Ascension of Our Lord (observed) 2017

Bible Text: Mark 16:14-20 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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

Jesus has done all the work of salvation! So let me ask you this: What good is the Passion of the Christ if there is no one to proclaim it? What good is Our Lord Jesus shedding His blood if there is no man to immerse you in that same blood? What good is Our Lord Jesus giving His Body and Blood for us to eat and drink if there is no man to serve it? What good is the Lord’s pardon, absolution and remission of all your sins if there is no man to speak that Word into you? What good is our Savior reconciling us to Our Father if there is no man to be God’s ambassador?

It’s not just that our Lord’s earthly ministry time is finished. He has completed our salvation, and destroyed our death, and crushed Satan and his demons. So our Lord Jesus, the Savior of all, mercifully authorizes certain men, so that He might speak and work through them to proclaim and distribute Himself in preaching and in His holy sacraments. His desire is to draw all people to Himself, to be the one Shepherd of the one churchly flock, and in doing so to restore all people to full communion with God by making them partakers of His divine nature.

In our arrogance, we act as if Jesus has left these things in our hands to do with as we please. We treat His gifts as if He has left us only a vague outline that we can manipulate. We act as if the Holy Spirit is a slave to our whims, so we can treat the Church and Christ’s ministers as our slaves. But our Lord’s desire is not that we take what is His and do what seems good to us. The Lord’s desire is that His apostles and their successors speak and work in His name by the direction of the Spirit. So in these latter days, our Lord Jesus, working through His Spirit, delegates some of His authority to the men He has called. Through the pastors He Calls and Ordains, our Lord Jesus extends His hand and “throws His voice,” so to speak. And in this way He drowns sinners in a baptismal flood, and He distributes His Body and blood to the people He died to save.

So when our Lord tells these sinful, confused men to make disciples; when He gives them His authority and promises that He will work through them; when He says to preach and work in His name; our Lord is clearly and forthrightly saying that this work is not theirs, but His. With these words, our Lord unmistakably says to these Apostles, to their successors, and to the Church, that He will do His work; He will speak His Word; He will give His sacraments; He will perform His ministry. And through these gifts and actions, He will restore all men to communion with God and with each other. Why He chooses to work this way, and why He has determined that this is best, is not ours to question or change. Ours is simply to rejoice and believe.

Here, then, is your comfort: You can be certain that when those men ordained by Christ give you His ministry—particularly when these men baptize, absolve, preach, and administer the Eucharist—they do not act on their own authority; they do these things “in the stead and by the command” of Jesus Christ. And you can be sure that what they speak and do in His name is valid and certain precisely because it is not their work; it is the Lord who gives you these holy mysteries.

In this way, then, Our Lord’s ascension is your comfort and delight, your joy and hope, and a necessary part of your salvation. If Jesus had not ascended, His ministry and, indeed, His very body would have been confined to a particular time and place. But when He ascended on high, “He gave gifts to men”—most especially the gift of Himself in His body and blood through the hands and ministry of those whom He has called and ordained. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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

Sixth Sunday of Easter 2017

Bible Text: John 16:23-30 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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

Today’s Gospel tends to disturb us. We are impatient and overly sensitive. We are easily and quickly offended when we ask a question and get no answer. And we are cynical. We both say and believe that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. But most of all, we are slow to believe. We are so sure that others won’t come through that we’re already making a “Plan B” even before we ask someone a favor.

And then we hear about St. Paul, and that only confirms us in our impatience and cynicism. You know the story. It’s seared in your memory, and it haunts you every time you pray. Paul writes, “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan. Three times I begged the Lord that He might take it away from me.” We all know St. Paul’s frustration, because we’ve all lived it. And then Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you: Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Sinners that we are, we hardly believe what Jesus says. “Ask anything”? We’ve tried that, and it didn’t work. We think He must mean something else.

But we also have selective hearing. The singer Paul Simon wrote, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” This perfectly describes the ears of the sinner. We hear what we want to hear, and we make the Bible say what it never says. We pray only because we’re supposed to. And sometimes we do not pray at all. Instead of asking “anything,” we believe that God helps those who help themselves. Of course, you won’t find that anywhere in your Bible. What your Bible does say is this: “LORD, it is nothing for You to help those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we carry on.”

So why is St. Paul not helped? Paul certainly prayed in Jesus’ name. The problem is, we refuse to see Our Lord’s help when He gives it. We give up on the Lord when we don’t get our way. We think He doesn’t keep His promises. But the truth is, St. Paul is helped. He himself says so. His thorn is not taken away so that he might keep his eyes, his heart, his mind and his soul fixed on Our Lord and His mercy. If his ailment goes away, then Paul says, “I will be exalted above measure.” In other words, we would believe in ourselves and the power of our prayers and the strength of our faith. And the worst thing a man can do is believe in himself, for then he is believing less—or not at all—in the Father who created Him and who provides what is truly needful.

That’s why Jesus tells us to pray the way He does. We should not ask for things that make life easier. We should seek His mercy, which increases our peace even when we’re in pain. We should seek His grace, which increases our joy even when we’re sad. We should seek His compassion, which gives us true peace even when we’re depressed or stressed.

So the “anything” in our Lord’s “Ask anything” is not “anything you want.” The “anything” we’re to ask for is that which helps us attain the Lord’s kingdom, that which grows and matures and perfects our faith and life in God. He urges us to pray for those things which aid our salvation, which are useful for our life in God, which reinvigorate our communion with God.

Ultimately, the “anything” that we ask for is not a thing, but a person, for it is in the Holy Spirit that our life in God begins; it is through Him that our selfish desires our suppressed; it is by Him that our hearts are cleansed; it is in Him that our communion in God is made whole; it is through Him that we receive every blessing, including the kingdom of heaven. And so we pray for and rejoice to receive the Holy Spirit, so that our joy may be true and full. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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

Fifth Sunday of Easter 2017

Bible Text: John 16:5-15 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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

When our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, the question in the minds of the disciples was not “Where are You going?” but “What’s going to happen to us?” And so, just before He ascended, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” You can see, then, that the disciples were focusing not on our Lord, but on themselves; not on how He was helping them, but on what would happen next. To this day, that is still our question. For we don’t ask, “Where is the Lord so that I might be there with Him?” We do not ask, “How can I attain His kingdom?” We do not even ask, “How does His death and resurrection—how does His love for me—change the way I live and how I treat others?” For to ask those questions is to think of our Lord and His Church and His life lived for us and in us. Instead, we think of ourselves.

And this is why our hearts are quite often filled with sorrow. For we are convinced that God is getting back at us, or that He’s meanly testing us, or that He’s forgotten us. In fact, we’re so convinced of this that it takes all our effort—and, indeed, more effort than we possess—to live the life of Christ within us by suppressing our appetites, by denying ourselves sensual pleasures, by sacrificing our time in prayer, by holding our tongue, by living only for others, and by coming before the Lord to worship Him. These are the hardest things for us to do day in and day out. And it’s all because we don’t ask, “Where are You going—and how can I be there with You?”

Yet even though we are selfish, our Lord still gives of Himself. Even though we refuse to live a life of self-denial and prayer, our Lord still has mercy. And even though we only come to God when we’re desperate, our Lord does not shun us or neglect us. Instead, He sends us the Helper, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Lord and Giver of Life. Such is the love of God for us. He does not leave us orphans. He does not leave us without hope or comfort. He does not leave us wallowing in our self-pity and misery. And He doesn’t leave us to our own schemes. For it is our own plans and purposes—the false belief that we can make do, that we can deserve the Lord’s love, that we can be like God knowing good and evil, that our riches matter, that the life we live is good enough—it is this pride and self-belief that truly leaves us comfortless and standing outside the kingdom. And the Holy Spirit comes to show us how miserable and pathetic we really are when we believe in ourselves and make our own way.

But then this same Spirit, who tells you the truth about yourself, comes to you, to guide you into the fullness of truth. In other words, He guides you right into the arms of your heavenly Father in the embrace of your Holy Mother, the Church. For in the Church—not just this little parish, but in the communion of the godly and faithful, which we call the Communion of Saints—this is where the Way, the Truth, and the Life are declared and given to you.

There is much more that can be said, both about our life in God, and about the way the Holy Spirit works that life into us. But for now, let us be content with what our Lord’s Spirit has given us at this time. Even this little crumb is more than enough to satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness. And let us also be content that the Lord’s Spirit will continue to guide us into all truth—perhaps in ways that may shock or surprise us. For who are we, that we can determine the mind of God or even see what happens next? Instead, let us simply be content to ask the Lord Jesus, “Where are you going? Where are you taking us?”—and then follow Him in the faith that forsakes all so that we might attain the Kingdom of God. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2017

Bible Text: John 16:16-22 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! I tell you this, not because you refuse to believe it, but because you forget both its truth and its comfort. Our Lord did not promise that he would be with us only when He thought it best. He said, “Behold, I am with you always—even until the end of the age.” And He did not say He would be with us only when we invited Him. He said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! It must be repeated, for you are accustomed to believing only what you see with your eyes or what makes sense to your reason and logic. Our Lord knows this. And so He says, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” He is not just preparing His disciples for His arrest and death; He is also comforting you. He is telling you that there will be a time when you will not see Him. But that should not cause you alarm or make you wonder about His love for you or cause you to believe that He has left you. Neither should your inability to see Jesus mean that you can now live as you please. Just because you cannot see the Lord, that does not mean He is not among you.  He says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” And He says, “I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Christ is among you! Your physical eyes cannot discern His presence, but that is due to your inability, not His absence. The veil of sin and doubt covers your eyes. But our Lord wishes to be seen by those He has come to save. And by His Holy Spirit, He grants you the ability to see Him…but first with the eyes of faith. Jesus does not say, “You will not see Me,” and leave it at that. Instead He says, “A little while.” In other words, for a short time you do not see the Lord. But then He says, “Again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

You may think that you now live in the “little while” when we do not see the Lord. And, in a way, you are right. For who has seen the Lord in the same way that St. Thomas or St. Peter saw Jesus? None of us have sat in Gethsemane with Him; none of us have put our fingers into our Lord’s wounds. But Abraham saw the Lord, and He “He rejoiced to see the Lord’s Day, and he saw it and was glad.” Do we not see the Lord in the same way Abraham did? And what’s more, do we not see Him the same way Simeon saw Him? Do we not receive Jesus as our Consolation? Do we not hold Him in our mouths in the Holy Supper just as Simeon held the Christ in his arms? What good is the idea that Jesus might be here—or the sense that we feel His presence—if He is not really and truly among us? And so the Holy Spirit helps us to recognize Jesus as He comes to us. We behold Him as Immanuel: God with us in the preaching of His Word; God with us in the washing of rebirth in Holy Baptism; God with us in His body and blood.

Christ is among you! And not because we said, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest.” Christ is in our midst because He said to you, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And when you come to Christ—that is, when He draw you into Himself—then “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

So let us rejoice and be glad, for with the disciples, we see the Lord. And because of them—because of their ministry, their eyewitness testimony, their prayers—we are now in that little while when we see Him with the eyes of faith. So do not be down-hearted or distressed. Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Third Sunday of Easter 2017

Bible Text: John 10:11-16 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

Wolves eat sheep. They don’t care whose sheep they eat; they don’t care that you lose sleep or income. They just want your sheep. Build all the sheep pens you want. If the wolf wants your sheep, there’s a good chance he’ll get it. Without a shepherd to fight off the wolves and gather and protect the sheep, the wolf will have his prey. And when the wolf steals your sheep, it’s easy to point fingers at others—at coworkers and neighbors, at family and friends. “Why did you let the wolf cross your field to get to my sheep?” “Why didn’t you raise an alarm?” “Why didn’t you slay the wolf?” So not only do wolves drive away and kill the sheep; the devil also uses them to put a wedge between us, to mar and destroy our life together in Christ.

Now where is Our Lord Jesus in all this? Does He stand idly by? Or does He lash out against wolves, hunt them down, and give them what they deserve? When Our Lord was beset by sheep-stealing priests and wolfish Pharisees, when they sought not just His sheep, but also His life, He did not let the devil have his day. “He was reviled, but He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” And when He was beaten and murdered by the wolves, He did not point the finger at His disciples, or accuse them of not defending Him, or blame them for those who killed Him. Instead, He stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” He spoke peace to the very men who let Him down. And He visited the very women who would not believe that He was still with them.

Doing this, He showed that He was their Good Shepherd, the true and steadfast Bishop of their souls. He did not do what we do: He did not criticize or whine or place blame. He did not give in to devilish thoughts and desires. Instead, He embraced His own and pointed them to their heavenly Father. He pointed them to the rich gifts He set apart to feeds them.

The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He knows your fears, your complaints, your misgivings, your anxieties. He knows you are quick to cut and run and fall over the edge of the cliff. He knows that you think you know best, that you are quick to believe He has once again let you down. And He knows that you foolishly value your stuff more than you take comfort in the Baptism that makes you a member of His flock or the Holy Supper with which He feeds you.

And so our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, restores your soul. He lays down His life for His sheep. He lays it down so that He may take it up again. He lays it down so that you would have His life as your life. He has come—precisely when wolves come to devour you—so you may have life, and have it abundantly.

Jesus is not just some hired hand. He is the Good Shepherd. Any shepherd can chase away wolves, but the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep—both to drive off the wolf and to make His body and blood into a sacrament. In this way, our Lord saves and delivers you: by dying your death and by satisfying you with His body as food.

So Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He spares your life by laying down His life on the cross, and by giving you His body and blood for you as Gospel food on the altar. And your response, your thanksgiving, is to take to heart our Lord’s death by feeding off Christ’s body and drinking His blood. And our confession is to say, “I cannot live without receiving the Supper of our Lord’s body and blood.” So let the wolves come. Our Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, still stands among you, still feeds you, still cares for you, and still guides and guards you with His unsurpassed love. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Second Sunday of Easter 2017

Bible Text: John 20:19-31 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2017

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

Thomas doesn’t deserve all the accusations and mockery we throw at him. Well, maybe he does, but he is not alone in his doubt. All the disciples doubted. All were frightened. All thought that they were seeing a ghost. And all of them falsely believed that Jesus was not standing before them in a real, tangible resurrected body, but that He had discarded our flesh in favor of some unreal apparition. It is Thomas who draws them out, and in doing so, he lets us see what they at first did not see, and he helps us believe what they at first could not believe.

But notice how difficult it is for him—and for us—to believe. First, we must believe against what we think is reasonable, discard what we are sure is true, and suppress what we feel is good and right. Thomas had to do that because he was absent when Jesus first appeared to the apostles. And when he returned, the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas refused to believe what he heard. He preferred, instead, what made sense and what felt right.

And so, for the sake of Thomas—and also for your sake—the Lord comes again as He came before. The doors are barred shut. Yet Jesus stands in the midst and says to them, “Peace to you.” The resurrected Lord shows Thomas the nails wounds on His hands, and invites Thomas to touch the wound in His side. Don’t think that any of this was an accident. None of this happened by chance. Our Lord’s compassion exposed the doubt of Thomas so that we might believe. For when the doubting disciple touched the wounds in His Master’s body, Our Blessed Lord then cures the wounds of our unbelief and soothes the aches of our doubts and fears.

So the disciple’s unbelief was of more advantage to your faith than the faith of the other ten. For when Thomas is led back to faith by seeing and touching Jesus in the flesh, you too are made firm in your faith. You are taught to believe that our Lord truly does rise from the dead; He really can convert your dying body into a glorified, resurrected body by the same power that enabled Him to overwhelm death. You believe in and confess the resurrection not just of the soul or spirit, but also of the body—the same body you live in now. You believe in and confess “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” You bring your infants and children to Baptism with the confidence that, if they hold to the faith, the Holy Spirit will raise them in their bodies and give them and all believers in Christ eternal life. You come forward to the altar, where He gives you His holy Body and precious Blood, where He invites you to put away your doubts and fears, and instead to trust and rely and depend completely and absolutely on Him for all things and at all times.

“Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” That is what Our Lord says, not just to Thomas, but also to you. Do not fear what man can do to you. Do not let your heart be troubled. Christ has already overcome everything that frightens and troubles you. And in the waters of Holy Baptism, He has given you His victory. No longer will fear run your life. No longer can sin control you. Flee from your fears, resist your sinful urges, confess your sins, and be reconciled to God and man. For the same Jesus who showed Thomas His hands and side has gained for you the victory over sin and death, and He will raise you up in your body. “Faith shall cry as fails each sense: Jesus is my confidence!” ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

The Resurrection of Our Lord 2017

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

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

The earth shook. The angel rolled away the stone. The seal is broken. The tomb is empty. Death is defeated. The evil one is cast down. The holy angels rejoice. Christ is risen from the dead! He has died for our sins and rose again for our justification. The battle is done. God has won.

Why does not all the world rejoice at the defeat of death, at the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Are there men so cold as to stay in bed this morning?

The ladies went into the tomb. They found the empty grave clothes, a blood stained shroud, and an angel with a promise: “He is not here. He is risen.” He also told them, “Fear not.” But they were afraid. When Mary Magdalene came back, she failed to recognize the Lord. She thought He was a gardener. She wept as though Jesus was dead and His body desecrated. The same is true of those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Thomas in the upper room, those other ten who locked the doors: they were all afraid.

Jesus is risen. The tomb is empty. Some had seen Him; others had seen the empty shelf where His Body had been and heard an angel proclaim the Good News. But, still, they were afraid. What was it that those first witnesses of the Resurrection feared? Did they think that they would be held accountable for their Friday betrayals and cowardice, for denying Him or turning away? Did they know that it was their fault that Jesus suffered so and died? Were they afraid that He was coming for revenge?

You who live in fear: repent. There is no end of such things for which you should be afraid, according to the flesh. What if your spouse or your friends knew your secret thoughts and fantasies? What if your vain ambitions, your work failures, your lies, and all your sins were exposed? Repent…but do not be afraid. It was His heart and will to suffer, die, and rise again to free you from fear and death, from sin and Hell. He wanted to buy you back and set you free.

He rose not for vengeance but for mercy! He is the Alpha and the Omega. This is the way He has always been. Behold, I tell you a mystery. You were once dead. You were conceived in sin. You were born in death. You lived in fear and as an enemy of God. But by His grace, you were brought to life through the waters of Holy Baptism. God’s Holy Name and promise were placed upon you. You were joined to His resurrection. Now you are not dead. You are Baptized. You are filled with hope, awaiting the fulfillment of the promise and the return of Jesus Christ. And there is no stopping your heartfelt song of praise, even as His Body and His Blood are place within you, even as He declares you righteous from His grace.

The angelic prophecy made in the fields of Bethlehem has come true: “Peace on earth!” Peace has been won through the violence He endured on the cross. Peace is bestowed in His Body and Blood, by the power of His risen Word. You may depart this day in peace, for you are not God’s enemy. Your guilt has been covered. Your sins have been removed. There is no one to accuse you. Jesus loves and forgives you.

Jesus is the Firstfruits of them that sleep, the Firstborn out of death. He is the Resurrection and the Life, the Redeemer who buys back His wayward children with His blood. He is merciful, gracious, steadfast and loving. His humiliation is ended. Death is dead. Jesus is not. He lives. He is risen. And, as always, He bestows that hard won victory upon you without cost or price. He did it all for you. He gives it all to you. He applied that victory to you in the waters of Holy Baptism, and He feeds it to you in the Holy Supper. You have nothing to fear. He lives, and He loves you. Rejoice. Be at peace. Do not be afraid. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Fourth Sunday after Trinity 2016

Bible Text: Luke 6:36-42 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2016

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

The world is topsy-turvy. All that our Lord calls good and right in His Word, the world considers evil and judgmental. Everything our Lord calls evil and perverted, the world considers good and right. Abortion is legal. Homosexuality is celebrated. Living together outside of marriage is the norm. It almost seems as if the blind are really in the lead, doesn’t it? It is to the people living in these circumstances that our Lord delivers His message. “Be merciful.” “Judge not.” “Forgive.”

But wait. Aren’t Christians supposed to be concerned with the truth of the Word of God? Yes, of course you are. But your problem is that you think that others are the bad people and you are basically good. Sure, you might sin, but you cannot believe you might be evil. Evil people do evil things; you just mess up from time to time. After all, you are only human! If anyone is evil, it has to be that other person, not you. That sort of thinking is the very thing which is condemned in this text. You aren’t better than the next poor sinner. The things you judge and look down on others for doing are the very things you do. How can you point out our neighbor’s little splinter sins when you have a giant plank of your own?

Seeing the truth brings the hearts of sinners to anguish. Jesus says, “[The disciple] who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” Yet clearly you are not like your Teacher. Who here today does not sin? Who here has found and removed the plank from his own eye? Who here today is not “as His Master”? Examine your life in the lens of Holy Scripture, where you see how our Lord lives and interacts with the people around Him. Ask yourself, “Have I loved the Lord my God with all my heart? Have I loved my neighbor as myself?” And when you recognize that you have not done so, all that’s left for the sinner is judgment. The plank is lodged in your eye, and you cannot remove it.

But our Lord offers comfort even for those who cannot dislodge their own plank. At the Word of Christ, those who know they are not like their Teacher are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ. The same Word that spoke all things into existence also speaks your holiness and righteousness. You are made to be like your Teacher. You who know you don’t love your enemies; you who know it’s against your nature to forgive; you who know you have no desire to show mercy—you are loved by the God who your old Adam made into an enemy. You are forgiven by the God who paid the price with His own blood to wash away your sin. You are shown mercy by the God whose very nature is mercy.

Christ is speaking to you this morning, He is inviting, beckoning, calling, urging, desiring, drawing, requesting, nudging, to this very altar. He speaks His life-giving Word to you to forgive all your sins. He feeds you with His body and blood, fulfilling in you all righteousness, again bestowing every baptismal grace and goodness so that you may stand against the fleshly onslaught that says you are not our Lord’s child and disciple.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are good. Don’t come here and pretend as if you have some sort of special claim on God through your own merit. After all, God owes you nothing. But don’t be afraid to come. After all, everything God has for you is a free gift in His Son. Approach His altar with confidence, trusting that Christ is merciful even as His Father is merciful. He shows His mercy and grace to the ungrateful and evil—yes even to you and to me—so that, by His washing with water with the Word, by His Word of forgiveness, by His body and blood, you may be fully trained to be merciful, even as your Lord and Master is merciful. 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 Third Sunday after Trinity 2016

Bible Text: Luke 15:1-10 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2016

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

The scribes and Pharisees were appalled that Jesus would eat with sinners. And these weren’t just regular sinners; they were notorious sinners, sinners who had betrayed their own people. Imagine drug dealers. Imagine serial killers. Imagine traitors who sold state secrets to ISIS. And there’s Jesus, a respected rabbi, hanging out with them and eating with them. What an outrage!

Jesus could very well have given them reasons they could accept. He could have said that He was calling them to repentance, showing them a better way to live. But He didn’t. Instead He told them a parable in which He placed those notorious sinners on equal footing with the Pharisees. They are all His lambs. They are all His coins, all His sons. Even while they’re lost, while they’re off squandering the inheritance, while they hate Him, mock and ridicule Him, while they scourge and murder Him, they are His lambs, His coins, His sons. He loves them and He wants them back. All of them are precious and valuable to Him. All of them have been reconciled to the Father in His Sacrifice. He died for every single one of them. He loves them all. And now Hell has nothing more to demand, for there is not a single sin that has not already been covered.

This can be hard to accept. We would like some justice and maybe even some vengeance. We’d like the other sinners to pay for what they’ve done. We’d like the world to know their shame and sorrow, how bad and stupid and selfish they really are. We’d like them to feel some of the pain that they’ve caused. But like King David, who was outraged by Nathan’s parable but ignored his own sin in causing Uriah’s death, we too are guilty of the sins we despise. Let David’s repentance be your guide. Let the Psalms teach you the faith and teach you to sing: “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed. You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” The truth is, if you are no better than David, neither are you any less forgiven. Your hope is no less assured. God doesn’t love you any less.

The Lord of Life seeks out for sinners. He loves them. He wants to be with them, to eat and laugh with them, to love them. He did not come to berate them, scold, or educate them. He wants to serve them, encourage and support them. That is what makes the Pharisees and scribes mad. No one would be upset if He came to teach these bad people a lesson. But to simply forgive and love them? That seems too naive and foolish. Our Lord doesn’t care what shame it brings: He loves sinners. He searches for them, receives them, and eats with them. He lets them off the hook without cost or effort, without promise or condition. And if you are His friend, you will rejoice with Him over every sinner that He finds, restores, blesses, and prospers. You will rejoice to call them your brother or sister in Christ.

This is the heart and soul of our faith: Jesus receives and eats with sinners. It seems almost too good to be true. But it is not cheap grace. It cost our Father the Life of His Son. But still, despite your sin, Jesus seeks you. He searches for you. He wants you because He loves you. God be praised! Jesus receives and eats with sinners. And if that is the heart and soul of our faith, then surely the most significant place of His eating with sinners is where He gives them His Body and His Blood; where He enters into them and makes them His new Temple, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit; where He forgives sins and unites them to Himself in the foretaste of the banquet to come. What is offered this day is none other than the Lord’s Supper, and He gives it to you. You are found, and all the angels rejoice. 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 Second Sunday after Trinity 2016

Bible Text: Luke 14:15-24 | Preacher: Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr. | Series: 2016

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

When Jesus speaks in parables, He’s explaining how the Kingdom of God comes. And the Kingdom of God comes in Jesus Christ Himself. In Christ, the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is present, here right now, in the One the Father sent to be slaughtered in your place, cut to pieces on a cross and prepared for your salvation. It is clear that the Lord wants everybody in His Kingdom. He wants everyone at the Feast of His Son.

It is also clear that most won’t come. Sinners don’t feel the need for such a Feast. In fact, they find the Feast so worthless that they make excuses not to attend. Those who do come must be compelled, even dragged in the door. People will be saved in spite of themselves, simply because of the desire of the One who prepares the Meal. And what a Meal! As your own favorite meal is prepared by a chef with fancy knives, a state-of-the-art oven, and an open flame—or however it’s prepared—so the Father let His Son be offered up in love, and now He is served to you in Word and Sacraments for your forgiveness. All things are now ready. Nothing is lacking.

But the excuses are as plentiful as they are creative. “I’ve bought some land, and I have to go see it.” “I’ve bought oxen and I have to test them.” “I just got married.” The proud and arrogant think that they can prey upon the generosity and patience of God. My brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that keeps you from the Feast? What prevents you from crying out for the Supper? What sins entangle you too often and keep you from the Lord’s Table? Now, you might think that this sermon is being preached to the choir. But who hasn’t wanted the best of both worlds: the pleasures of the flesh, honor among men, luxuries, freedom, and constant amusement on the one hand, and the joys and peace of heaven on the other? Who here cries out for the Supper as often as possible? Who here is ready to lose job, family, reputation, and wealth for the Kingdom of God? We all promised that in our Confirmation vows. Did we really mean it? Do not think that you can enjoy forbidden fruit now and grasp heaven for cheap when it is more convenient.

Repent. Hear the warning. God says, “None of those who were invited shall taste of my Supper.” He will not be mocked. Now is the hour of salvation. Tomorrow may never come. No one buys a piece of land without seeing it first. No one buys a tractor without first testing it. God is not fooled by lip-service, by going through the motions. He is not appeased by excuses. Stop playing games with your soul, planning to sin now and repent later. Stop thinking that your sins are reasonable and bring no guilt. Stop thinking that you have some special relationship to God where He indulges your sins. Repent. Repent now. There is only one case of death-bed repentance in all of the Scriptures. While no man should despair and think it is too late, neither should any one presume. The invitation is not for tomorrow. It is for today. It is for right now. And it is for you.

All things are ready. Nothing is lacking. It is finished. God has made peace with man. He has given His Son to us. Jesus has given us life by His resurrection. And still He gives. He gives His body and blood for you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. He desires that you call upon Him and rest in Him. He wants you here. Whatever you’ve done, whatever evil things you’ve dreamed and thought, whatever lies you’ve told, whatever has held you back from the altar: bring all of it. Confess it. God has paid for all of it in His Son. Receive His holy Absolution and live. The land can wait. The oxen—your new tractor—will be there when you get home. Bring your new spouse with you. Come. All things are ready, and He is waiting for you. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom 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.