Judica 2019

“The lie is the death of man, his temporal and his eternal death.” Thus wrote Hermann Sasse in 1933. Sasse was among the greatest theologians of the 20th century, and vigorously opposed the Nazis, a dangerous position for a German pastor to take. But Sasse saw the lies of the National Socialists as part of a larger lie – a single great demonic lie that holds the world captive.

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Catechetical Sermon on the Second Article of the Creed

In the hour of darkness—when your career is collapsing; when your marriage is on the ropes; when you come face to face with the ugliness of your sin; when the stench of death cannot be sanitized by the wretched sterility of hospital antiseptic—when in the hour of darkness you despair, you don’t need a concept or a philosophy. A platitude won’t help. An ethic is worst of all, for the accuser gleefully reminds us that we have failed.

The supposed comfort of a nebulous better place I find revolting. Who are you to say there is a better place, and that my loved one is in it, or that I will go there? How do you know?

Leave me alone, incompetent comforter! I need a Lord, a real redeemer who is actually mine, who is coming for me!

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Oculi 2019

Renowned theologian Michael Scott once said, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitous.” In the battle against modern philosophy, Christianity is seen as—and sometimes is—in a battle with the modern world itself. Modernity sees Christianity as mired in antiquated superstition. So the preacher has a problem on his hands with all this talk of the devil in today’s gospel, and the last two weeks. You can talk about a man “battling his demons” if he is, say, an alcoholic. And we understand those demons to be metaphorical. An occasional mention of the devil you can get away with, because many people are like Michael Scott: not superstitious, but still a little stitious.

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Do you believe in monsters?

Do you believe in monsters?

Our word monster comes from the Latin monere, which means “to show” or “warn.” I’ve never seen for sure, but I suspect that monster stories arose to warn people about dangers in general. The monster put a scary, if imaginary, face on the general danger that is outside the safety of home and village.

So our history is filled with monster stories: Leviathan, the sea monster; Cyclops; Beowulf’s Grendel; up to more modern monsters like Tolkien’s Smaug.

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Annunciation 2019

What happened in Mary’s womb was not a miracle to grab the world’s attention, like some juggler or illusionist. The world-altering event takes place in secret. It happens through God’s Word to one woman, without an audience.

But it is world-altering in the same category as when God first said, “Let there be light.” To God’s fallen creation God Himself enters.

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Invocabit (Lent I) 2019

What we see in the account of Jesus’ temptation is the One Man who does not succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He is the One Man who does the will of the Father. And He does it under the harshest conditions. Jesus redoes, relives, recapitulates the whole history of Israel, and passes every test they failed.

And this means that He has endured every suffering that you know, and has resisted and overcome every temptation you experience. How does He overcome temptation? By means of the Word. Jesus is confident that the Father will be faithful to Him, that He will not go back on His Word, that He will not break His promise.

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Ash Wednesday 2019

The day will come when you will experience the wrath of God; this is shown us in death, and in other disasters that visit us. The holy prophet Habakkuk teaches us to pray to God like this: “In wrath remember mercy” [3:2]. This is our prayer in the day of trouble. But from the New Testament we have something even better; in the hour of trouble we can pray the prayer of the dying thief: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” The Lord’s remembrance brought him, and will bring you, even to paradise.

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Quinquagesima 2019

Have you measured everything by what pleases you? Too easily you are provoked. Has your mind been filled with anger, revenge, and thoughts of how you’ve been wronged? Is it love that fills your thoughts and fantasies – or is it lust? Have you rejoiced in iniquity, taken pleasure and delight in things you know are displeasing to God? Then you have not love.

Love bears all things, endures all things, but you have said, “Enough! I will bear no more! Love has a limit.” We want our sins forgiven, but keep a record of how we’ve been sinned against.

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Second Sunday after the Epiphany 2019

It is no mistake that our Lord chooses to perform His first miracle at a wedding. But it is not simply a miracle, a magic show, a spectacular event to wow the crowd or to help His mother save face. St. John calls it a sign, the beginning of signs. A sign does not exist for itself. A sign signifies, points to something greater.

This sign of transforming water into wine is done in the context of Jesus talking about His hour. Throughout John’s Gospel Jesus says repeatedly, “My hour is not yet come.” Then finally, just before Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, the night before His crucifixion, St. John tells us that that great event, the Passion of Jesus, is His hour: “Now before the Feast of the Passover,” John says in ch. 13, “when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

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March for Life sermon 2019

Everything that lives has life from God. St. Paul told the pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

That doctrine undergirds our confession at the nation’s high court today. All human beings are created equal – because all human beings are created. The limbs that God has joined together, let no abortion tear asunder. That baby is living, no matter how small. To be pro-life is also then to embrace that life. Thus we also confess, “That baby, no matter his color, no matter what drugs or alcohol have done to his brain, that baby is loved by God and so by the people of God. He is welcome in our churches, and in our homes. And the teenager who is pregnant, and scared: she is welcome in our churches, and in our homes.”

We are not here to protest. We are here to confess. And we leave here ready to live in, with, and under that confession.

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