Septuagesima 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 20:1-16 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

It is easy to believe that heaven is due payment for having to live through the misery of earth. We walk in danger all the way. It often feels like we are careening from one heartache to another, that we’re only one misstep away from disaster and ruin. So the more we suffer, the harder our life, the better we are at controlling ourselves, the more we help others, the oftener we go to church, the more we do right—then the more we are sure we deserve the payment and reward of heaven.
Certainly, the crown of righteousness has been laid up for us, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to all who have loved His appearing. And there is no doubt that this heavenly reward awaits all those who walk worthy of the calling—those who live their baptism with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. With all confidence, we can and should expect to receive this crown, this reward, this heavenly life. For Our Lord has promised it to us. And by His Spirit, this incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away is reserved in heaven for you.
But does this mean we have deserved it? Will we get heaven simply because we’ve paid our dues with the coin of grief, sickness, and death? Have we earned it because we’ve given our best years to a futile cause? And is it ours because we’ve worked and sweated to do the right thing, to turn our life around, to make the best of our rotten luck? Beware of such thoughts. For they tempt us to take pride in ourselves, our work and even our misery. And they tempt us to compare ourselves with each other, to see how we measure up, and to determine who’s really deserving and undeserving. But most of all, when we are convinced that we have earned our place in heaven, we belittle and dismiss the Lord’s mercy and grace. We live, not in gratitude for God and love for others, but selfishly.
That is what we see in today’s Gospel. Those laborers who cry “foul” at the end of the day are not grousing about unfair labor practices. Rather, they are thinking only of themselves. And they are more concerned with getting what they deserve than they receiving their denarius with thanksgiving. For this story is not about workers and management. It’s about the kingdom of heaven. And in the kingdom of heaven, the coin—the denarius—is our Lord’s mercy and kindness.
Our Lord’s mercy is called that precisely because it is undeserved. It is His kindness, His love, His compassion extended to us who have rebelled against Him, who live as if He doesn’t matter, who abuse His creation, who think little of His gifts, and who are quick to believe the worst of Him; those who are convinced that the Lord’s will is never done and that His kingdom will never come; those who are sure that the Lord has abandoned them or is against them—they are the ones to whom our Lord extends His mercy. For no good reason whatsoever, our Lord also invites us into His kingdom, His vineyard, so that we might not be destroyed by idleness, but would live in Him by tending to the good fruits He has planted for our use and enjoyment.
So let our eyes focus not on what we think we deserve. If we do, we will miss what our Lord has already given us. For His mercy endures forever. Let us fix our hearts and minds, our efforts and desires, our prayers and affections only on this—that our Lord Jesus once again, and without fail, has mercy on us by speaking into us His healing forgiveness, and by feeding us with the Blessed Sacrament of His body and blood. 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.

Transfiguration of Our Lord 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 17:1-9 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Peter wants to stay on the mountain. But Peter has a problem: he’s full of it. He’s a fake. He claims to have left everything for Jesus, but he can’t stay awake an hour. He claims he will never deny Him, but he curses the woman who recognizes his accent. He claims he will feed Christ’s lambs, but he tries to deny the end of the dietary regulations. He wants to stay on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, but he has not earned that place. He wants to pretend as though he loves Jesus when he really just wants to save his own skin. He is a phony.

We are all phonies. We all calculate to deceive. We all tell other people’s stories as our own. We all exaggerate. That is what drives urban legends. We tell the stories, and we even get angry when we’re called on it. What is so wrong with us that we lie like that? We pretend we did and said things we didn’t. We deny what we did say and quibble about what we meant. We spend more time worrying about appearances than the truth, more interested in our own public relations than with our neighbor’s reputation. We say what we think we are supposed to say and hope no one can see into our hearts where we even lie to ourselves. We’ve lied so much we can’t keep track. Repent. Go and lie no more!

Peter was a phony. But Jesus loved him anyway. Moses was a murderer and a coward. But Jesus loved him too. Elijah was full of self-pity and despair, but Jesus still loved him. Here is the truth: God is love. His mercy endures forever. He paid the price to redeem them. He paid the price to redeem you. He laid down His life in your place, to set you free and forgive your sins, to make you whole and give you hope. Peter’s bravado and posturing did not stop our Lord. He loved the real Peter, the one that Peter was afraid to let men see: the lying, cowardly, lusty, greedy, lazy Peter. Jesus loved him and wanted him for Himself. He wanted Peter to be His perfect son, His immaculate, clean, and innocent Bride, to be with Him forever in a new paradise, free from Satan and temptation, free from his own betraying heart. Jesus also loves you, despite your lies and your faults. He loves you no less that He loves Peter, Moses, and Elijah.

But that love will not be accomplished by staying on the mountain. God in the flesh must go to Jerusalem and face the full force of man’s hatred and brutality. He must endure the lies of the Sanhedrin and the cowardice of Pilate. But this is why He came. He has taken man’s flesh to be a sacrifice. The serpent must bruise His heel. The Messiah must pay with His life. And Moses and Elijah love it. They rejoice in it. This is what they longed to see, what they had preached and prayed for. This is how God loved the world, how He showed mercy. The crucifixion of Jesus is where He draws you to Him. This is where the serpent that bit Eve’s heart is overcome.

Do not let this make you feel sad or guilty. The Son of Man has authority to lay down His life. No one takes it from Him. This is who He is and what He wants. This is the will of His Father; this is the work of the Spirit; this is the love of the Son. The day He dies is a good day, the best day. For the day He died, He took death to the grave. That is why the dead emerged from their graves on Good Friday. Death lost its hold. The serpent’s head was crushed. The battle was won.

This is no myth. This is no exaggeration. This is reality. This is the truth. And this reality changes you. Peter, despite his flaws and weaknesses, is now, by grace in Jesus Christ, Saint Peter. He is forgiven, perfected. You, also, by the grace of God, bear that same title, written upon you in the waters of Holy Baptism. And by the grace of God, you will bear that title 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.

Second Sunday After the Epiphany 2018

Bible Text: John 2:1-12 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

The holy Apostle Saint James reminds us to pray to the Lord for one another because “The prayer of a righteous man has great power…” Prayer is one of the many gifts God gives to us, and in today’s text, we see that prayer has real power. Mary speaks to the Son of God on behalf of those who attend the wedding at Cana. And yes, this is a prayer. It’s not a long prayer. It’s not an eloquent prayer. But it is a prayer nevertheless when Mary says, “They have no wine.” Her prayer is no different then when we pray, plead, sigh, or cry out to the Lord and say, “Lord, we’re in a tight spot. We don’t know where to turn or what to do next. We’re trying hard to do the right thing—to live as you want us to live. But we’re weak; we’re at our wits end. Have mercy, Lord, and help us.” And what happens when Mary prays? The Lord answers her prayer. He says, “Yes.” He turns plain water into the finest of wines, in quantities large enough to keep the wedding feast going for days.

But He doesn’t give His final answer right away. He says to His mother, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” We hear that answer, and we often misunderstand. We believe that Jesus is saying no. And we think that way because impatience corrupts our prayers. It’s as if we haven’t prayed at all. The Psalmist writes, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.” We don’t trust the Lord; we don’t trust His timing; we don’t trust His mercy. We dare say that, when He doesn’t answer our prayers in what we consider a timely fashion, He is reluctant to help us. We dare suggest that He’s toying with us.

Why, then, does He delay? After all, our Lord’s mercy and kindness and help are not like ours. He does not give reluctantly or tightfistedly or even bitterly. Our Lord’s mercy always flows from a tender heart. Our Lord’s mercy always flows without any reluctance or second thought. Our Lord’s mercy always flows freely, generously, without any strings attached. And our Lord’s mercy always flows without any regrets. So why the delay?

He answers prayer in His way and in His time so that we might be led to greater faith. And it’s not just that He desires for us to have a stronger faith. He leads us to believe in the right things. And the right thing in today’s Gospel is not merely some wine for some party. The right thing in our lives is not simply for the things we believe will make our lives better. The right thing in today’s Gospel—as it was from the beginning and remains to this day—is to trust the help, the comfort, the deliverance, the mercy, the kindness, and the salvation we receive from the water and blood that poured from Our Lord’s side—into the baptismal font and into the holy chalice.

Our Lord wishes us to set our sights, not on the wine in which we drown our sorrows or create our momentary happiness, but on the wine which is His holy precious blood—the blood of the Son of God which which was given and shed for us to drink for the remission of our sins. This is the sign of our salvation: the sign of the Lord’s mercy; the sign that God the Father has not abandoned us; the sign that He has sent His Son for our deliverance, and that, by His Spirit, we are united to Him and restored to communion and fullness of life in the Holy Blessed Trinity.

So Mary prays, “They have no wine.” By saying this she means, “Lord, they need the full abundance of Your all-availing mercy.” And our Lord, as He always does, comes through. He provides richly—all we need to support this body and life, and all we need for the life of the world to come. 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.


The Baptism of Our Lord 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 3:13-17 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2018

Can you imagine if every Baptism was like the Baptism of Jesus? Can you imagine, as the water has been applied to the baby, the Holy Spirit swoops down like a dove to settle on the newly baptized? Can you imagine the voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved child, whom I love”? What a wonder that would be. What a thrill, what a blessing it would be to have visible and audible signs from God that each person who is baptized, whether child or adult, is now washed by God Himself and is now pleasing in His sight. Those who doubt the power of Baptism; those who doubt that the words “all nations” apply even to infants; those who believe that a sinner must make a decision to give their heart to Jesus before they can be baptized—surely they would recognize what a blessing Baptism really is. Surely they would know without a doubt that Baptism is God’s work to wash away our sins, not our work to show how much we love Jesus. Surely they would recognize that Baptism is not a sign of our faith, but that it creates faith within us. Surely they would recognize that Baptism opens the Kingdom to us. God’s Word tells us these things, but maybe if the doubters saw the Spirit and heard the Father’s voice, they might change their minds.

It is precisely because they cannot see or hear the evidence that the unbeliever denies the power of Baptism. It is precisely because there is nothing visibly miraculous about Baptism that some within the Church teach that Baptism is our work instead of God’s work. “Surely there must be something more to this,” says the person who believes Baptism is a decision we make, something we must understand before we can accept it.

But water itself is a powerful thing—just ask Pastor Buetow, whose house and office in New Orleans were devastated by the flood waters caused by Hurricane Katrina; ask the people in Indonesia whose homes are ruined with every tsunami; ask someone who is literally dying of thirst. And when the power of the Word of God is added to water, it is “not just plain water”; it “works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” Anyone who asks more than that from Baptism must not think that forgiveness and salvation are the greatest gifts God gives.

And that’s especially true when you consider where Baptismal water comes from. Baptismal water is bloody. The same Christ who went into the Jordan to fulfill the Law for sinners? He then went to the cross, where that baptized body was stripped, whipped, nailed down. At His death, the ones who nailed Him to the cross shoved a spear in His side, and water and blood flowed out. That bloody water is what washes you clean from your sin. It covers you as a robe of righteousness, so that, when the Father looks at you, all He sees is His holy and sinless Son. He looks at that righteousness, and He welcomes you just as He welcomes His Son.

So no, you don’t hear the voice of the Father from heaven. No, you don’t see the Holy Spirit swooping down like a dove to settle on the newly baptized. But our Lord does speak to you: in His Word and through the mouths of His called servants. The Holy Spirit does rest upon you. And when you emerged from those Baptismal waters, the name of God was written upon your forehead and upon your heart. You are His child. He feeds you with the body and blood of Christ. And by these gifts, the Father declares Himself “well pleased” with 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.

The Sunday After Christmas 2017

Bible Text: Luke 2:22-40 | Preacher: Stefan Gramenz | Series: 2017

This Sunday, like the Sunday just after Easter, is usually a little anticlimactic – it doesn’t seem to measure up to the happiness and the excitement of Christmas a few days ago. Then, we sang all of the hymns that everyone waits for all year, we heard the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke’s Gospel, and many of our families got together and observed our usual Christmas traditions: eating, and opening gifts, and everything else we love about Christmas.

But what about now? The angels are nowhere in sight, the shepherds have gone back to their sheep, and that manger that Jesus was laying in is being used as a feeding trough again. And for us, it’s back to ordinary, everyday life. Back to school, back to work, back from vacation. And so it is for the holy family in the Gospel lesson today. They’re back to everyday life, back to the ordinary way of doing things. They’ve left Bethlehem, and they’ve gone up to Jerusalem and into the temple, so that they can fulfill the Law of God that said that every firstborn male must be presented in the temple to the Lord God.

And so we come to Simeon. Like the holy family, Simeon was not any ordinary man. St. Luke tells us that Simeon was unique: the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Can you imagine what life must have been like for Simeon? He lived every day knowing that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Christ. He went to sleep every night and opened his eyes every morning with the hope and expectation that today could be the day! Today could be the day that he would finally see the Christ. In a way, Simeon stands in for all the faithful people of God over the centuries. From Adam and Eve to Abraham and David and Isaiah, God promised that he would send the Christ to save his people. So Simeon stands there, himself representing all the Old Testament people of God who waited and watched, morning and night, for the coming of the Christ. All the people who lived under the Law of God, to whom God had promised the Messiah, and who had died trusting in that promise.

And so Simeon stands there in the temple, waiting; the last in a long line of the faithful who have waited for the Christ. But this Christ isn’t like anything that anyone ever expected. This Christ didn’t return to his temple in a blaze of glory and triumph, so that everyone would know that he had arrived. No, he returns as an infant, just like any other boy. Simeon only knows who he is because the Holy Spirit told him. So Simeon comes to meet the Holy Family, and the three of them – Simeon, Mary, and Joseph – stand together, holding Jesus, in the middle of the ordinary crowds of people coming and going and praying and making sacrifices and offering incense. Nobody  else knows. Nobody else realizes what is happening.

We’re not all that different. Here we are, gathered in the presence of Christ: a few people who have stopped what they are doing, who have put our lives on hold, and have come here, because Jesus holds our attention. While others have moved on from Christmas, while others go on with their ordinary lives and jobs, we realize that Jesus is still here, and that we aren’t done with Christmas yet. We’re only on the seventh day of Christmas, after all.

And the Holy Spirit isn’t quite done with Simeon yet. He’s told Simeon that this child is the one, and now Simeon turns to Mary, and speaks again, saying, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.” Because Christmas isn’t all about stars and angels and shepherds. Christmas is about Jesus, about the God who is incarnate, who takes on human flesh and becomes a Child. And this child, this Jesus, will be the cause of people falling and rising, dying and being resurrected. The coming of Christ means death for the old ways of life – no more animal sacrifices, no more presentation of firstborn boys in the temple, no more burnt offerings. The coming of Christ means that the kingdom of God is expanding beyond the borders of Israel. It means new life and new hope for the whole world.

And now one more person in the temple notices. An eighty-four-year-old woman named Anna, who stays in the temple night and day, fasting and praying. She, too, sees Jesus. And she, like the shepherds before her, cannot contain her joy, but goes out and tells the whole city about the Christ, and about the coming redemption of God.

    And now you find yourself in the place of Anna and Simeon. You find yourself in the house of God, ready to approach the presence of Jesus in his holy sacrament. You see the incarnation again, as Jesus descends from heaven and takes his place beneath the forms of bread and wine. But you, unlike Simeon, don’t gather up an infant in your arms. You receive Jesus in your mouth.

So do as Simeon did, and receive him here in faith and in joy. Then live as Simeon lived. Wake up every morning with the joy that today could be the day your Savior returns. Live as Anna lived, waiting out your life in prayer and fasting and telling others about Jesus. And when you die, die as Simeon died. Depart in peace, knowing that the same Lord that you have seen here beneath a veil, you will see one day face to face with your own eyes.


The Nativity of Our Lord 2017

Bible Text: John 1:1-18 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

The evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the birth of our Lord as though they were walking with the Lord on the earth. John, however, seems as if he is flying in heaven with the Lord. He says very little about our Lord’s deeds, focusing instead on the eternal power of Christ’s divinity. While everyone else is rejoicing that a baby has been born, John reminds you that this little Child in Bethlehem is God in the flesh. While others capture your emotions with the gruesomeness of Christ’s suffering and death, John will not let you forget that they are killing God: that your God bleeds, suffers, dies, descends to hell, and rises from the dead.

Why? Precisely for this reason: your salvation is no salvation if your Savior is nothing more than a super hero—a man who outdoes all men in words and deeds, in life and death. But if He is also completely God—your God living in flesh like yours—then, and only then, can He truly do all these things for your benefit, and for your salvation. Yes, an ordinary man might die in your place. But only God in the flesh can bear your infirmities, fight your demons, suffer your sufferings, endure your hell, and die your death. And when this God in the flesh rises from the dead, then you also arise; when He ascends into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, then you also ascend and sit with your Maker and Redeemer.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is what matters most is your relationship with God. The money you accumulate and spend, the things you desire, the food you crave, even the people you love or abuse—all of that will do you no good as you head to the grave. But where you are with the God who made you—that matters most. And what is most important is not that you’ve learned facts about God. What’s most important is a right relationship, an intimacy, a bond, not just of the heart or mind but of your whole being—and God being reconciled with you.

That intimacy and bond is called communion—a holy union between God and you, one that is foreign now but was designed by the Lord to be common when He first made man and woman. We were created to grow and mature forever in our love for God, our life in Him. And for this reason, Christ Jesus would have been born even if there had been no sin and death. His birth in our flesh would have cemented our communion in God. But sin and death simply added to the reason for our Lord’s birth. Now, God from the beginning had to become man so that He could free you from your death sentence and rescue you from your false belief in devilish lies, and deliver you from your sinful desires. And then, by accomplishing all that in His suffering and death, God in the flesh would also be able to restore the original intimacy and reinstate you into communion in God.

The other evangelists point to this purpose for Our Lord’s birth and life and death. But St John makes it clearest of all when he says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. For the Lord’s time here on earth was not sticking a toe in to test the waters. He put in His time here so that everything that was made through Him might also be re-created by Him, and returned to Him. And John reminds us that this happens to as many as receive Him by faith and, consequently, in the Sacraments. Those who do are the children of God. They believe in His name. And they are given a second and higher birth—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This is the glory and the miracle of our Lord’s birth from the blessed Virgin Mary. It is not just the arrival of the world’s best man. This is the Son of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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

Fourth Sunday in Advent 2017

Bible Text: John 1:19-28 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

We live in a country where individualism is prized. The more unique you are, or the more willing you are to make your own way in the world, the better you’ll do. That’s good for a lot of things, but it’s not very good for Christians in our walk of faith. Our faith is at its strongest when we partake of communion with Christ and His Church. But it’s all too tempting to believe that we can survive the temptations of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh by our own strength.

John the Baptist knows a thing or two about the temptations we feel: the temptation of pride; the temptation to believe that isolation is good. Didn’t he survive very well on his own in the wilderness? He made his own clothing of skins and lived on a diet of locusts and honey. He didn’t need disciples; they sought him out. And then there were the other people who sought him out. The Jews sent Levites to John, and they treated him like he was someone special. They played to his pride with the questions they asked. They thought he was the Christ or the resurrected Elijah or the great Prophet. That kind of attention would go a long way in polite society.

But John does not want to take the focus off Christ. He doesn’t want people talking about John or his preaching or his baptism. He doesn’t want his message lost in all the noise about himself. But most of all, John doesn’t want to miss out on being a member of Christ and his holy Body. So he will sacrifice everything about himself so that he doesn’t lose his portion of the kingdom of heaven.

John models true humility for us as we approach the celebration of our Lord’s holy birth. How can we celebrate the advent of our Savior if we think we don’t need him? How can we receive this Christ and Messiah in our vulnerable flesh if we will not deny ourselves? How can we worship Christ as King if we still cling to the notion that we can live on our own? How can we glorify God for His goodwill toward us and His merciful peace in the Sacrament if we think we can live apart from His holy Body?

St. John is telling those Levites that it’s all about Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It’s all about this Jesus who both existed before I did, and who now comes after me. It’s all about this Jesus whose sandal straps I’m not worthy to untie. He must increase, and I must decrease. He must be the One you talk about and talk to, not me. For your hopes are false if you pin them to anyone or anything other than Him and His holy Body which is His holy Church. That is why John baptized and preached: not to make a name for himself, but to point to the Coming One, so that others might be washed in His saving Blood, and cling to Christ, and commune in Him, and live in His holy Body as He safely takes us through this life into the kingdom of heaven.

God grant unto us the Holy Spirit, that we may receive true humbleness of heart. And in our prayer, let us strive together to shed our lone-wolf status, our pride of distinction and individuality, and instead endeavor to come into closer communion with Christ’s holy Body. For that is how Our Lord’s salvation is bestowed—not through our own merit or worthiness, but by the mercy of God in His Holy Spirit. You have nothing of your own that makes you worthy. But thanks be to God, for Jesus is everything for you: your truth, your life, and your eternal salvation. 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 Advent 2017

Bible Text: Matthew 11:2-11 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Did John send his disciples to Jesus to ease their doubts and fears? Or did he send them so that his own doubts and fears would be eased? It’s a question whose answer divides even the greatest of theologians and preachers. I can honestly say that I have preached from both sides of the fence. On the one hand, Jesus Himself says that there has not been a man born who is greater than John. John preached fire and brimstone in his task, preparing the way of the Lord by preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Surely it took great faith to join the Nazarenes and then to sojourn on his own into the wilderness. And yet, as great as he is, John is a sinner, an heir of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” as Paul writes to the Romans. Not even John, great as he is, has escaped that verdict.

Whether it’s John or his disciples who need comfort, the disciples come to Jesus with the question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Are You the Savior who was promised to Adam and Eve? Are You the One whose coming John has preached all this time? If You really are the One, why is John rotting away in prison, awaiting the whim of an adulterous king and his cunning mistress? It seems like a rather poor reward for such faithful service. Shouldn’t the Messiah take better care of His messenger? So tell us, Jesus: Are You the real deal?

These disciples might as well be reading our minds, for we have our own doubts and fears about this Jesus character. “Jesus, I’m a baptized child of God. Why do you allow me to go through these difficulties? Why do You allow cancer to afflict the people I love? Why do You allow people to make my job so frustrating? Why do You allow the weather to create such havoc? Why do You allow terrorists to blow up buildings and kill innocent people? Aren’t You the Messiah? Aren’t You supposed to be taking care of us?” And don’t you know it? Jesus doesn’t jump up and spring John from prison. He doesn’t overthrow the Roman governor. He doesn’t make all the cancer in the world disappear. Murderous disciples of a murderous false prophet of a make-believe god still strap bombs to their chests to kill people. Children still get sick. Employment woes cause all sorts of trouble. Divorce is rampant. And just as John was imprisoned and eventually beheaded for speaking the truth of Herod’s sinfulness, God’s children are persecuted and even killed for confessing the name of Jesus.

No, He doesn’t wave His hand and make evil and suffering disappear. And yet, He does not leave John’s disciples or us without comfort. He speaks of healing the blind, the lame, the leper, the deaf—and then of raising the dead and comforting the poor. And that is what we are: blind to our Lord’s relentless mercy, deaf to His consoling Word, lame in our walk of faith, and diseased with the leprosy of sin. We were dead in our sins.

But in His great mercy, our Lord has ministered to us. He has washed away the leprosy of our sin in the waters of Holy Baptism, where He raised us from our death of sin to new life in righteousness. He has given us the medicine of His holy body and blood. He has opened our ears to hear His Word of forgiveness. He has calmed the storms of our fears with faithful preaching. Our Lord covers sin and eases doubt and delivers from fear.

Our Lord’s answer to John’s question stills the hearts of all the faithful. John’s disciples rejoiced to bring that word to him, and the Baptist clings to that good news even as the executioner swings his axe. And we rejoice to hear that Word as well, for that Word is our shelter in the storm, our light in the darkness, our life as death draws near. 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 Advent 2017

Bible Text: Luke 21:25-36 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

The signs are all around us. The total solar eclipse back in August? That was a sign. The supermoon this past weekend? That was a sign. The war in Afghanistan? That’s a sign. The Black Lives Matter movement and the Blue Lives Matter movement? Signs. They tell us that Son of Man is coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. No one except God the Father can say exactly when that day will be, but the day is coming, and so is our Lord Jesus Christ. These signs we see constantly, all around us—they are fulfilled on every television, in every newspaper, in every hospital room, in every heart. Yet they’re so constant that we have become numb to them. And they’re so common that we’ve forgotten that these signs point, not to the end of the world, but to the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom of God is near.

Don’t think that these signs just happen. When you hear of these things, and when your heart is filled with dread because you feel inside yourself what is happening all around you, remember that the Lord is allowing these things to happen. He is using the dread you feel in your heart. And He does this, not to scare you or threaten you or harass you, but to keep you focused on your goal, which is the Kingdom of God. He lets these things happen to you to draw you to Himself and to His Kingdom. After all, the Kingdom of God is not merely an “end of the world” thing. If our goal is to attain the Kingdom of God, then we must now be present, standing in the Kingdom of God on earth.

And where is this Kingdom of God on earth? It is here, present in the Holy Supper. Here we have a foretaste of the Kingdom which we will receive fully on the Last Day. While we long for and anxiously await our Lord’s second coming, we are not left comfortless and empty. Instead, we receive at the Supper an appetizer that wets our appetites for the eternal wedding feast.

How can this be? In the Kingdom of God, here at the Sacrament of the Altar, we receive the Spirit of God. He comes and lives in us. And by these holy mysteries of Word and Sacraments, the Spirit gives us the strength to strive and struggle, to push through and sacrifice, to have patience and trust so that we can endure and finally attain the fullness of the Lord’s kingdom. We do not achieve our goal by our own strength, but in the Holy Spirit.

We were made to live in this Kingdom. Our Lord tells us as much with these words: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” How can we look up? How can we lift up our hearts to the Lord our God? Only because the Father, through His Son, gives us His Holy Spirit in and with the sacramental mysteries that we receive at the Supper.

Let nothing keep you from standing before God at the Holy Supper. Receive here the strength and comfort, the consolation and hope, the joy and gladness that He offers here in His Spirit. When you stand in God’s kingdom at this Feast, then you will have no fear of what is happening all around you. Instead, you will see these horrific signs for what they really are: signals of our Lord’s imminent return, and the realization of your true goal. For Christ is coming soon. Even so, 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.

First Sunday in Advent 2017

Bible Text: Matthew 21:1-9 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Jesus Christ—the Lord, the Savior, the King—He’s coming! The crowd was electric. Here comes Jesus, the descendant of King David, riding a donkey into the holy city, just like his famous ancestor did. Surely He is coming to save us from these evil Romans and from King Herod. The disciples had already put their cloaks on the donkey to make it fit for the King; the crowd followed suit, people laying their cloaks on the road and waving palm branches as if Jesus was on His way to be crowned.

He did not come to be that kind of king. Anyone who had paid attention to Him during His earthly ministry would know that. When Jesus was born, the Magi came to Herod, seeking the One who would be King of the Jews; old King Herod thought there was a usurper. But He did not come to be that kind of king. When He fed the 5,000, they wanted to crown Him king for the sake of His miraculous food. But He did not come to be that kind of king. The only two thrones Jesus would know would be the manger where He lay at His birth and the cross where He was raised up before those He came to save. He did not come to be an earthly king. He came to die.

Still, He was always greeted as King. When Jesus was born, the angels sang songs to the glory of God concerning the newborn Savior King. The magi greeted Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, riding a donkey, He was greeted with palm branches and shouts: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Even the Roman soldiers and Pilate the Governor hailed Jesus as King, even though it was in mockery. They adorned Him with a crown of thorns, wrapping Him in purple robes, placing a stick as a scepter in His hand; they knelt before Him; Pilate hung a sign over Christ’s head in which he called Jesus “King of the Jews.” Everyone knows: when Jesus comes, He comes as King.

This is the season of Advent. It’s as true today as it was two-thousand years ago: Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Savior, the King, is coming! So how do we greet Him appropriately? After all, “He comes to judge the nations, a terror to His foes, a light of consolation and blessed hope to those who love the lord’s appearing.” How does one greet a King? One honors him. Whether He’s the most wonderful king ever or the stingiest miser ever to sit on a throne, one does not dare to turn one’s back on the king. And so we kneel before Him. And then we beg for His indulgence. This morning it sounded like this: “Stir up, we implore you, your power, O Lord, and come that by your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and be saved by your mighty deliverance; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

And as the best of kings will do, He will answer graciously. He will, indeed, save us from our sins. He came into Jerusalem, heading for the cross. He came to die, and in doing so, to save us from our sins and from the death our sins earned us. After three days He rose again so that we would never die. He delivers that salvation to us this day in His body and blood, given for us to eat and drink for the remission of our sins.

This Advent season, as we kneel before our King, the only hope that we sinners have to rescue us from the “threatening perils” of our sins is the coming of our Lord—Jesus coming to us with His Cross-won gifts in the Sacrament of the Altar. What a wonderful gift from our most gracious King! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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