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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2019


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

 

 

June 23, 2019

“The New, True You!” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, June 23, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 2 – 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a and Psalm 42 and 43  •  Isaiah 65:1-9 and Psalm 22:19-28  •  Galatians 3:23-29  •  Luke 8:26-39

THEME:  Jesus calls us to our true identity by making us whole, and calls us to witness to him, esp. among others who only knew our former, false self.

 

          One of the most fascinating movies I’ve ever seen is A Beautiful Mind.  Have you seen it? 

It came out in 2002, and it won all sorts of awards, including 3 Oscars.  Ron Howard directed.  Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly were the stars.

          The acting, directing and writing are all first rate.  There’s a lot of suspense.  But you might not think that, based solely on the plot. 

          It’s the story of one of the greatest mathematicians ever, John Forbes Nash.  When the movie starts, he’s an up and coming star in the world of academia at Princeton and then MIT. 

Along the way, however, he gradually succumbs to his inner demons.  And the plot revolves around his search for his true self, with the help of his loving wife.  

          This search for true identity is front and center to the meaning of the text from Luke we just read.

           

          For Luke, the question of Jesus’ identity is central.  From the moment he’s baptized and God declares him “my Son, the beloved”, the question of his identity is pondered and debated throughout the gospel. 

The first one to question it is Satan.  When Jesus is driven into the desert, Satan offers Jesus three temptations.  Each time he begins, saying “If you are the Son of God . . .”

          The same question comes up again when Jesus begins his ministry.  In his home synagogue in Nazareth, he reads Isaiah’s description of God’s anointed servant who will bring good news to the people.  He then sits down and declares himself to be that anointed one. But his friends and neighbors all wonder, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

Even his disciples wonder who Jesus really is.  The night before they arrive in the land of the Gerasenes, they’re startled awake by a sudden storm.  Scared out of their wits, they look to Jesus.  After he calms the waves, they ask one another “Who is this that commands even the winds and the water?”

Jesus is not the only one whose uncertain identity causes wonderment and even fear.  That becomes clear the next morning when their boat pulls up to the shoreline and they encounter the Gerasene demoniac. 

This isn’t the first time Jesus has encountered someone possessed by demons.  Ironically, each time he does, the demons always know who he is.  “We know who you are,” they shout, “You’re the Son of God!”     

That’s the case with this man’s demons, too.

This poor man is not only stark naked, he’s stark raving mad.  He grew up in the nearby town, but for years now, he’s been possessed by a host of demons.  They make him dangerous both to himself and to others.

Periodically his family, friends and neighbors shackle him in irons.  But, even those can’t hold him.  He routinely escapes and runs into the wild. As a result, he’s alienated from his family, friends and neighbors.  He’s forced to live in the caves where the dead are buried.

Then Jesus heals him.  He casts out the demons who’ve taken over this man’s life.  Word spreads like wildfire among the towns people.  When they arrive, they’re positively gob-smacked to find him clothed, in his right mind and seated calmly at Jesus’ feet.

And that’s when this story takes an unexpected turn.  Instead of responding to Jesus’ miraculous healing with awe and praise, the Gerasenes respond with fear.  They actually ask him to leave!  

I’ve been pondering that this week, wondering why that is. 

The answer is this:  by making this man whole, Jesus has fundamentally changed this man’s identity.  And we human beings just don’t like it when we think we know who someone is, only to be proven wrong when their true self emerges.

Jesus has revealed this man’s true self.  The demons had taken over his life, obscuring his true identity as a beloved child of God.

Demons do the same to you and me.  The demons in our world aren’t the supernatural, evil minions of Satan we see in TV shoes and movies.  They’re any force that gains control over us and prevents us from becoming what God intends us to be.

And there are as many varieties of them as Jesus cast out from this possessed man. We just have different names for them.

There are mental illnesses like depression, paranoia, schizophrenia; narcissism, PTSD and more.  Others fall under the heading of addiction, in all its many forms.

And then there are your garden variety, everyday demons.  These are the ones that plague all of us:  greed, gluttony, lust, fear and – the most dangerous one of all – pride.  They are no less dangerous than the others.

What these demons all have in common is their effect on us.  Once they get control, they obscure our true self.  They then become the basis of our false self, the facade we project to the world. 

If it goes far enough, the inevitable result is we eventually become like this possessed man:  alienated from our community and separated from our loved ones.  The abundant life of peace, love and joy that God intends for us is gone.

I’ve known people whose lives have been taken over by these demons of disease and vice.  Some had little or no choice – they simply had an illness that, more often than not, was hereditary. 

But many others actually invited these demons in, and the demons gradually took control of their lives. 

That’s how healthy ambition gets twisted into ego-driven greed.  It’s how the desire for autonomy degenerates into fear-driven power lust.  It’s how self-doubt morphs into narcissistic fame-mongering. 

We all know people like this.  Many of them seem to gravitate to public life, but in reality there are many times that number in our everyday lives.

But, as Christians, you and I allow ourselves to be led into a different kind of possession.  Gradually and imperfectly, in fits and starts, we hand over to Christ control of our lives.  As we do, our identity is slowly and surely transformed.

Thomas Merton, the great 20th century monk and spiritual writer, described that process.  He wrote that by following Christ, “God Himself begins to live in me not only as my Creator but as my other, true self.”

When that happens, our lives change.  People who knew us before are startled.  They don’t know what to make of us.  That happened to me this week. 

I was catching up with some friends on Facebook and happened to notice that one of them was also friends with a high school girlfriend. I hadn’t talked with her or seen her since we were 16 and I left to go to a different school.

Now, it’s probably safe to say that all of us had different priorities at age 16 than we do as adults.  Certainly, that was true of me.

So, when I friended her on Facebook and she saw that I’m now a pastor, she was as gob-smacked as the townspeople looking at the man whom Jesus healed of his demons.

As you might imagine, that’s not the first time I’ve had that reaction.  And I’m sure it won’t be the last. 

Maybe that’s true of you, too.  Maybe there was a time when you were a different kind of person before Christ started to take control of your life. 

In fact, all of us are still on that journey of learning to hand over control of our lives to Christ.  As the old saying goes, God loves us just as we are – and too much to leave us that way. In truth, that’s a never-ending process.  

The longer we allow Christ to transform us and the more control we give him, two things are bound to happen. 

First, we learn to embrace our true identity as children of God and disciples of Jesus, just like the possessed man did.  That allows our true self to emerge and become visible to others. 

Then, more and more, others will notice that change.  You can bet they will be surprised.  It will bring them up short.  And it won’t necessarily be comfortable – for them or for you. 

Yet, that is exactly where Jesus calls us to go.  Just as he sent the formerly possessed man back to his town to witness to friends and family, so he sends you and me to witness among those who knew us as someone different than the disciple we are today.

Who is that in your life?  Do you have friends, family members, co-workers to whom you’ve only showed your false self?  Have you been reluctant to share with them your true identity in Christ? 

What might happen if we showed them more openness, selflessness and kindness?

If they thought they knew you, the false you, they may not be so thrilled about the new, true you.  In fact, even friends and family, may reject the change. 

But that doesn’t mean we stop.  Because discovering and embracing our true self in Christ – and letting it show - is the kind of transformation that makes other miracles happen.

That’s what happened to John Nash.  The love and support of others not only helped rid him of his demons, it allowed his true self to reemerge.  And the result was a whole new frontier of knowledge – and a Nobel Prize.  It also saved his marriage.

We may not get nominated for the Nobel Prize, but we can all witness to Jesus.  The question is: are we willing to embrace our true self in him.  And are we willing to let it show?

May it be so. 

 

Last Published: June 24, 2019 3:36 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2019


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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