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

December 10, 2017

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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             According to legend, a man was in prayer when Jesus appeared to him.   After a polite chat, the man asked the Lord if it was true that to God a million years was like a minute.   Jesus replied, “Yes, it was true that to the Father a million years was like a minute.”   Then the man asked Jesus if it was also true that to God a million dollars was like a penny.   After a short pause, the Lord replied, “Yes, it was true that to God a million dollars was like a penny.”    The man hesitated for a moment and then asked the Lord if the Father would give him a million dollars.   Jesus replied, “Yes, in just a minute.”

             The vast majority of humanity has the propensity for making requests of their deity.   Christian or pagan, we ask and even sometimes demand that God do this thing or that thing for us.    Some even go so far as putting the Almighty to the test by saying that if they don’t get what they want, then they won’t believe in God anymore.   So often our religious perspective is not, “What can we do for God, but what will God do for us.  

             John the Baptist did not share in this confusion of “Who was created to serve whom?”  It was John’s mission in this world to prepare the way for God’s chosen messiah of Israel.   Such preparation was meant to get the people ready in their hearts to receive the savior of their nation and indeed the world.   The people of Israel were called to shape up and fly right so they would be prepared for day of the Lord.    Truly, John made it clear that the Holy One of Israel was coming in majesty and might.  

The Baptist clearly was proclaimed a healthy fear of God for all those who would hear his message.   For John, God was not like a toothless tiger whose growl was worse than his bite.   God was the All Powerful Creator of the Cosmos who brought Israel out of the land of bondage with a mighty hand.   God was the one who punished Israel’s unfaithfulness by the Babylonian captivity.   God was the one who brought the nation of Israel back to the land of promise.   The God of John the Baptist was the one who had the power to create or destroy and to bring about life or death.  

John proclaimed a dynamic deity that made demands upon the people of God to be prepared for the Lord’s coming.   His was a Holy God who demanded a holy people.   The Baptist was not afraid to call things the way he saw them.   Because of his love for God and his love for God’s people, John did not sugarcoat the need for the people to turn from their sinful ways and begin to live righteously.   He was God’s advance man to prepare the way of the Lord!

The heart of John’s message of preparation was for the people to treat each other justly and with loving care.  There was to be no immoral behavior.  They weren’t to rip each other off.   Poor people were to be cared for by those who had enough.   These social ministry teachings really weren’t new to the people of Israel.   These prophetic utterances can be found throughout the Old Testament.   Even though John proclaimed nothing new, what he did proclaim was that the time of the Lord was on the horizon.   For him, now was the time to get ready by doing what God’s people always were supposed to be doing.  This meant, God’s people were to turn away from their self-centered way of living and start living for God and one another.   Should they not heed his warning, the consequences of their sinful actions could be catastrophic.

The preaching of John about the messiah being a righteous and just judge of the nations was accurate, but did not realize God’s forgiving love in our Lord’s death and resurrection.   In Jesus of Nazareth, we have learned that the love of God is greater than any human sin.   Our Lord’s death and resurrection judged sin, death, and Satan to be evil.   Even more so, Christ’s resurrection conquered those mortal enemies of humanity.   Our Lord’s victory has freed us from sin, freed us from eternal death, freed us from the evil one’s snares.   Even more importantly, it has freed us for eternal life and freed us to be the children of Almighty God in the here and now.   We have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others.

Putting it together on our side of Jesus’ cross, we now know the depth of God’s love for us as our creator, redeemer, and sustainer.  However, God is more than milk toast in the sky.  We would be irresponsible to neglect the truth that God is a holy and just God.   Our Christian freedoms were not given so that we might neglect living in the covenants of our baptisms.   We need to hear the message of John that points to the importance of living loving, caring, moral, forgiving, compassionate, kind and faithful lives.   We were created to love and serve God and neighbor, not our own creaturely appetites.   The words of John Baptist remind us to “Ask not what God can do for us.   Ask what you can do for God.”  In so doing we prepare ourselves and the world for his return.  In a way, like John, we are now the advance people for the loving kingdom of God.

Amen