The preaching of Godís Word, administering of Godís Sacraments, and serving others in Jesusí 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.  ďWe believe the church to be the hospital for sinnersĒ...Luther. ďWe also believe that evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find breadĒ...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

Sermon for December 9th, 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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Once upon a time a group of tiny frogs arranged a hopping and climbing competition.† The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.† A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.† The race began.† Honestly, no one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower.† In the stands, one could hear statements such as, ďOh, WAY too difficult!!" "They will NEVER make it to the top." Or, "Thereís not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"†

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one... Except for those who in a fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher... The crowd continued to yell "It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!" More tiny frogs got tired and gave up... But ONE continued higher and higher and higher... This one wouldn't give up!† At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. That is except for the one tiny frog, who after a big effort was the only one who reached the top!† Then all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?† A contestant asked the winner how he found the strength to reach the goal.† It turned out... That the winner was DEAF!!!!† He could not hear all the cries that he could not make it.†† Therefore, the negative sounds of the multitude did not affect him.† With a deaf ear to pessimism and negativity, the tiny frog he did what he believed he could do.††

In our gospel lesson, John the Baptist turned a deaf ear to the cries of those around him who did not believe that he was the one to prepare the way of the Lord.†† Following the voice of his inner calling from God, he proclaimed the coming of the messiah.†† With clarity and precision confronted those who needed to change their sinful ways.†† From the highest to the lowest Israelite, John said repent and prepare the way of the Lord.†† As we will hear throughout the next several weeks, Johnís focus and passion cost him greatly.†† However, he turned a deaf ear to the world and listened to the one who sent him.† He accomplished his God given goal.†† By Godís grace, he made it to the top.

To this day, the world continues to cry to Christians that following Christ is too hard or itís too difficult.† The world says we cannot make it to the top.† We are actually encouraged to join with the world and do those things in our personal lives that are contrary to the will of God.†† In short, the voices of this world call to us to do our own thing.†† We are to be number one on our priority list.†††

We can agree with the world that if it was by our own will or power, then we would not make it to heaven.† It would be too great a task.†† On our own, we all would fall short of the glory of God.† On our own, eternal life would not be attainable for anyone.† Like the tower that was too difficult for the majority of tiny frogs to climb, our ascent to heaven would be mission impossible.† Our destiny would be a disaster.

However, the grace of God allows us to turn a deaf ear to the world and listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit whose job is to remind us that it is Jesus who paved the way to eternity for us.†† As we learned in Lutherís Small Catechism, it is not by our own will, power, or understanding that we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.†† It is the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and preserves us in true faith in Jesus Christ.†† We understand that the Holy Spirit works through the church by way of Word and Sacrament to make us the children of God.†† We are made right with God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.†† It is a gift freely given and to be freely shared with all who will receive it.† Faith clings to Godís promise and makes deaf our ears to the worldís negativity.

As the children of God, our task is to proclaim to the world that the Lordís victory has already been won!† Jesus has come and he will return in all his glory.† Most frequently, it is a difficult task to persuade the world that it is time to surrender to the one whose love has conquered sin, death, and the devil.†† The world wants us to surrender to sin, death, and the evil one.†† We know those enemies have been conquered.† Proclaiming Christís victory is our task until the Lord returns.†† As born again from above by the Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism Christians, declaring this Gospel or good news of Jesus Christ by word and deed is our mission.† It is a wonderful and awesome calling for us.††

As a sign of Christís victory, we are called to live our lives in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians.†† Selfishness, conceit, anger, lawlessness, lewdness, gossiping, immorality and such are to be put away.† Such behavior is not befitting a child of God.† We have a higher calling and a higher standard.†† We can climb the path to eternal life because of the one who dwells in us Ė The Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.†† Victory is ours in the Lord.††

Certainly we will have challenges.†† There will be times that we fail to meet our higher calling.†† Certainly we will have areas in our lives that need to be bathed and cleaned in the waters of Holy Baptism.† On this side of eternity we will never be perfectly pure and righteous.†† However, we dare not forget that we have the Holy Spirit who renews and restores us as we journey the path to eternity.† In the Spirit, we remember that Holy Baptism is a process and we are on the right path.† In Christ we will have the ability to make it to the end of the race.†† This we can believe and trust because our Lord Jesus Christ has made it so.†† Like the tiny frog who could not hear all the cries that he could not make it, we need to turn deaf ears to the seductive negativity of the world.† We can listen to the affirming, forgiving, and loving call of God through Jesus Christ.† By Godís grace and with a deaf tear to pessimism and negativity, we will make it.†† John the Baptist reminds us that now is the time to keep on climbing.††

Amen.††