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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

 

 

March 31, 2019

“Grace Forgotten?” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, March 31, 2019, Year C / Lent 4 – Joshua 5:9-12  •  Psalm 32  •  2 Corinthians 5:16-21  •  Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

THEME:  Remember God’s grace reconciling us to him in Jesus Christ and seek reconciliation with others.

 

        Do you ever catch yourself acting or thinking like a Pharisee?  Judgmental and self-righteous?

I certainly do.  Apparently, we’re far from alone. 

I recently ran across the results of a nationwide study from a highly respected Christian research firm.  They suggest we might be more like the Pharisees than we think. 

This study was done 5-6 years ago.  The researchers polled a group of self-identified Christians.  The objective was to determine whether their actions and attitudes were more like Jesus or the Pharisees, as described in scripture. 

Now, bear in mind, all the folks surveyed were self-professed Christians.  Each one was presented with a series of 20 statements with which they could either agree or disagree.

These were statements like, “I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.”  That would be more like Pharisee. 

Another statement was “I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.”  Which would, of course, be like Jesus.

Essentially, they were asked to identify with either the qualities of Jesus – love, empathy, faith-sharing – or the self-centered, self-righteousness attributes of the Pharisees.

The results were stunning.  51% of American Christians displayed attitudes and actions more like the Pharisees than Jesus.

As I read today’s gospel passage, it occurred to me that we are being asked to make a very similar choice between what Jesus would do and what the Pharisees would do.

This is the story of the prodigal son.  It’s one of the most popular and poignant stories in the entire Bible.

Initially, Luke focuses our attention on the youngest son.  In a culture where family bonds were absolutely sacrosanct, his self-centered departure from home and family is simply outrageous.  Nevertheless, that’s what he wants.

By law and tradition, the older brother would be entitled to the bulk of his father’s estate.  The younger brother would inherit only a fraction of that.  But neither one would receive anything until their father died.

So, by asking for his share of the inheritance while his father is still alive, this headstrong, hedonistic young man is all but wishing his father were dead!

Not only that, he’s removing himself from the household and the family that has nurtured him since he was a baby.  This is an egregious violation of the fourth commandment to honor his father and mother.

We follow him through his days of dissolute living and humiliation.  By the time he turns up on his father’s doorstep, he’s been completely humbled.  He declares himself no longer worthy to be called his father’s son.  He wants nothing more than to be his father’s servant.

Then we rejoice with him at his father’s tearful embrace and the subsequent homecoming party.

It’s all very much a whirlwind – with all the drama of a Hollywood script.  But, then, just when we think it’s a happy ending, we’re drawn into the bitter complaints of the oldest son.

The contrast between these two could hardly be greater.  While the younger son was sowing his wild oats in distant lands, the elder son remained home, dutifully serving his father.

When a slave tells him his father is throwing a lavish party to celebrate the return of his younger brother, he doesn’t join in. 

When his father comes out to bring him into the party, the oldest son complains bitterly.  He resents being his father’s slave, the very thing his brother willingly seeks.  But in the older brother’s mind, he’s been slaving away and receiving nothing for his obedience and devotion.

The question I’ve been asking myself this week is does he really have reason to feel so mistreated?

By any measure, his father’s act of welcoming home his younger brother and restoring him to the family is an act of extraordinary, lavish grace.  It’s entirely unearned, and utterly unexpected.  But what exactly has the eldest son lost?

With grace equal to that which he showered on his youngest son, his father reminds his oldest boy “you are always with me; all that I have is yours”. 

And there the parable ends.  It’s a cliffhanger – does the eldest son go into the party?  Does he reunite with his brother and share in his father’s joy? 

Or does he stay outside and sulk, bitter, angry at his father’s grace and resentful of his younger brother?

That’s the genius of this parable.  It forces you and me to put ourselves in his shoes.  Luke wants us to make that same choice.  Are we going to side with the father and be on the side of grace?  Or are we going to be like a self-righteous Pharisee?

If we’re being truthful, most of us can identify with the anger and resentment of the elder brother.  Even in our staff Bible Study this week, every one of us sympathized with him.  We can all understand how he feels, right?

But, if we stop and reflect, we realize we’re missing something.  That’s because we overlook the very same thing the elder brother did.

What he fails to remember is the grace his father has already shown him.  And, all too often, the same is true for you and me.

We are human.  We’re inclined to sin.  We are all quick to forget just how gracious God has been to us.  In my experience, the longer we live as Christians, the more likely we are to take his grace for granted.

The sign that this is happening is that we begin to slide into legalism.  Legalism is just a fancy name for believing that our good works are what put us right with God.  

Legalism is a heresy.  It’s one of the major theological arguments our Reformed ancestors had with the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago.

But, just because you and I are Reformed, doesn’t guarantee we won’t succumb to this temptation.  When we do, we see ourselves – whether we recognize it or not – as earning our own salvation. 

So, instead of being humble and grateful to God, we become judgmental.  We become competitive with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Like the older brother in our parable, we begin to see ourselves as more faithful than others – just like the Pharisees.

And that’s how humility gives way to pride, that most dangerous of all sins.  Pride is the root cause of division within families, communities and congregations.

As bad as that is, though, the real damage is done not to others, but to ourselves and our relationship with God.  To somehow claim we can earn God’s redemption by our own efforts is to say that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was either unnecessary or insufficient.  

That’s why we should always be on the lookout for signs of this Pharisee-mindset within ourselves. 

That’s true every day, of course, but never more so than now.  In this season of Lent, you and I are preparing ourselves for the ultimate gift of God’s grace on Easter morning.  In God’s self-sacrifice on the cross we’ve been offered nothing less than new life. 

As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Friends, that’s the very same ministry the father is undertaking in our parable.  He can’t imagine the party without both his sons present.  And he can’t imagine his two sons present without them being reconciled to one another.

And that’s why he’s outside the party tent, pleading with his oldest son to put aside his Pharisee thinking, and accept the grace he’s already been given.

The father’s ministry is our ministry, too. 

To whom do we need to reach out with an invitation to God’s great homecoming party?  

And do we first need to humble ourselves, remembering that we, too, desperately need God’s grace and reconciliation through Jesus Christ?

We can find inspiration for this ministry in a place you might not think to look:   the animal kingdom.

No one knows that better than the great British primatologist Jane Goodall.  She turns 84 years old this week.  She’s spent most of her life studying chimpanzees in the forests of Tanzania.  Few people have ever had such long-term exposure to these gentle creatures who are some of our closest biological relatives.

One of her primary findings was that you and I are not as different from them as we might think. 

In an interview not long ago, she said, “Chimps are very quick to have a sudden fight or aggressive episode, but they’re equally good at reconciliation.”

After a disagreement or an altercation, one will simply reach out to another in a gesture of gracious appeasement.  Almost always, the other chimp will respond with a gesture of reconciliation – and their relationship is restored. 

Apparently, there are no Pharisees among the chimpanzees. 

Friends, if chimps in the forest can reconcile themselves to one another, surely higher order primates like you and me can do the same.  God wants and expects us to do nothing less.

The question is:  are we willing? 

        May it be so.

Last Published: May 15, 2019 2:15 PM
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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