The Third Sunday after Trinity    June 25, 2023   

The Fifth Sunday of the Pentecost Season



The Race of Your (Eternal) Life

Bob Wieland finally crossed the finish line on Thursday, November 6, 1986.  That’s a long time ago.  Yet what he did

 remains very remarkable….but not because he was the New York City Marathon’s 19,413th and final finisher – which He was.   You see, Bob was the first to run a marathon with his arms instead of his legs! 

            At the time Wieland was a 40-year old Californian whose legs had been blown off in a Vietnam battlefield years earlier.  He recorded what race officials said was the slowest time in marathon history: four days, two hours, 48 minutes, 17 seconds. But he was greeted like a champion when he finally crossed the finish line and claimed his finisher’s medal.  

            In speaking about the race afterward, he said,  “Success is not based on where you start, but that you finish, and I finished. The first step was the most difficult, after that, we were on our way home.”  Wieland started Sunday at 8:23 a.m. more than two hours before the main body of runners. But, moving at an average speed of about one mile an hour, his lead soon vanished; Wieland ran in a sitting position, using his muscular arms like crutches to lift his torso and swing it forward. He sat on a 15 pound saddle and covered his clenched fists with pads he called “size 1 running shoes.”   

            No doubt about it, the race Weiland ran demanded an extraordinary measure of perseverance and dedication to achieving that goal of simply finishing for the joy of finishing.   

            In a similar sense, you and I are also involved in running a race  – not on a track, but in our lives of faith.   The course is a long one, spanning a lifetime.   And the challenges during this “eternal life race”  are often staggering.   But for us, the finish line isn’t in New York City; it’s in heaven.   The prize for finishing isn’t a medal, but the crown of righteousness and the gift of eternal life in glory.  And ultimately, the “driving force” isn’t a person’s  inner strength and determination, but the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit along with  encouraging fact of Christ’s redemptive work, accomplished for us.

            Today’s Scripture lessons reinforce those truths.  Our First Lesson presents us with a host of Old Testament believers whose faithfulness to the Lord is recorded both as an example for us and to encourage us to be faithful to the very  end in our Christian lives. 

            In fact, our Sermon Text for today, which immediately follows Hebrews 11, uses their exemplary faithfulness as an encouragement to for us to live dedicated, determined, godly lives for the glory of Christ our Savior as we travel through this “race” of life.  

            Today’s Second Lesson reminds us that the difficulties and opposition we experience in life because we are Christians will result for us in the hidden blessings of perseverance and strengthened faith.  

            In our Gospel Lesson Jesus tells us that He expects His followers to be fully (not half-heartedly) committed to Him.  Given what He has done for us to secure our salvation, why would we want to be anything less than fully devoted to Him? 

            Finally, in our Children’s Lesson we’ll talk about the “victor’s prize” of eternal life in heaven.  It’s already ours, since Christ has won for us through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection.   And He guarantees that “victor’s prize” to all who, by grace, believe in Him as their God and Savior.

A Word Of Welcome To Our Guests . . . Good morning and welcome to Grace Lutheran Church.  We’re pleased that you’ve chosen to be a part of our worshiping assembly this morning.  Whether you are a guest today or a member of this Christian family, your presence at this service is sincerely appreciated.  It is our wish that the time you spend here will be enjoyable and spiritually edifying, and so it is our desire to serve you in the best way we can.  If there is anything that we might do to assist you in your worship today, please speak with one of our ushers or our Pastor.  They will be pleased to serve you in any way they can.

     Following the worship service this morning, we invite you to join those around you for some coffee, refreshments, and good conversation in our gymnasium/fellowship hall, which is the building just to the east of this chapel.  If you are able, we would also be honored to have you remain after today’s fellowship time in order that you might further hear and study the Scriptures with us in one of our Bible Classes or Sunday School classes.  And, we hope that you will come back soon to again praise the Lord with us.  May God bless you and your worship of Him today.

The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version 

Copyright 2019,   The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.

Used with permission.     Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831

Pre-Service Prayer

Lord Jesus, though but two or three     In Your dear name assembled be,

You will among them show Your face      And bless them with Your saving grace.

In Your dear name again we meet      And worship humbly at Your feet;

You will Your gracious Word fulfill    And cheer us with Your presence still.

Jesus, from Whom all blessings flow,  Your peace and comfort now bestow;

Abide with us till life is o’er   And keep us Yours forevermore.     Amen.

Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                Pre-worship music


Let Us Praise The Lord

The Congregation will be asked to rise for


The Invocation  

Pastor                     We begin this service in the name of the Father”

Congregation Who gave us our lives through His almighty power.


P: And of the Son

C:             Who redeemed our lives with His precious blood.


P:              And of the Holy Spirit

C:             Who gave us eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

P:              Amen.

The Opening Prayer

O Lord,    our Maker,    Redeemer,    and Comforter,    we are assembled in Your presence     to hear Your Word    and to offer You our worship and praise.     We pray that You would open our hearts    by means of Your Holy Spirit    so that through the preaching of Your Word     we may be taught to repent of our sins,   to believe on Jesus in life and in death,     and to grow day by day in grace and godliness.    Hear us now, for Jesus’s sake.    Amen.

After which, the Congregation may be seated for



Opening Hymn                                                                  Hymn 340   “O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing”

                                                                                                                                                 sung antiphonally

Verse 1 – Entire congregation

Verse 2 – Women and girls                 Verse 3 – Men and boys

Verse 4 – Lectern side        Verse 5 – Pulpit side

Verse 6 – Entire congregation

1 Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King,   The triumphs of his grace!


2 My gracious Master and my God,   Assist me to proclaim,

To spread through all the earth abroad,   The honors of your name.


3 The name of Jesus calms our fears   And bids our sorrows cease.

‘Tis music in the sinners ears;   ‘Tis life and health and peace.


4 He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin;   He sets the pris’ner free.

His blood can make the foulest clean;   His blood avails for me.


5 See all your sins on Jesus laid;   The Lamb of God was slain.

His life was once an off’ring made   That you might live again.


6 Glory to God and praise and love   Be ever, ever giv’n

By saints below and saints above,   The Church in earth and heav’n.

After which the Congregation will rise

Hear Us and Forgive Us, Lord

Pastor   The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.                   

Congregation        And also with you.

Pastor   God invites us to come into His presence and worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness.

Congregation    Holy and most merciful Father,     I confess that I am by nature sinful, and that I have disobeyed You in

my thoughts, words, and actions; Each day I turn away from Your  Will.    I have left undone those things which You have asked me to do,    and I have done those things which You tell me not to do.    I do not love You or my neighbor the way I should.     Because of these,    and all of my other sins,    too numerous for me to recall,      I acknowledge that I deserve nothing less than Your punishment      both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for the evil that I have thought, spoken, and done,     and trusting in the perfect life,   and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray:    Lord, forgive me all my sins,      restore to me the joy of Your salvation,   and strengthen my weak faith through the promises of Your divine Word     that I may obtain Your promised grace.

Pastor          Find comfort for your souls, then, in these words of our Lord:   “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just,

and will purify us from all unrighteousness,  because we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.   We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”   And now, upon this, your voluntary confession,  I, because of my office as a called servant of God’s Word,  announce the grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place of, and according to the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   May the peace of God be with you.  Amen.”

Our Response To God’s Forgiveness

ALL sing:                                                                                   to the tune of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee  For Thy forgiveness, full and free,

He, who by grace, this truth believes  The blessings of Christ’s love receives


Praise God the Father, God the Son And God the Spirit,   Three in One,

As ’twas, is now, and so shall be World without end,  eternally!     Amen.

Feed Us, Lord

The First Lesson                                                                                                                             Hebrews 11

Faith is being sure about what we hope for, being convinced about things we do not see. 2 For by this faith the ancients were commended in Scripture.    3 By faith we know that the universe was created by God’s word, so that what is seen did not come from visible things.   4 By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain did. By faith he was commended in Scripture as righteous; God testified favorably about his gifts. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.   5 By faith Enoch was taken up, so that he would not experience death, and he was not found because God took him away.  In fact, before he was taken away, he was commended in Scripture as one who “pleased God.”  6 And without faith it is impossible to please God. Indeed, it is necessary for the one who approaches God to believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.   7 By faith Noah, when he was warned about things that had not been seen before, built an ark, in reverent fear, in order to save his family. By it he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that is by faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance, and he left without knowing where he was going.   9 By faith he lived as a stranger in the Promised Land, as if it did not belong to him, dwelling in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  11 By faith Abraham also received the ability to conceive children, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was past the normal age, because he considered him faithful who made the promise.  12 And so from one man, and he as good as dead, descendants were born as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand along the seashore.  

13 One by one, all of these died in faith, without having received the things that were promised, but they saw and welcomed them from a distance. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 Indeed, people who say things like that make it clear that they are looking for a land of their own. 15 And if they were remembering the land they had come from, they would have had an opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better land—a heavenly one. For that reason, God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered Isaac. This man, who received the promises, was ready to offer his only son, 18 about whom it was said, “Through Isaac your offspring will be traced.”  19 He reasoned that God also had the ability to raise him from the dead, and in a figurative sense, Abraham did receive him back from the dead.   20 By faith Isaac also blessed Jacob and Esau about things that were going to happen.   21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.   22 By faith Joseph, as he neared the end of his life, mentioned the Exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions about his bones.

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after he was born, because they saw he was a special child, and they were not afraid of the king’s order.   24 By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. 25 He chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy sin for a little while. 26 He considered disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.   27 By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s wrath, because he persevered as one who sees him who is invisible.   28 By faith he celebrated the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not strike them down.

29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as if going through on dry ground. When the Egyptians tried it, they were drowned.    30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after the people marched around them for seven days.  31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with the unbelievers, because she welcomed the spies in peace.

32 And what more should I say? There would not be enough time for me to continue to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 By faith they conquered kingdoms, carried out justice, obtained things that were promised, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edges of the sword, were made powerful after being weak, became mighty in battle, and caused foreign armies to flee. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. And others who were tortured did not accept their release, so that they may take part in a better resurrection. 36 Still others experienced mocking and lashes, in addition to chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were tempted;  they were killed with the sword; they went around in sheepskins and goatskins, needy, afflicted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them as they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.  39 All of these were commended in Scripture by faith, yet they did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had planned something better for us, namely, that they would not reach the goal apart from us.

Our Psalm for Today                                                                                                                    Psalm 31

Surely it is God Who saves me.   I will trust in Him and not be afraid

For the Lord is my Stronghold and my Sure Defense.   And He will be my Savior



In You, O LORD have I taken…….Refuge

Deliver me in Your……. Righteousness

Be my Rock of ………  Refuge

My strong Fortress to …….. Save me.

Into Your hands I commit my ……. Spirit

Redeem me, O LORD, the ……. God of Truth


Surely it is God Who saves me.   I will trust in Him and not be afraid

For the Lord is my Stronghold and my Sure Defense.   And He will be my Savior


My times are…….in Your hands

Save me in Your ……..unfailing love.

How great is Your ……..goodness.

Which You have stored up for those who ……..fear You.

You heard my cry for ………mercy

when I called to ……..You for help.


Glory be to the …….Father

And to the Holy……Spirit.

As it was in the …….beginning.

Is now and will be forever……Amen.


Surely it is God Who saves me.   I will trust in Him and not be afraid

For the Lord is my Stronghold and my Sure Defense.   And He will be my Savior

The Second Lesson                                                                                                                      Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we also have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice confidently on the basis of our hope for the glory of God.   3 Not only this, but we also rejoice confidently in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patient endurance, 4 and patient endurance produces tested character, and tested character produces hope. 5 And hope will not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.

After which the Congregation will rise for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                       Luke 9:57-62

57 As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  59 He said to another man, “Follow me!”  But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   60 Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”   61 Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.”   62 Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The Apostles’ Creed


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 Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.



The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                       Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it yet, but there is one thing I do: Forgetting the things that are behind and straining toward the things that are ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Don’t Look Back to this Sinful World…..Look to Jesus, and to the Prize of Heaven


The Hymn of the Day                                                                               Hymn 457   “Fight the Good Fight”


1 Fight the good fight   With all your might;

Christ is your strength and Christ your light.

Lay hold on life, and it shall be   Your joy and crown eternally.


2 Run the straight race    Through God’s good grace;

Lift up your eyes and seek his face. 

Life with its way before us lies;    Christ is the path and Christ the prize.


3 Cast care aside,    Lean on your guide;

His boundless mercy will provide.

Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove   Christ is its life and Christ its love.


4 Faint not nor fear;    His arms are near.

He changes not, and you are dear.

Only believe, and you will see     That Christ is Lord eternally.

The Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May the God of peace fill you with all joy in believing!   Amen.


Sermon Text                                                                                                                             Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us get rid of every burden and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patient endurance the race that is laid out for us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author of our faith and the one who brings it to its goal. In view of the joy set before him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of God’s throne. 3 Carefully consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinful people, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.


Run Your Race

  1. Encouraged by Those Who Have Gone Before You
  2. Putting Off Everything That Hinders You

III.  Focused On Christ, Your Savior

following which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for

The Post-Sermon Blessing

May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, now equip you with everything good for doing His will!  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord

Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.     However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash, please) to our church address   (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:


After which the Congregation rises for prayer

The Prayers for this Day     


In our Prayers this morning we include:

Prayers of Intercession for the following brothers in Christ:

Kent Swogger (recovering from surgery a week ago)

Mike Outlaw (weakness from anemia)


A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Marilyn and Mike Outlaw, who are celebrating their anniversary today

on behalf of Cynthia and Rick Tragasz, whose wedding anniversary is also today


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   for ever and ever.    Amen.   

After which the Congregation will be seated


The Affirmation of Wedding Vows

of Cynthia & Rick Tragasz

A Special Vocal Selection                                                                                                sung by Danielle Ashley

O blessed home where man and wife together lead a godly life     By deeds their faith confessing

There many a happy day is spent,   There Jesus gladly will consent

To tarry with His blessing.

O Lord, we come before Thy face;   In ev’ry home bestow Thy grace      On children, father, mother,

Relieve their wants, their burdens ease,  

Let them together dwell in peace      And love to one another.

The Affirmation of Vows

Cynthia and Richard, you have come here to seek the continued blessing of God and of His Church upon your marriage.   You are here to promise, with the help of God, that you are committed to continuing to fulfill the obligations which Christian marriage demands.  

Therefore….Richard Tragasz, 35 years ago you took Cynthia Tragasz to be your wife.   On this day, before God and these witnesses, do you recommit yourself to loving her, comforting her, honoring and keeping her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others to be faithful to Cynthia as long as you both shall live?   If so, then answer, “I do.”

And….Cynthia Tragasz, 35 years ago you took Richard Tragasz to be your husband.   On this day, before God and these witnesses, do you recommit yourself to loving him, comforting him, honoring and obeying him, keeping him in sickness and in health;  and forsaking all others to be faithful to Richard as long as you both shall live?   If so, then answer, “I do.”

The Appeal to the Congregation

Brothers and sisters of Grace Lutheran congregation…..You have witnessed the promises that these two persons have reaffirmed.   Will you also promise to do all in your power to hold these Richard and Cynthia in your prayers, and to continue to encourage and uphold them in their Christian marriage.    If so, then answer, “We will.”

The Blessing

Now bless, Heavenly Father, this man and woman according to Your gracious will, empowering them through Your Holy Spirit, to fulfill the vows that they have reaffirmed, and which bind them to each other in Your institution of Christian marriage…..through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

What God has joined together, let no one separate.   Amen.

Rick & Cynthia will return to their seats and the Congregation will rise


Now Dismiss Us, Lord


Benediction                                                     Brothers and sisters, now go in peace.  

                                                                 Live in harmony with one another.  

                                                                 And Serve the Lord in gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

The Lord look on you with favor, and give you peace.   Amen.

The Closing Hymn                                                                                      “As This Worship Service Closes”

To the melody “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”

cwh, August 2022

As this worship service closes   And we sing this final song,

Thank you, Savior, for You’ve promised   That with us You’ll go along –

Guarding us in all temptation   In this “wilderness of sin”

Working in all things Your blessing   ‘Til we reach life’s journey’s end.


Fill us with Your Holy Spirit,   That, in all we say and do

We might every day be faithful,    Living godly lives for You.

Help us grow in faith and knowledge 

Through Your blessed Means of Grace.

Help us to reflect Your image   While we run our earthly race.


Heav’nly Father now we praise You    For, in love, You sent Your Son.

In our place Christ lived and suffered –    Our salvation He has won.

Bless our church, our friends, and fam’ly.   

Keep us in Your Word, so true,

That one day we might inherit   Everlasting life with You.    AMEN

 + + +  Thank You  + + +


Thank you for worshiping with us this morning.    We invite you to join those around you for some good conversation and fellowship at the conclusion of today’s announcements.   We  also invite you to join us for coffee and other refreshments in our gymnasium/fellowship hall. 

Finally, we encourage you to remain afterwards with us for further study in God’s Word through our Bible Classes and Sunday School.   May the comfort of God’s love and  His forgiveness through Jesus Christ be with you throughout this day and this week.