The Keys of St. Peters

SERMON: Clinging to Christ, at every turn!

Text: Luke 18:1-8 & Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30
Proper 24, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:7

Jacob had every reason in the world to be encouraged. Twenty years earlier, Jacob had deceived his father, Isaac, so he could get the special blessing reserved for the firstborn. When Esau, Jacob’s older brother, heard what happened, he angrily began plotting his revenge. So, Jacob fled for his life to his mother’s family and her brother Laban’s house. During those turbulent twenty years, the Lord blessed Jacob. The kid who ran away with nothing but the skin on his back, was now returning to Canaan a rich man with a huge family.  Not only this, but before he left, and now upon his return, he was met by the angels of God. Those are pretty good reasons to feel encouraged! He’s got wealth, two wives, eleven sons, meetings with God’s holy angels, what’s not to be happy about? But Jacob isn’t happy! In fact, fear and discouragement are gnawing at him, and threaten to consume him! Read More

Sermon: Having Small Faith in a Great God

Text: Luke 17:1-10; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Proper 22, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Problem of Injustice

We have a saying, “justice is blind.” This expression means that justice is impartial and objective. You might be reminded of the statues of Lady Justice, wearing a blindfold so as not to treat friends differently from strangers, or rich people better than the poor ones. English essayist and poet Joseph Addison wrote, “Justice discards party, friendship, and kindred, and is therefore represented as blind.” It is true that justice is blind, but it is not deaf or mute. Justice hears the cries of the helpless, the victims, the oppressed and marginalised. 

But when we talk about justice and how supposedly impartial and objective it is supposed to be, we come face to face with the harsh reality of this world. We live in a world which cries out with Habakkuk, “How long, Lord, will you be deaf to my plea?” When we encounter wrongdoing, violence, strife, and discord erupting, justice being perverted or even denied to many, the poor and marginalised ignored and forgotten, we can ask along with the prophet, why God does not come to the rescue and why he lets us look upon such wickedness. Read More

Sermon: The Victory Has Been Won

Text: Luke 10:17-20; (ref. Rev. 12:7-12)
Gospel Lesson for the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


On Tuesday, June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the largest seaborne invasion of history. British, American and Canadian forces stormed ashore at Normandy, on the coast of France. The Nazis kept the Allied army contained for two months. When the breakout occurred in August, there was no holding the Allies back. From that point, Nazi Germany had only nine months more to live. Even though D-Day meant that the decisive battle had already been won, the war continued for those nine months until Victory Day when the weapons were still at last. But the D-Day victory meant that Nazi Germany’s defeat was just a matter of time. Read More

Sermon: Jesus Calls Sinners

Text: Matthew 9:9-13
Gospel Reading for St. Matthew’s Day

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:2)

At first blush the calling of Matthew might feel kind of sudden, don’t you think? The short story begs the question: Why Matthew? Why did Jesus approach and call this man seemingly out of the blue? Well, this calling isn’t quite as random as we might think at first. Think for a moment what life would have been like for Matthew, day after day and year after year. Matthew would sit in his hot little booth, likely set up on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, waiting for travellers to pay the toll as they passed from one province to another. It is not like Matthew hadn’t heard anything about Jesus. Matthew certainly would know more than most people about what was going on in town. Everyone in the nearby cities had at least heard about Jesus. But Matthew just sits at his booth. Apparently he’s uninterested in this Jesus fellow. But one afternoon this Jesus, who is mobbed by a crowd that is showing lots of interest in him, walks up to a random, uninterested fellow sitting at a toll-booth, and says, “Hey you! Follow me.” And this tax collectors leaves his booth and follows Jesus.  Read More

Sermon: Listen to The Lord and Live!

Text: Deut. 30:11-20 LXX
Old Testament for Proper 18, Series C.

Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon v. 3)

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one ever really listened to what he said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvellous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It wasn’t until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Startled by the comment, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.” 

The Consequences of not Listening

Like FDR, Moses was worried that the people of Israel were not really listening to him. Read More

September 2019 Newsletter

Where do you go to get your news? A Russian news outlet decided to run an experiment. They only reported good news to their readers for an entire day. The results of the experiment were severely disappointing.  The site brought positive news stories to the front of its pages and found any and all silver linings in negative stories (“No disruption on the roads despite snow,” for example). The result was a buffet of sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows—that absolutely no one wanted to read. The news site lost two-thirds of its normal readership that day, according to one of the editors. Good news doesn’t sell. Instead, what sells is controversy, scandal, crime, murder, and war. It is particularly striking then that Christianity’s big idea is about good news. 

St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16). The translated here as “Gospel” can also be translated “good news”. This word comes from the greek translation of the Old Testament. There, it concerned God’s promise to defeat of Israel’s national enemies and the return them from their exile to the promised land. In the Roman world of the first century, “gospel” or “good news” referred to the announcement of the new age of peace and salvation ushered in by a new emperor’s birth, accession to the throne, or victory in battle.

In a world obsessed with bad news, Christianity brings “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10). The Christian idea of the “gospel” or “good news” incorporates both the Old Testament and Roman ideas, and applies them to Christ. We proclaim the good news of the birth of a new king, the King of Kings. Jesus, the anointed Messiah and King of Israel will bring an era of peace and salvation. He offers peace with God. We are exiled out of paradise and the presence of God, and are now captive to sin, death, and decay. Christ our King has been victorious in battle upon the Cross of Calvary. He has defeated our enemies of Satan, Sin, and Death by his death on the Cross. He has ascended into heaven and sites enthroned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

This is good news, and with all news, it is information. You do not “do the news”. News is not something which you do. It is a report about what others have done. In this case, it is a report of what Christ has done for us, and how he now offers us peace and pardon with God, and everlasting life in new heavens and new earth, where death, pain, and crying will be no more. (Rev. 21:2-4). It is that good news which calls us to trust in the King who has liberated us and offered us such blessings. That is the good news which is proclaimed here at St. Peter’s, and which keeps us in the truth faith, to life everlasting. May the peace of the good news of Jesus Christ give you hope this fall!

Your Pastor,
Rev. Matthew Fenn

Sermon: Down is the New Up

Text: Luke 14:7-14
Gospel for Proper 17, Series C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7)

It’s a dinner party! One guest arrives early, looks over the seating arrangements, chooses a place at the head table, and ceremoniously seats himself. He loves it! All eyes are upon him at the front of the table. The sound of hushed voices fills the room. The attention makes him feel so good about himself. He imagines what admiring, respectful thoughts the others must be thinking about him. What a meal this is going to be! Everything is going to taste so good!

Is it his imagination? All of the guests are still starting at him. This is even better than he had hoped. Then he feels a presence hovering nearby. He look up. The host asks him to move so a more distinguished person can have this seat. Instantly, he feels hot. He cheeks are flushed with embarrassment. He gets up, head bowed, and quickly slinks to an obscure seat at the back of the room. Everyone’s eyes are still on him. There is no where he can hide. By seeking his own self-exultation, by trying to be recognised by others, he has demonstrated how little he really is. Read More

Sermon: Are You Going to be Saved?

Text: Luke 13:22-30
Gospel for Proper 16, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7)

Imagine for a moment that you have two airline tickets to some far off destination where you’ve always dreamed of going. You’ve arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Finally the plane begins to board. You’re checked in already, and you know that your seat is near the plane door; so you wait until almost everyone has got on. Maybe you take a moment and grab a coffee for the flight. 

As you approached the gate, to your horror the attendant shuts the door in your face. He apologises profusely, and says he hates this part of his job. The flight was overbooked, the plane was full already, and you’ve been bumped. “What about my confirmed seat,” you ask, showing him the ticket. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I know how you must feel. I am so sorry. We’re going to put you on the next flight in ten hours!’

Perhaps one of the most infuriating situations is the possibility of getting bumped from your flight due to the airline overbooking. A video went viral of a man being dragged down the aisle of a United Airlines plane after he refused to give up his seat. The idea that an airline can sell you a service and then not give it to you seems like it should be forbidden

Jesus’ warning in this passage sounds as though it’s every bit as unreasonable as the airline overbooking the flight. If you’ve got a confirmed seat, surely you ought to be allowed on board the plane. Our Gospel lesson may appear just as unfair. It seems unfair for the master of the house to let people in up to a certain point and then, when he’s shut the door in the faces of the next people, to protest that he never knew them. But a moment’s thought about what’s being taught in this passage will reveal that the warning is very much needed. Read More

Sermon: God’s Word Causes Division

Text: Jeremiah 23:16-30 &  Luke 12:49-56
Old Testament and Gospel Reading for Proper 15, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7)

Sometimes, people don’t want to listen. Consider the example of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Earlier this month, ELCA’s General Assembly took a surprising turn when a new policy about non-Christian religions was proposed. This new policy states that we cannot know for sure about what God thinks about other religions.  According to this policy, neither can we judge those who practice other religions. What do they mean? They’re claiming that other religions can be legitimate ways to God. Adherents of religions which deny Christ, don’t need the Gospel. As a large group of inter-religious guests stood on the stage, one Lutheran pastor opposed the new policy. This pastor came to the microphone and said yes, we can know exactly what God thinks of other religions. “We have a clear statement from Jesus, who is fully God and fully man” John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” Despite his protest, the motion passed by 97% because they simply didn’t want to listen what God’s Word had to say. Jeremiah the prophet also had a problem with people who didn’t want to listen to God’s Word. Read More

Sermon: Faith and Righteousness

Text: Genesis 15:1-6
Old Testament Reading for Proper 14, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Rom. 1:7)

You no longer have to go to church to hear about faith. We are constantly surrounded with talk of faith and belief. From Hollywood to pop-music; professional sports to political campaigns; the language of faith is everywhere. And in each context, it seems to take on a new meaning.  We are told to have faith in ourselves, have faith in our dreams, and sometimes, we’re told simply to just have faith. In our culture, “the faithful” is another way of referring to people who use faith to muscle up belief in something that lacks evidence – blind faith we might call it. Strangely, that’s also how many Christians understand faith. It’s equivalent to wishful thinking, or something inspirational and motivational. 

And then we come to today’s Old Testament reading. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” This is one of the most important verses in the entire Bible. It is quoted by St. Paul in Romans and Galatians as definitive proof of his teaching that we are declared righteous by faith alone. It is not a teaching made up in the New Testament. Justification by faith can be found here in Genesis, at the beginning of God’s dealings with mankind. This goes to the very heart of Christianity and the good news which we proclaim to a sin-sick world. So, it’s important that we take a moment and look at Abraham and see what is meant by faith, and why that faith is counted as righteousness. Read More