Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sermon for 7/25/21: Eighth Sunday After Trinity

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Good Fruit

Matthew 7:15-23


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


When our Lord issues a warning, He means it to be taken seriously. “Beware of false prophets,” He says, and we need to beware because they are all around us. The trouble is, they look and sound good; they do and say good things; many of them, no doubt, even mean well. However, do not be fooled—not by church titles or even by official church pronouncements, for those can be sheep’s clothing. To be sure, there are true sheep of Christ wearing such things, but they may also be worn by false prophets. And you will not know if they are true sheep or false prophets simply by what they look like or even how they behave. They will all look and act the same: like sheep.

Instead, Jesus said, “ will know them by their fruits.” What are the fruits of a prophet? They are not his good works, nor even his apparent success. The fruits of a prophet are the words he speaks. The fruits of a preacher are his preaching, and not what his preaching accomplishes. What does he say about God? Above all, what does he say about Jesus Christ? If he does not preach Christ crucified, if he does not call you to repentance and faith, if he does not bestow on you the forgiveness of sins won by Christ for you, then he is a false prophet, and he is dangerous and even deadly to faith.

And here, you see, is the great irony: false prophets, who dress in sheep’s clothing, preach good works. They try to get bad trees to bear good fruit. And that would seem to be a good thing. But Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Prophesying in His name, casting out demons in His name, performing many wonders in His name—all would seem to be good works; they would seem to be the fruit that good trees produce. But bad trees cannot bear good fruit! Even when their fruit looks good, it is not. And those without a true faith, despite their good intentions, are cast out. God accepts only faith in Jesus Christ, and the justice of God requires that, without that faith, you be cut down and cast into the fire. Your works are not enough. They cannot save you.

Only those who do the will of the Father enter the kingdom of heaven. But the will of the Father is not something you do. That’s the shocking thing, and you, too, may be shocked by that. In all the religions made by men, the best you can ever hope for is good works. But the will of the Father is that His Son drink the cup of His wrath and then spill His own blood on Golgotha’s ground, that you might then drink that life blood in the cup of blessing and live! That is His will. And in this way only, bad trees are declared good as only God is good. For bad trees are grafted into the good Vine, Jesus Christ, and into His works, His faith, His submission to the Father’s will; and it all counts for you. He declares bad trees good, and He welcomes them to Himself in divine grace and mercy. From the crown of thorns that pressed into the Savior’s brow flows wine to make glad the hearts of men, to give them a joy and a peace words can never fully express—a joy found only in the forgiveness of sins and a cleansed conscience.

Without the death of Jesus Christ for all of us, and His defeat of death, Hell, and Satan in His resurrection, there are only bad trees. And without exception, bad trees produce only bad fruit. This is a serious warning from our Lord because it truly is a matter of life and death: spiritual life and death. But do not be afraid. Instead, confess your sins to God, express to Him your heartfelt sorrow for your sin and your desire to amend your life. Trust that Jesus has paid your debt. You are forgiven all your sins. You are loved, and blessed, and cleansed by Him.

There is no one to accuse you. You are now a good tree with good fruit according to His Word and blessing. He blesses the work of your hands, whatever that is, and uses it for the good of the whole world. He gives you good works to do because He gives you a part in His kingdom; because He loves you. You will never enter the kingdom of heaven because of your works, but because of His! But, amazingly, His works now belong to you. And that is because everything He has, He gives to you. You are free: free to believe, free to live, free to serve. In the name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sermon for 7/18/21: Seventh Sunday After Trinity

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Compassion for Fools

Mark 8:1-9



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



How is it that the multitude who came to hear Jesus found themselves so utterly unprepared for basic bodily needs? How is it that they were drawn out three days without food and were unable to return home, lest they perish on the way? Jesus was certainly aware of what was happening, and yet He did not warn them. It was not sinful pride and self-reliance that has caused this situation at all. They were caught because the One who feeds the birds of the air and fishes of the sea had purposely drawn them out. It was His words, His teaching that caused them to forget all other things. His words and His teaching were responsible for the seemingly hopeless situation.

And in this very context, as the responsible party, our Lord tells the disciples: “I have compassion on the multitude.” How is this the case? Why did He not tell them before it was too late? Even two-hundred days’ wages worth of bread would not be enough. How can such a crowd be satisfied?

God in His wisdom turns the world’s wisdom on its head. His compassion is not a sappy, bleeding heart sympathy. His compassion is a sincere and lasting love. It is real concern for the ongoing reality and eternal fate of mankind. It was this compassion that caused our Lord to place these hearers into such dire straits. He has them right where He wants them. The reality is that they would be just as helpless if they were tucked away in their beds with full bellies and full cupboards…but they might well not know it. They might think they were in control. But there in the desert, with grumbling bellies and too far to return, they know their helplessness. The hunger that gnaws at the 4,000 is the mark of death. They must eat or they will die. There is no place for them to turn. They cannot provide for themselves. They are helpless.

These words of Jesus—words that so lifted them out of this mundane existence that they forgot all other things—now seem to turn on them. Now more than ever they realize their frailty, their inability, their weakness. In contrast to the serenity of Jesus and His perfect obedience, their guilt shows forth like a beacon. And so it is that the Lord provides, as the Lord always does, and by His grace and mercy they realize it and give thanks for it.

The reality is that we are the frailest and weakest of God’s creatures. We cannot eat raw meat or draw sustenance from grass. We are the only animal on earth that requires clothing for survival. But despite all that, we are also the proudest of His creatures. While the donkey knows his master, we rebel against the goodness of God. We think ourselves wise and shrewd, good and decent, when we are nothing of the sort. We boast in our supposed “street smarts” and extra measure of “common sense.” Like the Pharisee in the Temple, we scan the room and think, “I am more than the equal of any man here. I am smarter. I am stronger. I am better, and all should honor me and see that I am of great worth. I am prepared.”

But our “street smarts” disappear in the middle of the night when your car breaks down in a bad part of town with your cell phone dead. Our “common sense” is shown in failed marriages, troubled children, our indebtedness, our pettiness. What if your neighbors could hear you yelling at your children, fighting with your spouse, lusting for their children, coveting their possessions? It is a thin veil of respectability that we hide behind. No one of us has kept the Law. No one of us can stand on his own.

Repent. Be emptied of yourselves. Feel the hunger pangs that cannot be satisfied by mere bread. Turn to the God of compassion, who provides the ram in the thicket, the spotless Lamb who suffers God’s wrath so that we don’t burn. Find satisfaction in Him that the world cannot give. Find peace that passes all understanding. Rest in the forgiveness of sins and justification of your soul, for you are precious in God’s eyes. Feast upon the very body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you—food too good for this creation, but loving provided in mercy. Your Savior comes, meek and lowly, riding into our sanctuary on common bread and wine.

So what do you do? You do nothing. You simply bask in His presence, in His compassion, as you are served by Him, your Servant-King. Let go of the wheel and enjoy the ride. Feast in the desert on bread you did not earn. Lose yourself in His words. Be drawn out, and there you will find your true calling as a child of God upon whom He ceaselessly dotes and fusses, for whom nothing is too good. This is His glorious compassion. Thanks be to God. He does all things well. 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, July 12, 2021

HYMN: To God’s Great Law You Must Adhere

Since I started writing hymns, I’ve had the idea of working on the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. It’s not that I think I can necessarily improve on Luther’s catechetical hymns. It’s more that I think I can say things in a different way. Anyway, I finally found an in for the Ten Commandments that appealed to me, so I got to work. Initially I thought I would build on the first stanza of “The Law of God Is Good and Wise,” which is why I chose the meter and tune I did. But then I thought I should do something original. As always, feedback is love.

To God’s Great Law You Must Adhere

1. To God’s great Law you must adhere

In perfect love and holy fear.

Here is your guide for ev’ry day

To keep you steadfast on your way.

2. No other gods you have than Me.

In Me your fear and trust shall be.

Love God alone with all your heart

And from My Word do not depart.

3. Do not misuse My holy name

To bring upon it grief or shame,

But call on Me in any need,

And I am glorified indeed.

4. Remember ev’ry Sabbath day.

Receive My gifts with thanks, and pray.

My Word is precious. Oh, give ear

To keep as holy all you hear.

5. Give honor to authorities.

They are My gift; do not displease

Father and mother, child, but pray,

Cherish, respect them, and obey.

6. “You shall not murder,” says the Lord.

Live not in anger by the sword,

But help your neighbor in distress.

Speak words of love to heal and bless.

7. Be faithful to the one you wed,

And keep as pure the marriage bed.

Live not in lust, but holiness.

One flesh in faith the Lord will bless.

8. Steal not your neighbor’s property,

Nor seek it out dishonestly,

But help your neighbor to maintain

All by God’s grace he did obtain. 

9. Speak no offense, nor seek to shame,

But dignify your neighbor’s name.

God grant you grace, lest you betray

Anyone by the words you say.

10. Scheme not to take your neighbor’s house,

Nor tempt his workers or his spouse.

From thieves and swindlers, evil foes,

Help him retain what God bestows.

11. In Adam’s sin are all conceived.

No sinless life can be achieved.

Sinners transgress with ev’ry breath,

You merit nothing but your death.

12. So place your trust in Christ alone.

Sinless, for sin did He atone.

Baptized in Christ, His grace confess:

His righteousness, your holy dress.

13. God grant you faith, so you believe

His boundless mercy you receive.

With works of love, a saint you live.

Marked as forgiven, you forgive.

(c) 2021, Alan Kornacki, Jr.



Ten Commandments; The Law; Life in Christ

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sermon for 7/11/21: Sixth Sunday After Trinity

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“All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall”

Matthew 5:17-26


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



The hymn we just sang is one of only two hymns to be quoted in our Lutheran Confessions. In the Formula of Concord, concerning disputes over the doctrine of original sin, it is said: “Through the fall of Adam man’s nature and essence are entirely corrupt.” In the original German text of the Formula, the text of the opening stanza of this hymn is quoted verbatim. It states the reality that we are born in sin and bound to die.


All mankind fell in Adam’s fall;

One common sin infects us all.

From one to all the curse descends,

And over all God’s wrath impends.


Adam fell into sin when he tried to be like God instead of remaining in the image of God. This sin has come to us all. We fell with Adam, and we are as guilty as Adam with our own faults. It is no wonder that today’s Gospel expands on the 5th Commandment, “You shall not murder.” We might be tempted to think that we haven’t killed anyone. And yet, Jesus says: “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to the judgment.” And every Adam, like you and me, has had unrighteous anger; we have killed our brother through our anger, and we must repent!


Through all our powers corruption creeps

And us in dreadful bondage keeps;

In guilt we draw our infant breath

And reap its fruits of woe and death.


Corruption creeps through the talents and treasures we have been given, leading us to use them for our own glory. So sin brings “dreadful bondage,” a bondage to Satan and to hell. And, yes, even that cute little newborn, who is passed from doctor to nurse to be placed in a towel and rubbed somewhat vigorously to trigger the first breath of life—that is actually the infant breath of death. Each day draws us one day closer to the grave.


From hearts depraved to evil prone

Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;

God’s image lost, the darkened soul

Seeks not nor finds its heavenly goal.


As surely as the common cold leads to coughing and sneezing, so the disease of original sin leads to actual sins of thought, word, and deed. Our hearts are depraved. As we read in Genesis, just before the flood, “...Every intention of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually.” From sinful hearts “flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone.”

Have you ever been told that a “real” Christian only prays from the heart and not from a book? Do you see why that might be a problem? When you look at your heart apart from Christ, you find nothing but corruption and death! By themselves, our hearts will offer us nothing more than darkness, death, and devil.


But Christ, the second Adam, came

To bear our sin and woe and shame,

To be our life, our light, our way,

Our only hope, our only stay.


Notice how this stanza and the stanzas that remain display the incomparable rich blessings of Christ. He is the second Adam. Adam’s sin brought death to all, but Christ brought life and light to all. St. Paul writes in Romans 5: “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for many.” Adam was our death, our darkness, our lost way. Jesus, however, came to lift the curse and restore our life with God. His death crushed Adam’s curse of death and has brought life to us.


As by one man all mankind fell

And, born in sin was doomed to hell,

So by one Man, who took our place,

We all were justified by grace.


Jesus took our place before God the Father and gives us a special gift: his own righteousness. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees thought they were righteous through their works, but they were still stuck in Adam’s sin. The righteousness of Christ is a gift of grace, not earned by works. Everything Jesus is and does counts for us before God. He washes us clean in Holy Baptism, forgiving our sins so that we stand justified before God. And now, as a guarantee, He gives us His body to eat and his blood to drink ”for the forgiveness of sins.”


We thank you, Christ; new life is ours,

New light, new hope, new strength, new powers.

This grace our every way attend

Until we reach our journey’s end.


We thank God for his gifts and we rejoice that these gifts have no end. Several key words describes these gifts: life, light, hope, strength, power. They echo the original creation where God gave all of these gifts to mankind before the fall into sin. And now, through Christ, they are being restored in an even greater measure, though for now they are given in the midst of sin and death. And so we pray, This grace our every way attend until we reach our journey’s end.” Here we express our yearning for the return of Jesus that has been promised to us, praying that we will live each day in repentance and faith, until God, by his grace, brings us to heaven and to the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. 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, July 06, 2021

PARODY: Get the Coffee Started

 My second coffee parody, dedicated to my addict friends…

(I only mock because I love you.)

Get the Coffee Started
Parody of “Get the Party Started” by Pink

I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.

Get the coffee started. I’m a grumpy old man
Till I’ve had my coffee; then I’m human again. 
Don’t you give me decaf. Man, that stuff’s a disgrace. 
Pour it in my mug? I’ll throw it back in your face. 

I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.
(I’m wakin’ up, I’m wakin’)
I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.

Get the coffee started. Monday morning’s the worst. 
Got my weekend hangover. It’s like I’ve been cursed. 
Pull up to the window, get my Starbucks to go.
Try to work without it and my horns start to show. 

I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.
(I’m wakin’ up, you better)
I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.

Get the coffee started.

One cup’s not sufficient for a smile on my face.
Till I’ve had my third cup, best stay out of my space.
Once I’ve had a pitcher, we will be okay;
I can act all human for the rest of the day.
Though it might taste nasty, the caffeine suits me fine.
You can be my pusher; run an IV line!

I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.
(I’m wakin’ up, I’m wakin’)
I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.
(I’m wakin’ up, I’m wakin’)

I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.
(I’m wakin’ up, you better)
I’m waking up, so you better get the coffee started.

Get the coffee started, oh.
Get the coffee started right now.
Get the coffee started.
Get the coffee started.
Get the coffee started right now.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Sermon for 7/4/21: Fifth Sunday After Trinity

I don't often preach on the Old Testament on Sunday morning, but this text really spoke to me as I was reading the Propers for the Fifth Sunday After Trinity. 

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“On the Mountain Before the Lord…”

I Kings 19:11-21


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



To use the language of modern psychology, Elijah was a victim of spiritual burnout. With the help of God, he had just won a great victory over the prophets of Baal. After such a contest, you might think that everyone would end up confessing that the Lord is God. But that didn’t happen, and Elijah saw that as just one more piece of evidence that he was a failure as a prophet. And on top of that, Queen Jezebel, infuriated by Elijah’s victory over her prophets, issued a death warrant against Elijah. Understandably, Elijah fled.

It’s important to understand why Elijah ran. His flight was not really prompted by fear. Far from Jezebel and her agents, out in the wilderness all by himself, Elijah plunked down in the dirt and asked the Lord to take his life; he wanted to die. His courage and determination had melted away—not so much because of the threats of his enemies, but because his spirit had been broken by their impenitence. Elijah had faithfully done the work the Lord had given him to do and, in spite of much good that had been done, the people still rejected the Lord and His way. Elijah had grown severely disillusioned. In response, God’s angel told Elijah to rest, and he provided the prophet with food and drink in the wilderness; then he told the burned-out Elijah to keep going. The Lord was not yet finished with Elijah. The Lord spoke to Elijah in a whisper—“a still small voice”—and Elijah heard and recognized the Word of the Lord.

You and I have experienced times and situations in which we have extended ourselves greatly, above and beyond the call of duty, only to end up bitterly disappointed. We did everything we thought we could, seemingly to little or no avail. After a while we had the opportunity to step back and analyze. And what did we see? While aspects of that situation stood outside the realm of our control, we also had to admit that our own sins and flaws helped to mess things up. We did not completely trust the Lord to take care of the matter. We can be left, sort of like Elijah, stewing in our own juices, indignant with God, even as guilt comes crashing down upon us for faithlessly presuming that He must dance to the tunes we choose.

          We are told in Epistle to the Hebrews, “In many and various ways, God spoke to the people of old by the prophets; but now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.” The Apostle John called Jesus “the Word.” In Him we have the Word from God that we need most of all: the word of forgiveness that comes from His cross. “It is finished,” Jesus said there. After He rose from death, He breathed on His disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” It may be a comparatively quiet voice that speaks the word of forgiveness to us today; it may seem almost inaudible due to the noise of this evil and dying world; yet this is the very Word we need to hear. The Lord is in this Word with all His saving power.

          God’s Word works! To Elijah’s surprise, there were still seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. By God’s grace these people had kept the faith. All of them were going about their business quietly, like a low whisper. And they could do this because they had heard the Lord’s voice in His Word, and His Word worked.

          God’s Word works today, too, when God’s people make the good confession. This is true even in times of adversity—and sometimes especially when they confess God’s Word in times of adversity. When our way seems difficult; when there isn’t that calm and quiet that really should characterize life in the Church; when there seems to be so little, if any, tranquility; we can still be comforted to know that the Lord is at hand in our difficulties. Like Elijah, we may not like where we find ourselves after some especially bitter experience. But do not underestimate God’s power in this. If we are driven back to His Word and the comfort it gives, then the bitterness becomes a blessing, however well disguised.

You will never go wrong clinging to the Lord and His Word. Even though He does not seem to bring decisive victories in this world, the fact remains that, in Jesus Christ, He has overcome this world. God’s Word yields the victory for all eternity. As St. Paul said: Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” So keep your ears open. Listen for His Word. God isn’t finished with you just yet. 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.