Thursday, May 31, 2012

John 3:16

The Gospel for Wednesday of Whitsun Week includes the most popular of all Bible passages.  But it is also frequently misunderstood.  The sermon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Voice of the Shepherd

The Gospel for Tuesday in Whitsun Week (St. John 10:1-10) provides us with two ways for the sheep to be safeguarded against false shepherds.  The first is that their shepherd must go through the door.  That is, he must be properly and divinely called and ordained to preach.  The second is that his voice must be that of the Good Shepherd.  That is, he must preach the Gospel of Jesus and his mercy and forgiveness.  The sermon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Breath of Jesus (continued) and the Preaching of the Gospel

What began on Pentecost continues to the present day, and time, and place.  This preaching is the breath of Jesus, it is the sound of the Spirit that filled the house on Pentecost day.  It is the word of Christ who suffered and rose.  The sermon.

The Breath of Jesus

The Gospel for the Vigil of Pentecost is St. John 20:19-23, in which we learn that on Easter, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Ghost." Clearly, therefore, the Holy Spirit is none other than the breath of Jesus.  The Gospel of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection is proclaimed with his breath, now to all the world.  The sermon, with the Pentecost sequence and Gospel, is here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Angels Behold the Ascending Lord

The angels attending Christ call out, Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

The gate keeping angels reply, Who is this King of glory?

The first reply, The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

The second ask again, Who is this King of glory?

The first insist, The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

The Ascension, referenced in this 24th Psalm, is also referenced in Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 63 (the latter references provide support for the idea that this conversation in the 24th Psalm is of heavenly angels concerning the ascending Christ.

The sermon, from Tuesday in the Octave of the Ascension.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Exaudi, the Sunday after the Ascension

Jesus' ascension is customarily considered from the vantage point of earth, as we have recorded in the accounts in Acts 1, St. Luke 24, and St. Mark 16.

But there is also a heavenly vantage point from which this event may be considered, namely the perspective of the holy angels.  This is what is seen in the 24th Psalm, in which the angels are heard calling to one another.  The herald call, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in" is greeted with incredulity by the reply, "Who is this King of glory?" For what the second group of angels see is the approach of a man.  Hence the first replies, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle," and repeats the command, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."  But reply is repeated, as it is scarcely to be believed, even by angels: "Who is this King of glory?" And the herald insists, "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory."

Another perspective is that of the prophet Isaiah, who in his well-known vision is seeing this same event, namely Jesus' ascension: "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple"  (the angels present are clearly the very angels whose conversation is the substance of Psalm 24, above, recorded here as "Holy, holy, holy, etc.").

And in today's Gospel, Jesus declares that he will send the Spirit and these apostles, which is one and the same sending.  That is to say, through the same heavenly portal through which he ascends, the Spirit descends, and flows out through the mouths and preaching of the apostolic band.  The preaching of the Gospel is the result of the sending of the Spirit, something that is writ large on Pentecost Day.

But the channel between earth and heaven (which can also be called Jacob's ladder) remains open, and the people of God who receive the Gospel and mercy of God may confidently expect that they, too, shall ascend to the right hand of God.  For their flesh and blood is already there in the person of Jesus, as the hymn writer puts it: "Thou hast raised our human nature on the clouds to God's right hand.  There we sit in heav'nly places, there with Thee in glory stand.  Jesus reigns, adored by angels, man with God is on the throne.  Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension we by faith behold our own."

So let us with heart and mind thither ascend.  And we do this whenever we sing the Sanctus, which comes out of Isaiah's vision of the Ascension.  And when we then immediately receive the Body and Blood of Christ, these come down to us also, through the Spirit, from the right hand of God.  We become partakers of the divine nature.

The sermon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jesus' High Priestly Prayer

On Rogation Tuesday, we pondered part of Jesus' high priestly prayer (St. John 17:1-19) which the Evangelist seems to have imported from Ascension Day.  The sanctification of Jesus' disciples comes through the word of truth. The sermon.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rogate Sunday

To pray in Jesus' name is to pray in his stead.  And this is something which had not been done until he completed the work of salvation, and so completed the name of God: Jesus (God is salvation).  The sermon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Truth Shall Make You Free

In St. John 8:21-36, Jesus explains to the Jews that he always does what pleases his Father, something that no one else could truthfully say.  Yet he is the Truth, and here invites his hearers to know the truth, and it shall set them free from their sins.  For salvation is and can only be by grace and through faith in him.  The sermon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cantate Gospel and Epistle sermons

A second Cantate sermon on the Gospel, preached Tuesday morning, is here, and a sermon on the Epistle, preached at Tuesday vespers, is here.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


This Gospel, in which Jesus describes what the Spirit will do, is really all about what the preachers will preach.  That's why he says, "Ye cannot bear them now."  They will be bearing them, after the resurrection, to all the world.  The sermon.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Funeral sermon - Elva Garrison

Elva Garrison died Sunday night.  Her funeral was today.  Here was a lady whose constant faith was remarkable, and worthy of emulation.  In many ways she was like Martha, and like Mary; and her faith is the same faith into which we are all baptized.  The sermon.

St. Philip and St. James the Apostles' Day

These martyrs learned the lesson Jesus had to teach that day, that they should not look beyond him, for he who has seen him has seen the Father.  So they themselves were martyred, Philip by crucifixion, and James while crying out "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."  They found glory in the cross of Jesus, and in their own martyrdoms.  This recording contains the Gospel chanted, as well as the sermon.