“The Choices We Make”

The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost (B)
“The Choices We Make”
October 14, 2018
Sermon Text: Mark 10:17-22

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our  Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

In a world where it is so easy to gloss over something… where we are trained to skim through and fast forward to what might be considered salient points… much can be missed… overlooked.

There is no greater example of this than in how people read Holy Scripture… if this is even taking place. For some, believe it or not, their only exposure to Scripture is what they hear read, briefly read, on Sunday mornings.

Lest anyone think otherwise, that is not being in the Word. That is not being connected to the Word… the living Word which God would have us carefully consider and take to heart for it is His divine message of love to each and every one of us where nothing is fluff or filler… nothing is of little or no importance. Rather it is all crucial… all critical to know and be reminded of.

Continue reading ““The Choices We Make””

“Trusting Instead of Testing”

“Trusting Instead of Testing”  Mark 10:2-16
The 20th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
October 7, 2018

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you for God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Testing Jesus. Testing the Lord God Almighty, He who is the Alpha and the Omega. Not a good idea on several fronts, wouldn’t you say?

And yet it happens… constantly. We know that it is far more prevalent than just what the Pharisees were doing in today’s Gospel text.

For sure… it is a quality, a characteristic of sinful man down throughout time to test God… to test His Word… to test His resolve… to test His holy will.

Continue reading ““Trusting Instead of Testing””

“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.

Continue reading ““Set Free for Love and Service””

“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.

Continue reading ““He Has Done All Things Well””

“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.

Continue reading ““From the Inside Out””

“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.

Continue reading ““Voiding the Sacred and Keeping the Silly””

“The High Price of Truth”

“The High Price of Truth”  Mark 6:14-29
The 8th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  7/8/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

They are the foundation of any solid relationship. And the closer the relationship, the more important, critical and essential they are. Be it in a marriage, in the life of a family, certainly in a church family, and any lasting friendship.

I am speaking about the elements of trust and truth. Over the past several weeks in our worship services and the sermons preached, we have been considering one’s trust in the Lord and now in the Gospel text before us, it is all about having and living in God’s Truth.

The fact of the matter is… as with so many other things in our life… the issue really is black and white… very clear cut. Not that you would know it by the world, our society and prevailing culture.

Simply put – there is truth and there are lies. The one, singular… truth… the other, plural… lies… and many of them. As there are countless shades of gray, so there are countless shades of lies… with none of them being true white. In one way or another, they are off color, tainted and tinted.

Continue reading ““The High Price of Truth””