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 May 20th, 2018

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

EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

OF THE HOLY TRINITY

502 Main Street, Irwin, PA  15642    724-863-7350

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             We live in a difficult world.  It is a difficult time for the church, for our communities, for our families, and even for our selves.  What It’s tough for many of us to make a living.  It's tough for many of us to meet the demands that others place upon us.  It's tough for many of us trying to raise children in a world that would use and abuse them.  The list of difficulties seems endless.  Some times you feel helpless and even hopeless. 

             To make matters even more difficult, it seems that just about everything we think and do is being challenged.  Nothing, including the church, is beyond the microscope of public inquiry.  Being questioned about why this and why not that is the reality of the world in which we live.  For those of us who have had or presently do have children, it's like the never ending "Why?" questions.  Talk television, talk radio, and investigative reporting feed the fires of our society's search for answers.  Sometimes it seems as if all the information we gather will consume us.

             This incessant challenging is due to the fact that our society is truly searching for some answers in order to be hopeful.  We need some reason for existing.  Dr. David Lose, former president of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia writes, “More and more people search for hope in general, but also fit a sense of meaning, of purpose, and of coherency.”  We are spiritual creatures who long to know our meaning and purpose. 

             Many have taken paths of false hope and destruction.  Some started using drugs.  Some went to cults.  Others began returning to off the wall kinds of religion.  The quest for the answer to the big question of "Is there any hope in this life?" is still on for many in our society.

             This morning, in a very unique way, we have the blessing of experiencing God's answer, as given through the church, to that big question of "Is there any hope in this life?"  In our readings from Scripture we learn that God is ultimately in control of all things.

             Our Scripture readings all point out that it is God who gives life.  The first lesson witnesses to the life transforming power of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.   Luke’s account of the miracle on Pentecost is about the transforming power of Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.  Every nation, every gender, every social class, every language, and societies long out of existence are mentioned in the giving of the Holy Spirit.  In an incredible manner the Spirit of God who is the Spirit of the risen Lord and the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the believers.  The band of followers who were afraid when Jesus was crucified is now speaking in strange languages witnessing to the resurrected Lord.  Cowards are transformed into courageous witnesses!  Peter who denied our Lord three times speaks to the crowd telling them how this outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy of the Holy Spirit being given to God’s people.  The day of Pentecost in Luke is all about an alternative and transcendent divine reality.  It is God’s reality, not the world’s!

             The miracle of Pentecost creates hope and purpose in our lives because as baptized Christians we share in this same Holy Spirit.   All too often we do not allow the power of the Spirit to be realized in our lives.  We live as though we have to go through life on our own and hopefully “make it” to heaven.  Pentecost is not about us making it to heaven.  Pentecost is about how God has given us the assurance of eternal life because of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin, death, and the devil.  The same Spirit that hovered over the earth at the beginning of creation is the Spirit we have been given by God.  The Lord gives power to His people.  Why we live more like victims than like victors is a sad commentary on our own lack of trust in God.  The power of the Holy Spirit is within us.  It is our decision on how much we are willing to let go and let God drive our lives.  The power of Pentecost gives us great hope and great purpose.

             In the second lesson, the apostle Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.   Believers are not left on their own in this world.  They have the very Spirit of Christ dwelling in them.   Believers are attached to Christ for all eternity.  Because we are attached to God, there is hope even though the world can challenge us greatly.

             Similarly our gospel also speaks of how the Lord sends us the Spirit as our Advocate to teach and empower us as followers of Jesus.  In Christ we are to be continuing our Lord’s mission of love and compassion to a truly needy world.  Just as Jesus healed the hurting, fed the hungry, and preached good news to the poor, so are we to do the same.  Christ’s mission is our mission.  The Holy Spirit will move, direct, and empower us as we bring good news in word and deed to a hurting, broken and often hopeless world.  When we are doing Christ’s mission the Spirit of our Lord’s resurrection will strengthen and give power to us.  We are not on our own.  The Lord is with us in the Holy Spirit.

             Putting our three lessons together it is the Holy Spirit who gives us hope and gives us a purpose on earth.  Through the church we are strengthened by Spirit presence in Word and Sacraments.  First baptism attaches us to the Lord.  Our selfish nature is defeated and a new creature is born.  We share in Christ’s Spirit of love and reconciliation.   Second, we have the sacrament of Holy Communion.  Every time we partake of Christ's body and blood we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  The bread and the wine together with God's Word are signs of the covenant God that made with us through Christ's cross and our baptisms.  Simultaneously, we are reminded of what our Lord did and what we are to do.  We are reminded of both the divine commitment to us and human obligation by us in this meal of the covenant.  The Lord's Supper is spiritual food for our spiritual pilgrimage.  In the Lord's Supper, Jesus himself is present to nourish us along life's path.  Because the Lord sustains us with his Holy Supper, we have hope.

             In hearing God’s Word in Scripture and proclamation we are reminded that Jesus loves us now and forever.  Pentecost is about God fulfilling His Word as prophesied by the prophet Joel. The rest of the Scriptures are about a loving Lord bringing about reconciliation to a rebellious world.   Our God is one who is trustworthy because He keeps His Word.  Because the Almighty is faithful we can take courage and have hope.  We are citizens of heaven who are journeying from this life to eternity.  The promises the Lord makes he keeps.  We are a people of blessed assurance and hope – no matter what!  Dr. Lose goes on to say that, “…we Christians are called to proclaim, ‘Do not be afraid.’…for we are those persons, accompanied by the one has died and has been raised again, will not be governed by fear and despair, but by faith, courage, mercy, and love – and a hope rooted in God’s activity to raise Jesus from the dead.”

             Truly, God's people are a hopeful people because we are Easter people.  The risen Lord is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  As long as the world chases after false gods, it will never have peace, and joy, and hope.  False gods do make things difficult for us.  But, we are the children of God.  We are to proclaim the good news of God's love in Christ to the ends of the earth by our words and deeds.  Our lives are filled with purpose and meaning in the present.  Our lives are also filled with the hope of the world to come.  The world asks, “Is there any hope in this life?”  As the children of God we can say resoundingly to all who ask of us, “Yes, receive Jesus Christ who is the hope of the entire world.”  

             Amen