August 28, 2022: 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior,  open our ears and our minds to Your eternal truths!  Cause us literally to: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.  Indeed, give us the wisdom of the ages and also the inner fortitude to follow it!  Amen


TEXT: Hebrews 13: 1-8

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

          Perusing my “Wall Street Journal”  I came across and interesting article.  It was about how younger people are increasingly not listening to the advice of older people.  They view it as archaic and out of touch.  The demographers have dubbed my generation the “baby boomers.”  The next generation, basically running from their mid 30’s to mid 40’s is called Generation X.  Then you also have the Gen Y group from 18 to 32.  It is this Gen Y group that turns to their peers and the advice they receive on social networking sites for wisdom.  To them older folks are just that—old and out of touch with modern life.  My first thought, as I read the article was: “Thank you very much!”  My second thought was: “What does this mean for preaching and teaching in the church?”  My third thought was: My generation has done a lousy job when it comes to their kids and grandkids.  We gloried in tearing down social structures in the 60’s and 70’s and those chickens have now come to roost upon our own heads!

          It wasn’t always so.  Yes, as they grow up younger people of every generation chaff under the constraints of their elders.  Yes, they think they are smarter than any one else who has ever lived and they believe they feel their emotions far deeper.  Such is the nature of youth—you just don’t have as many life experiences to draw upon as older folks.  However, throughout history all societies respected the wisdom that comes with age.  We even have a word for it: sage advice.  A sage is someone who is old and wise.  Put the two together and you’ve got wisdom, which avoids mistakes and frustration.  About 75 years ago, modern man began warehousing the elderly in what used to be called: “Old folks homes” and are now called: “retirement communities.”  Until then, when you got older you lived with your kids and grandkids, dispensing your wisdom to them on a daily basis.  I surmise that this modern generational disconnect can be traced directly to that change.  Anyway, it is a tremendous waste of wisdom.

          Well, our lesson doesn’t waste any of God’s wisdom.  It gives us directives that are timely, practical, and always pertinent to how we should live in order to have blessed lives.  And so, today, let’s discuss some of its:



          In our day of political correctness where most people talk the talk, but few walk the walk, the writer begins by taking us back in time.  He takes us back to Abraham openly welcoming strangers to his tent and giving them a feast fit for a king—not knowing at the time that 2 of those strangers were angels and the third one was Jesus Christ Himself.  And so, with this as a backdrop, the writer tells Christians to: “Keep on loving each other as brothers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.  Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

          Obviously these words apply to all our social interactions, but especially to our treatment of fellow Christians.  In the age they were written, Christians were under attack from many quarters and persecuted beyond our imagination.  Many of the first readers of these words knew of friends or relatives in the hell-hole prisons of that age.  Suffering people need our prayers, our words of encouragement, and also our actions backing them up.  As Christ says: “whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.”  The first life lesson is that Christians should always treat others with love and respect because those people have a soul that Christ has died for.  Do you look at unknown people that way?  If not, why not?  


          Here comes another timeless life lesson: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Every parent looks upon their newborn for the first time and exclaims: “It’s a miracle!”  They’re right.  And how did that miracle occur?  Well, one sperm cell and one egg cell came together—just right—and a human being was created.  And just as a man and a woman were needed to achieve that miracle, so the newborn continues to need a father and mother to foster their development.  This is one of the great fruits of marriage.  The other great blessing of marriage is the togetherness, the closeness, the unity of purpose that become intertwined between a man and a woman.  Human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God that has beautiful results when His wise guidance is followed.  When it is not followed huge heartache results.  Yes, sex can and does bring people together.  But it also tears people apart.  It destroys a persons inner self and rips out their heart—when God’s way isn’t followed.  The “free love” baby boomers forgot this truth, the divorce rate surged, and now their kids and grandkids are reaping their whirlwind.  Perhaps more of them need to say to their sexuality liberated kids: “I was a fool.  I was wrong.  Dabbling with sex before marriage has hurt all of us.  Follow God and keep yourself pure until its time for the marriage bed.”


          Then there’s this: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?’”

          All the wealthy people I knew as a child are now all dead.  And none of them took even one dime with them to the beyond.  Some of them, who were Christians didn’t live beyond their means, weren’t showy with their wealth, and appeared quite happy with life.  But I recall others who were never content with anything and always chased after more, more, and more until the day they died.  It’s almost as if they believed they could outrun death if they had enough money.  Well, we cannot outrun death.  So why let our fear of it ruin our lives?  Better to trust in God’s goodness—revealed to us especially upon the cross.  Better to cling to Christ and His promise to never leave us all alone.  Better to let Him order our lives—especially those parts beyond any human control—and walk by faith and not by sight.  It may sound corny to the modern ear, but wise people have repeated this truism for eons: “You can’t buy happiness.”  And the Christian knows that we can’t and don’t have to because Christ already bought it for us on the cross!


          Here’s the final Life Lesson: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Heroes of faith:  Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, Dr. Martin Luther, even your beloved Christian grandparents in glory today—their faith, their wisdom speaks to us this very day.  None of them adopted the modern mindset of the Generation Y or Z which is: “I’m special because I’m me.”  No, instead they all were a lot more humble than that.  The hard lessons of life kicked their selfish little pride out of them so that God could replace it with the wealth of Christ’s forgiveness.  And so, all of them teach us: “I’m special because Christ loves me.  Moreover because Christ is the same forever, so is His love for me, and that’s why I’ll always be special.”  No matter your age, each of you can learn much from God’s life lessons.  And that learning experience will never cease.  Meanwhile, above them all, inscribe this motto from St. Paul: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox  

August 21, 2022: 14th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we approach You with awe, wonder, and even some trepidation, cause us to gaze upon Your outstretched arms.  Fix our vision upon the fact that You left heaven to meet us here on earth.  Refasten our focus on how You come to meet us today with love and forgiveness and welcome—via Your word and the sacraments.  And then our eyes will be opened to the joys and the peace of heaven—resting in Your embrace.  Amen


TEXT:  Hebrews 12: 18-24

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

          Road trip.  Those words sound magical to American ears.  Just getting into the car and driving to destination unknown is cathartic.—It gets rid of stress and replaces it with delicious adventure.  By now, most of you have taken some sort of summer vacation.  Hopefully it was restful and stress-free.  And I’ll bet that you’ve already given some thought to another trip, perhaps that ultimate “trip of a lifetime” we all dream about.  So, where would you go?  What would you like to see?  What kind of food would you treat yourself to?   Would it be an adventure trip of climbing mountains and engaging in “extreme” sports?  Would it be more laid back—nice hotels, a chauffer driven car for sight-seeing, and 4 star restaurants?  Well, hopefully, some day you’ll actually take it!

          You and I have a lifetime to plan such adventures.  And quite frankly, it’s fun to daydream about them.  Meanwhile, don’t overlook the trip you’re already on.  Because you see, it is your lifetime!  And today that’s what I want to talk to you about:



          When the Israelites hurriedly left Egypt to escape from their slavery to Pharoah, they were excited.  They knew they were going back to God’s promised land.  What they didn’t know is that for almost all of them it would be the last trip they ever took.  It should have taken 6 months or so to go across the Sinai desert.  But, because they became apathetic in their faith and allegiance to God, it ended up taking 40 long years. 

          Now, when they started out, God, in a visible form, accompanied them.  It must have been comforting to have God, hidden in the pillar of fire, out front leading the way, and also to have Him switch positions and serve as a rear guard when enemies pursued them.  It certainly would make a huge impact upon me!  But, over time, they began to take His awesome presence for granted.  Then they arrived at Mt. Sinai where that visible fiery presence of God descended upon the mountain.  God in perfect awesome majesty graced that granite mountain with Himself.  Suddenly it was holy, so holy that no animal was allowed to even touch it, or it would die.  Only Moses was permitted to go up to the summit and there God gave him the 10 commandments, written in stone by God’s almighty finger.  It was scary stuff, that giving of the Law.  Meanwhile, down below they became anxious, forgetful of God’s goodness is delivering them from slavery and they began to complain about it all.  Finally comes their demand for a golden calf, an Egyptian symbol of their god Apis, and their orgy around that calf—all this while heavenly, fiery Perfection swirled above their heads from the mountaintop.  You know the rest of the story.  Human hubris, human pride and arrogance turned this ultimate road trip into a disaster.  Many died then and there, many more perished along the way, and then when they reached the promised land and didn’t trust God to make good  on His promise to actually give them that land, God sent them off into the desert for almost 40 years of wandering.  With a couple of exceptions, everyone who left Egypt full of hope and promise, died during those wanderings.  And they brought it all upon themselves because they gave themselves over to open, flagrant sin. 

          The writer to the Hebrews reminds his readers of all this in our lesson.  “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.’  The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’”

          This picture is a reminder of how life is without faith in God’s love and forgiveness.  It is a reminder of how terrifying Your Trip of a Lifetime is without knowing that God’s Son has come to save you.  Without God’s goodness to protect us; cancer, disease, anxiety and death stalk our steps.  All this happens when we try to live apart from Him.  We get lost on the way because our sinful pride prevents us from asking for, listening to, and following His directions.


          Did you notice how that terrifying description began?  The Hebrew’s writer really is doing a 180 degree turn from that ancient reality in this lesson.  He begins: “You have not come.”  Ah, so for the Christian that isn’t our fate in our lifelong journey.  But, what is?  Well, he goes on to tell us: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

          “You have come.”  Right now, present reality.  You’ve come, you’ve entered the dwelling of God—the holy Christian Church.  You and I look around throughout our lifelong journey and often wonder: “Where is God?  Where is heaven?  I just don’t see it!  So, how can this writer say: “You have come.”?”  Ah, that is the wondrous mystery of our faith!  You see, God’s heavenly reality, the reality of blessed fellow saints, of angels, of sights beyond human words to describe, that reality is but the blink of an eye away from us this very day!  No, we don’t physically see it yet, as our journey isn’t completed.  But, from God’s vantage point we’re already in it.  For you see, Christ has opened that portal for us.  He was the mediator between us and God, between heaven and earth.  And His blood, sprinkled down from the cross upon us for our sins has permanently marked the path.  It has permanently paved the pathway into glory.  Thus, it “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”  Abel was the first person killed by another human, his brother Cain.  From Abel’s grave his blood cried out for justice and retribution.  But Christ’s blood is far more weighty.  It is the blood of God’s Son!  And it cries out for mercy and forgiveness and peace! 

          Right this moment, all of us are embarked on a singular trip, the Trip of Your Lifetime.  Will you get bored with it all?  Will you stumble along the way?  Will you walk off that pathway paved in blood because you think you know a shortcut?  Will you take a few side trips and  get yourself in trouble as a result?  Folks, stick to the path.  Trust your Savior.  Enjoy the tranquil times and learn from whatever obstacles you might find along the way. Go forth with renewed confidence, too!  Jesus is better than GPS!  And most of all never forget: you’re almost there!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox  

August 14, 2022: 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a tremendous comfort it is to know that You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith!  When we are weak and fearful and look inward for strength—finding none, it doesn’t matter, for You are there to give us Your strength and Your perfection!  You are there to link us to the Godhead and provide us with the certainty that nothing can tear us away from God’s loving grasp.  O, the joy and comfort You bring!  Amen


TEXT:  Hebrews 12: 1-3

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

          If you travel through Dublin, NH you’ll see it.  “Yankee Magazine” has its headquarters there right on Rt. 101.  And as you pass by you’ll see a blackboard affixed to the building.  It has town news written upon it.  It’s a quaint way of keeping the townsfolk informed of local doings. Today most use the internet for similar purposes.  But, 100 years ago they had another way of spreading breaking news quickly.  It was the town crier.  You don’t know what the town crier was?  Let me inform you.  It was a person (usually with leather lungs) that would shout out news to the people.  And he usually began his newsbrief with the familiar words: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye!”  

          All of you know the gospel.  That is, the good news about how Jesus has saved our souls.  Indeed, we hear it so often in church that sometimes I think we fail to really take it to heart and apply its richness to our lives.  To counteract that I’m going to act the part of a town crier, a church crier, right now by telling you:



          Some of you who are prone to poison ivy reactions worry about its prevalence upon the church property.  More than once during the clean-ups you’ve come to me and pointed it out.  And my response to your worry is to get out my trusty “Brush Be Gone”, douse the offending plant, and in a few days it’s dead and gone.  Well, the gospel is kind of like brush killer in that when we douse our lives with it, worry beats a fast retreat!  I say this because worry equals fear.  It’s born of the same cloth.  It paralyzes us and even eats away at our faith.  In fact, worry is really the absence of faith, isn’t it?  The old Jamaican tune: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” says it all.  When you’re filled with worry, happiness is elusive.  So, a worry-filled Christian is sad and depressed.  A worry-filled Christian takes the weight of the world on their shoulders and soon is crushed by it.  God doesn’t want that, so: Hear ye! Hear ye!  Worry Be Gone!  Do you think that’s impossible?  Well, remember that: “With God all things are possible.”  Specifically with the gospel all things are possible.

          After outlining in chapter 11 of Hebrews a catalogue of OT heroes of faith who by God’s grace triumphed over worry and fear and died in the glory of resurrection, the author of Hebrews goes on to say this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, (note the present reality of these witnesses as they still live on in glory) let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

Literally in the Greek language that means we must avoid pitfalls that will trip us up while at the same time fight our way out of the snares that Satan tries to throw around us while running toward heaven.   So, what pitfalls has the devil laid before you?—Certain temptations such as lust or greed or envy that you find hard to resist?  Has he hurled at you snares of financial worries and through them doubts about your future?  Have these worries robbed you of your joy and taken away your happiness?  And what’s the way out?  How can you live in the “rest and quietness” we so pray for in the collect for peace?


Of course, the answer is also provided in our lesson.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Folks, right there we’re told to: Focus on the Gospel and when we do: Worry Be Gone!  Think of what those beautiful words really mean?  Think of the Godly power that lies behind them and causes them to banish worry?  Christ is not only the author, or the One who wrote the book about faith and has given you that book; He is also the perfecter of faith, or the One who has taken your test of faith for you and scored 100%!  He did that on the cross.  He didn’t run away from it.  He embraced all your worries and fears.  He took them on His shoulders.  And when He died, they died.  And then He arose to life, a new life hallmarked by zero tolerance for fear.  And His life is now your life through His gift of faith!

It’s kind of like this:  Suppose you are facing a very hard test which you haven’t studied for and know you’ll flunk.  The test demands 100% accuracy.  If you miss even one question, you’ll fail.  Talk about worry!  Especially if your life hangs in the balance!  But suppose you could pick one person, a life-line, who would take the test for you?  Who would you pick?  Well, I’d pick the person who wrote the test in the first place because that individual would know all the correct answers.  Well, that’s what our lesson is telling us when it says that Jesus is the “author and perfecter” of our faith.  He wrote the book about life (He’s the Creator and Savior) and He has taken our test of life and now lives to tell about it!  He scored 100% and by His gift of faith gives You His perfection!  You’re free from worry!  Free from fear!  Nothing can truly harm you everlastingly!

At this point I want to repeat our theme: Hear ye!  Hear ye!  Worry Be Gone!  That’s the blessing that is yours through the gospel!  So, as you continue to run your life’s race, keep this foremost in your mind.  Yes, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!”  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox      

July 31, 2022: 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior,  too often we get so caught up in living the life we humans have created for ourselves that we forget to live the life You have given to us.  Too often we define happiness and contentment in terms of money, property and goods instead of inner peace, appreciation, and a carefree trust in You.  Today teach us anew to reorder our priorities so as to get the most out of this gift of life that You have bestowed.  Amen


TEXT:  Luke 12: 13-21

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

          I’ve probably made 400 to 500 hundred hospital calls during my ministry.  Some were “good news” calls in that the person lying in the bed was recovering from successful surgery and together we thanked the Lord for it in prayer.  Some were the joyous calls that stem from a new born baby, full of promise and hope.  But others were what I term “hard calls.”  That is, the member lying there was sick and facing death without much hope of ever going home.  A few of those hard calls stick out in my mind.  After preparing that person to meet their Lord and asking Him to get them through the portal of death into glory, eventually I had to leave.  Walking down hospital corridors knowing I’d never see my faithful member again, alive, here on earth, is a sobering experience.  Their final facial expressions of good-bye still stay with me years later….

          If you’ve never been confined to a hospital bed, say a prayer of thanks to God tonight!  If you have been so confined, you know that life’s events become crystallized.  All those little daily things we take so seriously: getting to work on time, paying the bills, preparing meals, doing the laundry, taking vacations, etc. etc. etc.—Those items of daily life shrink when you’re really sick or facing your mortality.  Suddenly, you’re aware of each breath you take, of each cloud in the sky, of each fond memory.  The simple act of having the sunbeam come across your bed and rest upon your face becomes deliciously all-consuming. 

          I know none of us likes to dwell upon the hard side of life—our physical pain and our mortality.  I know I really don’t like to preach much about it.  You end up sounding much like an aged Solomon who says in today’s OT lesson: “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.”  And that certainly is not a positive way to live your life.  Nonetheless, occasionally all of us really do need to be reminded of the importance of distilling life down to its vital components.  Today’s gospel does that.  So, we’ll ponder its meaning by considering:



          Did you ever wonder why God gives us two commandments that deal with the sin of coveting?  Yes, both the 9th and 10th commandments warn us against it.  Of course, the reason behind 2 such commandments is that coveting, or being consumed by greed, is especially deadly.  It not only robs us of eternal life, but it also robs us of appreciating our time of grace on earth.  This was the situation we find in our lesson.  A man’s father had died.  He and his brother were the only heirs.  Apparently the division of property either wasn’t happening quickly enough to satisfy him, or somehow he was unhappy with his lot.  So, he pesters Jesus to step into the fray.  But, since Jesus can read his heart, Jesus knew this man wasn’t consumed with justice or equality, but with pure greed.  And so, Christ says to him: “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  And then to drive home His point, Christ tells the parable that follows.

          Most of you are aware of the facts of this earthly story with the heavenly meaning.  A very wealthy man becomes even wealthier in his agribusiness.  He hoards his wealth, his crops, tearing down perfectly good barns in order to build bigger barns to hold it all.  Did you ever think: “Why do such a thing?  Wouldn’t it be easier just to sell some off or perhaps build another smaller barn or two to hold it?”  But, the man doesn’t do that, does he?  Why?  Could it be he wanted to show off?  Could it be that bigger barns would somehow prove his self-worth to others?  Folks, this was all an ego trip based upon valuing one’s life in purely monetary terms. 

          And after he’s fed his ego and become the biggest man in the village, this fellow decides to give himself over to indulgence.  “Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.”  I know what you’re thinking.—Some might say: “Well, why not?  He earned it!”  Others might be thinking: “O, here it comes, the Pastor is going to rail against human excess—gluttony, drunkenness or just being lazy.”   Well, you’re wrong.  What’s omitted in this story?  First, there is no thought to God Who provided the wealth to begin with; and second, there is no talk of loving His neighbor and “helping and befriending people in need” even though he could have easily done so.  Those omissions tell us that this wealthy man was totally self-centered and self-absorbed.  He defined life in purely human terms without a thought to God.  I’m reminded of Christ saying: “But seek first, His kingdom and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added to you, as well.” 


          “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.’” 

          Recall when Christ also says:  “Having food and clothing, let us be content.”?  It’s really true.  And even more true are the words that proceed that verse.  “But Godliness with contentment is great gain, for be brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out of it, so having food and clothing, let us be content.” 

          Godliness, or focusing on Jesus’ perfect love and living out His justice and morality, and contentment go hand-in-hand.  I say that because God’s Son says it.  Yes, I know, the super-elites of today with their dream vacations, dream homes, and envied lifestyles seem to have everything.  But, unless they have God, specifically Jesus Christ, in their lives, they have nothing.  They really have no lasting contentment.  They are only a heartbeat away from having it all go up–in the smoke of death.  And never forget, extreme human wealth is usually achieved by taking advantage of another and then conning yourself into thinking: “I did it all.”  It feeds pride.  And pride always goes before the fall. 

          Personally, I’m glad I’m not wealthy.  That’s because acquiring wealth and then keeping it is all-consuming.  You worry a lifetime that you’ll never have enough, and then when you get it, you worry until you die that someone’s going to take it all away.  Where’s the contentment with life in that?  No, it’s better to labor for the Lord, isn’t it?  Everything belongs to Him.  Your life belongs to Him.  He purchased it on the cross when Jesus died for all our sins, including our penchant for being greedy.  Now He puts faith into our hearts so that we can “cast all our anxieties upon Him because He cares for us.”  He’s ultimately in charge of giving us what we need to be truly happy in life.  He knows what it takes to fulfill our lives.  Yes, we work, but we work for God Incorporated knowing we’ll never get laid off by Him or get shorted in our pay stub. 

          What’s really important in life?  Isn’t it: God, family, health, and being grateful for every God-given blessing?  Isn’t it letting God be in control of your life and always giving Him the honor and glory for it?  Isn’t it sharing the merciful heart that He extends to you in Christ with those who are floundering?  So, why not live to show it?  Doing so enriched Jesus’ life.  How can it not do the same for you?   Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox