New Yorgi Eesti Maja

Lakewood Estonian House



Rev. Thomas Vaga  
13th Sunday after Pentecost, 2013. German service in Seabrook. 
Luke 12:34-48 and 2. Corinthians 8:8-9 and 9:6-12.

            Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ – us to whom Jesus Christ speaks. Jesus spoke three parables to his disciples and to all who had come to hear Him. The parables of Jesus have the same importance and power today as they had two thousand years ago when He spoke them to his disciples and the people who honestly wanted to hear Him. These parables were about a very important and embarrassing subject: money and wealth. Jesus does not mention money or wealth by name in the parables. He does mention treasure or wealth in the the verse preceding the parable’s text: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)  (The parable texts and the texts describing the disciples, viz. Christians by Holy Baptism, vv. 22-34, as being free from worry over earthly matters, i.e. “What you will eat (or) what you will wear” (v. 22) as well as the parable of the Rich Fool, vv. 13-21, constitute a unified lesson on a Christian’s (for that matter every human being’s) basic reliance on God’s provision and the importance of admitting this and being grateful to God for them.)

            Treasure in heaven is treasure in God's hands and treasure that comes from God to us and into our lives. But what about the sending of treasure into heaven? Can we send treasures to heaven? We can do it and must do it in two ways. The first way that Jesus teaches is: "Give to the poor!" READ LUKE 12:33-34.  This means that we do not forget our neighbors or fellow human beings who are in need or poor, in trouble or going through tough times (like right now when the job prospects are poor). As Christians or disciples of Jesus, that we are through Holy Baptism, we give from what we have from God to help out those who need help. Martin Luther taught that as Christians we help those whom we can help most easily. They are people who are closest to us. Those are the members of our family, our relatives, then literally our neighbors and friends, then those in our city and county and nation and all over the world. Giving and helping starts with a loving heart that helps one and all, beginning with the one who is next to us, or whom  we meet in our everyday life. Our heart and help has to be big enough to help the smallest to the largest: from our home to the whole world. The apostle Paul teaches us how to do Christian giving and why in today's Epistle text: READ 2. CORINTHIANS 8:8-9 and 14-15 & 9:6-7 & 12-13.

            The second way we can have treasures is heaven is by faith and love. This begins by knowing and believing that all that we have comes from God. Our treasure or things we own from money to houses, jewels to cats, food and clothing is a gift from God.  This is what the three parables of Jesus teach us. All that makes up a household from treasures to things, objects, household goods and food to servants belongs to the master or owner of the household not the servants or the manager. We are the managers of the property of God entrusted to us. When the master who is Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man (humanity) comes, He will find out how the manager has managed and used the master’s property and lived in the master's house. READ LUKE 12: 37a. 40. and 45-46.  The bad manager who started drinking and wasting the master's things and became bad to the master's servants under him made the mistake on forgetting that the house and all that was in it including the other servants belonged  to the master and not to him. By doing that he was stealing from the master. The Lutheran pastor through whose sermons and worship services I came to a living faith in Jesus Christ, pointed out that we as Christians can be stealing from God and nor even know it. He directed me to the Old testament text that teaches that. In the prophetic book of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament). God, the Lord and Master of the world and all that is in it, accuses the people of stealing—even robbing --  from God: READ MALACHI 3:8-10. When a Christian robs from God he or she becomes as guilty as Israel was guilty before God, for holding back on their tithes, their giving to God’s Temple and service.  But if a Christian repents and turns in faith and love to God and his fellow human beings he and she is made righteous and given help and direction by the Holy Spirit to act with the mind of a son or daughter of God as a good manager of God's household. God promises this to Israel through prophet Malachi: READ MALACHI 3:10.

            The more we admit that we have, the more we know how much God has trusted us with and given us to use as He wants us to use it, the better Christian managers of God’s property we are.  How can we best use what we have from God as good managers? We have to treat and use everything with a positive holy will and ways as good servants and managers of God. How can we know how to do this? We can by having the mind and will of Jesus Christ in our heart and head. Jesus Christ the Son of God was of one mind and will with god, as the good manager who does as his master wants him to do. This does not come about through a command or law (the Apostle Paul taught right giving by saying: “I am not commanding you.”(2. Corinthians. 8:8a.) When people hear teaching about contributions and giving, they very easily think about counting out a percentage or even grabbing the loose change in their pocket or purse to give like an alm or offering, or they try to compare their financial state with those who are “richer” than they are, or some other “point of law”. As Christians we do not live by the “letter of the law”; we live by grace and love of God in Christ. We have the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:1ff and 5) We can be good servants and managers of God by having the mind and will of Jesus Christ in our head and in our heart. Jesus Christ the Son of God as the good manager has who does as his master wants him to do.  This does not come through the force of the law but grace and love. The Apostle John taught giving through loving in Christ:  READ 1. JOHN 4:7 and 10-11.

For us Christians all of this does not come about through law or force. It comes through grace and love. The Apostle John taught giving through loving in his First Letter: LESE 1. JOHANNES 4:7.10-11.  If Jesus Christ is our treasure our hearts are in heaven even on this earth.   AMEN.



What is Thanksgiving ?
October 2011 ~ Rev. Thomas Vaga


Every time we bring the offering or contributions to the altar we sing "We give Thee but Thine own, whate'er the gift may be. All  that we have is Thine alone -- a trust, O'Lord, from Thee!" I learned to sing this offering verse when I was a new believer
(I was twenty-eight years old). I had really not given anything to God before that except for prayer requests for good things and protection. until I came into a truly dynamic two way dialogue with god, until I began to hear what God said and did, I did not learn why and how to give to God. In a way, I had the "Pilgrims' experience".

The Pilgrims gave up their house and home, nation and country because of their faith in and service to God. in their first winter in America almost half of them died of illnesses. But they kept going in faith in the new world thanking god, for "All that we have is Thine (God's) alone -- a trust, O'Lord, from Thee!" They received abundantly next fall. They shared the good harvest in the first Christian Thanksgiving festival in New England with the Indians who showed them how to plant corn so that they had a good harvest. The tradition of Crhistian giving and haring that is especially American had a start with the Pilgrims and has continued to our day.

My Pilgrim experience convinced me how I owed everything to God from my freedom from sin to my money and position and place in life. Every time I sing the words of the offering verse: "We give Thee but Thien own!", I wonder how fully the people in the service understand and how fully do they give?

A modern Christian hero, a Lutheran pastor, wrote that blessed are people who are happy not because they lack nothing, but because they receive everything from the hand of God.

We can be like the Pilgrims who were happy to serve God with all they had including their lives and possessions. We are not in such a critical situaiton as the Pilgrims; but we are Christinas who can have Pilgrim's attitude to giving and hsaring -- not only asking and receiving.

Thanksgiving is sharing what God has given us -- "All that we have is His alone and a trust to us!"

A blessed Thanksgiving
Rev. Thomas Vaga


The Holy Ghost Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Service Ending the Synod Meetings 
May 15th, 2011

Pastor Markus Vaga - USA First Synod Deanery, Assisting Minister


1 Peter 2: 1-10

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is a living stone? I recently went with my wife to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where we took a moment to look at the Children's Garden. One of the displays teaches children about desert plants. The sign next to the display asks visitors to find the plants, called "living stones," from amongst other, normal stones.

In many deserts around the world, and maybe even in Israel, living stones can often be found.

They look like regular stones, but are actually plants. Perhaps St. Peter was talking about just these kinds of "stones" when he wrote this letter. Like all plants, living stones grow. Living stones propagate.

The Bible speaks often about stones and rocks. In Deuteronomy we read that "[God] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just." The prophet Samuel also often writes about God as a rock. "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge..." (2 Samuel 22:2-3)

When we read the Bible, we often find comparisons between God and a rock. The comparison is perfect -- rock's can be awesome things. Rocks and stones are hard. We can build many things from stones, like our church - our own Estonian people's church -- here in Lakewood. Even the most splendid churches in Europe are all built with stones - and many of them are hundreds of years old! Yes, we can build many things with stone, and we can do a lot more with stones as well.

St. Peter wanted to remind his congregation that they had a responsibility to build a church. They were given a direct obligation to build a church from Jesus when He said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

A Christian's obligation back then, and also our obligation today, is to spread the Word, or to evangelize. And if we do this effectively, we build congregations and churches. But we need to be careful here. We build a congregation, yes, but not a physical congregation and church. It's necessary to differentiate between earthly and spiritual thinking. We, as people, often think in a worldly way - about worldly things. It's difficult for us to comprehend Jesus' and God's will since our understanding and way of thinking is often worldly, and often not correct.

If we look at the many churches of the world -- and we find some of them here in America -- we often find that the physical building and the size of the congregation are very important. We've all heard of so-called "mega-churches" where there can be thousands and even tens of thousands of members. This is different from the official state-churches in Europe, where everyone is pretty much automatically a member, because in mega-churches, all these thousands and tens of thousands come to church - every Sunday!

Now there isn't a problem, per se, with such a church. They often preach God's Word, believe and trust in Christ, and are properly Christian, if you will. No. Rather, a problem comes up when an individual places their trust in such a church -- in a physical church, which has been built with sweat and money. Because from that kind of trust, it is only a short step to thinking in a worldly way. In other words, pinning your hopes on your success, work and actions.

Even during the time of St. Peter, only a few decades after Christ's ascension, there were those who came to churches to spread false doctrine. We read from the Bible that people began to believe that favouring one disciple over another was somehow better. The Apostel Paul writes (1 Corinthians 1:12-13) "Each one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Appollos,' or 'I follow Cephas,' or 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

It's true -- even so early in the life of the church -- only a few years after Jesus' ascension, many Christians were putting their hopes on worldly, physical things, or in other people. They put their faith on stone-built churches, and in the people who had built them. But these churches were built with ordinary stones -- and we could even say dead stones!

Stones are not alive. They don't grow or propagate. A stone is just a stone. They can be found in nature, and if there are no stones, we end up building things using other materials. Yes, every church here in the world which has been built with stone, has been built with the same stone. And these stones are not alive. We could even say that architecturally speaking, there really is no difference between a church and a department store as far as the construction is concerned.

Our church here in Lakewood, St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, St. Mary's Cathedral [Toomkirik] in Tallinn and even St. Peter's Basilica in Rome - all have been built with stones - and all of them, basically, are a large, physical building. These stones are not alive!

Communism has not understood this, and so in Soviet times they attempted to destroy faith and congregations by turning old and beautiful churches into theatres. In St. Petersburg, the famous and beautiful Church of the Saviour on Blood [Spass Na Krovi] was turned into a vegetable warehouse. The buildings were not churches anymore -- but the Church did not die and faith was not lost. It can even be said that the church during the Soviet Union was more alive under communism than today in the current time of freedom and democracy.

Why? How can this be? Because, a church and a congregation is not a physical thing. It is not built with stones or walls. No. Rather, it is built with living stones. And those living stones are you and I. Living stones are everyone who believe and place their hope in Christ. Like Peter writes: "you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house."

Yes, a Christian person, a believer, is a living stone. We who believe in Christ are together with Him, our cornerstone, building a spiritual house - a holy church, over which, like Jesus has himself said: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

I recently saw on a church wall a poster which had something like this written on it: "First we are Catholics, then we are Western Catholics, then we are Lutherans."

This caused some problems for me. Maybe in a worldly understanding this may be true. But as a Christian, shouldn't the sign read: "First we are Christians...." and then so forth, adding on whatever group you belong to.

The problem is not with the church. We here are Lutherans and this will not change. We must, however, keep in mind that Christ is the first and the last, like the Bible teaches. He is our cornerstone, on which we have built our living church. A worldly, physical church will not save anyone -- no-one gets to heaven because they are a member of one or another congregation! No one.

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live," said Christ. (John 11:25) A believer builds a congregation on Christ by believing in Him first. And He makes us into living stones. Paul writes: "For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have - Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11)

An old Estonian proverb says: "No stone goes up without being raised." And we have Christ, who raises us up and gives us grace and saves us from death with eternal mercy. Let us, therefore, be living stones, building together a spiritual house exclusively for the glory of God.

Translated by TR/MV.



2016 Usupuhatuspühal - õpetaja Thomas Vaga

2015 - Siimon Haamer - Tartu Teoloogilise akadeemia juhata

2015 - Ülestõusmise Jutlus - õpetaja praost Thomas Vaga

2015 - Vabariigi Aastapäevaks - õpetaja praost Thomas Vaga

2014 - Jeesuse Kristuse taevaminemise pühaks - õpetaja praost Thomas Vaga

2014 - Eesti Evangeeliumi Luteriusu Kirik Vaba Rahvakirik Paguluses ja Võõrsil - õpetaja praost Thomas Vaga

2014 - veebruaril - Vabariigi 96. aastapäeva jutlus - õpetaja praost Thomas Vaga

2013 - september - Mihklipäev, Inglid ja Igavese Elu Pärimine - 
Diakon-õpetaja kandidaat Gilda Karu

2013 - august - 13. pühapäeval pärast nelipühi, Seabrookis.

2011 - oktoober - Lõikustänupüha Sõnum - Koguduse õpetaja Thomas Vaga praost

2011 - juunil - Kolmainu Jumala pühal ja isadepäeval - Praost Thomas Vaga

2011 - mail - E.E.L.K. Lakewoodis peetud jutlus Sinodite lõpp-jumalateenistusel
USA I praostkonna vikaarõpetaja Markus Vaga



2014 - The Ascension of Christ - Pastor Thomas Vaga

2013 - august - 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 2013. German service in Seabrook. 

2011 - October - What is Thanksgiving? - Pastor Thomas Vaga

2011 - May - End of Synod Church Service - Pastor Markus Vaga



This page was last edited on November 11, 2016 09:25 PM



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2013 august - Seabrookis  

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2015 - Impossible to Believe - Martin Luther

2014 The Ascension of Christ

2013 august - 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 2013. German service in Seabrook. 

2011 Oct. - What is Thanksgiving?

2011 May - End of Synod Mtgs. 
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