The preaching of God’s Word, administering of God’s Sacraments, and serving others in Jesus’ name are marks of the church and the foundation of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.  We are a congregation of traditional values that seeks to reach out into the world so others might know the love of our risen savior, Jesus the Christ.  “We believe the church to be the hospital for sinners”...Luther. “We also believe that evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”...Luther.  If you are looking for a church home or just visiting, you are welcomed!   God bless you.  

Pastor Suehr

Sermon by Rev. Dr. Clifton Suehr

For Reformation Sunday - October 28th, 2018

Text Box: Come and Worship...Go and Serve



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             One of my favorite commercials of all time was "Johnny" of the Bud Lite commercials.  He was always trying to con others for a bottle of Bud Lite.  One day he was sitting down by his father on a fishing pier and said, "Dad, you're my dad and I ... I love you man."  His dad replied, "Johnny, you can't have my Bud Lite."   Johnny tried this same obvious stunt on his brother, girl friends, Charlton Heston, the love doctor - Barry White and many, many more people.  One thing was for sure, Johnny was focused on what he wanted.  He tried to trick any taker with an "I love you man," for a Bud Lite.

             Maybe it is the cuteness and shallowness of Johnny's transparent con that brings a chuckle from most of us.  He's just so bad and so obvious.  Although most of us truly are more sophisticated in manipulating others to get what we want from them, most of us have used the "I love you man." to get what we want.  It's human nature to try and butter up others to gain something from them.  Who hasn't said to the boss or even to a teacher how nice they looked in a certain outfit when maybe the complimenting one didn't even like it?  Flattery has been known to open many doors.  Certainly, not all compliments are insincere.  But many compliments are meant to get brownie points.  

This tendency to butter up can be seen even in our relationship to God.  For example, several months ago in the comic strip "Doonesbury", Mark, the radio broadcaster, employs Elmont, a street person, to do a radio program with him.  The setting of the scene is in the broadcast booth. 

Mark says to Elmont: "See Elmont, with your under class credentials, you'll bring our listeners a unique perspective on the ruling class... so not only will you be making a little money, you'll be doing a little good.

Elmont replies: "Doing a little good!"  Elmont looks to the sky and says, "Hey Lord!  Did you hear that?  I'm getting my ticket punched for the Glory Train!!

Elmont's girl friend says to Mark: Elmont's been worried about his mortality lately.

Elmont (still looking at the sky):  "I love you, man!"

             Maybe we could say that Elmont's understanding of God is Gospel Lite!  Like many people, he is under the misunderstanding that doing a few good deeds will punch their ticket for the Glory Train.  Such a view of grace and salvation is shallow and misses the mark.  To God, we are all transparent.  The Lord reads our hearts like we read a newspaper.  We cannot play games with God.  The Almighty has all the trump cards in his hands.  We cannot con our way into the pearly gates.  A manipulative "I love you, man" is not what Christian life is all about.

             You may ask yourself, how am I like Elmont or Bud Lite Johnny in my Christian life?  The answer is to that is, "How many times do we try to make little deals with God to get our own wishes?"  Have you ever taken an exam in your life and said to God that you would go to church if you did well?  I confess that I have done that.  How about, "I will do this or that for God, if only God will heal me or my friend or get me a new car...?  You can fill in the blanks.  We make many promises to God that we don't keep.  Do we live out our baptisms in our daily lives?  Do we act as if we have affirmed our faith in confirmation?  Are we good stewards of the bounty God has given us?  Do we forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven?  The truth is all of us fail miserably at keeping the promises we make to God.  No wonder we try to count every little good deed as notch to our credit on our Glory train ticket.  We hope that Gospel Lite will see us through.

             The bottom line is that fulfilling some kind of laws or rules is much more to our liking than to live in trust, faith and belief.  Baptism placed us in a new relationship of faith.  It’s not what we did, but what Christ has done.  This is the essence of the Lutheran Reformation.  It is about God and not about us. 

             As Christians, we have something far better than Gospel Lite to depend upon.  When Jesus spread his arms on that cross on Calvary, he said, "I love you, man” to the whole world.  This was no con job.  He bore the whole weight of our sins that we might have new life and hope in the world to come.  Because of Jesus Christ, we have been born again as the children of God.  We should note that  being “Born Again,””Born Anew,” and “Born From Above” all mean the same in the Greek!  It might shock you to know that Lutherans are Born Again Anew from Above!  We are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Heaven is our inheritance.  There was nothing cheap or Lite about this gift of grace.  The cross of Jesus Christ is the most profound symbol of the deepest love we can know.  In Jesus, we know the character of God is love for all of his creation. 

             Our new relationship with God through Holy Baptism is one that assures us that our sins are forgiven.  We are assured that God is with us every hour of every day of our lives.  We are assured that no matter what cards this world deals to us, our eternal home is in heaven.  All this is by God's free gift of grace in Jesus Christ.  We know the truth and the truth will set us free.  Jesus is the real thing and not Gospel Lite! 

             The only thing we can do is stop resisting the power of the gospel in our lives.  When the power of the Lord is in our lives, we are free to be the people God meant us to be.  We are freed from sin, death and the evil one.  We are also freed for service to God and others.  Many of you here today have heeded God's call and it is apparent the Lord is at work in your lives.  We know sacrifices have been made of time and talent as well as treasure.  Feel good about doing good.  Your ticket on the Glory train is paid in full by Jesus Christ.  Now support the work of the Lord in any way that you can.  In truth, when we serve the Lord through serving others, our faith becomes real. 

             God has been so good to us.  The lost have been found.  The dirty have been made clean.  The oppressed have been freed.  Jesus says, "I love you, man" to each of us.  What he did on the cross blares his love into the world.  The good news of Jesus comes to us not as gospel Lite, but by the profound love he proved on the cross.  May the truth of Jesus Christ make you even freer to be the child of God than you already are.