Contact us LOGIN
Gathering service Banner
Worship and Sermons
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

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

 

 

April 7, 2019

“For Love, or Money?” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, April 7, 2019, Year C / Lent 5 – Isaiah 43:16-21  •  Psalm 126  •  Philippians 3:4b-14  •  John 12:1-8

THEME:  Embrace the gift of new life in Jesus Christ and give him our lives in response.

 

This week, even as Easter advertising is in full swing, I’ve begun noticing all sorts of Mother’s Day promotions popping on TV and the Internet.  Have you seen these? 

Now, for those of you who are already worrying what you’ll do for Mother’s Day, fret not:  you’ve got plenty of time.  It’s not until, May 12th.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to see what famous people did to show their appreciation for the women who gave them life.  Lo and behold, I found exactly such a list.

Some of them are surprisingly normal.  The actor Ryan Reynolds give his mother a photo album of the year’s activities his mother enjoys.

Ben Affleck shoots a video full of appreciation and love, and sends it to his mom. 

One of the sweetest was from LeBron James.  He wrote a first-person essay for an online publication to honor “single mothers who are struggling to make a living and raise their kids, because that perfectly describes my mother when I was growing up.”

Other celebrities take a much more extravagant approach. 

Leonardo DiCaprio planted an entire grove of trees in Southern California and dedicated them to his mother. 

David and Victoria Beckham each gave their respective mothers identical Audi sports cars one year.

For his mother, who is a pastor, Dwayne Wade, the basketball star, actually bought her a church.  No doubt she appreciated having a new building without having to do a building campaign.

But, when it comes to extravagant gifts for those who’ve given us life, they aren’t even in the same league as the one we read about in our gospel passage.

Having raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus has attracted scores of new followers. This has drawn him squarely into the crosshairs of the Jerusalem council. They’re eager to see him put to death. 

With the Passover festival just days away, everyone is buzzing and speculating whether Jesus will dare show his face in Jerusalem and – if he does, what will happen.

But for the time being, Jesus is enjoying a quiet moment of fellowship at the table of his resurrected host, along with his two sisters and other guests, including Judas.

Somehow, Judas seems to have missed the significance of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  That’s because what’s most important to Judas is money.

He objects strongly when Mary performs one of scripture’s most extravagant acts of love and adoration:  she pours onto Jesus’ feet a bottle of precious oil and then wipes his feet with her hair. 

Judas pretends to be shocked at what he sees as waste – but waste to him means only a missed opportunity to steal the funds that purchased the costly oil.  Judas is not only a thief, he’s the worst kind of thief who preys on those closest to him.

But that still leaves us with a question.  What exactly is Mary doing and why?

Personal hygiene in the ancient world was a challenge.  It was usually hot, and everyone got sweaty.  Since people walked everywhere in sandals using the same roads their animals did, well, let’s just say, by the end of the day, their feet didn’t smell so sweet.

If you were hosting a dinner, you would offer your guests water to wash their own feet, or you’d have your servant wash their feet for them.  But hosts themselves would never wash their guests’ feet.  And, yet, that’s exactly what Mary is doing for Jesus.  And it’s what he’ll do later in that same week for his disciples.

But Mary does more than that.  She doesn’t use water.  She takes a jar of Nard, the costliest aromatic oil imaginable, worth a full year’s wages, and pours it onto Jesus’ feet.  Instead of drying them with a towel, she uses her own hair.

This is more like an anointing than a foot washing!

Anointing with olive oil was done to consecrate prophets, priests and kings.  But this gesture is over the top, even for those lofty occasions. 

If a few drops of olive oil signify God’s blessing and calling, then Mary’s extravagant act is proof that she recognizes in Jesus the source of all blessing.

And in less than a week, this act of anointing will be repeated when Jesus’ disciples prepare his dead body for burial.  Somehow, she seems to already know this, and she’s determined to do all she can for Jesus now, in the present.  For her, cost doesn’t even enter the equation.

The contrast between Mary and Judas could hardly be greater.  Mary is a faithful disciple who serves Jesus with all she is and all she has.  Judas, on the other hand, is a false disciple who serves only himself.  He wants money; she wants Jesus.

She sees in Jesus something that Judas, blinded by his greed, cannot.  Mary has come to understand that Jesus is the source of new life.

The reason is simple:  she’s witnessed it first- hand.  The proof is sitting right there at the table with them.  Her brother is alive and restored to his family, because of Jesus.

No wonder she responds so extravagantly!

What would you or I give to honor and praise someone who’s given new life to us and those we love? Wouldn’t we respond by giving all we have?

That’s what happens when we experience new life.  The things that had value before, suddenly seem unimportant.

That’s exactly what happened to the apostle Paul. Paul had every reason to be proud of his former life.  He wasn’t just a Jew, he was one of the Jewish elite. 

He was descended from one of Israel’s most prominent tribes.  Like his father before him, Paul was a Pharisee, steeped in the law and zealous about observing it.

He made a name for himself purging the synagogues of all those Jews who scandalously professed Christ.  He personally saw to it that these heretics were imprisoned, even executed.

But then Jesus literally knocked him off his high horse, or donkey, as the case may be.  And lying there in the dirt, blinded by Christ’s light, Paul began his new life in Christ.  From that moment forward, he responded by serving Christ with his whole life.

He describes that new life in Ephesians. He writes, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ.”

Everything Paul valued before pales in comparison to the new life he has now in Jesus.  To say that his priorities have changed is putting it mildly. 

And that’s the point of our gospel passage.  You and I are being asked to choose between embracing the new life Christ offers us on the cross, or remaining attached to all those things that get in the way of accepting that new life.

We either decide to serve Christ, or we pretend to – like Judas.  But, only one of those paths leads to life.  The other, as Judas himself will find out in a few days, leads only to death.

I suspect that for you, like me, that’s the real challenge.  We trust in Christ.  We’ve been baptized into Christ.  We’ve joined this Christian community to help one another live more like Christ. 

But at the same time, we also live in the world.  And, frankly, there’s a little bit of Judas in each and every one of us.

It’s that part of us that’s skeptical about miraculous redemption and life transformation.  It’s the voice in our head that says, “Well, I’ve never seen a resurrection.  I doubt Christ can really change my life, or others.”

This is also the voice that nudges us to just give in to the values of the world, and then fails to object when we get a little too cozy with them, when we compromise with them and cling to them with surprising, suicidal tenacity.

That’s why this season of Lent is so important to Easter.  Lent is the time to renew those disciplines that keep us centered on Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, and remind us of the new life that he wants for us.  If we can manage that, when it comes time to celebrate his resurrection, we can be more like Mary and less like Judas.

That means responding with the same sense of extravagant love that she did.

So, how’s your prayer life?  Are you waiting on God’s presence in silence? 

How about scripture?  Are you still reading the gospel of Luke?  It’s not too late to start.  You may be surprised by what a compelling, fast-paced and inspirational story it really is.

Folks, whatever you’re doing this Lent to keep yourself focused on the gift of new life that Jesus gives us, let’s all keep it up.

And then let’s remember to give to him the most extravagant gift we can:  the gift of our lives.  

 

Last Published: April 8, 2019 10:20 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

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

 

 

Gathering service Banner