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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2019


November 3, 2019  "What Makes a Saint?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2019


October 20, 2019  "Money as Means" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 6, 2019  "A New Family" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2019


September 15, 2019  "Sight? Or Insight?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2019


August 25, 2019  "Seeing as God Sees" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 4, 2019  "Five Lies & the Truth" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2019


July 28, 2019  "Walking Hand in Hand" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

June 2019


June 23, 2019  "The New, True You!" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 16, 2019  "The Fuzzy Logic of Discernment" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 9, 2019  "Speaking of Dreams and Visions" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2, 2019 "Who's the Prisoner?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

May 2019


May 5, 2019 "Vision Correction" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

April 2019


April 21, 2019 "So, Where Is He?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 14, 2019 "A Wondrous Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 7, 2019 "For Love, or Money?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2019


March 31 "Grace Forgotten" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 17, 2019 "The Love that Won't Quit" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2019


February 17, 2019 "The Kingdom Vision" by Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

March 17, 2019

“The Love that Won’t Quit” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, March 17, 2019, Year C / Lent 2 – Deuteronomy 26:1-11  •  Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16  •  Romans 10:8b-13  •  Luke 4:1-13

THEME:  Pray in contemplative silence to experience God’s love, which is drawing us to him as certainly as gravity.

 

When you graduated from high school, did you know what you wanted to be? 

Some people do, I suppose.  But many of us spend our young adult years trying to figure that out. 

As we look around for role models, naturally, we look to our parents.  But, for some of us, the path we take ends up being very different.  That was the case with me. 

Both my parents were oriented toward science and math, but I am not.  My brain is just wired differently. 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the path they took.  My father, for example, was a physicist. To this day, I have a huge admiration for the discoveries physicists have made.

Galileo, for example, used his telescope to discover the earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa.  In the 19th century, Scotsman James Maxwell discovered electromagnetism.  In the 20th century, Neils Bohr discovered the atom and Marie Curie discovered radioactivity. 

And, of course, there was Albert Einstein.  He discovered relativity, which laid the groundwork for quantum mechanics and a better understanding of our universe.  

But of all the famous physicists who did ground-breaking work, there is almost universal agreement that the greatest of all was Sir Isaac Newton.

Newton invented calculus, advanced the science of optics and, discovered the laws of mechanics that form the foundation of classical physics.

Most important of all, Newton discovered the principle of gravity.  It allowed him to explain everything from the shape of the earth and the cause of the tides, to the path of planets orbiting the sun.  As the story goes, it was all inspired by watching an apple fall from a tree.

          At the heart of his genius, was the ground-breaking discovery that every object exerts a pull on every other object.  The larger an object, the greater the force of its pull.  Even over long distances, the force of gravity never stops.

And we see an example of just such a powerful, constant, attracting force in our gospel passage.

Jesus and his disciples are making their way to Jerusalem, when a group of Pharisees approaches.  Now, unlike others, these Pharisees seem to be friendly.  They warn him that he’s made his way onto Herod’s hit list. 

That’s no idle threat and Jesus knows it.  Herod, after all, has already had his cousin John beheaded.  And Jesus is apparently next.  But that doesn’t intimidate him, nor does it stop him.

His course is set.  He’s been commissioned by God and empowered with the Spirit at his baptism.  He’s passed Satan’s testing in the wilderness.  Now, nothing is going to deter him, not even Herod’s death threat. 

Jesus has to go to Jerusalem, because that’s where he, like the prophets before him, is called to go with God’s message – and it’s where he, like them, will give his life to deliver it.

And the very thought makes him grieve – not for himself, but for the people who he knows will reject his message.  Oh, sure, they’ll welcome him with great fanfare on Palm Sunday.  They’ll cry out “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

But, when it becomes clear that he’s not the military conqueror they expect, the people will desert him faster than rats fleeing a sinking ship.

And because the people refuse to listen and accept his message of God’s loving reign, the whole city stands under divine judgment.  Their house – the Temple – will be left in ruins when the Romans eventually sack the city.

So, Jesus laments. Like a mother hen protecting her chicks, he would gladly have protected the city, but the people would not listen.

This is nothing new.  We’ve been rebelling against God ever since he made us.  But that’s never stopped him from reaching out to us in love.

He created humankind and this beautiful, bountiful creation to sustain us and give us joy.  But the first couple, Adam and Eve, disobeyed him.  And they paid the penalty. 

But even outside the Garden, God still looked out for humankind.  When Cain rebelled by murdering his brother Abel, God stepped in to punish Cain.

Likewise, when all humanity had descended into immoral chaos, God didn’t write us off.  Instead, he decided to make a clean start with Noah and his family.

Then God reached out to Abram and made a covenant with him.  If he and his kin would follow and worship God and God alone, he would give them more ancestors than stars in the sky, and lead them to a land overflowing with milk and honey.

Why?  Simply because he loved humanity so much he wanted to draw them close to him.

That’s why he sought out Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery and bring them back to the promised land.

Then, when they rebelled and rejected him for other gods, he sent one prophet after another to call them back.

And, even when they rejected and killed his prophets, God still didn’t give up on his people.  He sent his own son, God in the flesh.  And the message he brought was one of God’s love and salvation.  And even death itself couldn’t stop it.

That’s because God’s love is relentless.  He never gives up on us.

Even when we reject him, he doesn’t stop loving us.  God’s love is like gravity – it never stops drawing us closer to him.  It’s the constant force, continually pulling us closer to God.  Even when we try to pull away.

Love is what Jesus’ Great Commandment is all about:  love God with our whole being, and our neighbors as ourselves. 

And now, on this second Sunday in Lent, we take a good long look inward to see just how well we’re keeping that commandment of love, and we try to live it more faithfully.

But, in doing that, many of us miss a critical step.  Unless we first accept and appreciate God’s extravagant, unending love for us, we can’t very well share it with anyone else.

So the question for us would seem to be, “How can we know God’s love better?”

As I’ve thought about that this week, I’ve come to realize the better question is, “How can we feel God’s love better?”

We Presbyterians are pretty good at knowing things.  Of all the religious groups in America, we are among the best educated.  We value the life of the mind and the power of the intellect more than most. 

And that’s a good thing. It’s why we insist on well-trained and educated clergy.  It’s why we’re so well-known in the mission field for building schools and universities all over the world.

But there’s more to knowing God’s love with our minds.  Christians have understood this for a very long time.

About the same time Geoffrey Chaucer was writing the Canterbury Tales in the 14th century, another English writer, an unknown monk, wrote what would become the classic spiritual guide for those seeking to experience God. 

It’s called the Cloud of Unknowing.  Over the 700 years since he wrote it, its influence has become widespread.  One of the more important pieces of advice the author gives to those who would experience God’s love better is this:

“Rational creatures . . . possess two principal faculties, a knowing power and a loving power.  No one can fully comprehend . . . God with his knowledge, but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love. . .  to experience this love is the joy of eternal life.”

And the way we experience his love best is through prayer and silence.  The great 20th century spiritual writer, Thomas Keating, once said “Silence is God’s first language.  Everything else is a poor translation.”

What they both have in mind is a kind of prayer called contemplative prayer.  That’s a fancy name for simply being still and directing our thoughts to God with a loving intent.

If we can sit quietly for 10, 15 or 20 minutes and leave our thoughts behind, God will meet us there.   

Some of us have trouble sitting still for that long.  When we do, our thoughts are occupied by a review of all the things we have to do that day.  I certainly do that.

But when that happens, I’m always reminded of the  Christian writer, Teresa of Avila, wrote.  She said, “All difficulties in prayer can be traced to one cause: praying as if God were absent.”  To her, it ought to feel like a close sharing between friends.

Friends, how might this practice of contemplative prayer change our prayer life?  What might happen if, whenever we closed our eyes and quieted our minds, we came face to face with God and felt his love for us?

Whatever else happens, I can guarantee you this.  If we make that a habit, God will draw us closer to him just as surely as gravity pulled Newton’s apple to the ground.

May we all experience that love – and may we all love him and our neighbors better as a result.    

May it be so.

 

 

 

 

Last Published: March 18, 2019 3:41 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2019


November 3, 2019  "What Makes a Saint?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2019


October 20, 2019  "Money as Means" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 6, 2019  "A New Family" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2019


September 15, 2019  "Sight? Or Insight?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2019


August 25, 2019  "Seeing as God Sees" by Rev. Don Wahlig

August 4, 2019  "Five Lies & the Truth" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2019


July 28, 2019  "Walking Hand in Hand" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

June 2019


June 23, 2019  "The New, True You!" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 16, 2019  "The Fuzzy Logic of Discernment" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 9, 2019  "Speaking of Dreams and Visions" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2, 2019 "Who's the Prisoner?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

May 2019


May 5, 2019 "Vision Correction" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

April 2019


April 21, 2019 "So, Where Is He?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 14, 2019 "A Wondrous Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 7, 2019 "For Love, or Money?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2019


March 31 "Grace Forgotten" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 17, 2019 "The Love that Won't Quit" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2019


February 17, 2019 "The Kingdom Vision" by Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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