “You shall have no other gods.” What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What is to have a god? What is God? In simple terms, Martin Luther tells us, “A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart.” That’s what it means to treat something like a god.
But it’s not enough to treat any old thing like a god. To trust in anything other than the Triune God is idolatry. To cling to anything other than the crucified Christ is to have a false god. For some, it’s money and financial security. For some, it’s that fancy automobile. For some, it’s the flashy new product from Apple, Inc. For some, it might even be church. For a pastor who at one time was forced out of his congregation, it could be doing anything to avoid causing offense to those who called him. My brothers and sisters in Christ, while items and money and church and the desire to serve are not sinful in and of themselves, every one of these things becomes an idol when you trust in them before the Triune God. Every one of them will surely and swiftly steal away the True Faith and the One True God to which it clings. And as Jesus tells you, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Let me give you an example. It’s no secret that our congregation is not as financially stable as it has been in past times. That fact alone would have made it an easy decision to join our sister congregation in a dual parish arrangement. But that was not the only way to ease the financial burden of supporting a pastor. We could turn part of the sanctuary into a coffee shop. We could build a swimming pool on the property. Or we could stop preaching the hard truth of God’s Word and start saying those things that would make us popular in the eyes of the world. It worked for Joel Osteen. The entryway of his house is bigger than our sanctuary! Some churches, even some that call themselves Lutheran—and yes, even some that are members of the Missouri Synod—have done those things. But none of those things serve the Gospel. None of those things confess faith solely in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To have true faith, one must not have mere trust and belief. It must be a right trust and a right belief. We must be all the more diligent to think always on the First Commandment, for faith and the Triune God belong together. In that commandment, God requires of you true faith and true trust in Him and Him alone, for He alone is the One True God. He would have you cling to Him. Whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, He wants you to run to Him, for He will satisfy you and help you out of every need. He wants you to look to Him for all good and find refuge in Him in every time of need. He wants you to believe him with your whole heart.
And He wants you to approach Him that way because it is His greatest desire to give you “all that you need to support this body and life.” It is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” And this is most certainly true, for Jesus Christ our Lord always feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things. It was for precisely this reason that He was condemned to die: the Righteous for the unrighteous, the Holy for the unholy, the sinless for the sinful. He trusted in God above all things. He loved His neighbor as Himself—and even more so than Himself, for He did not hesitate to lay down His life for the very people who wanted Him dead, to douse you in the baptismal water and sacramental blood which poured from His side to make you holy. It is for His sake that our Father hears your prayers and gives you everything you need for this life and for eternal life.
Everything you have is a gift from our Father. Like any father, He wants you to have all good things, and He is gracious to give them to you. God has given you faith: faith which clings to Him alone; faith which uses His gifts for His worship and the service of your neighbor; faith which sustains you in times of trouble and trusts in Him above all things. 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.