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.

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

 

 

October 6, 2019

“A New Family” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, October 6, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 17 –  Jeremiah 18:1-11 and Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18  •  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Psalm 1  •  Philemon 1:1-21  •  Luke 14:25-33

 

THEME:  Following Jesus means redefining our family identity as God’s children and brothers and sisters in Christ who support one another in discipleship.

 

 

Do any of you like to read for pleasure?  How old were you when that started?  Elementary school?  Middle School?

Just about the time I was becoming a teenager, I had developed a deep love of reading.  But I was always a slow reader.  So I shied away from books that seemed too big, too long.  Now, I realize this an odd confession coming from someone who went on to become an English major, but so it was.

Then, in the seventh grade, I discovered a very special book.  It wasn’t a new book.  In fact, it was written almost 40 years earlier by an author named JRR Tolkien.  It was called The Hobbit.  Have you read this?

Well, if you have, you know it’s a fantasy novel about a mythical world called Middle Earth.  The hero is Bilbo Baggins.  Bilbo is a hobbit.  You’ll remember that Hobbits are similar to humans, only on a smaller scale.  They’re about half our height, but they eat twice as much - 6 meals a day, in fact. 

They have furry feet like rabbits, and they generally walk around barefoot.  They make their homes in the side of a hill, with a few windows.  What they treasure above all is a peaceful, non-eventful life.

          So, it’s with great surprise that Bilbo Baggins finds himself chosen by the powerful wizard, Gandalf the Great, to join a group of 12 dwarves called the Fellowship.  They plan to set out on a grand quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom from the mighty and fearsome dragon Smaug.

As you might imagine, Bilbo is hesitant to join.  But when he wakes up the next morning, his house – and his life – seem strangely quiet, too quiet, in fact.  He decides he needs an adventure.  So, he eagerly chases after Gandalf and happily joins the fellowship of dwarves.

But it soon becomes clear that Bilbo didn’t fully understand what he was signing up for, and the sacrifice that would be required of him. 

The same is true of those overly enthusiastic crowds who followed Jesus.

As he makes his way to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, Jesus is becoming something of a celebrity.  The growing crowds who follow him are intrigued and inspired by this itinerant teacher-healer-prophet. 

They’ve heard him speak about a kingdom he’s come to usher in.  They like what they hear.

They like all the miraculous signs he performs that point to this coming Kingdom.  They’ve heard of his healings and exorcisms, the cleansing of lepers and the restoration of mobility to the paralyzed.

They’ve heard about his mission to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and the year of jubilee, when all land would be repatriated to its original owners.  Certainly, that all sounds like good news to them.

The vast majority of these folks are poor – dirt poor, in fact.  With eager ears, they’ve listened to the stories from those who were there on the plain on that fateful day when Jesus taught the multitudes, saying, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”  

They’re thinking to themselves, “Finally!  This Kingdom, and all that goes with it, is for us!  After decades of living under Rome’s thumb, could our liberation be at hand?  Could this rabbi be our liberator?”

They understand the blessings of following Jesus.  But, like Bilbo Baggins deciding to join the fellowship of dwarves, none of them understand the cost.  So, as he sets his face toward Jerusalem, Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms what’s required of those who would call themselves his disciples.

In a word, everything.

Everything that defines them and sustains their existence:  family, money, possessions, even life itself.  If they’re going to call themselves his followers, they have to be prepared to cast aside everything else and focus on walking with him.

Because the road he’s on leads to one place:  the cross.  And to walk it with him requires single-minded devotion.  Nothing else can be allowed to get in the way.

It’s interesting that Luke doesn’t tell us how the crowds reacted.  But I’ll bet that dampened their enthusiasm, don’t you think? 

No doubt they were thinking to themselves ‘How could I possibly do that?’  This radical devotion must surely have seemed as impossible to them as it does to us today.

 

Where would we be without the support of our families?  How can we possibly sustain such extraordinary devotion?

Well, there’s good news and bad news.  The bad news is – we can’t.  None of us can.  At least not by ourselves. 

The good news is we don’t have to follow Jesus alone.  In fact, we were never meant to.  When you and I embrace our calling to follow Jesus Christ, he brings us into a whole new family.

That’s what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote to the Christians in Rome, “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  As he would later write to the Galatians, when the Spirit pulls us into discipleship, we join a new household, the household of faith.

Just as Gandolf chose Bilbo Baggins to leave his comfortable home to join a new fellowship, so has God chosen you and me to join a new family, his family.  Ours is a family whose members may or may not share the same DNA, but, regardless, we help and inspire one another to be ever more faithful disciples.  It’s not our genes that join us together, it’s Jesus.

That Christian unity is what we celebrate on this World Communion Sunday.  That’s been true since it began.

At the very same time Tolkien was writing The Hobbit in the 1930s, the seeds of the idea for World Communion Sunday were being planted at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.  One of the pastors there, Rev. Hugh Kerr, conceived it as a worship service designed to reinforce the interconnection of congregations, not just Presbyterians, but all Christian churches.

His son, who also became a Presbyterian Pastor, recalled how the idea grew.  At first, he said, it spread very slowly.  But then during the Second World War it caught fire. 

He said, “The spirit caught hold, because we were trying to hold the world together.  World Wide Communion symbolized the effort to hold things together in a spiritual sense.  It emphasized that we are one in the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

That same spirit of unity is what lies behind our partnership with the Newcastle congregation in South Africa.  It’s what empowers the mission work we do locally through groups like Habitat for Humanity, Fruitbelt Farm Workers, the Crop Walk and Christian Churches United.

We help one another become more faithful when we work together to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

That same spirit of unity also empowers our stewardship.  It’s what our Season of Commitment is all about.  Together, we make individual commitments of time, talent and treasure. 

Financially, the goal, of course, is tithing – offering 10% of our total income to the work God is doing through us here at Silver Spring.  In my experience, that spiritual discipline is one of the very best ways to make sure we’re keeping God first.

But that decision doesn’t happen in isolation.  We walk together, encouraging one another on the road to tithing. 

In these coming weeks, just as Carol did earlier this morning, we’ll inspire one another to be more faithful disciples through the stewardship of our resources. 

That’s what it means to be part of our new family of faith.  Our unity and mutual encouragement in discipleship are rooted in Christ.

And that’s what we celebrate at this table.  Not only are we joined with Christ here, but with all Christians everywhere.  Christ is the bond that unites us with God and with them. 

Our theological forebear, John Calvin, described that as a mystical experience.  When Jane and I say “Lift up your hearts” and you reply “We lift them up to the Lord”, Calvin encourages us to close our eyes and feel ourselves actually being lifted up to heaven where Christ is. 

There, Christ gives us the spiritual food we need to support one another in the physical journey out into the world to be his disciples. 

Friends, we may not be hobbits or dwarves, but we are all called to join an extraordinary Fellowship:  the family of faithful followers of Jesus Christ.  We, too, are on a quest, the quest for the Kingdom that he came to usher in. 

Together, we can do what none of us can do alone:  serve Jesus with all we are, and all we have. 

May it be so.

 

Last Published: October 7, 2019 12:18 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

 

 

Gathering service Banner