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 October 14th, 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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             When I was working on my Doctor of Ministry on stewardship and ecology, I had the privilege of hearing Dick Waybright, one of the Adams County Commissioners, discuss his perspective on farming, ecology and technology.  His insights and perspectives on life made a mark in my mind!  Dick  owns Mason-Dixon Dairy, which is a huge self-sustaining and ecologically friendly operation.  He happens to be a member at Saint James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg.  The Mason-Dixon operation is so biologically sound that it sells electricity to Adams Electric Company from a methane generator fueled by cattle waste.  The entire operation is computerized so that every cow receives exactly the right amount of food.  

Although Dick Waybright was instrumental in this technological and ecological project, I was most impressed with his deep thought and philosophy about God, life and humanity's relationship to the environment.  During the fieldtrip through his operations, he took a couple of polite jabs at those at the "angel factory" which is what the local people call the seminary.  With his hundreds of acres of farmland and hundreds of head of cattle, we would be right in calling him a rich man.  He is obviously very successful according to the world's standards.

Truly, it was not Waybright’s wealth that impressed me.  In the middle of his address, he said that one question he asks himself time and time again is, "Why am I here?"  This question and not the quest for wealth is his motivation for doing what he does.  Striving to obtain more and more is not his mission in life.  Because Waybright does strive to be in harmony with nature and technology, he does succeed.  Although I did not have time to discuss with him his religious perspectives in detail, I understand that it is his desire to do what's best for his workers, the environment and his animals is directly linked to his relationship with God.  I am glad to say the Dick Waybright is also a very active and generous Lutheran layman!   We could say his life is a prime example of generous living, which is our synod’s stewardship them for this year.

             Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the man in our gospel lesson for today.  The rich young man came to Jesus wanting to know what he could do to inherit eternal life.  Deep within his soul, the man coming to our Lord realized that there is more to life than what meets the eye.  The man was asking the same basic question as Dick Waybright of "Why am I here?" or "What is this life all about?"  However you want to phrase the question, it is the basic question of the purpose and the meaning of human life. 

             After the Lord found out the man had kept the commandments he said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."  The answer our Lord gave to the man shocked the man and grieved him because he had many possessions.   The young man put his wealth above his relationship with God.   In Biblical terms, this is the sin of idolatry.   The young man was not possessed with a love of God and humanity.  He was possessed by his possessions!

             If we take seriously what the Lord told the man and apply it to our own lives, all of us should be deeply concerned.  Think for a moment and reflect.  How many of us have a healthy understanding of stewardship and have some understanding of "Why we are here?"  To begin with, God's Law reminds us that we are a part of God's creation.  We own nothing.  We do not even own our own lives.  All that we have is a trust from God!  God's Law points out clearly that it is sin to believe that we own anything at all.  God's Law also points out that it was human kind that spoiled paradise and that we are in need of a savior.  For absolutely everything, we owe God and not visa versa.

             The Good News is that because of Jesus and his life giving sacrifice on the cross, we have been given a new relationship with God and one another.  In holy baptism we are made God’s children.  By grace through faith we are spiritually all brothers and sisters.  Even our parents and grandparents are our brothers and sisters.  Everyone called to gather around the table of our Lord is spiritually related to each other.  Let's not forget this spiritual truth and live accordingly as stewards of God's gospel of love and reconciliation. 

             Relationships are just one part of our new understanding of stewardship.  Another point is that as the Law pointed out, we owe everything to God.  However, we can rejoice because we now know that we are the children of God.  Instead of the trust being a burden, it can be seen as an opportunity to continue the mission Jesus started with his incarnation.  We have been given all that we have in order to be servants of the Gospel.  Our time, talent, and treasures are not to be used only for our own personal pleasures, but for the common good.  We are part of God's team to bring love, peace and reconciliation to the world. 

             Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote the best seller, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, wrote another book entitled “When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough”.  There he writes:

             Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power.  Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve.  Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be a least a little bit different for our having passed through it."

            

             Truly, the Rabbi is right on.  Those who seek fame, comfort, wealth or power are hollow people on the inside.  They will never feed their hunger from the outside.  They will crave fulfillment, but will have ceaseless emptiness.  What fills our inner void comes to us from the Lord alone.  Truly, it's when we live as best we are able in harmony with God, one another and the world that we experience true peace and have real meaning in this world.  In Christ, that is a possibility for all of us.

             It truly is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God because it is easier to trust in riches than to trust in God.  But, with Christ, it is possible.  And one more footnote.  The Lord points out to Peter that, "There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age - houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecution - and in the age to come eternal life."  This saying appears to mean that even when times are tough we should not fear giving of our time, of our talent and of our treasure to the Lord. For in doing so, we will be blessed beyond comprehension. 

             The key to understanding "why we are here" is when we put our trust in the Lord.  Trust, faith and belief are all one word in the Greek.  We know all belongs to God.  Even our very lives belong to the Lord.  Faith is a gift.  It is freely given.  Faith gives to us an understanding that the most basic human questions of why do we exist and for what purpose we are here.  We are to live as God’s children in a broken and hurting world.  We are to be ambassadors of reconciliation.  Ultimately our response of trusting in God will show us what it means to live a generous life in Christ.   Ultimately we need to ask of ourselves, “Are we possessed by God or by our possessions?” 

             Amen.