For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
I've always liked Schenectady, N.Y.
I like the sound of the name and the fact that they were a hard-working industrial town, a place where people lived hard and knew the names of their neighbors and their neighbor's children.
After reading the story of Don Birch and his motorcycle bar, the Sawmill Tavern, I like Schenectady even more. Let me share Don's story.
Birch has operated the Sawmill Tavern since 1978. It was a labor of love since he always had to work at another job in order to keep the doors of the place open. Does that sound like a losing proposition to you? It did to me. Then I read that since 1980 Birch has been offering a Sunday lunch to anyone who needed a free, hot meal.
That's right; Birch opened his doors -- and his buffet -- to the homeless, the unemployed, the aged, the families who heard the wolves howling outside their doors. If they couldn't get to the Sawmill Tavern because of some physical problem, he delivered a dinner to their door.
The free buffet cost Birch about $350 a week. Still, he was glad to pay it.
But then higher prices, lower-paying customers, taxes and the rising number of people attending the buffet made it so the 73-year-old was unable to keep footing the bill. As of a few weeks ago, there is no such thing as a free lunch in Schenectady.
That doesn't mean there isn't anything free in Schenectady. Some things have always been and will always be free. For example, sinners in Schenectady can still be forgiven freely. That's right ... sinners in that town and in your town can still have their sins removed for free.
Now such a wonderful gift may be free to us, but it was hardly free for the One who made the gift possible. Jesus, God's Son, paid a terrible price so that all who believe on Him as Savior might be freed from their transgressions and promised an eternal home in heaven.
Since the days Jesus lived, died and rose, the world has seen many changes. Inflation, deflation, recession, depression, wars, catastrophes, problems and upheavals have occurred.
Even so, no matter the changes, there is still free salvation for all who acknowledge the Christ as their Savior and Lord.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Heavenly Father, today I come to You to express my appreciation. For sending Your Son to offer His life in exchange for mine is a wonderful thing. I give thanks that even though the world has changed, Your love for sinful humankind has not. May we all, by the Holy Spirit's calling be brought to faith and be given a grateful heart. In the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries