Holy Trinity 2018

Bible Text: John 3:1-17 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

For too many people, communion in God is communion only with an idea. They get wrapped up in the idea of some mystical force. Like Bette Midler, they believe that “God is watching us from a distance.” And so they worship only the concept and its majesty. The truth is, we are those people. Whenever we live as if God doesn’t matter; whenever we fudge the truth or sneak to do evil; whenever our prayers are nothing more than a list of complaints and demands; whenever we do not define our existence by what God says and gives to us through His Son, in His Spirit—then God is just an idea, a good luck charm. When you’re wrapped up only in the idea of God, then the focus is on nothing but signs and wonders. “God” is simply a way to explain why things happen the way they do, something to make you feel more comfortable when you feel insecure.

It’s that idea of God—the almighty Being who produces spectacular signs—that Nicodemus has in mind when he comes to Jesus by night. Nicodemus wants to know how Jesus got this idea of God working so well for Him. Jesus is turning water to wine and healing the sick. He has such presence and speaks with unprecedented authority. And you know that “no one can do these signs that Jesus does unless God is with him.”

The answer Jesus gives, though, has nothing to do with God the concept, and everything to do with the Persons of God. Jesus talks about birth—not to point to another miracle and wonder in life, but to express a relationship with the Father, relationship through the Son, relationship in the Holy Spirit. To have God as your God is not to have some correct idea or to stand up for some pious thoughts. To have God as your God is to have God as your Father, His Son as your brother, and His Spirit as your breath and heartbeat. To have God as your God is to be in the Family.

So Jesus talks about a second birth. It’s not just another spectacular event that makes us part of some other worldliness. It’s not the way we finally get caught up in a mystical divineness. It’s a concrete reality: Holy Baptism is the way in which we are born into God’s family. In those waters, the Father becomes our heavenly Father. In those waters, God becomes no longer an idea and concept; He adopts us. That is the point Jesus is making to Nicodemus. God is no longer just “God;” He is now “Our Father who art in heaven.” We have union with a loving Family. So do not marvel when our Lord says, “You must be born again.” He is not demanding that you go through some religious experience or work yourself up to some emotional high. In Baptism, you are joined to your God and Father; your God lives and moves and breathes in you and through you and for your good.

You cannot pull yourself up to heaven. You cannot reach the loftiness of the Holy Trinity. But your heavenly Father has sent His Son. He came to be your Brother. And as the true and righteous brother that He is, our Lord Jesus endures your suffering, carries your cross, dies your death, and restores and renews your life. In this way, Christ Jesus unites you to His Father. You now have the right to call God your Father. Our Lord Jesus more tightly and intimately binds and unites you to your God. That happens in the Holy Supper, for in partaking of Christ’s body and blood, you commune with God; you abide in Him just as He abides in you.

This is the love the Father has for you. He is not interested in being some abstract God, keeping you at arms length. Instead, God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ brings you into His family and unites you to Himself; He gives you all the rights and benefits of being a son of God and an heir of the heavenly kingdom. 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.


Pentecost 2018

Bible Text: John 14:23-31 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

When Our Lord Jesus commanded His Apostles to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” and to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name, He did not leave them to their own devices. Instead, He conferred upon them Holy Spirit; He gave them the authority and the power to give people new life in God. This new life is a restoration of the communion with God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit that you and I were created to have. This was why the Father originally opened His mouth and breathed out His Word and Spirit: not simply to make stuff, but to make men and women, you and me, so that we might share in His life, in a relationship and union that exceeds any intimacy we can desire or imagine. He made us so that we might grow and mature and deepen in that communion.

Whenever we take it into our heads to make God in our image and according to our likeness; whenever we desire to make Him conform to the God we want, rather than conforming ourselves to our Father and His Word in all we do and say; then we have marred and ruined the intimacy and communion. We have separated ourselves from Him and have allowed the devil and his spirits of despair, unbelief, and false hope to rush in.

The original design required our Lord Jesus to come into our flesh, and for the Holy Spirit to draw us ever more deeply into the life that God is. But because of our desire to live for ourselves, because we no longer desire communion with God, because we desire to make God suit our whims, our Lord Jesus changed His mission. Before He could live in our flesh, He would have to restore our flesh. And before He could bolster our union with God, He would have to again make that communion possible. He would be born of Mary. He would live the righteousness we cannot achieve on our own. He would lay down His life as the sacrifice for sin. He would rise again to raise us with Him. And then He sent His Spirit, the Helper, who plants our Lord within us along with all Jesus has said and done for our salvation.

And so the Spirit descends. But He does not land on just Peter or even just the Twelve. The sounds of the rushing mighty wind filled the house where the church was gathered together. He filled that house just as He would fill the whole earth. To the Apostles the Holy Spirit gave the power to give new life, life given just as it was in the beginning—by a mouth, through the Word. And so, because they were all filled with the Spirit, they spoke. They spoke to the very people who had killed the Christ, the very people who had shouted, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

It is an unspeakable miracle and an unfathomable mercy of God that He is willing to take our curses and make them His blessing. And so, by His Spirit, He takes that curse spoken to Pilate against Jesus and now converts it into the most blessed words they could ever hear. The blood of Jesus is what they cried out for. And by the miracle of Holy Baptism, the blood of Jesus is what they got. It fell on them and on their children in a redeeming flood. And by that same Spirit, our Lord Jesus has washed us and generously poured into us His love and His life. In this way, the Triune God comes to us and makes His home in us. In this way He renews our life; our communion with God is restored. We are gathered into His Body, the Church, and in this way we live through Him, with Him, and in Him. And being in communion with the Holy Trinity, we are now also in communion with each other. 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.

Ascension of Our Lord 2018

Bible Text: Mark 16:14-20 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Just like the disciples, we look up in the sky in awe. We don’t understand the Ascension. We know what the Bible says—that Jesus was taken up in the cloud and disappeared from the sight of the disciples. But we don’t understand it, and we don’t like those things we can’t understand. It is a stumbling block to the world, because the world only believes the things it can see, and now Jesus has removed Himself from our sight.

There are two things of greatest importance at the Ascension. First, Christ ascended to His Father’s right hand as a human being and not simply as God. When He became a human in Mary’s womb, He denied Himself so that He did not always or fully use His divine attributes as a man. He was still true God, but He did not exercise His powers. If He had, then He could not have been killed, thwarting His very purpose for coming: to keep the Law for us, to be killed as the Sacrifice for our sins.

When it was complete, His body rested in the tomb as a man. The resurrection was the reunion of His human body and soul. Since it was finished, He no longer denied Himself. He passed through the rock and the locked doors in His human body. His appearance was changed in such a way that, although the scars left by the cross remained, He was not easily identified by sight alone. The disciples need faith to know that it was Him, that He was risen from the dead, that He had come in peace.

Then, forty days after the Resurrection, He visibly ascended to His Father’s right hand to receive His place in the Kingdom and rule by His mercy. He ascended as a man, paving the way for us not only out of Hell but into heaven. He is there now, as a man, in His body and soul inherited from Mary, with scars on His hands and feet and side.

The second thing of greatest importance regarding the resurrection: He has removed His visible presence. He is not among us as He was among the disciples before the crucifixion. He does not deny Himself at all but fully and always uses all of His divine rights and attributes as a Man. Yet He has promised to be among us, to be with us always, to the end of the age.

He is present now with us, not simply according to His Divine nature, but as a man—with us and for us according to His promised bodily presence in the Holy Communion. He reveals this to St. Paul after the Ascension. Even though He has removed His visible presence, in His exalted state His human nature is not limited. As a man, He uses His Divine rights and attributes and can be physically present in more than one place.

This, of course, is a mystery. We do not comprehend it. We confess it and believe it. If, by faith, we can worship the Babe in Mary’s arms as the uncreated, eternal Creator of all things, then we should not hesitate to take Christ as His Word and confess that He gives His actual, risen body and blood for us to eat and drink in the Supper for the forgiveness of sins. This we believe according to the accomplished sacrifice of the cross and Christ’s clear word. We do not partake of a simply memorial meal, but we receive the fruit of the cross, the forgiveness of sins, and are joined to Him forever.

And He is here among us today. Our Lord says, “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am with them.” He is with us, speaking, absolving, washing, and feeding us. He is risen and ascended, but He is not gone. Don’t gawk into the sky; come where He promises to be. Don’t look up at the sky; look at bread and wine and water, and see Christ. Then look around and see Him also in your neighbor.  He is with you, just as He promised. 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.

Fifth Sunday of Easter 2018

Bible Text: John 16:5-15 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

If you’re honest with yourself, then you’ll readily admit that the truth is something you’re really not comfortable with. The truth will certainly set you free, but in reality we find it easier to tell our version of the truth: the truth from our perspective, the truth the way we think it ought to be. What we forget is that truth ultimately is not a series of facts or a virtuous concept. Truth ultimately is a Person: our Lord Jesus Christ. And since He is Truth, to bend the truth is to sin against our Lord Jesus. The truth—our Lord Jesus—really does make us free. But deep down we despise the truth. That’s why it’s so difficult for us to tell the truth and to face the truth. Deep down we hate the truth. That’s why we work so hard to bend the truth—because, really, we’re trying to pull one over on Jesus. And we actually believe we’re getting away with something because we do not now see Truth in the flesh.

Yet Truth says, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” How does He do that—especially when we firmly believe that no one really has the full truth? The Spirit of Truth leads us into all truth first of all by helping us to see and understand the truth about ourselves. And the whole truth is that we are unworthy of the truth. And so the Spirit convicts us—the whole world—of sin. And this is our sin—not just that we do things wrong, but that we do not desire or hold firmly to Truth.

Yet our Lord, who is Truth, does not come to lead us to despair, but to lead us to all truth. So once He helps us see the truth about ourselves—once we admit that we are unworthy to stand in the light of the Truth, and to stand before Truth Himself—then the Spirit preaches into our hearts the truth of Our Lord’s righteousness. And what is this Truth? The Lord God blesses us and deals graciously with us because He is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. He embraces us and wishes to draw us deeper and deeper into Himself, into the Truth He is, and more so into the fellowship, friendship, and communion that is the Holy Blessed Trinity.

The Spirit of Truth comes to persuade us to believe and take to heart that Satan, the prince of this world, the father of lies, the enemy of Truth and every true thing, is judged. His deadly reign is over. He can harm us no longer. He’s finished. The victory has been won by our Lord Jesus Christ, and it has been delivered to us in the waters of Holy Baptism.

We have no need to fear the Truth. The truth is our ally, for He allows us to live with Him, and He dwells within us. We have no need to run from the Truth, for He invites us to walk in His footsteps. We have no need to twist the Truth, or tell the version you think makes us look good. Take hold of Him fully and love Him, even if it means you must suffer because of Him. For when you suffer for the Truth, you partake more fully of the Lord’s sufferings and rejoice more joyfully in His victory.

Love the truth and abide in the truth, here at the altar and at home in your prayers. Let your love of the truth extend to your brothers and sisters in Christ and to everyone you meet. For the Spirit of truth leads you not only to know and confess and experience communion in God, but also to accept and live in communion with each other. Truth Himself has been given to you and implanted within you by the Spirit of Truth. So forget your perspective which only speaks what you want to hear. Forget your little white lies. Live in the freedom, for the Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ, has made you free. 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.

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2018

Bible Text: John 16:16-22 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We are in the midst of the Easter season. Jesus is risen. Our sins are forgiven. The good work of the Spirit has begun in us. But on this Sunday of jubilation, we acknowledge that all is not yet complete. The enemy is defeated, but he still howls at us. Our flesh has been subdued, but it still pulls at us. The world is drunk in its delusion. It thinks either that Jesus is dead or that He doesn’t care. The Lord foretold this. He said that you will weep and lament. No one gets out of this life unscathed. No Christian is spared the cross. And no one gets to Easter without going through Good Friday.

In that weeping and lamenting, even in temptation and sorrow, we are comforted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died and was taken away from the sight of the disciples for a little while. Then He rose and they saw Him. Though they had failed Him, He was not angry. He had died for them. He returned as a Bridegroom to His chamber. He came in mercy and love for the Father’s redeemed children. He bestowed His peace upon them and sent them to share the good news of His resurrection with the world…to give them joy.

To illustrate what we currently suffer, and what the disciples suffered that Holy Saturday, He compares us to women in the throes of labor. It will hurt. You will think that you can take no more. You might even curse your husband and wish to die. But the pangs of childbirth are the ushers of joy. You will discover on the other side that it was all worth it; that your husband was faithful; that the child is worth every ounce of pain, every sacrifice. Part of this is simply the promise that the suffering will finally end. But the passage of a child out of the womb also shows something of the Lord’s passing through the dank womb of the earth and into the light of day. Death is the passage to life.

But more than that, the mother does not even remember her pain, so great is the joy which follows. There is no room left in her for that memory because of the joy that a child has been born to her. In the same way, the Lord has caused a new man to be born out of death, out of sorrow. He has drowned the Old Adam in the waters of Holy Baptism. From those waters, a child of God has been born: redeemed, spotless, righteous before God.

Here is the point: You have sorrow now. That is real. Contrary to what some false preachers would have you believe, the life of a Christian is not a life of ease if you just believe enough. We pray for relief. But we understand that God works through sorrows, that He keeps you close to Himself, that He afflicts you and chastens you according to His mercy. Through sorrow, pain, and temptation He is working virtue in you. He is teaching you to trust in Him. He is keeping you close to Himself. This is why confirmation was such a big deal in the early church, and why we still practice it today. They understood that the catechumens were joining an army; that they were being set up against Satan and the world and their own flesh; that they were taking up their crosses.

That work, those crosses, will turn to joy. It will not be different joy. It is what you have already now, for Jesus is risen. You are not alone. Your sins are forgiven.  But you see Him now only dimly in the Sacrament. You receive His risen body in bread and know it by faith. But you will see Him again…and you will see Him fully. You will see Him in His risen, glorified body. You will see this with your own eyes—not hidden in bread and wine, but visible to all the world. Then your joy will be full. You will remember your anguish no more, and no one will take your joy from 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.

Resurrection of Our Lord 2018

Bible Text: Mark 16:1-8 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The hands of the grieving ladies had been busy. They wrung their hands helplessly as their Lord, the Lord of life, suffered and died. And after watching their Lord be put through a farce of a trial, after watching Him be crucified, after watching Him die, after watching the soldiers pierce His side, after watching Him being removed from the cross, after watching Him be placed in the tomb and then sealed inside, the ladies prepared spices to anoint the body of their deceased, beloved Lord. Nothing would ever be the same for them, they thought. And they were right, though they could never have imagined the way the Lord would change everything. Their crucified, dead, and buried Lord had risen from the dead, and in doing so He destroyed the power of death forever.

Mary Magdalene touched the Lord with her hands, but that wasn’t good enough. Our Lord appeared to the disciples, hidden for fear in the upper room, as we will hear next week. He showed them His hands, and they believed. That same evening He appeared to two unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus. He taught them what His life, His work, His death, and His resurrection meant, and then His hands proved to them who He was by breaking bread before them, just as He had done at the feeding of the 5,000, just as He had done when He instituted the Sacrament of the Altar. He then showed His hands and feet and side to Thomas, proving to him that Jesus is His risen Lord and God.

But He had spent His whole ministry proving Himself to be their God. When parents brought children to Jesus so the He might touch them, He was insistent: “The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And no one would know that better than the Son of God, for He brought the Kingdom with Him. When the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the leprous came to Jesus, He placed His hands on them and healed them. When He came upon the dead—the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and even His friend Lazarus—even before He rose from the dead Himself, He brought these dead back to life. He proved Himself to be the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Life.

That’s all very well and good for the people who actually got to see Jesus with their eyes, who were touched by His hands, who walked with Him, who were healed by Him. But what about us, Lord? What about the people who walk as yet by faith and not by sight? Are we to wallow in despair because we cannot see His hands upon us? No. Our Lord does not leave us to walk in uncertainty. We may not see Him with our eyes, but He still touches us today. Just as He picked up the little children in His arms and blessed them, He does that today when the pastor takes a child in His arms and washes that child “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And more than just blessing these children in His arms, He has raised them from the dead, and even more profoundly than raising Lazarus, for these baptized children will not face the eternal death their sins deserved. His holy, wounded hands lay His own body and pour His own blood into your mouth by the hands of His chosen servants who stand in His stead.

We have spent the past 40 days looking at our Lord’s hands and how they serve us. Today, those hands invite you to come to Him in this place for rest. His hands heal your soul by pouring his blood into you as the medicine of salvation. His hands provide for your needs of body and soul. His hands are folded in prayer over you, that you would be united to Him. His hands protect you from the strokes of Satan and your own sinful flesh. His hands have set you apart, consecrating you for service. His hands have bled into the cup you will come forward to receive. And His hands have proved that He is your good and gracious God, your Lord of life, and your Life in the midst of death. 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.

Good Friday 2018

Bible Text: Luke 23:32-46 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

At our Lord’s trial, the mob cried out about Jesus, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Most accomplices to murder have no desire to have the victim’s blood on the hands or their consciences, so this cry is particularly stunning. Who actually wants to be covered with blood? But when someone is filled with so much hate—a hatred multiplied by the mentality of the mob—sometimes it’s worth it to be covered in blood. The crowd, fueled with the hatred of the religious leaders of the Jews, certainly thought they could handle the consequences of killing their King.

But blood is a powerful thing. Moses tells us that the blood of Abel cried out from the ground to the Lord. God told the Israelites not to consume the blood of any creature they killed, for “the life of all flesh is its blood.” And the mob, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, knew the power of blood. The very Passover they were in Jerusalem to celebrate was a celebration of the blood of the Passover lamb. The lamb’s blood marked their homes as the homes of the children of Israel; seeing that blood, the angel of death would spare the firstborn sons of Israel. They knew the power of blood; their ancestors had slain “prophets, wise men, and scribes.” And now they wanted to see blood spill from their King of Kings.

Blood is, indeed, a powerful thing. The blood of the Son of God is exceptionally powerful. If Abel’s sinful blood was able to cry out to the Lord, how much louder would be the cry of Christ’s innocent blood to His Father? The farmer Cain was cursed from the earth, and his toil would no longer bring forth fruit; how much more dreadful would be the punishment of those with the blood of Christ on their hands? And we are not innocent of the blood of Christ, either, for our every sin gives out a cry for the blood of Christ to rest upon us and our children as well, as surely as if we ourselves had pierced our Lord’s hands, feet, head, and side.

The Lord allowed His blood to spill from His innocent hands. But the blood of Christ is not merely powerful to condemn the unfaithful. For the repentant, for those who realize by faith the power of the blood of Jesus upon their hands, that blood is a cleansing flood. When the Apostle John was given a vision of heaven, he was blessed to see the true power of that blood. The elder stood before the throne of heaven, pointing John’s attention to the white-robed worshippers, the saints singing praises to the Lamb of God. He told John, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They have been clothed in the spotless baptismal robe of the righteousness of Christ. They stand before the throne and sing praises to the Lamb eternally.

The old adage says, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” The crowd screamed for blood. Only by the gracious and merciful power of God could such a dreadful prayer be heard and answered as a mighty blessing to His children. The children of Israel wanted the blood of Jesus to spill? The Father allowed that blood to be spilled. The thorn-encircled brow of Jesus spilled blood. The hands and feet of Jesus spilled blood. Blood and water flowed forth from the pierced side of Jesus. And just as the Father promised it would be, “the life of all flesh is blood,” for the blood of Jesus is the life of the Church. The blood and water flowing forth from the side of Jesus are the sign of the Sacraments: water with the Word of God washing us clean in Holy Baptism, and blood with the body of Christ feeding us in the Holy Supper. His blood is, indeed, upon us and upon our children. And His righteous blood, flowing from His piercéd side, His thorn-encircled brow, His feet, and His hands, is our 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.

Maundy Thursday 2018

Bible Text: I Corinthians 11:23-32 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Our Lord Jesus Christ does nothing by accident. Everything He does, He does with a purpose. So when He takes bread into His hands and blesses it, and then does the same with the cup of wine, it’s not just because that’s what’s handy as they celebrate the Passover. Jesus has a purpose, and everything He says and does is for that purpose. Everything He says and does is for the salvation of His creation.

Since our Lord always acts with purpose, it is important that we examine what our Lord says and does. He began with the command: “Take and eat.” “Take and drink.” He does not call upon us to do something miraculous. We do not have that ability. He tells us to something natural—something, in fact, that we need to do to live. Eat. Drink. It’s no coincidence that He connects His gifts with eating and drinking. Our earthly lives are fed by what we take in with our mouths; the same is true for eternal life.

And that’s true because of the Word of Christ. Hear the Word of God, recorded by the prophet Isaiah: “As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” So when Jesus says, “This is my body;” “This is my blood;” “given” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;” His Word does exactly what He says it will do. The bread is His body; the wine is His blood; in taking and eating and drinking, we eat and drink His body and blood, and we receive the forgiveness of our sins. The hands of our Lord consecrate this holy Meal, setting apart the bread and wine for the purpose of our salvation.

This is a stumbling block for many, including many who call themselves Christians. They doubt the power of Christ’s Word to do what He says it will do. When Jesus says of the bread, “This is my body,” they can’t bring themselves to believe that Jesus means it’s actually His body. Bread is bread, they think, and it certainly cannot contain anything that isn’t bread. In their minds, when Jesus uses the word “is” when He says, “This is my body,” the bread can only represent His body; it’s only a symbol. But that raises the question: If Jesus cannot actually do what He says He will do, then how can we really trust that He has the power to take away our sins?

My brothers and sisters in Christ: Do you trust the power of the Word of God? Do you trust that, when your pastor poured water on you and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” you were made a child of God and given faith to cling to what our Lord says? Do you trust that, when your pastor makes the sign of the cross and says, “In the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins,” Jesus is taking away your sins? It is not your pastor who is doing the work; he is only acting as our Lord’s hands and mouth. Your pastor’s hands and mouth have been set apart, consecrated to deliver the gifts which Christ has called him to deliver.

Here is the truth: Christ is truly present, body and blood, in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, just as He says He is. Your faith doesn’t put Him there, but it recognizes Him in this holy gift. The ordinary bread and wine, combined with the Word of God, deliver the crucified and resurrected Christ to you. These ordinary, everyday things, combined with the Word of God, deliver the forgiveness, life, and salvation Jesus died and rose to give you. Receive it from His hand, the hand of Christ which set it apart for you, the hand that has set you apart as one whom He has redeemed. 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.

Midweek Lent V 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 14:22-33 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

When God made His creatures, He did not simply make them and then leave them to their own devices. He is not watching us, as Bette Midler would assert, “from a distance.” He has taken it upon Himself to protect His people. The Creator took responsibility for the well-being of His creation. Our Savior’s hands are hands that protect. That was true when the disciples were alone in a boat. Jesus came to them in the midst of a storm; He was walking on water. The disciples were terrified, thinking Jesus was some sort of ghost. Jesus reassured them: “Be of good cheer. It is I; do not be afraid.” That wasn’t good enough for Peter. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter is either incredibly confident in the Lord or incredibly foolish to test the Lord; maybe both. Either way, Jesus invited Peter to come to Him. You know the story. Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk toward Jesus on the water. When he took his eyes off the Lord and allowed himself to be distracted by the winds and the waves and his own doubts, he began to sink. But our Lord reached out with His powerful hands and pulled Peter to safety.

How easy it is for human beings to be distracted by the fearful events of life. How easy it is to lose sight of the Lord who promises His goodness and mercy and protection to all. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be something terrifying to distract you from the Lord. You allow all sorts of everyday things to distract you, to pull your attention away from the Lord: relationships, jobs, school, sports, hobbies—the list could go on endlessly. Maybe you’re just not familiar enough with the Lord’s Word to trust in His goodness. Maybe you allow yourself to see the little things of this life more clearly or to view them as larger and more important than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But your perception is skewed. Think about the many times our Lord’s hands protect His people. Think of the woman caught in the act of adultery, how He protected her from being stoned to death. Think of the many times He protected the lives of the disciples. Think of the time He healed Malchus, the servant of the high priest, whose ear Peter cut off. And In the same action of protecting the high priest’s servant, He protected Peter from certain death, telling Peter to sheathe his sword in the face of overwhelming odds.

Think of the many times you have had our Lord’s protection. Think of the times in childhood that the Lord protected you from illness or from the dangers of your curiosity. Think of the times our Lord guided the hands of doctors and nurses and other health care providers. Think of the times you’ve survived driving in Carbondale. You may rejoice with the Psalmist: “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” The hands of the Savior protect His creatures.

But beyond the needs and dangers of the body—beyond even the danger of physical death—you need protection for your soul. You need protection from the folly of your sin. Without this protection, without His intervention for the sake of your soul, you would face eternally damning consequences, far more deadly than the mere death of the body. With His hands our Savior carried the cross upon which He would die, suffering those consequences you deserved for your sins. He who protects you from the perils of this life also preserves you for eternal life.

Do not focus on the perils of this life. Do not even focus on the perils that come with your sin. Our Lord extends His hands to you, inviting you to come to Him, to trust in Him. He who has used His hands to pour Baptismal water on you, who has put His own body and blood in your mouth, will use those hands to shield you from all dangers of body and soul. With those hands He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death and into His presence, where you shall dwell with Him in the house of the Lord forever. 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.

Fifth Sunday in Lent 2018

Bible Text: John 8:42-59 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

As we journey to the cross, let us consider the mercy of God. The Father sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, rescued, redeemed, liberated from death, and reconciled and restored to the Father. This is the mercy of the Father: because of His love for us, He sends and offers up His Son. And this is the mercy of the Son: because He shares that same love for us, He willingly and freely lets Himself be man-handled, offered up, and killed for our benefit. Nothing stands in the way of this mercy of God—not the machinations of the Jews; not the betrayal of Judas; not the denial of Peter; not the threats and assaults of Satan. Nothing prevents the Father from offering up His Son, and nothing prevents the Son from carrying out His Father’s gracious plan. At no point does the Father consider withholding His Son; and at no point does the Son work to avoid His cross.

In fact, so great is the mercy of the Father, and so relentless is the love of the Son, that our Lord Jesus spends nearly all of His time with those who reject Him most: with the scribes and Pharisees, with the reluctant and recalcitrant Jews. He does not run or hide from them, but continues to engage them in disputation, not because He loves a good argument; not because He wishes to expose their blasphemy; but because He loves them with a love that will not quit, a love that will do whatever it takes to win them over.

Yet they accuse, indict, try, and convict Him of sin. Jesus, who knew no sin; Jesus, who is the sinless Son of the Father—they have the nerve and arrogance to accuse Him: “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” And we are like them: accusing Him in our moments of need of not caring for us; accusing Him of looking on in amusement as we suffer. If He were like us, long ago He would have thrown up His hands and said, “To hell with you all.” “The Shepherd dies for sheep who love to wander.” And if He were like us, He would have turned His back on them. If He were like us, long ago He would have said, “It’s hopeless. Your minds are made up.” If He were like us, He would have blocked them on Facebook.

But Love doesn’t speak or work that way. Love is patient and kind. Love endures and suffers all for the sake of another. And Love is willing to endanger His life in order to save the soul of another. There our Lord Jesus stands. He kindly, gently, mercifully, lovingly speaks the truth to the Jews—not to spite them, but to love them back to His Father. He once again invites them to Himself and tries to win them over with a most gracious and simple promise: “I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death.” No finer words have ever been spoken. They demand nothing except to follow Our Lord in the works of His Law and in the ways of His commandments—and even these commandments flow from the mercy of God.

Our Lord Jesus invites those who wish He would leave; those who seek to run Him out; those who want to kill Him. Once again He urges them to quit their fears and to follow Him, as true spiritual children follow their true spiritual Father. He comes, not to brow-beat or threaten, not to make us submit, but to submit Himself for our sake so that we might see and know and believe that He is truly the mercy of God and the love of God. He has come in the flesh to bear our sin. He comes to us in flesh so that we might feast on Him and receive the fullness of Life, which we receive only from Him. 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.