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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

May 2022


May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

April 29, 2018

“The Love of the Beloved” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, April 29, 2018 [Easter 5 B] –  Psalm 22:25-31  •  1 John 4:7-21  •  John 15:1-8

FOCUS:  Trust that God loves us because he became one of us and died for us, and let his self-giving love overflow in our love for others.

 

Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager?  Did you ever feel awkward?  I sure did.  Especially, when it came to girls.

Growing up I was one of four boys.  Not having any older sisters to ask for advice, I was pretty much clueless about dating.  Even as a young adult, when it came to matters of the heart, it always seemed to me that men and women spoke a different language.

So, when I met a young woman I was attracted to, there was always that tense, anxious wondering:  should I ask her out?  What will she say?  I would ask my buddies, and women friends who I worked with, how do I know if she likes me?

Gradually I figured out that there were signs I should be looking for.  Frankly, I’m not sure I ever figured those out. 

This was well before I ever met Beth, who thankfully, was very straight forward.  But even then, as we were getting more and more serious, I wondered, how do I know she really loves me? 

I hear a very similar question echoing in our text from I John. 

How do we know that God loves us?  That’s the question I’ve been wrestling with this week. 

          For some of us, God’s love is just something we assume, without ever really thinking about it.  But, for many people, trusting that God really does love us is more difficult.  We want proof.  And we tend to look for it in all sorts of places.

We look to see how God answers our prayers, for example.  Does he intervene in our lives, and does he do what we ask him to do? 

Others see proof of God’s love in a beautiful sunset, a loving spouse, or a happy family.  Still others see it in a fulfilling job or a successful career.

Ben Franklin even found proof of God’s love in his favorite beverage.  “Beer,” he said, “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

The problem, of course, is that when we try to find proof of our belovedness in what God provides for us, inevitably we’ll doubt his love when our needs go unmet. 

Even more so, when we suffer.  And all of us suffer in this life.  At those times, we question not only whether God loves us, but whether he’s still present with us. 

One of the most perceptive spiritual writers on this topic is Henri Nouwen, a Priest, a professor and a psychologist.  Henri spoke eloquently and often of the danger of seeking assurance of God’s love in the circumstances of our lives. 

His astute observation was that we tend to fall prey to three great fallacies.  These fallacies prevent us from claiming our true identity as God’s beloved children.

The first fallacy is believing that we are what we do.  For those of us in well-defined occupations – teacher, doctor, lawyer, homemaker and pastor – this is a familiar pitfall.  The first question someone asks us is often, “What do you do?”

But, even the most stable, well-trodden career paths can be fickle.  What happens when we lose a job?  I know several of you who are experiencing this right now.  And what happens when we retire?  Who are we then, without a professional title to define us?

A second temptation is to believe that we are what others say about us.  Now, a good reputation is certainly important.  All of us seek respect, affirmation and admiration of others.  But, this too is a slippery slope.

What happens when we are not appreciated, or even worse, when others criticize us unfairly, often for their own self-serving reasons?

Finally, we’re tempted to believe that we are what we have.  Does the neighborhood where we live, the number of bedrooms in our home, or the size of our yard define us?  Do we believe that we are what the car we drive says we are?   Our culture certainly encourages us to believe that.

Sooner or later, all of us are forced to part ways with the material things in our lives.  If our identity and our sense of worthiness in God’s eyes are wrapped up in those things, we’re in for a rude shock.

That’s the problem when we live this kind of life.  It’s like being on a rollercoaster:  constantly up and down.  That’s how it will always be, so long as we continue to look for the proof of God’s love in our present circumstances.

The real proof of our belovedness, however, isn’t located in our ever-changing station in life.  It originates in the past, long before we were ever born.  That’s what our scripture from 1 John tells us.

“God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

There are two very important pieces of good news here. 

First, God’s love does not depend on our initiative.  He loved us first, before we even knew him. 

From the very beginning of creation, God has loved humankind.  That’s what his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was all about.  It’s what he promised Moses at the time of the Exodus. “I will take you as my people and I will be your God.” 

That sounds like a marriage covenant, doesn’t it?  That’s what it is – eternal love, for better or worse.

Even when his people rebelled against him and rejected him for idols, God sent prophets to remind them he still loved them.  When his people were in exile in Babylon, he spoke through Jeremiah to reassure them:  “You shall be my people, and I shall be your God.”

This is a God whose love knows no bounds.  He’s constantly pursuing us.  Like a mother searching for a lost child in a crowded shopping mall, he will not give up. 

If there is one message, one great theme, that spans all of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, it is exactly this:  God will not quit loving us and seeking us.  

He will go to any length - even becoming one of us and dying for us – to show how much he loves us and wants to draw us to himself.  That is the ultimate proof of his love.

His love is not conditional.  It’s not contingent on our worthiness.  He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable, but, rather, in spite of our unloveliness:  our guilt, our shame – our sin. 

That’s the second piece of good news.  We don’t have to have our act together before God will love us.  God pours out his love for us whether we deserve it or not.

Friends, this is what it means to be God’s beloved.  Can you imagine a more wonderful, extravagant love than that?

When we’ve been loved like that, the only faithful response is to let that love overflow into the lives of others.  And that means we have to offer that love without boundaries or conditions.

That’s a challenge.  It’s hard – very hard.  It means deciding to love another person for who they are, not necessarily for what they do.  In fact, it often means loving them despite what they do. 

That doesn’t come to us naturally.  It’s an acquired habit, a behavior we have to learn.  The place where it begins is at home.

John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach and devout Christian, said, “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”  So, we practice sharing God’s love by trying to love our spouse, our kids – our parents and our siblings – the way God loves us. 

And learning to love others unconditionally doesn’t stop with our family members.  God calls us to love even our enemies. 

Not long before his death in 2010, the Sporting News interviewed Coach Wooden.  Wooden said one of his greatest heroes was Abraham Lincoln.  When the reporter asked him why, he said: "[Lincoln] had love for everybody. He had as much sympathy for the Southerners who had lost their lives as for the Northerners who had lost their lives.

 “At the end of that terrible war, when they were discussing reparations to the South, the Secretary of State, who was critical of Lincoln’s generosity, said, ‘You're supposed to destroy your enemies, not make friends of them.' Lincoln’s answer was, ‘Am I not destroying the enemy when I make a friend of him?'”

That’s what God’s love looks like when we share it with those who are hard to love, and don’t love us back.  It’s only possible when we accept that they are God’s beloved, just as we are. 

Friends, you and I are God’s beloved.  God loves us all without condition or reservation. 

He made that love visible and present to us in his son.  Jesus is the proof of that love, and he is the source of the love. 

Let’s share it with all the other children of God, whether they’re with us around the dinner table, or around the world. 

May it be so.

Last Published: April 30, 2018 9:59 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

May 2022


May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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