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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

 

 

September 15, 2019

“Sight?  Or Insight?” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, September 15, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 14 –  2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c and Psalm 111  •  2 Timothy 2:8-15  •  Luke 17:11-19

 

THEME:  Seek the true inspiration of Jesus in the work we do as his hands and feet.

 

When you think of an inspiring leader, who do you think of?   

I recently ran across an internet list of the world’s ten most inspirational leaders.  The names were pretty much what you would guess:  Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela and others.

But the most obvious name of all was completely overlooked: Jesus.  It seems we humans have a tendency to overlook him.  Our gospel text this morning gives us another example of that.

Luke tells us about Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers. They’ve been banished from their village until their skin condition is healed.

When they see Jesus, they see someone whose reputation as a healer precedes him.  All ten immediately plead with him for mercy – for healing, so they can be restored to their families and their community.

Jesus obliges.  He heals them and tells them to show themselves to the Priest, who will certify that they’re healed and allow them to rejoin their loved ones.  All ten see that they are healed.  All ten rejoice.  But only one returns to thank Jesus and praise God.

Clearly, this tenth man sees in Jesus what the others overlook:  in him, God is truly present.  All ten of them can see they’ve been healed, but only he has insight into the true nature of their healer.

What about you and me?  What do we see happening when we observe people helping others?  Whom do we suppose inspires them to do it?

As you might guess, in the secular academic world, there is no shortage of ideas about what motivates people to do good things for others.  Psychologists bend themselves into an intellectual pretzel trying to identify what causes someone to help his / her neighbor in need.

Some dismiss altruism as nothing more than a genetic habit.  In their opinion, it’s a behavioral remnant left over from our caveman days when we lived in close family groups. 

Back then, when a saber-toothed tiger came along looking for dinner, our immediate physical survival depended on our willingness to help one another.  And that instinct, they say, was so strong we can’t shake the habit.

Others argue it’s just an aberration.  In their opinion, our only true motivation is self-preservation, the passing on of our genes.  But, if that’s true, then why do we routinely help those whose well-being has no bearing on our own?

That’s why other researchers claim there must be a more complicated motivation.  They say we help others because, deep down, we believe there is some benefit to us. 

They hypothesize that it must make us feel good about ourselves.  Or it makes others respect us more.  Or it improves the chances someone will help us when we need rescuing. 

Or maybe we believe it makes us more attractive to a prospective mate.  In other words, Freud was right after all, and, like everything else we do, it really is just about sex.

I don’t know about you, but I find it just a little bit humorous the lengths to which the secular world will go to justify behavior that is explained far better in scripture.

Teresa of Avila, one of the Catholic church’s greatest mystics and inspirational writers, described it best when she wrote,

“Christ has no body now but yours.  No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.  Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.  Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.”

She didn’t just pull this notion out of thin air.  She’s building on what the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

For Christians, this is the central affirmation of our faith.  Through Christ we are connected to God, who is the source of our life, now and for all eternity.

And there’s an equally important corollary to this affirmation.  We are in Christ, and Christ is also in us.  He’s alive in you and me, and he acts through us.  We see the proof of that when he guides us and inspire us to share God’s love with those in need.

I was reminded of that the week before last, when we hosted three visitors from our partner congregation, the Presbyterian Church of Newcastle in South Africa.

If you had the privilege of spending time with them, you will have been struck, as I was, by their certainty that God is at work in everything.  This was never more apparent to me than when we took them to visit outreach ministries like Goodwill, Mission Central and the Susquehanna Safe Harbor homeless shelter.

As our visitors described their experience at these ministries, they were quick to see the presence of Christ sharing God’s love through staff and volunteers alike.  

That made me wonder how we see those who do this kind of work to help others.  Speaking personally, I know I am too often like those 9 ungrateful lepers.  They’re thrilled that the healing work is being done, but they fail to praise God because they don’t recognize Jesus as the one who really did it.

When we see someone doing good work to help others, isn’t our first instinct is to compliment them and thank them?  But, the one we should really be thanking and praising is the one who inspires and empowers the work.

But now you may be asking yourself, what about the many people who do good things for others but who profess no faith in Christ?  Is Christ somehow working through them?

That’s what the great Jesuit Theologian, Karl Rahner, believed.  He claimed that Christ works through those who don’t even believe in him.  He called this anonymous Christianity.  As you can imagine, it’s a controversial idea, but let me ask you this:  would you put it past God to work in such an awesome, mysterious and wonderful way?  I sure wouldn’t.

That brings us to you and me.  When we work to make our neighbors whole, who do we see doing this work?  Do we see Christ working through us?  Or do we see only ourselves?

The answer makes all the difference in the world.  If we don’t see Christ at work in us, then the only one we end up praising is ourselves.

Here’s how that happens:  we get such affirmation for the good work we’re doing that our egos begin to take over.  We start to believe we ourselves are the source of the good we do for others. 

So, instead of thanking and praising God for the opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet, we throw humility out the window and bask in the glow of our own self-satisfied glory.

This insidious process can be so subtle we don’t even realize it’s happening.  I know this, because it happened to me.  15 years ago, I led a mission team to do work in Bolivia.  It began as a mission to share Christ’s love with street children in an orphanage there.

Our first trip was life-changing.  The sense of being Jesus’ hands and feet was palpable for all of us.  We came home transformed and received all manner of praise and thanks. 

But, as I was organizing our second trip, somewhere in all the planning and pre-trip logistics, I lost focus on who was inspiring us to do this work.  Slowly and surely, it became my mission and my work, not Jesus working through me.

Without that inspiration, the whole team’s energy and compassion dried up, and eventually so did the mission work itself.  That’s what happens when we push Jesus aside, and replace him with our own egos.

On the other hand, something truly marvelous, and even miraculous, can happen when we keep our focus on Christ as our guide and inspiration. 

          That’s what inspired the apostle Paul to crisscross the Mediterranean world to share the gospel with Gentiles.  It’s what led Martin Luther to defy the Pope and risk his very life to reform the church.

It’s what led his namesake, Martin Luther King, to stand up to the KKK and the powers of institutionalized and legally-sanctioned racism.

Friends, simply put, Jesus is the single most inspirational leader the world has ever known.  Looking to him for inspiration is what will enable us to confront and overcome the social and environmental evils of our day. 

Climate change, poverty, food insecurity, the escalating mental health crisis among our young; violence against refugees and immigrants in their home countries and unconscionable treatment when they get here; gender inequality, gun violence, racism.  The list of our challenges is a long one.  

To top it all off, we’ve allowed ourselves to become so divided we can no longer listen to one another’s ideas for the real solutions to these problems.  That is precisely because those of us on both sides have allowed our egos to displace our focus on allowing Jesus Christ to work through us.

But sooner or later, we must – and we will – realize there is an inspiration that can unite us and inspire us to do what’s required to heal our planet, our society and our world. 

In truth, it’s the only source of inspiration that can.  Only the common vision – that the work we do for good is not our own, but Christ working through us – can make that healing possible. 

We should demand that vision of ourselves and our leaders at all levels.  That’s how this world will be healed.  

That’s the only way it ever has been.

May it be so.

Last Published: September 20, 2019 3:58 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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