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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

February 2019


February 10, 2019 "Fishing Tips for Amateur Anglers" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 3, 2019 "Grace Unlimited" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2019


January 13, 2019 "The Promise of Baptism" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 6, 2019 "The Message of the Magi" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2018


Christmas Eve, 2018 "Self-giving Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 23, 2018 "Sing Along" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2, 2018 “Living in Between" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2018


November 18, 2018 “Persistent Witness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 11, 2018 “Everyday Foxhole Faith" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2018


October 28, 2018 “True Discipleship" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 21, 2018 “How the Truly Great Get that Way" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 14, 2018 “The Cost of Discipleship" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2018


September 30, 2018 “Holding It All Together" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 23, 2018 “Gentle Wisdom" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 16, 2018 “Finding the Right Words" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 9, 2018 “Jesus: Savior...and Lord?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2018


August 26, 2018 “Whom Will You Serve?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 19, 2018 “Fill 'Er Up, Please!" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 12, 2018 “The Christian Diet" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2018


July 22, 2018 “Whose Plan is it Anyway?" by Bryan Corbin

July 1, 2018 “Keeping God First" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

January 13, 2019

“The Promise of Baptism” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, January 13, 2019, Year C / Baptism of the Lord – Isaiah 43:1-7  •  Psalm 29  •  Acts 8:14-17  •  Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

THEME:  Through baptism, God promises that we will never walk alone.   God loves us, gives us the Holy Spirit and walks with us always.

 

Are any of you fans of Star Wars?  I suppose a better question is which of the three Star Wars trilogies do you like best? 

I was just about to start High School when the first Star Wars movie came out.  It took the world by storm.  I can remember playing the theme song in marching band, and concert band and jazz band. 

With each successive film in that original trilogy, the movie franchise, like the theme song itself, just got bigger and bigger.  You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it.  Then, after the third movie in 1983, things sort of calmed down for a while.

But then, around 2000, came the prequel.  That’s the second Star Wars trilogy.  It’s really the backstory to the original.  These three films are essentially the answer to the question ‘How did Darth Vader get to be so evil?”

Then, because the movie-going public were still not satisfied, a few years ago, came the third trilogy.  This is the sequel to the original. 

It’s the story of a much older Luke Skywalker as the last Jedi.  The last movie in this third trilogy is being filmed right now.  It should be released next Christmas.

Phew!  That’s a lot of Star Wars.  But my favorite is still the original Trilogy.  Like everyone else, I was captivated by the notion of the Force.

George Lucas, Star Wars creator, has said that the Force is premised on the existence of God and distinct ideas of good and evil.  Without stretching the metaphor too far, many people have commented on the similarity between the Force and the Holy Spirit.

For those who use it for good – that’s the Jedi and, especially, Luke Skywalker – the Force is both a guide and a source of power.  That power is always there for them to tap into in order to accomplish their mission of salvation. 

That’s the message of our gospel passage this morning.

The crowds are gathered out in the wilderness, by the banks of the Jordan River where John is baptizing them.  Jesus is there too.  He allows himself to be baptized along with everybody else. 

As he sits praying, the Holy Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove.  God’s voice booms out "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."  

This begs a question, doesn’t it?  ‘Why did Jesus need to be baptized?  He didn’t need to repent.’

That’s absolutely right.  But that’s not why Jesus is there.  Jesus is setting the example for the crowds.  He’s showing his solidarity with repentant sinners, even though he himself has never known sin.

And there’s something more going on here.

This is Jesus’ ordination.  It’s his acceptance of the mission his Father set before him:  to redeem the world he created.  Like the Force in Star Wars, the Holy Spirit will empower him and guide him on this mission.

Those whom John is baptizing also have a mission.  Their mission, as John tells them, is to bear the fruit of genuine repentance.  That means sharing their goods with those in need, and using their money and power to bless others, not exploit them.  

If they’re willing to receive Jesus’ baptism, they’ll receive what he did: the Holy Spirit.  They, too, will become members of God’s family, his beloved sons and daughters.  In the judgment, they will be the wheat, not the chaff.

Friends, that is the baptism you and I have received.  We’ve been baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We’ve accepted Christ’s mission.  But you and I know the mission we’ve accepted is not an easy one. 

Just because we’ve been baptized into God’s family and claimed as his children, there’s no guarantee we won’t suffer and struggle in this life.

In fact, the opposite is true.  Being Jesus’ disciple means self-sacrifice, giving ourselves in service to God by serving others.

That’s the mission we all undertake when we’re baptized.  Yes, we have the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire and empower us. But nowhere in the fine print of our Baptismal Certificates does it say that this exempts us from hard times.

Hard times are part and parcel of life.  It’s the nature of living in a flawed world among flawed people who, just like you and me, are inclined to sin.

Because of that sin, when we suffer, we have the unfortunate and regrettable tendency to blame God for the hard times we experience.  And when things get really tough, it’s not hard at all to convince ourselves God is no longer even with us.

That’s one way suffering happens.  Other times, we bring suffering on ourselves through our own stubborn willfulness.

That usually happens when we ignore the guidance of the Spirit.  Instead of trusting God, we trust ourselves.  We pursue what we want and we put God’s mission on a back burner.  After a while, we forget God is even with us.  And if we do that long enough, we start to think we don’t need him at all.

Until things go badly wrong.  And, sooner or later, they always do.

That’s what happened to the people of Israel to whom Isaiah writes.  Long after the glory years of David and Solomon, subsequent kings and religious leaders led them astray.  They reverted to worshipping other gods.

Because they had forsaken Yahweh, the one true God, God allowed them to be conquered, first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians.  The Jewish leaders were led off into exile.  They became captives in a foreign land, living among foreign people who worshipped foreign gods.

It was the single greatest disaster ever to overtake God’s chosen people.  What made it all the worse was knowing they brought it on themselves.

Friends, that can happen to you and me, too.  We can find ourselves in exile, if only because we have forgotten who we are, and whose we are.

But, fortunately, God’s faithfulness is greater than our faithlessness.  Even when we turn away from God, God never turns away from us.  As Obi-Wan Kenobi reassured Luke, “The Force will be with you – always.”

That’s the promise of baptism.  When we go through hard times, whether they simply come upon us in the ordinary course of life, or we bring them on ourselves by ignoring God, we never walk alone.  God is with us - always.

Just as God guided the exiles back from Babylon, so he guides us back to the Promised Land.  He promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

And it’s not only God who’s with us.  In baptism, we get adopted into a new family.  We become part of God’s family.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are with us, too.

There’s one more part to God’s baptismal promise – and it’s a big one.  Not only is God with us, but he loves us.  You and I are God’s beloved. 

As the great Canadian Psychologist, David G. Benner, writes, “What a different relationship begins to develop when you realize that God is head-over-heels in love with you. God is simply giddy about you. He just can’t help loving you. And he loves you deeply, recklessly and extravagantly - just as you are.”

The question is how we hear that promise of God’s love, and how we learn to trust it.  If we do, it will change our lives.

The place to start is by doing what Jesus did:  talking to God in prayer and listening to him speak to us.  It also means hearing his promises through scripture.  That’s exactly how I heard the call to ministry.

One Sunday, I was in church with my family.  In the middle of his sermon, the pastor made an offhand suggestion that we read the OT prophet Amos.  So, I did.

If you’ve read Amos, you know that, in no uncertain terms, he calls us to do justice and love righteousness. When I read that, I realized God was talking to me, calling me. 

When I prayed that night, I figured I better listen to what God was saying.  That was the beginning of the journey that landed me here in this pulpit.

Many people have had a similar experience.  One of the most famous examples was the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.  At the age of 35, Wesley had reached a low point in his ministry.

Reluctantly, he went to a prayer meeting one night in Aldersgate Street in London.  There he listened to a man speak about the Book of Romans. 

Here’s how Wesley described what happened:

“About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

That’s how John Wesley rediscovered and reclaimed the promises of his baptism.

We may not be John Wesley, but God makes those same promises to us in our baptisms.  They’re the basis of our hope, the assurance of our salvation, and the power of our witness. 

Let’s trust those promises.  With our help, Josie and Sofia will come to trust them, too. 

And that will change all our lives.

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

Last Published: January 15, 2019 12:00 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

February 2019


February 10, 2019 "Fishing Tips for Amateur Anglers" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 3, 2019 "Grace Unlimited" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2019


January 13, 2019 "The Promise of Baptism" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 6, 2019 "The Message of the Magi" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2018


Christmas Eve, 2018 "Self-giving Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 23, 2018 "Sing Along" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2, 2018 “Living in Between" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2018


November 18, 2018 “Persistent Witness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 11, 2018 “Everyday Foxhole Faith" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2018


October 28, 2018 “True Discipleship" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 21, 2018 “How the Truly Great Get that Way" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 14, 2018 “The Cost of Discipleship" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2018


September 30, 2018 “Holding It All Together" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 23, 2018 “Gentle Wisdom" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 16, 2018 “Finding the Right Words" by Rev. Don Wahlig

September 9, 2018 “Jesus: Savior...and Lord?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2018


August 26, 2018 “Whom Will You Serve?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 19, 2018 “Fill 'Er Up, Please!" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 12, 2018 “The Christian Diet" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2018


July 22, 2018 “Whose Plan is it Anyway?" by Bryan Corbin

July 1, 2018 “Keeping God First" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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