Posts Tagged ‘New Years Eve’

The New Heaven and the New Earth-The Great Now/Not Yet Syndrome

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2013

Click here for audio of this message

This evening’s message come by way of Bible study.  Our text is Revelation 21:1-8, which is given below.  Please click the audio link above to hear this brief study.

May God bless your new year in this year of our Lord 2014!

Revelation 21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Walk About Zion

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2012
Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego

Click here for audio of this message

Have you heard the one about an older couple named Marvin and Gladys?  Marvin is on his death bed and he is recalling his life with  Gladys.  “Oh Gladys, you have been a faithful wife.   When I lost my job, you were there; when I lost all my money in the stock market  you were there; when I wrecked the car you were there; when I fell off the roof dear, you were there!  And now here you are with me  again on my death bed.  Gladys, you know what, I just thought of something, you’re bad luck!”  Dear friends, Trinity Lutheran Church  had never been bad luck.  Oh you’ve had good times and bad times but our church has always been a blessing, because God is always  working through His church.  This specific place, Trinity Lutheran Church has been a precious gift to me and to so many others.  That is  why I have selected our text tonight especially from the Psalms, specifically Psalm 48:12-14.

Before we look at our text, let me remind you that the word Zion actually means the city of God, the Temple of God, but most  importantly for us today, Zion represents the church of Jesus Christ.  Let’s read it together: “Walkabout Zion, go around her, number  her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever  and ever. He will guide us forever.” [Psalm 48:12]

This evening, I want to speak to you about three things: #1 the lasting legacy of Trinity.  #2 the Living mission of Trinity.  And #3, the Loving Savior of Trinity.  Let’s take these on one at a time.

Lasting legacy of Trinity. “Walkabout Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels”. [vs. 12,13a] You know I have visited many places in my life and had many experiences, but I have never been to a place quiet like Trinity.  Don’t you feel the same way?  I’ll bet those of you who are old time members of Trinity feel the same way don’t you.  No matter where you go, don’t you find your heart and mind going home to Trinity? This church, has had a profound influence on so many lives.  For almost 12 decades now, how many people who have left this church for whatever reason have found their hearts and minds coming back to Trinity?  How many people who have moved out of state, have come back to visit this church from time to time and just walked around the property remembering good days?  Recalling cherished memories?  I have encountered a quite a few of these visitors here in the last 5 years, people who are not visitors at all but sons and daughters of this old church and school.  So, “Walkabout Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels”.

You know, I’ve done that many times…just walked about the campus here at Trinity; I opened doors and just soaked in the memories that have been created all throughout this wonderful old church.  As some of you know, when I first came here five years ago, my office was all the way in the back in the old school principles office.  Now, I didn’t choose to be back there because I was a hermit at heart, no it was so I could be confronted everyday with the memories of what this place use to be!  In my mind’s eye, I could see new play equipment and clean painted classrooms.  I could smell Delores’s school lunch cooking ready to be served, but more than that, I could hear the excited voices of hundreds of children playing and enjoying themselves, and that gave me hope for this old church, because I knew that what once was the legacy should and could be again.  I knew that just as there once was hundreds of children who had  their hearts changed and loved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was spoken, taught, and explained here, there could be the same experience again.

And it isn’t just here that those memories cry out to us, but they also are there at the old Messiah and Samoan church campuses. I have visited both campuses, and I could hear in my mind’s ear the wonderful spirituals and Polynesian harmonies being sung with so much feeling.  I can tap my foot to the exuberant music being led so powerfully by both very large choirs.  I can see the faces of each person worshiping God in song, with hands, and voices!  I can smell the many community fish fries and pot lucks that drew so many visitors.  Yes those old churches have many memories too.  So I ask to take a moment and just listen to the memories.  Let them speak to your heart.

Did you know that for some maybe here tonight, those memories may seem more like ghosts!  The ghost of better days past!  Is that what we want our Trinity to be, a haunting memory?  Is it alright for Trinity to become a well kept mausoleum that stands to testify of its glory days in the past?  Those who grew up in this church and are separated by great distances and various life circumstances would not agree with this.  They will tell you that in their minds and memories, in their hearts and in their hopes, in their in their prayers and praises, they will always come back to this grand old church.  Dear friends, our text this evening speaks of whether we have the right to let cherished memories turn into ghosts; it speaks a resounding NO!

Let me prove this.  Listen to the Holy Spirit speak, “go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation”. [v.13] Do you hear it?  Do you hear the living message and mission of the church of Jesus Christ; the mission of Trinity Lutheran Church.  The mission is to tell the present and future generations of this dying, sin sick, fallen planet that needs a Savior so much, that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into Hell, but on the third day he rose again, He ascended into Heaven and He’s seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”  This is the mission, the living mission of Trinity Lutheran Church.

You know, I know I have told this story about my old church, St. James many times, and if for some it is excessive repetition, I apologize in advance, but I feel compelled to share this one again.

Almost 20 years ago, it was there at St. James that God finally broke my hard heart and opened my eyes so that I could see things the way He sees them.  He did this on one specific evening when I was going through a terrible personal time in my life.  I felt alone and as if my life lacked meaning. I went to that old church to pray.  The doors were locked, so I went to the patio area, where I knew a statue of Christ was located.  As I prayed, and tears of pain streamed down my face, I noticed for the first time that the statue of Jesus had no hands on it.  At first this appalled me!  What dirt bag would be so evil as to break off the hands of Christ?  But then, my eyes were drawn to a plaque on the base of the statue, and it read: “Now we are the hands of Christ!”  That one statement and the missing hands changed my life forever.  Suddenly my tears of sorrow and anguish turned to tears of overwhelming joy!  Why?  Because it was at that moment that I finally found true meaning, I had a mission and a purpose, I was to be the hands of Christ!

Now that brings to mind a poem I learned several years ago, it goes like this… “Christ has no hands but our hands to do his work today.  He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way.  He has no arms but our arms to bring men to His side.  He has no lips but our lips to tell men how Christ died.”

You dear friends, who are gathered here at Trinity are Christ’s hands.  You are His feet.  You are his arms.  You are His lips in this day, for this generation, and all around you are people who need to know Jesus Christ and need to hear from you how He loves them!  Now, I know your lives are so busy with things that must get done, I am right there with you, but please hear me, the most important work you could ever do in your time here on earth is to participate in the work of the church of Jesus Christ, because the work of the church is eternal.  It is the work of building bridges for broken people back to God through faith in Christ, where they may stay in peace with their Savior forever; and that kind of work is worthy of your total and full investment of your time, talents, money, prayers and your heart.

Dear friends, please hear me…I know the church isn’t perfect, even this one.  It can sometimes have some serious problems.  In fact there’s more than a little truth in the next two sayings I’d like to share with you. 1. To live above with saints we love, that will be joy and glory; to live below with saints we know, now that’s a different story.  2. If you should find the perfect church without one spot or smear, for goodness sake don’t join that church, you’ll spoil the atmosphere.

Friends it’s no secret that our church is far from perfect, but if you choose to hold back from a whole hearted investment of your life in the living mission of Trinity Lutheran Church, your robbing two people; you’re robbing yourself, and you are robbing all those people in this community who need to know Christ and become part of the lasting legacy of this church, which is “That you may tell the next generation of God’s grace.”

Now dear friends, please let’s spend just a few minutes talking about our loving Savior of Trinity.  “For this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever (even until the end).” Now you know yourself and I know myself…we’ve got problems don’t we?!  There are times when we don’t feel worthy of being part of the lasting legacy of Trinity.  There are times where we don’t feel able to fulfill the living mission of dear old church.  Dear friends that is precisely the point of God’s invitation to you.  YOU ARE NOT WORTHY AND YOU ARE NOT ABLE!

That’s the very essence of God’s grace.  He calls those who are not worthy and those who are not able and he makes them worthy and able through Christ to fulfill is living mission.  This is the loving Savior of Trinity; this is the grace of God for you and me.  This is the story of the cross of Jesus Christ!  Yes, in and of ourselves none of us are worthy; all of us are broken and useless, but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins.  The righteousness of Christ covers our lives; it changes us…rearranges us…and it ENABLES and equips us to do wonderful and glorious things we could never imagine, let alone do on our own and by ourselves. But because of Christ, each of us ARE able to work with Him as we continue to be the lasting legacy of Trinity Lutheran Church, within the San Diego communities of Jamacha, Encanto, the cities of Lemon Grove and Spring Valley, the state of California, throughout our nation and even abroad until the ends of the earth.  “For this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever (even until the end).”

Now may the peace of God and the grace of Jesus Christ keep our hearts and minds steadfast as we continue to be the legacy of our dear old Trinity Lutheran Church….in Jesus name… AMEN!

Press on Towards the Goal!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

December 31, 2009 (New Year’s Eve)

Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Click here for audio of this message
 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus..”[Philip. 3:13b-14]

 INTRODUCTION: I think that all of us this evening can hear these Words, and say a loud Amen!  But then again, we might hear them and say, “If only it was that easy.  If only I could forget the past and just be joyful about what lies ahead!”  Is it really that easy?  Can we really forget the pain, mistakes and sins of 2009 and realistically be optimistic about 2010?  St. Paul answers with a resounding yes, and this evening he’ll not only tell us why, but he’ll also tell us how!

 In our epistle lesson this evening, Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi; it’s a pastoral letter that he worte to thank them for their continuing Christian love, but he also wants to warn them about a two prong attack that is threatening their future; it was quickly moving from church to church, with the aim of ruining the faith of young Christians, a faith that rested in Christ alone.  This two prong attack was actually two different groups.  One group was openly against the Law of God and the other group was trying to convince the gentile Christians that they needed to embrace not just the Jewish culture but also the Levitical laws (specifically circumcision), if they really wanted to be saved. Today, these two groups still exist today, and they still are a threat to many congregations.

I. Against the Antinomians (Faith without works is dead)—In the preceding chapters of his letter, Paul attacked the doctrine of those who claimed that God’s Holy Law no longer applied to Christians.  To correct this lie, Paul provided some harsh truth.  His first counter-attack was intended to defend a Christian’s obligation to serve their neighbor and each other out of love.  Paul not only upheld God’s commandments, but he also adds these wonderful words, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” [Philippians 2:3 – 4] And, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Philippians 2:5-8]  But Paul doesn’t stop there, he also says in regards to our Christian service we should Do all things without grumbling or questioning,” [Philippians 2:14and he adds that this can only be done because it is God’s will in baptized Christians, to provide both the desire and the ability to do good works.  

What Paul is saying is this: True Christians will always do good works; they just can’t help it.  Those who say that they are a Christian, but have no proof or fruit of faith in their lives are in and of themselves proof that they aren’t what they claim to be; DON’T FOLLOW THEM.  DON’T BE A LIP SERVICE CHRISTIAN!  This is the consistent message throughout God’s Word.  A message that clearly declares that good works will always flow from a faith that trusts solely in God’s mercy as shown through the Messiah, His Son Jesus Christ.

ILLUSTRATION: The United States Senate has a tradition of talking something to death.  It’s called a filibuster. Even when the talk is not officially a filibuster the spirit of the filibuster lives on in that place every day.   Talk, talk, talk, and all the while nothing but self-serving legislation seems to become law, and what is the result?  The people pay, while others play.  Sadly, sometimes congregations can be reduced to something like a filibuster. People talk and dream about what the church should do, but very few are willing to put the ideas into practice.  In the end, very little is done and needs remain unmet.

Our Lord speaks to those who profess faith without action in our gospel lesson this evening when He says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.[Luke 20:9-20]  There will always be some who talk a good game, but have nothing to show for their supposed faith.  In the end they will answer to Christ, who will say, “Depart from me.  I never knew you!”

Paul said that good works and love for God and neighbor will flow naturally from a Christian.  In fact, Paul taught that a person led by faith in Christ should be willing to die performing acts of love towards God and neighbor rather than abandoning them.  Listen to Paul’s own words concerning this very point: “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.[Philippians 2:17 – 18]  Paul was of course referring to his own approaching death as a result of proclaiming and living out his faith in Christ. 

The truth is friends, Paul wasn’t ashamed of Jesus, because Jesus wasn’t ashamed to call him, and Jesus is not ashamed to call you and me as well.  Jesus bore on His body the punishment we deserve. His good work of saving the world from sin looked like foolishness to the world in Paul’s time, and it still looks the same to the world in our own time. Jesus said and did many things that the world considers offensive. He called a thing what it was.  If it was shallow lip-service faith, He said so! He showed the Pharisees, the Jewish rulers, and the Romans what true righteousness was; He exposed their phony faith that lacked the fruits of repentance and forgiveness. His “consistent” good works made Him public enemy number one. Even when He hung on the cross to pay for your sin He was ridiculed as a fool. Yet what looks foolish to the world is wisdom to the child of God. The words of the worthy prophets were proven true. God is near His people and not afar off. God is as near as the tree of the cross, the tree that bears good fruit.  And it’s that very tree that Paul stayed close to, even when he knew that it would cost him his life. 

II. Against the Judiaizers (Jesus Plus Nothing)—Well, let’s move on to the second threat to the church at Philippi—those who felt that Christ’s sacrifice, His grace wasn’t quite enough to ensure someone a place in heaven at Jesus side.  They said, “No brother, that’s not quite enough! You need to include with your faith in Christ the rite of circumcision and the fulfillment of some other Jewish rules.  Today, that spirit of legalism is still trying to lead the faithful astray—it rears its ugly head in any person or organization that presents a doctrine called Faith in Jesus PLUS!  It could be faith in Jesus plus tithing; faith in Jesus plus acts of contrition; or faith in Jesus plus faithful church and Sunday School attendance.  Paul called these kinds of people Judiaizers and mutilators.  They want to cut the skin but God desires that their hearts be cut.  He wants them to be cut to pieces over their sinfulness.  He wants them to see how lost they are and how badly they need a Savior, but these mutilators only like to impose pain on others, while ignoring their own hopeless condition.  St. Paul warns the church at Philippi about these people when he says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [Philippians 3:2] St. Paul is warning them, and he is warning us, ‘Look out for anyone who brings to you a gospel that is Jesus plus this or that.  Look out for anyone who brings you a gospel that includes anything but faith in Christ alone!

III. Living for the moment and for the future—Friends, the true gospel always reveals God’s love and mercy to those who deserve neither of them.  It’s foolishness to the world because it’s been provided by a man who is also God, Jesus the Christ.  Yes it’s foolishness to those who are dying—those who persist in ignoring God’s Holy Law and those who wish to add to Christ’s gift of grace, but to those who believe, it is amazing!

In our Epistle reading this evening Paul began with a fairly impressive biography about his early adult life.  He did this to silence the voice of the dogs that were prowling; waiting to attack the church at Philippi.  At first, it might seem that Paul was presenting himself as a super-human, one who far surpassed the phony credentials of the false teachers, but then he added something incredible, he said that all of his accomplishments were garbage, just trash when compared to the unfathomable wealth he had acquired once he knew Jesus Christ as his Lord, Savior, and God!  He said that he had gladly traded his own accomplishments for those of Jesus Christ, who was crucified on a tree.  Why?  Because of God’s gift of faith!  Paul said that through faith, he gladly suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of his own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ.  Why?  So that He might know him and the power of His resurrection!

When Paul wrote this epistle, he most likely got to a certain point and thought, ‘Will these good people in Philippi think that I am now finished running my race in life?  Will they believe that my walk of faith is finished and I can “glory” and rest in my accomplishments?’  That wasn’t the impression He wanted to make, and to be sure that this didn’t happen he wrote: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.  Brothers I do not consider that I have made it my own.”  Paul made it clear from his prison cell that he still had a lot to do and to teach concerning the Christian faith and his own Christian walk.  His message was and still is, that while it is God who works salvation for us, we must continue working out that reality; we all must become what God has already declared that we are—perfect,  holy, and righteous!  We must continue our walk of faith, which is also many times a walk of pain, shame, and testing, because it’s also a walk of joy!  Its joy, because we’ve been assured that our life of faith is really a walk through the same veil of tears that Jesus walked.  It’s all joy, because we know that the closer that we come to our goal the sooner we will receive the prize!

CONCLUSION:  Friends, listen to how St. Paul closed our epistle lesson this evening: “I press on toward the goal—for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Do you know what that upward call of God in Christ Jesus is?  It is the promise of victory over the grave, it’s the very promise God made to you in your Baptism; a promise that ensures you that you one day you will rise from the dead just as he had.  To those of us who are burdened with fear of sin, death, and the devil, these are the sweetest words we could ever hear.  What better New Year’s resolution could any of us make this year?  Let’s resolve to press on towards the goal—towards the prize of heaven that is ours through Christ Jesus! As we do this, Jesus assures us we WILL have a very blessed 2010!

Walk-About Zion!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Click here for audio of this message

INTRODUCTION: Have you heard the one about an older couple named Marvin and Gladys?  Marvin is on his death bed and he is recalling his life with Gladys.  “Oh Gladys, you have been a faithful wife.   When I lost my job, you were there; when I lost all my money in the stock market you were there; when I wrecked the car you were there; when I fell off the roof dear, you were there!  And now here you are with me again on my death bed.  Gladys, you know what, I just thought of something, you’re bad luck!”  Dear friends, Trinity Lutheran Church and Messiah Lutheran Church have never been bad luck.  Oh you’ve had good times and bad times but our church has always been a blessing, because God is always working through His church.  Trinity Lutheran Church has been a precious gift to me and to so many others.  That is why I have selected our text tonight especially from the Psalms, specifically Psalm 48:12-14.

Before we look at our text, let me remind you that the word Zion actually represents the city of God, the Temple of God, but most importantly for us today, Zion represents the Church of Jesus Christ.  Let’s read it together: Psalm 48:12Walkabout Zion, go around her, number her towers, 13consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation 14that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

This evening, I want to speak to you about three things: #1 the lasting legacy of Trinity.  #2 the Living mission of Trinity.  And #3, the Loving Savior of Trinity.  Let’s take these on one at a time.

I. Lasting legacy of Trinity. “Walkabout Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels”. [vs. 12,13a] You know I have visited many places in my life and had many experiences, but I have never been to a place quiet like Trinity.  Don’t you feel the same way?  I’ll bet those of you who are old time members of Trinity and Messiah feel the same way don’t you.  No matter where you go, don’t you find your heart and mind going home to Trinity? This church, has had a profound influence on so many lives.  For more than 10 decades now, how many people who have left this church for whatever reason have found their hearts and minds coming back to Trinity?  How many people who have moved out of state, have come back to visit this church from time to time and just walked around the property remembering good days?  Recalling cherished memories?  I have encountered a few of these visitors here, who are not visitors at all but children of the old church.  “Walkabout Zion, go around her, number her towers, 13consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels”. 

You know, I do that many times…just walk about the campus here at Trinity; I open doors and just soak in the memories that have been created all throughout this wonderful old church.  Did you ever wonder why I asked to have my office all the way in back in the old school principles office, secluded so far away from the rest of the church?  It’s not because I’m a hermit at heart, no it’s so I can be confronted everyday with the memories of what this place use to be!  In my mind’s eye, I can see new play equipment and clean painted classrooms.  I can smell Delores’s school lunch cooking ready to be served, but more than that, I can hear the excited voices of hundreds of children playing and enjoying themselves, and this gives me hope because I know that their hearts have been changed and loved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was spoken, taught, and explained to them in every aspect of this grand old church!  And it isn’t just here that those memories are crying out from within the walls and campus!  I also have visited the old Messiah campus and experienced the very same thing!  Oh, I can hear in my mind’s eye the wonderful spirituals sung with so much feeling.  I can tap my foot to the exuberant gospel music being led so powerfully by Messiah’s very large choir.  I can see the faces of each person worshiping God in song, with hands, and voices!  I can smell the many community fish fries and pot lucks that drew so many visitors.  Yes that old church too has memories.  In either of these two grand churches, I ask you in your heart, to just listen to the memories.  Let them speak to your heart. (Pause and Think) 

Did you know that for some maybe here tonight, those memories may seem more like ghosts!  The ghost of better days past!  Is that what we want our church to be, a haunting memory?  Is it alright for Trinity to become a well kept mausoleum that stands to testify of its glory days in the past?  Those who grew up in these churches and are separated by great distances and various life circumstances would not agree with this.  They will tell you that in their minds and memories, in their hearts and in their hopes, in their in their prayers and praises, they will always come back to this grand old church.  Dear friends, our text this evening speaks of whether we have the right to let cherished memories turn into ghosts; it speaks a resounding NO!

II. Let me prove this.  Listen to the Holy Spirit speak, “go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation”. [v.13] Do you hear it?  Do you hear the living message and mission of the Church of Jesus Christ.  It’s your mission because it is the mission of Trinity Lutheran Church.  The mission is to tell the present and future generations of this dying, sin sick, fallen planet that needs a Savior so much, that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into Hell, but he rose again on the third day, He ascended into Heaven and He’s seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  This is the mission, the living mission of Trinity Lutheran Church.

You know I have only been here for a little more than a year and a half, and sometimes I like to tell you stories about my old church in Imperial Beach.  Sixteen years ago, it was there at St. James that God finally broke my hard heart and opened my eyes so that I could see things the way He sees them.  He did this on one specific evening when I was going through a terrible personal time in my life.  I felt alone and as if my life lacked meaning. I went to that old church to pray.  The doors were locked, so I went to the patio area, where I knew a statue of Christ was located.  As I prayed, and tears of pain streamed down my face, I noticed for the first time that the statue of Jesus had no hands on it.  At first this appalled me!  What dirt bag would be so evil as to break off the hands of Christ?  But then, my eyes were drawn to a plaque on the base of the statue, and it read: “Now we are the hands of Christ!”  That one statement and the missing hands changed my life forever.  Suddenly my tears of sorrow and anguish turned to tears of overwhelming joy!  Why?  Because it was at that moment that I finally found true meaning, I had a mission and a purpose, I was to be the hands of Christ!  Now that brings to mind a poem I learned several years ago, it goes like this… “Christ has no hands but our hands to do his work today.  He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way.  He has no arms but our arms to bring men to His side.  He has no lips but our lips to tell men how Christ died.”

You dear friends, the people of Trinity are His hands.  You are His feet.  You are his arms.  You are His lips in this day, for this generation, and all around you are people who need to know Jesus Christ and need to hear from you how He loves them!  Now, I know your lives are so busy with things that must get done, I am right there with you, but please hear me, the most important work you could ever do in your time here on earth is to participate in the work of the church of Jesus Christ, because the work of the church is eternal.  It is the work of building bridges for broken people back to God through faith in Christ, where they may stay in peace with their Savior forever; and that kind of work is worthy of your total and full investment of your time, talents, money, prayers and your heart.  Dear friends, please hear me…I know the church isn’t perfect, even this one.  It can sometimes have some serious problems.  In fact there’s more than a little truth in the next two sayings I’d like to share with you. 1. To live above with saints we love, that will be joy and glory; to live below with saints we know, now that’s a different story.  2. If you should find the perfect church without one spot or smear, for goodness sake don’t join that church, you’ll spoil the atmosphere.

Friends it’s no secret that our church is far from perfect, but if you choose to hold back from a whole hearted investment of your life in the living mission of Trinity Lutheran Church, your robbing two people; you’re robbing yourself, and you are robbing all those people in this community who need to know Christ and become part of the lasting legacy of this church, which is “That you may tell the next generation of God’s grace.”

III. The Loving Savior of Trinity. Now dear friends, please let’s spend just a few minutes talking about our loving Savior of Trinity.  “For this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever (even until the end).”  Now you know yourself and I know myself…we’ve got problems don’t we?!  There are times when we don’t feel worthy of being part of the lasting legacy of Trinity.  There are times where we don’t feel able to fulfill the living mission of dear old church.  Dear friends that is precisely the point of God’s invitation to you.  YOU ARE NOT WORTHY AND YOU ARE NOT ABLE!  That’s the very essence of God’s grace.  He calls those who are not worthy and those who are not able and he makes them worthy and able through Christ to fulfill is living mission.  This is the loving Savior of Trinity; this is the grace of God for you and me.  This is the story of the cross of Jesus Christ!  Yes, in and of ourselves none of us are worthy; all of us are broken and useless, but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins.  The righteousness of Christ covers our lives; it changes us…rearranges us…and it ENABLES and equips us to do wonderful and glorious things we could never imagine, let alone do on our own and by ourselves. But because of Christ, you are worthy to work with me as we continue to be the lasting legacy of Trinity Lutheran Church, within the San Diego communities of Jamacha, Encanto, the cities of Lemon Grove and Spring Valley, the state of California, throughout our nation and even abroad until the ends of the earth.  “For this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever (even until the end).” 

Now may the peace of God and the grace of Jesus Christ keep our hearts and minds steadfast as we continue to be the legacy of our dear old Trinity Lutheran Church….in Jesus name… AMEN!