We cordially welcome you to First Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.  We are glad to have you worshipping with us today.  As a congregation in the historic Lutheran Protestant tradition, we emphasize what are known as the Three Solas, or “Three Alones” of the Reformation, namely:

Communion Statement: Each Sunday we celebrate the Holy Communion (also known as the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord’s Supper, and the Eucharist) as part of our Divine Service.  We welcome to the Lord’s Table those who:

We encourage you speak to the pastor or any elder if you have any questions.  We would be happy to share our church’s beliefs with you and help you prepare for Holy Communion.  Those not receiving The Lord’s Supper today, either adults or children, are invited to receive a blessing from the Pastor at the time of the Holy Communion.  We hope you will join us for worship again.

Ringing of the Bell
The bell rings as the call to worship, reminding us to discontinue conversation and reverently prepare for worship.

Prelude

Welcome and Announcements

Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting One

Stand

577 Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast                                        LSB 577
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Text and tune: Public domain

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.

Invocation
P     In the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

Exhortation
P     If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
C     But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Silence for reflection on God's Word and for self-examination.

Confession of Sins
P     Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.
C     Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

Absolution
P     Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the TSon and of the Holy Spirit.
C     Amen.

Gloria in Excelsis                                                                     LSB 154
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SERVICE OF THE WORD

Salutation and Collect of the Day
P     The Lord be with you.
C     And also with you.

P     Let us pray.
Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C     Amen.

Sit

Psalm                                                                                      Psalm 1
Blessèd is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

First Reading                                                                   Ezekiel 17:22–24
Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Epistle                                                                        2 Corinthians 5:1–17
We know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

A     This is the Word of the Lord.
C     Thanks be to God.

Stand

Common Alleluia and Verse
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Holy Gospel                                                                       Mark 4:26–34
P     The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, the fourth chapter.
C     Glory to You, O Lord.

[Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

P     This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C     Praise to You, O Christ.

Apostles’ Creed
C     I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
     maker of heaven and earth.
 
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
     born of the virgin Mary,
     suffered under Pontius Pilate,
     was crucified, died and was buried.
     He descended into hell.
     The third day He rose again from the dead.
     He ascended into heaven
     and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
     From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
 
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy Christian Church,
          the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life T everlasting. Amen.

Sit

894 For the Fruits of His Creation                                            LSB 894
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Text: © 1970 Hope Publishing Co. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110004199
Tune: Public domain

Sermon                                                                            Pastor Eric Ash

Stand

Prayers

(each petition ends with the following response) P Lord, in your mercy,    C Hear our prayer.

Sit

Choir Anthem                  The New 23rd                                Ralph Carmichael
955 Let the Vineyards Be Fruitful                                             LSB 955
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Text and tune: © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110004199

 

Offertory Prayer
P  Blessed are you,
C  O Lord our God, maker of all things.  Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts.  With them we offer ourselves to your service and dedicate our lives to the care and redemption of all that you have made, for the sake of him who gave himself for us.  Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

SERVICE OF THE SACRAMENT

Stand

Preface
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Proper Preface
P     It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, through Christ our Lord; who on this day overcame death and the grave, and by his glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.  And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn: 

Sanctus
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The Words of Our Lord
P     Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My T body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My T blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Lord's Prayer Invitation
Let us pray together the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us. . .

Lord’s Prayer                                                                           LSB 162
P     Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray:
C     Our Father who art in heaven,
     hallowed be Thy name,
     Thy kingdom come,
     Thy will be done on earth
          as it is in heaven;
     give us this day our daily bread;
     and forgive us our trespasses
          as we forgive those
          who trespass against us;
     and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
     and the power and the glory
     forever and ever. Amen.

Fraction
P:  Come for all things are now ready, the gifts of God for the people of God. 

C:  Amen. 

Agnus Dei                                                                                LSB 163
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Sit

Distribution                                                                                 164
Take, eat; the body of Christ, given for you.
Amen.

Take, drink; the blood of Christ shed for you.
Amen.

In dismissing the communicants, the following is said:

The Dismissal
P     The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart Tin peace.
C     Amen.

Stand

Thank the Lord
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Post Communion Prayer
P:  We give you thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us through the healing power of this gift of life; and we pray that in your mercy you would strengthen us, through this gift in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

C:  Amen. 

Benediction
P     The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and T give you peace.
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921 On What Has Now Been Sown                                             LSB 921
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Text and tune: Public domain

 

CLOSING RESPONSE
P     Go in Peace! Serve the Lord!

C             Praise be to God!

 

 

Acknowledgments
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2021 Concordia Publishing House.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Pente 3 B   June 13, 2021   2 Cor. 5:1-17  Trinity, Wellsville, NY
Getting Older
A funny thing happened to me this morning.  When I woke up, I was another day older.  Did that happen to you too?  What’s strange about that is that I know I am really perpetually twelve years old.  Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, I am 12.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife Melanie, she’ll tell you.  But when I look in the mirror there is this old guy staring back at me that kind of looks like me.  I don’t quite recognize him.  Can you relate to that?  I think a lot of folks can.
As I always say, if you’re lucky to live long enough, you get old. We’re told, “Aging isn’t for sissies,” and it’s true.  A lot of people complain about old age, but no one seems too eager for the alternative.  Recently, I read a book on aging. It was written by a journalist who visited six people in their late 80s and early 90s once a month for a year.  Maybe I should write a book.  I’ve been doing visits like that for 30 years, often with a dozen people monthly or more. 
It was affirming that some of the author’s observations matched mine and I also learned some new things.  Maybe you can teach an old dog like me new tricks.  I know aging is a taboo topic in our culture.  Everyone ages but no one likes to talk about it much. Perhaps we are in denial.  I want to share some observations and ideas with you, but first let’s look at what the Bible says about getting older.
My text for this sermon is our Epistle reading, Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  Paul had been through a lot in life, good and bad.  On the plus side, Jesus spoke to him personally, Paul’s preaching lead thousands of people to faith, he was the greatest Christian missionary ever.  On the minus side, Paul had been arrested and imprisoned, attempts had been made on his life, he even survived a shipwreck and a poisonous snake bite.  Like a Timex watch “Paul took a licking and kept on ticking.”  Has your life been like that?  Mine has.  As Paul writes to us today, his life is heading towards its conclusion. 
We estimate that Paul was probably in his 60s when he was martyred for the Christian faith, which makes his death early by today’s standards.  But in Paul’s time the average life expectancy is estimated to be only between 35 and 45.  That average was brought down by high infant and post-partum mortality rates.  It’s not as if people were frail at age 35, just fewer of them ever made it to 45 than today. 
You may recall that the Old Testament patriarchs lived what seems to us to be incredibly long lives: Adam lived 930 years, his son Seth 912 years, and Methuselah tops out the list at 962.  Those who lived closer in time to Creation lived longer.  Then, as sin permeated the world, life spans got shorter.  When the Psalms were written, they say (90:10), “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty.”  They also say, importantly and profoundly, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (90:12). And that gets at the heart of what we’re talking about this morning.
Children are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  But adults are never asked, “What do you want to be when you get old?”  Is seems to me that’s a question we should give some serious, prayerful thought.  Knowing that aging will happen for us, we should make some plans for the inevitability of being elderly. 
For many of us it seems that every time we see the doctor, we’re told we have something we have to live with, like arthritis, or something we have to live without, like sugar or salt.  It’s easy to feel that “Old age is the gift that keeps on taking.”  It’s said that science has increased the length of life but not it’s quality.  Does aging have to be a constant downward spiral of steady loss of skills and abilities.  NO!, it does not. 
Aging does not have to be that way.  You can look around this morning and see many people here who are a testament to that. In fact, some people are in better health as they get older than when they were younger thanks to God-given advances in medicine.  Someone who stopped going out because of mobility problems may have a knee replacement and get our more.  Someone who stopped doing physical activities because of shortness of breath and chest pain may be able to do them again after bypass surgery.  By God’s grace, more people are living longer, healthier, more active retirements than ever before.  Of course, for some people there will be ups and downs over time.
It is true that as we age there will almost invariably be some losses in hearing and eyesight and other functions.  As we said, some of these can be repaired, but some cannot.  Many of us thought, in our youthful arrogance, that we would not want to live with diminished capacities.  The elderly generally don’t feel that way.  Given the hypothetical choice of living longer with some disabilities or living shorter with better health, most seniors will choose living longer despite pain and inconvenience.  As we get closer to life’s end, we often realize how incredibly amazing life itself is.  Life at any age is precious.
That reminds us that younger people should not presume to know how older people feel.  A person who is 60 knows what it’s like to 30 and 60, but has no idea what it is to be 90.  A 90 year-old knows what it’s like to be 90, 60 and 30.  There is a wisdom that only comes with long life.
A key to living and aging well is to be optimistic, but have realistic expectations, learning to live within what one can do.  People who focus on the things they have lost and can’t do get depressed and deteriorate.  Those who focus on what they still can do despite their limitations, do much better.  On his one-hundredth birthday George Burns said, “When you can’t do more, doing less looks pretty good.”
Attitude is so important.  Let’s face it, the future, not even tomorrow, is guaranteed for any of us at any age.  That’s why we have to live in the moment, savoring every experience to its fullest.  It’s true that no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time at work and less with my family.”  The elderly people the journalist interviewed never wanted to talk about their careers or their achievements.  They wanted to talk about their children and grandchildren.  They wanted to spend time with their families and friends.  A medical study found that social isolation is worse for one’s health than smoking.  God created human beings to be in relationships with other people and those relationships are places where joy can be found at any stage of life.
It’s a shame that our culture doesn’t give more attention to the wisdom that comes with long life.  As a comedian said, “You can learn a lot from old people; you don’t get to be old by being a fool.”  It’s true that as our brains age, they do not process new information as quickly.  Maybe you cannot add and subtract numbers in your head the way you used to.  But it is also true that some parts of our brain actually get stronger with time, things like pattern recognition.  Seniors might have trouble operating the apps on a new cell phone, but they have more insight into events and their causes, and they are better able to evaluate differing opinions.  Most of all we are able to find happiness and fulfillment in the present, even with our limitations, rather than living being unsatisfied, hoping for something in the future to make us happy.  The aged know you have to live and love like there is no tomorrow.  Happiness in every stage of life is a choice.
Another big factor in the emotional and physical health of the elderly is having a sense of purpose.  People who have a reason to get out of bed in the morning usually do.  We often think of older people as care receivers.  Older people who have someone to care for, whether it’s a spouse, a great-grandchild, or volunteering in the church or community… they are the happiest, healthiest seniors of all.  Our Christian faith tells us to help others.  Who knew in doing so we were helping ourselves too?  For one, Jesus said some things about that.
Saint Paul expressed some ambivalence about living and dying.  That’s what all his talk about earthly tents and eternal dwellings and immortal clothing is about.  His life had purpose in serving Christ by spreading the gospel.  He had wonderful relationships with the Christians in the churches he started.  But Paul also knew that life in the world to come with Christ would be even better.  He longed to be free from the pains and frustration of this life and know the blessed peace of paradise.
The elderly people in the book I read were not people of religious faith for the most part.  One said, “My favorite part of the day is waking up in the morning and thanking God for another day.” We all should do that.  And he also said, “Heaven is my home but I’m not homesick.  I want to stay here and enjoy life.”  I am sure we can all relate to that too because this world and its pleasures is all we have known.  We have faith that Heaven awaits us after this life, but since we have never seen it ourselves, it’s hard for us to imagine. The other people in the book never thought about God and an afterlife; some rejected the idea altogether.  They had no hope of seeing their departed loved ones.  They had no faith in a better world beyond this one.
Personally, I cannot imagine living that way, without belief in God and faith in Christ.  What meaning would there be in this life if it was just “Waiting for Oblivion,” as one writer put it?    Why bother building relationships helping them flourish if it’s all for naught when death takes them?  Living for the moment might be a good strategy for enjoying this life, but we know that this moment is not all there is.  Christ has something even better prepared for us.
Paul spent his life witnessing for Christ.  And when I say spent his life, I mean he poured it out like an offering, he sacrificed his own goals and comfort, he gave all he had in service to the Lord and God’s people.  That didn’t win his salvation; Jesus Christ won his salvation for him on the cross and Jesus won it there for us all.  Yet, knowing that he was saved enabled Paul to live and love and serve without reservation, knowing that the ultimate end would be good, very good indeed. 
You know, when I moved here, I found that the death rate in this county is 100%.  Oh yeah!  Everyone born here dies, eventually.  You can look it up.  How are we going to spend our lives awaiting the inevitable, when the end grows closer each day?  Let’s spend them savoring each day, loving the people and things God has given us.  Let’s spend them doing important work, helping and caring for others.  And let us spend them in hope, having faith in Christ and the power of his Resurrection. 
Our baptism is sort of like a fountain of youth, making us a new creation in Christ, promising us eternal life with Jesus and those we love.  Our old nature is passing away.  Aging is part of that.  But we need not fear aging or death because by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, our future is ensured. That future is better than being 12 years-old again.  It’s even more incredible, amazing and precious than we know.  You can count on that.  Amen.