Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

Readings – Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12:2-6; II Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21: 5-19

There was a time not far from here, counties to the east, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon, Northumberland, when coal was king.  The mines were booming; the railroads were hauling; the small towns were thriving.  Many of us remember those times.

And then the abandonment began.  Some mines flooded; other mines were exhausted; some coal fields were just abandoned.  The railroads pulled up the rails; the towns shrank; the owners took their profits and invested in other industries and in other areas. 

Abandonment became widespread and devasted Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon, and Northumberland counties and all the towns therein.

The opposite of “to abandon” is “to save”.

From the First Song of Isaiah:

Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid.

God never did; God never will abandon us!  God saves us!  Holy Scripture is quite clear, as we read, mark, learn and inwardly consume God’s Word, God does not abandon us.  Rather, again from the First Song of Isaiah:

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,
For the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Let us be clear – God has saved us; God is saving us now, and God will save us in the days to come.  God saves us from aimlessness; God saves us from despair; God saves us from direction lessness; God saves us from sin, from missing the mark, from missing the key to life. 

God saves us by loving us, and we enter into that saving grace by loving God and loving neighbors as much as we love ourselves.  We enter into that saving grace by serving. 

To love is to serve. 

Our veterans know all about loving this country and serving this country.  People of faith know about loving God through service.  That service is always in partnership with God; when we serve, God is beside us.  God is in the midst of us, challenging us to serve. 

Some here today are seeking new, more demanding roads to walk in partnership with our God.           

Some here today are seeking new, less demanding roads to walk in partnership with our God.

Some here today are seeking to continue to travel the well-known roads in partnership with our God. 

Just think of an athlete’s journey.  They train as young people.  They play in their prime.  They coach as they gain experience.  They cheer as they age.  Each stage of an athlete’s life is distinct, and with each comes different tasks, yet in each stage, there is value and purpose. 

So, it is with those who serve out of love.  The tasks may change, yet the wish to lovingly serve does not.  As St. Paul wrote to the congregation in Thessalonica, “do not weary in doing what is right”.  Instead of growing weary and exhausted, find a new fresh road to walk in partnership with God. 

If you cannot chase after five-year-olds any longer, assist with rocking newborns.

If you can no longer give blood, be a data taker at a Red Cross Bloodmobile.

If you can no longer contribute $100.00 to a favorite cause, give $10.00. 

Life’s circumstances are always being revised, yet our God continues to look for partners to lovingly serve.  And in that loving service, we will be saved by entering into God’s grace.  There are always endless possibilities for service on the horizon before us.  The Holy One is in the midst of us.  We are never abandoned. 

Ring out your joy with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and serve the Lord.


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