“Set Free for Love and Service”

“Set Free for Love and Service” Mark 9:30-37
The 18th Sunday after Pentecost (B) 9/23/2018
Rev. Richard Bellas, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL


The great Leo Tolstoy novel Anna Karenina is really a story about two women whose lives go in opposite directions.  The first is Anna, a member of the wealthy Russian elite with all the advantages except for one thing – she is stuck in an unhappy marriage.  She begins an affair with Count Vronsky, an affair that is at first a secret, but becomes more and more obvious as time goes one.  Before long, she has been cast off by her husband and ostracized by society because of the scandal.  She is even kept away from her young son by her vengeful husband.  Left with no one and nothing except her lover, Anna runs off with him to Europe to follow her sinful heart and indulge her passions for him.  Turned in upon herself, living only for her own pleasures and passions, Anna becomes more and more miserable, becomes addicted to drugs, and eventually kills herself in a fit of hopelessness by throwing herself under a train.

And then there is Kitty, a young girl who begins the novel with a deep crush on this same Vronsky and is destroyed when he shows no interest in her.  Kitty is heartbroken to the point of becoming physically sick, almost to the point of death.  Her family cares for her and their doctor does the best he can for her, but eventually he admits that there is nothing that he can do for her.  There is nothing physical about her problem that he can treat.  Her soul is broken, and her body has followed.  He suggests that they take her to Europe to see what cures they may find there, because nothing in Russia can save her.

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“Be Strong and Let Your Heart Take Courage”

“Be Strong and Let Your Heart Take Courage”  Psalm 31:24
The 17th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/16/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

As I was preparing this sermon, our nation had just taken time to remember one of the greatest tragedies to take place on our soil, in our land… the events of 9-11.  And on the horizon… literally… was Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut.

One, man-made… the others, acts of nature. When you think about it though, it doesn’t really matter how they come about for both types spell disaster, damage and devastation, loss of life, injury, headaches and heartaches.

We know the pattern… the drill… all too well. Indeed, we look back on the past at what has been… the present and what is… the future and what will be, assuredly… and it could all lead to despair.

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“He Has Done All Things Well”

“He Has Done All Things Well”  Mark 7:37, Isaiah 35:4-7a
The 16th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/9/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

Of all the churches to have a “Rally Day.” A Lutheran Church? A Lutheran congregation? Missouri Synod no less! Really? The idea of Lutherans getting excited, enthusiastic, all pumped up and primed, can seem more than just a little far-fetched.

But here it is! Rally Day at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lockport, Illinois. So, what does it consist of? Our “rallying” that is? And why do we rally?

Well, let’s take the last question first. We rally, in part, because the world around us gets us down. It incessantly seeks to drag us down. It… this world… our society… and things happening in this very country… can leave us downright depressed… sad and forlorn.

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“From the Inside Out”

“From the Inside Out”   Mark 7:14-23
The 15th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/2/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

The first words out of our Lord’s mouth in today’s Gospel lesson are so simple and yet, so profound… truly profound. They sum up what is key for you and me and every person here on earth.

Jesus said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.” (Mark 7:14)

If you are looking for it any other way, through any other means, through any other person… understanding, that is… it is not going to happen. All you can expect is to be led further astray… to be further duped and deceived.

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“Voiding the Sacred and Keeping the Silly”

“Voiding the Sacred and Keeping the Silly”  Mark 7:1-13
The 14th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  8/26/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

I have seen it a number of times lately on Facebook, the same disturbing post of a so-called pastor dancing around with a poisonous snake in a pseudo-Christian ritualistic event, getting all worked up into a frenzy… as is the tradition… with all the other people present. It was quite the sight.

The snake bites the man in the ear. I know, quite a shock, right? And this preacher man keeps dancing, exclaiming that it’s alright, it’s all good, God will protect him from any ill effect. That is, until the guy starts staggering and collapses into the arms of some of his parishioners who went from being deliriously caught up in the ritual to being incredibly shocked, sober and worried. Silly people.

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“A Pastor’s Message”

“A Pastor’s Message”  Ephesians 5:6-21
The 13th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  8/19/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

It was the first thing chanted in our liturgy this morning as we heard in the Introit that, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”  (Psalm 111:10)

And then in the Gradual came the clear injunction to “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing!” (Psalm 34:9)

 Finally, in this morning’s reading from the Book of Proverbs, what did it say? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10)

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“Our Living Bread”

“Our Living Bread”  John 6:35-51
The 12th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  8/12/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

It has been said many times that one of the great benefits and blessings of the lectionary of our Lutheran Church, both the three year and the one-year series, is the continuity and connection between and among the readings of Holy Scripture. This is true regarding the readings on any given Sunday as well as the readings many times from Sunday to Sunday.

I say this because once again we see how today’s Gospel text comes on the heals of last Sunday’s and what Pastor Meyer preached about.  Namely, our Lord showing Himself to truly be the Messiah, the Savior of the Word… and this, in Word and deed.

Mighty in Word and deed, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and how news spread about this Jesus… how the people followed Him… pursued Him… but many, for the wrong reason.

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