Eighth Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Matthew 7:15-23 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” What a dire warning. No one wants to think that there are people hiding within the Church who would seek to lead astray the sheep of our Good Shepherd’s flock. No one wants to believe that there are preachers who call themselves Christians, but they teach and practice contrary to the Word of God. But at one time or another, we have all encountered them within so-called Christian congregations. These preachers have told the Church that it is okay to murder babies in the womb in the name of convenience and empowerment. They have said that it is okay to live in unrepentant sexual immorality, whether by living together, homosexuality, promiscuity, or pornography. They have told you that even those who believe falsely about Jesus should be welcomed to receive the body and blood of Jesus. They have told you that a truly faithful Christian will be healthy and wealthy and successful, because Jesus gives earthly prosperity to those who have strong faith.

It’s bad enough that these false prophets exist. But the truth is, they would be powerless without our desire to hear their blasphemous sermons. In speaking to the young pastor Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” There is a market for the Joel Osteens and Joyce Meyers of the world because there are people who want to believe their false teachings, because there are people who would pick and choose what they want to believe instead of clinging to God’s Word, because there are people who hunger for worldly wealth rather than the body and blood of Jesus.

When our children are holding something poisonous or dangerous in their hands, don’t we swat it away? Don’t we warn them of the danger? Why do we not defend the doctrine of the Church with that kind of zeal? This is a First Commandment issue. This same sin entangled Adam and Eve. They were not content with God’s Word. They wanted more than what God promised them. They coveted the forbidden fruit. That is our way too. False doctrine is not looked upon as bad anymore. We tolerate it because we think everyone is entitled to their opinion. We would rather be comfortable and turn a blind eye to sin rather than confront it and root it out.

Why does God permit false teachers to come among His faithful? Is He not able to prevent it? Of course He could! But like all the suffering that our Lord allows afflict us, the presence of the false teacher works to our good. As St. Paul wrote, “There must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” By allowing factions and divisions in His Church, the Lord reveals those who belong to Him.

Do not treat the Word carelessly. This Word you have in your ears is not the mere word of a man; it is the holy Word of God Himself, the Maker of heaven and earth. This Word in our ears is the Word made flesh, the Word who dwells among us, the Word who comes into our ear and into our mouths—not to give us mere early blessings, though He does generously give us our daily bread. He comes to give us the Bread of Life, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with Him. This is a precious Word, and it satisfies more than anything our itching ears and selfish hearts can devise.
There are very few who stand steadfast anymore. Denominations outside the Lutheran church and divisions within it abound. There are few who contend against error and preserve the true doctrine. May it not be so among us. God grant us faith to cling to His promise, courage to confess it before the world, strength to persevere and contend for the truth, and love to serve both Him and our neighbor.

“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word! 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.

Seventh Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Mark 8:1-9 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Everything our Lord said and did throughout His earthly ministry, He did for you. And everything He continues to do today during the Holy Supper, through the sacred mysteries of the faith and in our lives, He does for you. What man can take seven loaves and a few small fish, and make enough to feed such a large crowd? What man would be tender-hearted enough to have compassion on four-thousand people? And what man can order sinful, unworthy men to use bread and wine to give you His life-sustaining flesh and blood? What man would have such compassion, such love, that he would lay down his life so that you might draw near to God in this Holy Communion? But that is what we receive today. We hear of our Lord feeding the multitude that had faithfully come to Him, and we receive from His own hand the Bread of eternal life and the Cup of salvation.

Our Lord makes use of simple elements of bread and wine. He converts them for a higher use than we can understand. He does these things willingly and gladly, and in doing so He shows us His remarkable love and compassion. Consider how costly it is for Jesus to bless and consecrate the bread and wine. This is not some empty ritual. It’s not a metaphor for His care. It is not merely a visual demonstration of what He can do for you. What we receive at this altar is the Lord Jesus Himself. It is His true and actual Body and Blood, which was born of the Blessed Virgin, and then was crucified under Pontus Pilate, suffered, died, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. At the expense of His entire life, we get the medicine of immortality, salvation from our mortal enemies, and real unity and fellowship with God.

The expense is not only what Our Lord Jesus endured for our sake. The expense is also what we must suffer and endure from the devil, the world and our own sinful selves—because we are baptized in the bloody water from His side, and because we eat His Body and drink His Blood. That expense, though heart-wrenching, is not worthy to be compared with the glory that these Holy Sacraments usher us into. That is the lesson of today’s Gospel. Like the disciples, we’re worried about how our Lord can feed us, how He can take care of us, how this Holy Supper will truly satisfy us and make a difference. And while we worry, our Lord Jesus is already blessing the bread and making sure it’s distributed.

When we hear His words, when we see His loving desire to feed us with Himself, we would be fools to absent ourselves from this altar, to do anything to cut ourselves off from this Holy Communion, to assume we can receive this Sacrament too often. Knowing that we are sinners, knowing that sin infects every breath we take, we should be crying out for the Holy Supper every time we gather in His name.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord Jesus shows us His undying love and compassion. He says, “I have compassion on them. I will not send them away hungry. I will feed them.” And in the Holy Supper we receive this day, He keeps His pledge and promise—not just to the crowd, but also to you. Here He is, having mercy on you, showing you a compassion that surpasses human understanding. Here He is, and even though we are not worthy of His mercy, He will not send us away hungry. Here He is, feeding us with His own flesh and blood.

Let us rejoice to receive this grace of God in Christ Jesus, who invites us to His Supper. He is the Priest, the Victim, and the Feast, and He is here to feed you and give you 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.

Sixth Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Matthew 5:17-26 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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


Sinners that we are, we are constantly looking for ways around the law: loopholes, exemptions, exceptions. That’s why the law books are so thick, why the legal code is so ponderous, why the lawyers are well-paid, and why new laws must be passed every day. The same is true of our attitude toward God’s Law. We’re always looking for the “It doesn’t apply to me” clause. Yet, God’s law and His commands are really quite simple. They can be reduced to one sentence: “Trust Me and so do what I say.” And how should we reply? “All the words which the Lord has said, we will do.” But we often don’t say that. Instead we wink and say, “Sure, we’ve done that. We’ve kept the letter of the law.” But don’t you know? “The letter kills while the Spirit gives life.”

Our Lord Jesus came into our world not to kill, but to give life. He did not come to add to the laws and commands of God, but to accomplish them. He did not come to add to the burdens of the law, but to give us the Holy Spirit who applies to us Christ’s fulfilment of the Law, the commandments, the ordinances, the precepts, the statutes, and the decrees of God. Jesus came in our flesh precisely because we do not keep our word; because we do not do and heed all that the Lord has said; because we come up with ways to skirt the law of God; because we do not trust the laws of God. But if you will not trust His Law, how can you believe His Gospel? If you will not be afraid of His threats, how can you be comforted by His promises? If you do not love His commandments, how can you live from His life-giving Word?

When He says, “I came to fulfill the Law,” our Lord is not thinking like us. He’s not crossing His fingers. He’s not using legal trickery. He’s saying that He did what we could never hope to do: He accomplished the fullness of God’s law. Perhaps a person might be able to keep perfectly the letter of the Law. The Pharisees certainly thought they did. But who can completely, absolutely, every minute of every day keep the Spirit? Our Lord wants you to know that He has fulfilled the Law in its fullness and spirit, but He also requires you to believe that you cannot.

If you wish to live the law of God and to do all He commands, if your heart-felt desire is to attain the kingdom of heaven and to live in God, then you must not ever, in any way, believe in yourself. If you rely on yourself, then you will not be able to resist even the smallest attack by the devil, the world, or your own selfish desires. These enemies feed on your self-delusion that you can do what God requires, even for only a moment. And in the moment you believe that, then you are lost. You have placed yourself and your self-confidence ahead of loving and trusting God above all things.

Our Lord Jesus draws out the full implications of God’s law and increases our understanding of righteousness so that we might see and know and believe and confess that we are the most vulnerable, the most helpless, the weakest—and so the person in greatest need of the Lord’s mercy. For when you hear Jesus say, “Whoever is angry with his brother”—you must reply, “Lord, who then can be saved?”

But that’s the beauty: nothing you are and nothing you have depends on anything you have done. It is all because of the Lord’s mercy. Even the good you do to others traces back to the mercy of God which Jesus died to give you; the mercy you received in the waters of Holy Baptism; the mercy which is nourished and strengthened at this holy altar; the mercy which now lives within you, which has planted God’s kingdom in your heart. That is why you live. That is why you have the hope of the resurrection of your body. That is why you look forward to 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.

Fifth Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Luke 5:1-11 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Peter was afraid. When he saw the catch of fish—how great it was, and how miraculous the miracle—then he was afraid because he knew he was in the presence of the Son of God. And so down on his knees he went. And up went his prayer, his cry for help. He was not sarcastic. He was not demanding. He did not try to spin things so that he was in control. He was not manipulative. He simply said, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Peter confessed who he truly was—a sinner. He confessed that he was unworthy to stand in the Lord’s presence. And he confessed that his labors, his fishing skills, his wit, his wisdom—they all added up to nothing. This catch of fish was entirely the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous in Peter’s eyes. And while it astonished him, it also scared him. He was afraid. Peter was afraid of standing before the living God. It’s not that Peter was afraid of what God might do to him. Peter was afraid because Peter knows himself. Peter knows that he doesn’t deserve to be in the Lord’s presence. He knows that God in the flesh is slumming, visiting the little people.

Some would say that Peter was suffering from low self-esteem. Others would say that Peter was emotionally distraught and not in his right mind. Still others would say that Peter was making a fool of himself. And some might say that Peter was overwhelmed by the power and majesty of God. But in truth, Peter says what Cain should have said; what Saul should have said; what Judas should have said. And Peter says what King David said, what the Apostle Paul said, and what all the saints and martyrs have said. Peter says what should be in our heart and mind when we cry out, “Lord, have mercy”; or when we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” Peter’s prayer is not the whine of a whimpering coward; it is the truthful confession of a man who sees his Maker and, at the same time, sees himself.

Listen to what Peter says, because his confession belongs in your mouth. And it doesn’t take a miraculous catch of fish for you to realize it. As you examine your life according to the Ten Commandments, you recognize yourself for what you really are. You are a sinner. Like Peter, you know you don’t belong in the presence of the Lord. Like Adam and Eve, you hear the Lord, and you hide from Him because you know you are naked in your sinful nature; you know that you are no longer the “very good” creation He made you to be.

You’ve heard Peter’s confession of sin, and you recognize it as your confession, too. With that in mind, listen to what Jesus says to Peter and to you: “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid—not because there is nothing fearful in God; and not because your fears are misplaced. But do not be afraid, for He has taken into Himself your sin and your death. Do not be afraid, for He has restored the relationship between God and man by drawing you into Himself. Do not be afraid, for He is your Life—so much so that your sinful self has being drowned in His undying love and mercy in the waters of Holy Baptism. And do not be afraid, for He is your Strength, your steady Rock, your Salvation, your Hope, your Consolation, your Joy.

So what are you afraid of? Losing father or mother or children? Are you afraid of what life in the Church means, what sacrifices it requires? Are you afraid of the journey or that you will sin? Listen again to your Jesus: “Do not be afraid.” You have nothing to fear. He knows what you are. He knows you will sin. Our Lord forgives you. He washes you clean. He welcomes you into communion with His holy Church. So do not be afraid. He has come to be Immanuel—God with us—God with His people 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.

Fourth Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Luke 6:36-42 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

“Be merciful just as your Father also is merciful.” This is what Jesus requires of you. But it’s not easy. Mercy requires that you always act for your neighbor’s welfare without considering yourself. Mercy demands that you seek only to serve others. Mercy insists that you be quick to forgive, slow to get angry. It demands that you bear no grudges. Mercy teaches you to suffer undeserved punishment quietly, to shoulder the blame for wrongs you have not done—and even wrongs that have been done to you. Mercy orders you to love the unlovable, to help those who abuse you, and to reach out to those who spitefully and meanly mistreat you.

That is what your heavenly Father has done for you. That is what our Lord Jesus endured for your sake. That is how the Holy Spirit deals with you. You were not turned away from the waters of baptism. And even though you continue to abuse God’s kindness, He does not refuse to forgive your sins. And the Holy Spirit still gathers you within the Church, still invites you to pray to the Father, and still allows you to partake of God when you turn to Him in repentant faith. In fact, the Lord eagerly waits to embrace you, to shower you with the riches of His mercy—riches you don’t deserve.

Do you see, then, how mercy goes? Mercy requires you to lose yourself entirely, to give yourself over to another—even a stranger—without any hesitation, without any question, without any fear, without any vengeance, without any thought for your own well-being. After all, that is what our Lord Jesus did. And He is the Mercy of God in the flesh. But who can “be merciful just as your Father is merciful?” Does that not ask the impossible? Does that not demand that you somehow become like God?

That is precisely the point. Our Lord is not demanding that you be something you cannot be. He is not commanding you to change yourself from imperfection to perfection. He is not ordering you to change from creature to Creator, or from human to divine. Rather, our Lord is urging you to become more and more what you already are.

And who are you really? By God’s grace, you are a child of the heavenly Father. Through the waters of Holy Baptism, you are born of God. And by the kindness of the Holy Spirit, you are no longer a child of disobedience, a child of fear, a child of rebellion, a child of slavery to sin and death. Instead, you been freed to live in holiness and righteousness. You have been delivered to live without fear of being short-changed or abused. You have been rescued to live as you ought to live. You have been freed by the Spirit to live the mercy that Jesus lives in you.

So Jesus is saying that you should become merciful, just as God your Father has been merciful and gracious towards you. Become as merciful as Jesus has been to you. He became what you are. The Son of God joined your death-riddled, sin-filled flesh to His holy and life-giving divinity. In the unity of His Person, He joined God and Man, joining you to Himself. He did this so that in His Body you would become what you can never be apart from Him: so that you would become the mercy that He is.

So become merciful—that is what the Mercy of God urges you to be. Become merciful—that is what the Spirit of Mercy invites and implores you to be. Become merciful—that is why Mercy died and rose, why He ascended, why He then descended into the font and continues to descend upon this altar in His body and blood. Our Lord Jesus comes to you in His Supper so that you would become the person He died for you to be: a child of the Father who resists the evil spirit of revenge, who strives in Christ Jesus to live the spirit of patience and love that He has graciously given to you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Third Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Luke 15:11-32 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Parables tell a story which is meant to teach. The stories Jesus tells are all very straight-forward. These are not fairy tales. They use real-life circumstances and characters, such as rich men and thieves, birds and flowers, land purchases, lost coins, precious pearls, sheep, and dysfunctional families. That doesn’t mean you’ll always understand or agree with exactly what the parable is teaching, but the hearer is presented with a lesson in straightforward language. Parables are about everyday life, and because this is the case, it’s easy to see yourself in the parable. Even the Pharisees recognized themselves in many of the parables Jesus taught. They understood where they fit in the story being told. They knew what Jesus was trying to get through to them.

We so often focus on the younger son and his sins of greed and wastefulness. And we do find it easy to relate to him. The younger son has his feel-good story: his arrival at rock bottom; his repentance; his tearful reunion with his father. The older son has anger and frustration, and he feels his anger is just because he’s the one who has been a faithful son and servant to his father throughout this whole sordid affair. But they have this in common: both believe that their father’s love depends on what they do. Both believe that their place as sons depends on their obedience. The younger son believes he has forfeited his place because of his sins. The older son believes that he’s more of a son than his brother because he’s been working hard in the fields. Therefore, he should be favored because he’s earned the right.

Both arguments make sense, but both of them insult the father’s love. The younger son says, “My father’s love is conditional. He cannot love me as a son because I have sinned. He will only help me if I earn it.” The older son says, “My father’s love is conditional. He should love me more because I’ve earned more.” They come at it from opposing directions, but both are saying that their father’s love is limited, conditional.

The father of the parable is none other than God the Father, and those two sons are very much like the tax collectors and the Pharisees. On the one hand, penitent tax collectors might well be tempted to think, “I have sinned against God so much that He will only forgive and love me if I prove that I am worthy. Once I earn it, then He will forgive me.” On the other hand, the Pharisees are tempted to believe, “God loves us so much more than those tax collectors because, while they’ve been living a sinful life all this time, we’ve been hard at work to keep the rules.” But they have this in common: they both believe that God’s love for them is based upon their performance. It makes sense to sinful ears; but it also says that God’s love is conditional.

When you were a child, what did you do to earn the right to be a son or daughter in your family? Did you pay dues? Take vows? Sign a contract? No. You did absolutely nothing. You were born—given unearned life—and that is how you became part of the family. When you obeyed your parents, were you more of a son or daughter? No. When you disobeyed them, were you less of a son or daughter? No. You suffered disapproval, but you were still part of the family. You could remove yourself from the family, but you could not earn a place in the family. In the same way, the Lord says to you, “You are mine.” You belong to Him because His Son Jesus paid the price for your salvation by His death on the cross. He had made you His child in the waters of Holy Baptism, where that salvation was applied to you in the water. He brings you to the family meal at His holy Table. You can’t do it; He did it for you. You are a beloved child of God, forgiven of all your sins. He will always keep a place for 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.

Second Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Luke 14:15-24 | Preacher: Rev. Timothy Landskroener | Series: 2017

Jesus is always concerned about people’s life and salvation. That’s what led Him to do and say everything He did. So it is today. Jesus is dining at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees on the Sabbath. He had healed a man with dropsy, poking at the Pharisees as He did. He spoke to them about not taking the best seats at the banquet (which they did) and inviting to eat those who can’t repay the kindness. Upon hearing this, one who was there said, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Blessed indeed! That’s why Jesus answers as He does with the parable of the banquet whose invited guests rebuffed the invitation. He’s not concerned with bad manners or rudeness. It’s much more serious than that. He wants those who hear Him to be at the great feast He is preparing.

You see, our heavenly Father desires that all people be saved from sin and death. For that reason, He has prepared a great banquet of salvation. The plan was in place since the foundation of the world. The invitations had been sent through the prophets as they called Israel to repentance and faith. Throughout the Old Testament we hear those messengers call God’s people to repent of their sins and to turn in faith to Him, the one true God. They declared over and over again the love and mercy of the God who had called them to be His people. Thus God invited them to the banquet which comes in Christ. For the Father sent His dear Son Jesus Christ to be born in human form of a virgin, and to suffer and die for the sins of the world. For Jesus is the very Paschal Lamb who has been slaughtered and roasted on the spit of the cross. Jesus is that final sacrificial Lamb as He bore the full heat of God’s wrath over sin. He Himself declared, “It is finished!” All was ready.

And when the Father sent His servant, the Holy Spirit, to call those invited to come to the feast, He hears nothing but excuses. One bought some land and needs to see it. Another bought some oxen and need to see if they can do the job. Yet, another is newly married, and so refuses to come to the banquet. They all despised the invitation and the One who extended it. They all had something they thought was more important than being in the presence of their gracious Host and receiving His generous hospitality. Their excuses led to them being left out of the banquet forever. They didn’t want to be with Him in this life, so they won’t be with Him in the life to come. This is the great warning of our Lord’s story.

So, where do you stand? Do you ever make excuses to be absent from God’s Banquet House? Are you ever so foolish as to let the cares of this world keep you from the banquet of forgiveness, life, and salvation? Have other things become more important than coming into God’s presence to receive His eternal gifts in Word and Sacrament? Do you ever spurn His invitation to enjoy the feast of His great love for you?

Repent. Repent of making excuses. Repent of placing worldly things ahead of heavenly things. Stop neglecting the Means of Grace before it turns into a cancer that spreads beyond your house into the houses of your family, your friends, and your neighbor. Stop placing God behind self, work, play, or anything else. It’s not too late. Even now He calls you from your hiding place in the world.

For you see, you are also the one found in the streets and lanes of the city, the poor and crippled and blind and lame. You are one from the highways and in the hedges. He has called you out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ to commune at the banquet table of the Church. Never take it for granted that you have been baptized a Christian. It is no small thing to be given a place at His table. For the kingdom of God welcomes strangers like you and me to dine with the Father through His Son’s saving death upon the cross.

So as the Lord sought and found Adam, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul, so He has sought and found you. At one time or another, they had all run from the Banquet of the Lord, that is, they all fell from faith into unbelief, sin, and despair. Yet, by God’s grace and calling, they forsook their foolishness and lived in His unending mercy and forgiveness. So you too have been found. Your sins, your excuses, have been drowned in the waters of Baptism. He places before you the banquet of His dear Son as he invites you to confess your sins and receive absolution, that is, forgiveness from the pastor as from God Himself. He tenderly invites you to feast on His beloved Son in the sacrament of His Body and Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

Yes, God invites us and gives us a seat at His table, though we in no wise deserve it. He compels us who are spiritually blind, deaf, and dead in sin to come into His presence and eat of the banquet of forgiveness and life He has prepared for us. We do nothing. He does everything.

This time together every Sunday morning is the Great Banquet, for whenever the saving Gospel of Christ is preached, heavenly bread is being served up and offered. And this heavenly food is for all, young and old, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, and the like. And as each person eats that Gospel food, that is, each time he hears and believes that Gospel Word, as each person receives the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake, he is filled and is satisfied. For whenever we hear the Gospel of Christ, our souls are strengthened and nourished as we taste of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and bliss.

And the more we realize our true condition, the more we realize our great need and hunger, the more we realize the greatness of the meal set before us. The more we are encompassed by death, sin, disease, hard times, peril, terror, fear, and all manner of affliction, the more we realize our great need for saving food, the more we hunger and thirst for Christ and His forgiveness. For whenever we hear that Christ suffered, was crucified, and died for our sins, allowed Himself to be prepared and served up as food for all hungry and thirsty souls, that is, for all terrified and fearful hearts, and believe this without doubting, our fragile hearts, distressed consciences, and troubled souls are strengthened, and comforted and revived.

For, you see, it is Christ alone who can curb our deepest hunger and longing, and quench our soul’s great thirst. He alone can put to flight and drive away the devil and death, so that they can no longer do any harm. So when we partake of Christ by faith, when we believe in Him who is held out for us in the Gospel, we do not fear and our hearts are filled with inexpressible joy. By the grace of God we are able to say, “Christ lives; He is my food; in Him I believe.”

God grant that we receive His invitation with great joy, repent of our sins, and feast on His beloved Son, who is the very Bread of life who came down from heaven and gives life to the world. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Blessed indeed are you for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

First Sunday After Trinity 2017

Bible Text: Luke 16:19-31 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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


The rich man was in hell. He deserved to be there, for he failed to love his neighbor, and, in doing so, he failed to love God. So he was in hell, tormented as only one who resides in hell can be tormented. Still, he was convinced that he had a way to save his brothers from those torments of Hell that he was experiencing. All it would take would be for this poor, dead Lazarus to make an appearance at the house of the rich man’s father. Surely there is nothing like an appearance from the dead to change the hearts of callous sinners into faithful believers! At least, that’s what the misguided soul of the rich man dearly hopes.

But Abraham knows differently. It’s not as simple as that. Even the appearance of one who is risen from the dead will not be enough to change the heart of the unbeliever. That power is reserved for Moses and the Prophets. Only the Word of God has the power to convert those who do not believe. It is the Word of God alone that gives faith and life, and this is a gift that can only be given by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our world has a problem with hell. Our world has a problem with the idea that faith is an important thing. As much as we might like to think that magical appearances of the face of Jesus on a piece of toasted bread or some vision of the Virgin Mary will cause nonbelievers to turn from their wicked ways and become Christians, it will not happen. But more than that, anyone who believes in a heaven, even if they don’t believe in Jesus, is convinced they belong inside those heavenly gates, resting in Abraham’s bosom.

How could someone who claims to be a loving God allow His children to be banished forever from His presence? How could someone who claims to be a loving God allow His children to be tormented forever in hell? Even representatives of our country think it is hateful, and maybe even a hate crime, to believe that those who do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God will be condemned by God to everlasting suffering. They blame God and His faithful children for what they believe to be such horrible ideas. But the truth is, those who do not believe condemn themselves; God just gives the person what they want: an eternity without God. That’s the practice the Church calls “excommunication,” when those who claim to be Christians but act contrary to the faith exclude themselves from the fellowship of the Church. The unrepentant sinner has excluded himself; the Church just nods its head and says, “Okay. We hope you’ll come back to us.”

True repentance for our sin and true faith can only come from the Word of God. It is the Word of God that points us to Christ, whose death and resurrection alone bring us to the comfort of eternal life. There is no otherworldly vision, no ghost, not even someone rising from the dead, which will bring the unrepentant to faith. The leaders of the Jews in our Lord’s day saw the evidence that the real Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, rose from the dead; it did not bring them to faith in Jesus or repentance for their unbelief. Only the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit can make repentance and belief come to the hearts of sinners.

And that’s exactly what the Spirit does. The Spirit comes to the sinner in the waters of Holy Baptism, where the Word of God in the water brings repentance and faith. The sinner is drowned to die with Christ, cleansed in that holy flood, so that the new man emerges to a new life in Christ. And the Spirit continues to feed that repentance and faith in the preaching of the Word and in the body and blood of Jesus. Where is the best place to hear Moses and the Prophets? You are already here, for God’s Word is proclaimed in its fullness when God’s people gather together to receive His gifts. 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.

Holy Trinity 2017

Bible Text: John 3:1-17 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017


John 3:1-17


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



God created man and woman for only one reason—to live in communion with Him. So the Lord did not make the world and then walk away. He did not leave man to fend for himself when man sinned. Instead, God has done everything for only one reason: to draw us, and through us all creation, into a personal relationship with Himself. But our first parents sinned; they broke communion with God. And when we inherited the curse of death, God did not sit back and make us come to Him. The Father sent His Son by His Spirit to draw all men back into Himself.

Our Lord God made us and then sought to redeem us—not because He had to, but because this is who He is. God is the very definition of communion. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three Persons in such intimate communion that They are not three, but One. And our loving God earnestly desires that all His people and all His creatures participate and live in this communion that He is.

Holy Baptism is where God restored us to what we were made to be. Holy Baptism is where God draws us back into communion with Himself. Holy Baptism is where He renews our life by drowning our hard-hearted, self-centered Old Adam. Holy Baptism is where the Father through the Son in the Spirit takes the initiative and comes to us so that He might draw us back into communion with Himself. This communion is God’s agenda, His desire, His motivation. But most of all, that is His love and delight.

And so when Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night and tells Him that His signs and wonders demonstrate that God is with Him, Jesus does not explain how this happens or talk about what this means. Instead, Our Lord Jesus invites, encourages, prods, urges, and pretty much begs Nicodemus to enter into the same loving communion with God the Father. For to enter the kingdom of God is to come into communion with God—a communion that you cannot know or even participate in until you have been born from above. And this heavenly birth does not come from your initiative or desire, but from the love of God the Father. He sends His Spirit to hover over the water of Holy Baptism, just as He hovered over the water of creation, to make you a new creation, to cleanse you from all sin. And with that water your life is made new, for you are returned to what you were made to be: a child of God in communion with the Holy Trinity.

So, just as Jesus urges Nicodemus, do not marvel when Jesus says you must be born again. Again, this is not your doing, but God’s. By your words and actions, you show yourself to be a self-centered son of Adam. But the Lord’s Spirit comes to you in the water of Holy Baptism and gives you a new Spirit: the Spirit which creates a clean heart and restores in you the joy of the Lord’s salvation. Because of that Spirit, you now have from God Himself what your heart desires—to see the kingdom of God, to enter into the Lord’s presence, to share and participate in His life, to let His love have its way with you as you deal with all people in the way that the Lord has dealt with you. That’s what the Spirit gives you in the water of Holy Baptism—not just a fresh start and a new life, but God’s life in you and through you for the benefit of all men. That is communion in God: living in the Lord, living in His righteousness, living in His kingdom.

God grant that we who have been baptized into Christ Jesus remain in true communion with Him by remaining true to the holy catholic Faith. And He will keep us steadfast in this Faith: the Faith which is found most completely in the Holy Christian Church. 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 2017

Bible Text: John 14:23-31 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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


One of our greatest fears is to be abandoned by those we love, to be orphaned, widowed, left alone. We fear the loss of a parent, a friend, a spouse. Nothing hurts like being left behind. The disciples certainly understood this heartbreak, for Jesus kept telling the disciples that they would “see Him no more.” Jesus was speaking to His disciples, preparing them for His “departure,” His exodus—meaning His death, resurrection, and ascension. Soon they would no longer have Him as they did now. They would no longer see Him, hear His voice, touch Him, walk with Him, or share a meal with Him. But Jesus would not abandon them.

He was going to prepare a place for them: a true and eternal home. He was going take them to be with Him by being lifted up on a cross, buried in a tomb, raised from the dead, and being glorified at the right hand of His Father. He was going to prepare a true home for our humanity in glory. And yet, this going didn’t mean He was going to leave them; He was coming to them in a more profound way. He would send another—a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And in sending His Spirit, He would be with them more intimately, more profoundly, more fully than even His being with them at a table, sharing a meal. The Holy Spirit would teach them to understand everything Jesus had taught them, and the Holy Spirit would guide them as they shared our Lord’s teaching with the whole world, beginning with Jerusalem, and finally making its way to the very ends of the earth.

Jesus gives them His words, and with His words, His Baptism, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness, life, and salvation. And He gave them peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”—peace given in a way the world could never give them; peace which the would could only understand through the preaching of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. He would no longer be with them in the way they had experienced for the three years leading up to His ascension, but He would not leave them alone. He would be present as they gathered in His name, and He would send His Holy Spirit to them.

In the same way, He promises to be with His Church, and He will never leave us alone. Clinging to His word by faith, you have all that Jesus is for you and all that Jesus won for you. Clinging to His word, you are loved by His Father and are given to call Him your Father, too. Clinging to His word, you have His promised Holy Spirit, given you in your Baptism. Clinging to His word, you have a peace that the world does not give—a peace that only comes through dying and rising with Jesus.

Thanks be to God our Father and to our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of abandoning us to our own selfish cravings; rather than leaving us mired in our mindless strivings; instead of giving us over to our base desires, God has given us His Holy Spirit so that we might know Jesus, rejoice to receive His life-giving sacrifice, and be gathered into His Body, the Church. In this way we live through Him, with Him, and in Him—and we also live in love for our every neighbor. By being in communion with God in Christ by His Spirit, we also our now in communion with each other. We are never alone. 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.