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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

 

 

August 4, 2019

“Five Lies & the Truth” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, August 4, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 8 – Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 and Psalm 49:1-12  •  Colossians 3:1-11  •  Luke 12:13-21

 

THEME:  Form rich relationships by being willing to be vulnerable, dependent on God and one another.

 

In your opinion, what makes a good life – a successful life?  Is it what you thought it was when you were a teenager or young adult?  

 That is a question that our daughter, Jane, has been pondering.  She’s approaching the end of her second year out at the University of California in Santa Barbara. 

For a good number of her classmates, the most common answer seems to have 3 parts:  a) Get an internship at Google, b) Get a job at Google and make lots of money and c) Enjoy buying things with all the money you make.

But Jane, to her credit, is struggling with that.  There’s a part of her, as there is with many of us, that wants that affluent, consumeristic life.   But there’s another voice that whispers, “That won’t make you happy.”  That’s the voice of truth.  It points out that there is something fundamental that’s missing in that limited worldly vision of a success.  What’s missing is relationship.

Jane is someone who doesn’t make a lot of friendships, but the ones she does make are deep and long-lasting.  She craves connectedness with others.  She thrives on caring for them, as they care for her. 

In fact, we’re all made for such deep relationships.  God constantly wants us to draw closer to him, and he calls us to draw closer to one another.  But, too often, what gets in the way is the false allure of a self-centered, materialistic life.

That’s one of the primary themes in the recent writing by David Brooks, one of our most insightful social commentators.  In his 40-year career working in journalism and broadcasting, David has been everything from a crime reporter in Chicago to a film critic in Washington DC and an Editor at the Wall Street Journal and a contributor to the New York Times in New York.  Along the way, he’s written several books. 

Back in April, he wrote an article about the current crisis of American society.  At the heart of that crisis, in his view, is our cultural notions of what constitutes success.  The title is “Five Lies our Culture Tells”.   

Here they are:

Lie number 1:  career success is completely and ultimately fulfilling.  He calls this “the lie we foist on the young.”  We even have a formal ritual to indoctrinate our children into this myth:  we call it the college preparation and application process. 

Now, by any measure, David Brooks is a professional success.  So, it’s all the more significant that his is the loudest voice poking holes in this myth.  That’s because he learned the truth the hard way. 

As he discovered, focusing on career success above all else not only fails to provide lasting peace and fulfillment, but it actually guarantees the opposite:  a life of isolation and unease.  In such a career-dominated life, we can never catch up to our boundless ambition, and that leaves us perpetually anxious and dissatisfied.

The second lie our culture perpetuates is what he calls “the myth of self-sufficiency.”  We know we’ve bought into this myth when we begin to believe that we can make ourselves happy.  Through such a distorted lens, being dependent on others loks like failure.

The third lie is closely related.  It’s the false notion that life is an individual journey and success is the accumulation of individual experiences.  The one who has the most experiences wins.  Failure is any commitment (or anyone) who restrains us, ties us down or limits our freedom.

That leads directly to lie number 4, the fragmentation of truth.  This is the great myth of the post-modern era in which we live.  It tries to convince us that we all must find our own truth. 

The falsehood here is the rejection of any other source of truth – including institutions like churches and schools.  So, the only legitimate source of truth is myself.  And my truth, therefore, is only applicable to me.

Finally, lie number five: monetized meritocracy.  This is the seemingly unquestioned belief that successful people, as measured by their wealth, are worth more than poorer and, by definition, less successful people.

These are the five lies that, in the eyes of David Brooks, sum up what ails our society today. 

He says, “No wonder it’s so hard to be a young adult today.  No wonder our society is fragmenting.  We’ve taken the lies of hyper-individualism and we’ve made them the unspoken assumptions that govern how we live.”

He blames these five lies for our national surge in suicide rates, the deluge of college students seeking mental health assistance and the shameless lack of truth-telling and moral virtue in the public sphere, including all levels of government, from the White House on down.

I think he’s right.  But these lies are all symptoms – they are not the disease.  The disease is deeper than these.  It’s what ails that rich farmer whom Jesus calls a fool.

From the outside, this farmer looks anything but foolish.  In the eyes of anyone in his town or region or all Israel, he looks like a smashing success.  But, as we listen in on his inner monologue, it becomes clear he is anything but.

He appears to live by himself and solely for himself.  When he talks, he talks only to himself, and the only person he talks about is himself.  Listen again to his thoughts:

“What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry’”.

The question this man fails to ask is who is really responsible for his bumper crop?  Did he water the ground and make the sun shine?  Did he keep the insects away? 

No - that was all God.  But this farmer has zero gratitude to God or anyone else, including the workers who no doubt helped him plant and harvest.

And then we have to ask why is he storing up such a largess?  The obvious answer is he’s saving it for a season of drought. Then, when food is scarce, he can sell it for a much higher price, making him even more wealthy, even as his neighbors starve. 

In a land where most people went hungry most of the time, he gives no thought to sharing his grain or his goods with his neighbors in need.  Thinking back to David Brooks’ list of cultural lies, this rich farmer has bought into each and every one of them:  hook, line and sinker. 

And he will soon realize how foolish is his hyper-individualistic notion of the good life.  That very night God will hold him accountable.  All his barns, his grain and his goods will be no no good then.

What is missing in this foolish rich man’s life is any sense of belonging to God, of being one of God’s beloved children and joyously depending on God’s providence.  It’s clear, he doesn’t think he even needs God.  Nor does he think he needs others.  As a result, he is missing out on what makes a truly good life:

Relationships.  Deep, meaningful, mutually self-sacrificing relationships.  That’s what Jesus had in mind when he gave us the Great Commandment.  Love God and love neighbor. And who is our neighbor?  The answer to that question is everyone. 

Like this foolish farmer, if we don’t have rich relationships, then we aren’t really rich at all – certainly not in God’s eyes.

But there’s the rub:  forming rich relationships takes time and work.  Where do we start?

This may surprise you, but the key is to recognize that suffering, while painful, is also an opportunity.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  I’m not, by any stretch, trying to glorify suffering.  Suffering is miserable.  But suffering is also the opportunity to become vulnerable. 

But we’re not always very good at that, are we?  Many of us feel the need to keep up our hard shell of emotional impenetrability.  In New York, we used to call it our Teflon armor.

But, if we’re willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up.  Into that gap of vulnerability, God wants nothing more than to pour his love.  Let’s remember that no matter what horrific, tragic thing happened to us, it wasn’t God who caused it.  In fact, God’s the very first one to cry with us.  

And then, inevitably, something miraculous happens.  We may fear that our vulnerability turns other people off.  But in reality, the exact opposite is true.  Being vulnerable invites others into our lives. 

We will be surprised at how willing others are to step into our lives, to share our pain and assure us we don’t suffer alone.  Because everyone suffers.  It’s a fact of this life that nobody gets out without scars and wounds.

And it’s in the way we care for one another, the way we reflect God’s love to one another, that we form the family God calls us to be. 

Then we realize just how blessed we are to be dependent on such a benevolent, loving God – and one another.  And that’s how we form the relationships which are the true source of happiness in this life.

So, friends, who do you know who’s suffering?  Is there an opportunity for you to enter into their vulnerability, with a simple word of support or just your calm, peaceful presence? 

Or maybe you’re the one who’s suffering.  If so, are you willing to be open and vulnerable? 

Either way, let’s make sure we use that opportunity to draw closer to God and to one another.  Because that’s how rich relationships are formed.  And those are what make a truly good life. 

May it be so. 

 

Last Published: August 7, 2019 2:01 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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