Midweek Lent IV 2018

Bible Text: John 9:18-26 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

The hands of our Lord Jesus have the power to raise the dead. This makes our Lord uniquely qualified to be the Redeemer of the world. The Son of God is in control of life and death; He can help us in life and serve us even in the hour of our death. This is important, because death is God’s enemy. And because death is God’s enemy, death is the enemy of everyone who trusts in God.

This ruler, this man of authority, came to see Jesus with a plea for our Lord’s all-availing mercy. The man’s daughter was dying, and Christ’s reputation had come before Him. Jesus would not refuse. Responding to the man’s prayer, the Son of God determined to use His hands to restore life. With the interruption of the woman on the way, the little girl was dead by the time Jesus arrived. The mourners were already gathered. It seemed as though death had already claimed this girl as his victim. But Jesus would not allow death to have the victory. He told the mourners that the girl was only asleep. Leaving the scorn of the mourners behind, Jesus went into the house. He took the little girl by the hand, and He raised her from death into life.

This was not the first time our Lord had made life. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, including all living things. As we confess in the Nicene Creed, all things were made by our Lord Jesus. Life is the very reason He came in the flesh to dwell among His people. This is how He explained His purpose: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” This life He came to give was so much more than just inhaling and exhaling; this life He brought with Him is linked to very heart of God Himself. He came so that we would have a faith to rely on God. He came so that we would have a hope which would depend on what God alone can do. He came so that we would have that peace which the world cannot give. He came so that we would enjoy communion with God and fellowship with our neighbors.

So that this little girl would have that life, our Lord used His hands—the same hands by which He gave life to the world—to raise her from the dead. That action also gave that same life to her father. These were not the children of Israel, but Jesus came for them anyway. The hands of the Savior worked to bring endless blessings to both Jews and Gentiles, believers and doubters. He came to lay His hands upon us who were dead in our sin and raise us to new life.

Where do you stand before God? Are you alive in Christ? Or are you dead in your sin? The hands of Jesus have raised you from death to life. At your Baptism, our Lord placed His hand upon you, pouring His Word-filled water upon you, marking you upon your forehead and your heart with the sign of His cross as one who has received the forgiveness He died to bring. It is the Lord’s hand which makes the sign of the cross over you as He speaks His word of forgiveness to you. It is the Lord’s hand which places His body in your mouth to feed you with forgiveness. In all these things He gives you abundant life. The hands that led you into Sunday School and Catechism classes; the hands that brought you to worship the first time and every time since; the hands that hold you up and comfort you in times of grief: these are the hands of Jesus, touching you, blessing you, raising you up, giving you that life He came to bring.

And He came to give you that life, to raise you up, by dying in your place, letting His hands be nailed to the cross in place of your hands. His love for you is beyond measure. It is a love so powerful, so astonishing, that you can be sure that the same hands that raised this little girl from the dead will pull you from the veil of tears, through the valley of the shadow of death, to rest in His arms, until that day when He will raise you and all the faithful to 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.


Fourth Sunday in Lent 2018

Bible Text: John 6:1-15 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

The first time the Lord God led a crowd into the wilderness, the children of Israel were on their way to the Promised Land. Despite their complaints against Him, He had compassion on them. So He said, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.” Our Lord satisfied them with the bread of heaven, not because of the murmuring that they made against Him, but because He was moved with compassion. It was mercy alone that prompted Him to act. Yet His intention also was to test them. For He said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” The test was whether they trusted Him and His mercy. And the test was whether they would live that trust by living according to His commandments. If they lived as they pleased, if they walked their own walk, if they made their own way—even if they boasted loudly about how faithful and pious they were—then it would demonstrate how little they trusted Him, how ungrateful they were, and how little they thought of His Word.

In the Gospel appointed for today, we hear that the Lord God again leads a crowd into the wilderness. Like the first time, it is near the time of the Passover. Like the first time, the Lord has done signs and wonders which draw them to trust Him. And so a great multitude follows Him, because they see His signs which He performs on those who are diseased. And like the first time, the Lord gives bread in the wilderness—not because a crowd follows Him; not because the disciples clamor for it; but because He has compassion on them. It is mercy, and mercy alone, that prompts Him to act. Yet His intention is also to test the disciples. He knew what He would do. So our merciful Lord says to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” With words like these, He urges Philip—and even you and me—to believe that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” And Our Lord also urges us to trust and obey, to receive and submit to Our Lord precisely because He is compassionate, faithful, and merciful. The more we see that, the more we understand that we are at a loss to give anything—except to give thanks; and to do anything—except to do whatever Our Lord commands. Notice, then, how it goes. When the disciples confessed that they were helpless to feed the multitude, Our Lord Jesus worked the miracle, and they came to understand the power of God.

And then what? Then, as He did centuries before, Our Lord Jesus rains down bread from heaven—not just food to fill the belly, but spiritual food: food from heaven given to strengthen you in the journey to the cross and grave, and through the cross and grave into eternal life with Christ. Our Lord gives bread from heaven so that we might all eat the same spiritual food and drink the same spiritual drink, which is Christ Jesus Himself.

The first crowd in the wilderness had a hard time believing this. The crowd was equally slow to believe and trust in Christ the living Bread. So are we. But our Lord continues to urge us on; He lays down His life to be our food; and He continues to invite us to rely and depend not on ourselves, not on our strength of will, but on Him. Yes, our Lord continues to test and try us, to chastise and discipline us. He does this to draw us to Himself; so that we would fix our eyes on Him; so that we might learn to live from Him and the Bread that He is; so that we might not lose our way, but rather walk according to His commandments. Then we shall not rejoice in ourselves but in His saving strength. To Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, belongs all glory, honor and worship, now and 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.

Midweek Lent III 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 26:36-46 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Why did Jesus need to pray? Prayer is, after all, a uniquely human endeavor, and Jesus is God. In the Old Testament we see the three Persons of the Trinity consult without using prayer—at creation, where God says, “Let us make man in our image…;” at the tower of Babel, where God says, “Let us confuse their speech…;” and elsewhere. So why would Jesus need to pray? The answer is simple: Jesus prayed because Jesus was also human. Jesus came into the world in flesh, as a man, and it was as a man that He carried out His earthly ministry. He used His divine powers only to help others; He never used His divine nature to make His work of salvation easier for Himself.

So yes, Jesus prayed. But just as important as knowing that He brought supplications to the heavenly Father in prayer is to know what it was our Lord prayed for. He folded His hands in prayer because, as a man, He faced temptation in every aspect of His life and work. Sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that Jesus only faced temptation when He went into the wilderness after His baptism. But Scripture reminds us that Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” And Scripture tells us that, after Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, “he departed from Him until an opportune time.” There were more temptations to come. And just like us, Jesus needed strength to meet temptation every day of His life. We see in the Garden of Gethsemane that, with His hands folded in prayer in the midst of agony, in the midst of the great temptation to avoid the cup of suffering, the Son of God received strength to endure, to submit to the will of the Father, to complete His journey to the cross and grave.

Jesus prayed because He knew the Father would sustain Him. Every kingdom of the earth already belonged to Jesus; how easy it would have been for Him to manifest His glory and claim what was already His. He could easily have turned stones to bread, just as He provided water from the rock for the children of Israel. He could have leapt from the pinnacle of the Temple and come down unharmed. He could have come down from the cross effortlessly, with legions of angels to drive off the Romans.

Human nature lives by desires and cares rather than the will of the Father. We know those desires all too well: the temptations of overindulging in fine foods and potent drinks; the temptations of the flesh, especially when pornographic images are so easy to access by means of the Internet; the temptations of wealth and power; the temptation to live contrary to the will of God. Satan knows us very well. He knows what will make our blood boil, our skin tingle, our reason and strength fail. It is in these temptations that our Lord shows Himself to be our greatest ally, for He has faced all our temptations, yet without giving in. In facing His temptations, He called upon His Father. And knowing that we cannot by our own reason or strength resist, our Lord has overcome them, and He has given us His name to call upon, to help us resist and to forgive us what we cannot resist.

Before He went to face His arrest in Gethsemane, His trial, and His crucifixion, our Lord prayers what the Church calls the high priestly prayer. He prayed that the disciples would be united and that they would be able to overcome temptation. To pray for others is an act of unselfish faith. Jesus also prayed for His enemies even as He hung upon the cross. And we are included among those who have been listed as His enemies, for we were His enemies, lost in sin, unable to do the will of the Father. And so He prays, “Father, forgive them.” By grace, through our Lord’s cross and Passion, we are no longer enemies of God. God and sinners have been reconciled. We have been forgiven; our Savior’s prayer has been answered by His work. Now, with our own hands folded in prayer, we praise God for His mercy and love for us, and we pray that we, too, may demonstrate the love of God in our lives, praying for our neighbor as Christ prayed for us. 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.

Third Sunday in Lent 2018

Bible Text: Luke 11:14-28 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

The Lord is not in league with Satan or Beelzebub. When you’re being charitable, you want to think that, deep down, His hearers know that. They may want to think the worst about Jesus. They may want to convince themselves and their neighbors that Jesus is a tool of the devil. But even a fool would be able to figure out at some point that Satan isn’t going to help anyone, and he certainly isn’t going to help anyone cast out his own demons. As Jesus says, “A kingdom which is divided against itself cannot stand.” So if Jesus was casting out demons with Satan’s help, Satan’s kingdom would be divided, too. That’s not going to happen. Satan knows the Law, and he knows how to keep his cronies in line. The devil won’t let his own minions work against him in his desperate fight against the Son of God.

But consider this: What if God’s hand is working through what our Lord is doing? What if the finger of God is the power behind the miracles Jesus is doing? If that’s the truth, then the kingdom of God truly has come! What if God really is coming into our world and into our lives? What if Jesus really is like a guy breaking into a house that’s guarded by the strong man, Satan? First He ties up the strong man who is guarding the prize. Then, after He has overcome the strong man, the spoils—the souls that should belong to the devil because of our sin—now belong to Jesus. He takes us back, redeeming us from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. The devil is tied up, defeated—but not merely because Jesus is stronger than the devil. He is, but that’s not what defeats the devil. The devil is done in, defeated, overthrown by the Son of God who dies for your sake. Jesus suffers and dies for the sin of the whole world. That’s the victory that overcomes the devil.

Give up living life with your eyes closed to the truth. And what is that truth? All by yourself, by your own strength, you are a whitewashed tomb—good works covering a body dead in sin. You are a poor, miserable sinner. You are under the control and watch of the devil. Jesus has come, and He has saved you by dying for you. There’s nothing inside of you worth saving—nothing in and of yourself worth rescuing. Our Lord does what He does because of His grace. And when He rescues you, when He saves you, it is accomplished by the finger of God. Our Lord’s hand lifted the water that drained down your head at the Baptismal font, and that water washed your sins away. His voice absolves you and puts salvation into your ears through the Word. His fingers put the Body and Blood of Christ into your mouth. Your pastor is doing these things, but he does them by the finger of God. Our Lord Jesus is working through him.

This Sunday is known as Oculi—Eyes Sunday. With that in mind, pay attention to what you see during worship this morning. Don’t concentrate on what you think you feel. Don’t be concerned with what you think about yourself. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus and what He is doing. He saves you by binding up the strong man, the devil. He saves you by delivering His salvation to you through His means: His Word preached into your ears, His Baptismal waters poured over you, and His Supper placed into your mouth by the finger of God. And when our Lord does that—when He breaks into your world and saves you—then you know the kingdom of God has come upon you. And it has, for Jesus has come to you and lives within you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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

Midweek Lent II 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 14:13-21 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Luther tells us in his Small Catechism, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.” Luther also tells us, “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” When God showed the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, they saw a magnificent garden with more than enough to provide for all their needs of body and soul, and this garden was set apart by God to be their dwelling place. The hands of the Savior are the hands of God Himself, who made us and who bound Himself to provide for all He had made in creation. The feeding of the five-thousand clearly demonstrates this divine truth: that humanity’s Savior is also humanity’s Maker and the One who provides for His creation.

But in truth, our Lord had no obligation to do what He did for this crowd, especially after our first parents misused the gifts He gave them. The people He fed were responsible for their own situation. They had followed the Savior without thinking ahead for their own well being, and now they were hungry. The disciples suggested that the people should pay the price for their lack of foresight. “Send the crowds away,” they said. But Jesus provided for them. Our Lord’s hands make up for human failings. In the Garden, God’s creation bit the hand that fed them, so to speak, but God decided He would continue to care for them. He went so far as to provide for their greatest need: a Savior. It is that plan on which we focus during the season of Lent. The Savior covers our sins and foolish errors, even as He fed the multitude who, by all rights, should have starved. Only one boy thought to bring food—five loaves and two fish. Jesus took them, gave thanks, blessed them, and made a great feast with baskets of leftovers to spare.

The Lord of creation continues to provide for His people. From His generous hands we have more than just bread for the body: we receive the bread of life, which is Jesus Himself. He tells us to eat this bread, to have Him as part of us, so that He gives us a life of peace with the Father that is bound in faith to Christ, so that we who partake of this holy Meal will have eternal life. With the same hands that fed a crowd, our Savior prepared a special meal for us to cherish and enjoy. By setting apart ordinary bread and wine to be His holy body and blood, He gave us a new covenant. Whenever we eat this bread and drink this wine, we remember His death for us until He comes again. Jesus is in our hearts and minds and understanding. Our body becomes His dwelling place. We dwell in Him because He dwells in us. And in a very special way, our Lord has restored to us the bounty of the Garden of Eden, for He is now the Fruit of the Tree of Life by which we shall live forever.

And remember, these hands of our Savior, hands that provide, are also hands that invite. He wants you to come and eat His body and drink His blood. This food is of such great spiritual value that we will never die. In all the struggles we face in this life, spiritual starvation never has to be one one them, for we have a redeemer with hands that provide! We will never grow weak from spiritual hunger as we battle Satan, for the bread of life sustains us in the fight.

Our Lord prepares His table for the Church, the family of God, to gather. And as we gather, we are strengthened in our resolve to meet and overcome Satan and his demonic minions. When temptations come, we are sustained by our Lord’s body and blood, for He Himself has overcome our fiercest enemy when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” And thanks be to God, for He provides that Word for us by His gracious hand. 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.

Second Sunday In Lent 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 15:21-28 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Whenever the devil comes at us “like a roaring lion,” we are to “resist him, steadfast in the faith.” And how do we resist him? Turn to the Lord in prayer. Cry out, “Lord, help me. I am too weak, and I am no match for the devil. His temptations overwhelm me. So I beg you, have mercy on me and help me.” Only pride keeps us from saying such a prayer. And pride is the delusion that we have the ability, the wits, and the strength to lead ourselves out of temptation and deliver ourselves from evil.

The woman who threw herself at our Lord’s feet seems to suffer no such pride. Her begging is shameless. She embarrasses the disciples and, as we see her in our mind’s eye, it embarrasses us. She prays without caring about what others think. And that is good. We should imitate her, for “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” So we must resist not only the devil, but also our own pride—the notion that we can make do, that God is just waiting for us to prove our worth.

The God who wants to save you from believing in yourself rather than relying solely on Him must Himself crush your self-belief. He may even use Satan to do so. And so, while you pray, God Himself might put you to the test—never to harm, always to strengthen your soul. He must overcome the Old Adam within you by killing your pride. He did so with Job. He did so with Abraham. And He does so with this poor, pitiable woman.

What is so pitiable about this woman is not that her daughter is demon-possessed. What is most pitiable of all is what she says. She cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me.” On me!? Why was she thinking of herself first? You’d think she would say, “Never mind me; have mercy on my daughter!” She prays only for herself because she feels put upon by having such a burden. Do you see where your pride leads you? Do you see the result of self-belief? It leads you to think only of yourself. It leads you to complain to God about your problems, to blame others for your troubles. And it leads you to feel sorry: not for others, not for your sins, but only for yourself. Is it any wonder, then, that our Lord seems to ignore her prayer? He even refuses to hear the intercessions of the disciples. Finally He seems to dismiss her. Our Lord treats her the way He does not out of disgust; not because of anger; but out of mercy—a mercy that we can barely see, yet a mercy that is so sweet only because it looks so harsh.

And where is that mercy? Jesus says that He would never toss the children’s bread to the little dogs. With those words, Jesus throws this woman a crumb, a tiny morsel of His mercy. And with that, the Light shines in her heart. True faith arises, and it dawns on her how it really is with our Lord. He has treated her this way because she is as much wracked with the devil as her daughter. The only difference is that everyone could see her daughter’s demon-possession, while this mother hid her pride and self-belief so much that she even hid it from herself.

Now she begins to see the Light. Quickly, without letting a second go by, she lunges for the crumb of mercy that Jesus shows her. “Yes, Lord,” she says. “You have told the truth about me. I am like those selfish little dogs. I am one of them, and worse than all of them. Yet, like a kind master, You have held out a crumb so that I might taste more of Your unending mercy.”

There is no shame in being a dog, especially when your Master is the Lord. He will not leave you hungry. He provides for you—not just daily bread, but also His holy body and blood. These seem like meager crumbs, but they are a feast which will sustain you for this life and for eternal life. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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

Midweek Lent I 2018

Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Our Lord is called “the Great Physician.” And it’s no wonder: no matter where He went throughout His earthly ministry, He was healing. He healed the blind, the lame, the leper, the deaf, those who could not speak. It didn’t matter what the disease was. If Jesus wanted to heal someone, they would be healed. Jesus came into this world to extend the hand of His Father’s mercy to everyone. Often He healed with words alone. But in many cases, He healed with His hands.

The man born blind was sightless with his eyes, but he was also spiritually blind. He did not know his Maker, and he did not know that his Maker was standing right in front of him in the person of his Savior, Jesus. This was a controversial healing, because the priests taught the false idea that a person’s blindness or other birth defects were the result of grievous sins committed by this person or his parents. People still think this way. Prosperity preachers want you to believe that illnesses, diseases, birth defects, and other ailments are God’s way of punishing those whose faith is weak. But our Lord silenced this myth Himself when He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” God uses hardship to draw us closer to Him. Or as Paul wrote to the Romans, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

So Jesus set about to heal the blind man. He spat on the ground, making mud. And then He placed the mud on the man’s eyes and ordered the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam. And when he did as Jesus told him, the man could see! Faith led to obedience, and obedience led to healing. The hands of the Savior gave this man an entirely new perspective: the ability to see with his eyes for the first time.

But there was more healing to come. The man who had been born blind had no idea who had healed him. He addressed the Man who healed him as “the man they call Jesus.” Then he referred to Jesus as a prophet. But when the Pharisees questioned him, the man born blind insisted that it was Jesus who had healed him, at which point they became angry and threw the man out of the temple. Jesus asked him—and we must all face this question at some point—“Do you believe in the Son of God?” Still the man didn’t know the answer; he didn’t know who healed him. Jesus told him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” And finally the man gratefully confessed and worshipped Jesus, saying, “Lord, I believe!” The man received two great and powerful gifts. First, the Lord restored his sight. Second, he was brought to faith in Jesus as his Savior and Redeemer.

This is an outstanding parallel to how we received our spiritual sight. Thanks to the sin we inherited from Adam and Eve, we were born blind to God and His Word. And as He did for the blind man, Jesus sought us out. Jesus loves us so fully, so completely, that He would allow His healing hands to be nailed to the cross. What wondrous love! Just as the man who was born blind was given his sight by the saliva of Jesus, we are given faith to see Jesus present in His Word through the waters of Holy Baptism. Just as the man who had been born blind was cast out of the earthly temple by the self-righteous Pharisees, only to find himself face to face with God in the flesh, we are separated from the self-righteous prosperity preachers, brought face to face with our Lord who gives us His body and blood to eat and to drink at His holy altar. He touches us, and we are healed.

Jesus has given you the sight to see Him, not as a mere prophet, not as some guy who happens to be named Jesus, but to see Him as your Lord and Savior. The hands that healed the blind man are the hands that were nailed to the cross. And there on that cross, those hands won the healing of your soul from the death your sins would bring to you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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


First Sunday in Lent 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 4:1-11 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Beware, Christians! The devil, the ancient accuser who so easily led our first parents into death, has been honing his craft for a very long time. Repent. You are no match for him. Return to the Lord. Too often the devil’s lies have found upon us willing ears and wayward hearts. Repent. Now is the Day of Salvation. Tomorrow may be too late.

Repent, but do not be afraid, for there is an escape by the grace of God. Our Lord Jesus, born of Mary, your Brother, is like you…but not like you. He obeyed. He did not fall. He did not succumb to temptation. He overcame the Tempter—and not merely in the desert, but in the city, in the back-water Galilean villages, at the sinners’ tables, in the synagogue, in the Temple. Then, at last, He faced that old serpent in the fiercest showdown of all time on a hill just outside of Jerusalem called the Place of the Skull.

And there it seemed as though the whole thing had been for nought! Surely Christ led a blameless life and never sinned, but there on the cross, with brutal force and undisguised glee, in malicious violence, Satan through his evil agents drove the nails into the hands and feet of Immanuel and put Him to death! It seemed as though Satan had won. It seemed as though the victory in the desert did not last. It still seems that way today, when sinners perpetrate great evil—things like mass shootings in schools and public places; things like abortions performed in numbers far exceeding the number of people murdered in the holocaust; things like the normalizing of immorality in the name of “love.” The devil and his demons work hard at making evil seem like good, making fiction seem like reality.

But the Truth is this: in that dark hour of God’s death, the ransom was paid! Heaven was opened! The Son of Man was glorified and crowned as our King. He rose the Victor. And after parading through Hell to show Satan that Christ had won, the Lord appeared to His people. He ate with them. He taught them. He blessed them. He forgave them. He gave them His Victory, for He had won it for them. He had won it for you.

And so it is, that even as Our Lord battled the devil in the desert; battled him across the Promised Land; battled him through death and into Hell that those prison bars which held us in were broken down; so still, He wages this holy war for us and in us. And still the battle is fought, as it always has been, with the Word of God.

Temptation is always enticement to break God’s Word, to go against it. God gives commandments. The devil calls God a harsh taskmaster who doesn’t really care; who, if He really loved His children, would let them do as they pleased. This is the way he attacked Eve in the garden. It is the way he attacked Our Lord in the desert. It is the way he attacks us here and now. Eve could not bear the assault. Adam failed to protect her. They gave in and became children of Satan, and you are the spawn of their loins. But the Second Adam, the perfect Adam, suffered these temptations also. And He did not fail. He overcame. He lived the perfect life of faith. And with nothing more than the Word, He drove the devil back.

He did not need to do this for Himself. He did it for you. He removes the sting of death and the victory of the grave. The roaring lion who once terrified you now has no bite. He cannot have you. He cannot harm you. For you have a Master, a King, a Benefactor, a Protector. You bear the Name He placed upon you in Baptism. You belong to Him, not just because He made you, but also because He bought you.

So be forewarned. Be prepared for warfare. Make yourself ready by eating and drinking the medicine of immortality, the body and blood which He has given and shed for you. Open your ears. Hear the Word of God. Pray that He would strengthen and sustain you in the days to come. Pray, lest you fall into temptation. Pray the prayer He taught you. And pray as the early Church so fervently prayed: “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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

Ash Wednesday 2018

Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

It is not at all unusual for us to use our hands when we talk. In fact, in some cases, it’s almost comical and can certainly be distracting to watch a person talk who can’t help but gesture wildly with every sentence. But when used sparingly, a well-timed gesture in a conversation can be an aid to understanding what the speaker is trying to convey; it can add emphasis to an important point; it can bring the hearer into closer communication with the speaker. (As you’ve probably noticed over the years I’ve been here, I’m not very comfortable making gestures with my hands when I talk. My hands sort of flop around unless I’m trying to make a point, or unless the flow of the liturgy invites the pastor to gesture to the congregation.)

Throughout His ministry, our Lord’s hearers couldn’t help but remark, “He has done all things well.” And that would certainly be true of His ability to convey His message clearly and with great emphasis. So when our Lord says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” you can picture Jesus spreading wide His merciful arms to welcome the burdened sinner into His embrace. “Come to me,” He says, and when you hear that, you know that our Lord has a place set aside for you in His presence, a place where you will be welcomed with love and compassion and rest for the weary soul. He invites you to come to Him, and He has a purpose in that invitation: He wants you to lay your burdens upon Him.

As it is today, so it was during our Lord’s earthly ministry. People had stress and pressure in life: the stresses of family, of work, of heavy taxes and oppressive laws and cruel and ruthless authorities. And to top it all off, the religious leaders of the day—men who should have been speaking the comfort of God to a weary people—were laying burdens on the people, burdens that did not come from the Word of God but from the imaginations and machinations of the priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Scribes, and the other leaders of the community of faith. We experience those burdens ourselves from those who call themselves pastors and church leaders, but who are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. They tell you that the life of the Christian is a life without suffering. They tell you that, if you just believe enough, you will never get sick, will never be poor, will never experience any kind of hardship. They tell you that, if only you will just give them your money, you will be blessed.

It is in the midst of these false preachers and their greedy fear-mongering that our Lord stretches forth His hands. “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” He invites you to bring your burdens to Him—the weight of the cares of family life, the heavy load of work responsibilities, and burden of emotional and spiritual distress—and lay them in His outstretched arms. He invites you to hide in His embrace, where you will be sheltered and guarded from the teeth of the wolves who would pull you away from Him with their false piety and their false promises. He gives you a place free from fear, free from the false preachers, free from your guilt.

You know this is true, for He voluntarily stretched wide His arms—in fact, they were nailed wide open—on the cross. And He did it for you. In the midst of your fear, your doubt, your distress, He invites you with those outstretched arms to lay your sins upon Him. He invites you to trust Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with your heavenly Father. He invites you to call upon Him when Satan wants you to doubt the work your Savior has done for you. He invites you to return to the waters of your Baptism through the words of Holy Absolution, where He speaks through the mouth of His called servants to give you the peace only He can give you.

And this evening, He invites you to this table, where He welcomes you with open arms to the eternal wedding feast of His own body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. “Come to me,” He says. He’s here, fully present in this meal. “Come to me.” Come and partake of the body and blood of your Savior. Be refreshed from the burdens the world places upon you. And then, having received your rest, return to the world, strengthened to bear the easy yoke, the light burden of faith and service to the Lord. For He will bear that burden with you, as well. “Come to me,” He says, His pierced hands outstretched. Come and receive 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.

Sexagesima 2018

Bible Text: Luke 8:4-15 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Just now, as you heard today’s Gospel, the devil was using many things to distract you and tempt you. Some of these things were questions or thoughts or ideas that came into your mind. Some were noises or movements that caught your attention. Whatever it was, whatever he could find, the devil used it. He will continue to do this throughout the entire service, and at every Divine Service, and every time the Lord’s Word is preached and spoken and read and prayed and sung. “Pay no attention to that preacher. Forget what the Psalm says. Who cares about that Scripture reading? It’s just words. And they’re no better or worse than any other words. Besides, those words really won’t change anything. They don’t matter. They don’t make things better. It’s just words.” That’s the devil speaking.

The devil wants to distract you. He wants you to lose focus. His goal is to keep you from hearing and listening to and heeding the Lord’s holy Gospel. His goal is to snatch the Lord’s Word out of your heart; to make you question the Word of the Lord; to choke it with your worries and fears as well as your ambitions and passions. Resist him—not by yelling or glaring at someone else, and not by arguing with him. Resist him with prayer and contemplation—by making the Lord’s Word your own, saying back to the Lord what He has first said to you.

But how can you do this? How do you resist? How do you outmaneuver his temptations and block out the distractions he uses? Certainly you cannot do it by yourself, not with your own wits and will. We can never rightly put our trust in anything that we do. But the Lord is our trust. He promises to defend us against Satan and all his ways. He is our protection against all adversity, against every temptation and evil, against every tactic the devil employs to undermine our faith.

So how do we resist? Recall that the Word of God is like a seed. Within the little seed is the power to break through cement and stone, to split wood, to rise above the strongest weed. And within the seed are the branches that the birds nest in, and the food that sustains all manner of life. The seed, though small, is mighty—especially when nourished and fed by the waters of heaven and the warmth and light of the sun. The seed is the Word of God. The Lord’s Word already has within itself all that you need to resist the devil and all his works and all his ways. For this is no ordinary seed, just as it is no ordinary word.

This seed is the Lord Jesus Himself. He comes into the world, in our flesh, in our hearts, looking as insignificant and helpless as a small seed. Yet within Himself He has the power to beat back Satan and his lies and to break through our stone-cold hearts. He alone is able to be trampled down so that He might raise us up. He alone is able to break up the rocks and stones that hinder our life in God. He alone is able to suppress our fears and satisfy our desires by holding out to us, not a better life, but life as it truly is. He alone is able to give us the life we can never live apart from Him. Our heavenly Father is the farmer who sent the Seed: to be born of the Virgin, and also to be born in our flesh in Holy Baptism. That Seed within us is nourished with Christ’s own body and blood. Here, then, is our strength and power to resist the distractions and temptations of the devil. It is found not in ourselves alone, but in communion with God and all the faithful in Christ.

So what, then, if the devil continues to pester and annoy you? The Father, by the Spirit, has planted within you His life-giving Seed. And by that same Holy Spirit in the Holy Supper, He nourishes and sustains and grows that Seed within you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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