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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2019


November 24, 2019  "How to Recognize Your King" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 17, 2019  "A Good Ending" by Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

November 3, 2019

“What Makes a Saint?” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, November 3, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 21  –   Isaiah 1:10-18 and Psalm 32:1-7  •  2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12  •  Luke 19:1-10

 

THEME:  We are all saints by virtue of our relationship to God and need to know and understand one another across generations in order to do Christ’s work better together.

 

What is it with Jesus and tax collectors?  We all know tax collectors are not the most popular people, even today.  IRS agents are hardly beloved.  They have the power to take our money, our wages, our property - even our homes.

In Jesus’ day, they were even less popular.  Back then, they were universally loathed.  They were agents of Rome, and Jews bitterly resented paying Roman taxes.  In effect, the people were being forced to fund their own oppression.

Even worse, tax collectors essentially worked on commission.  By Roman law, they could apply to your tax bill a surcharge of any amount they chose which then went straight into their pocket.

Yet, Jesus makes a habit of socializing with them.  He called a tax collector, Matthew, to be his disciple and then happily celebrated at a table filled with Matthew’s tax collector friends.  

The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son were all addressed to those who grumbled because, yet again, Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and other sinners.

And then, just as he approaches the end of his journey to Jerusalem, he comes to Jericho.  This was the hometown of yet another infamous tax collector:  Zacchaeus.

There are some who read this story as Zacchaeus’ repentance in response to Jesus.  But that’s not quite right. 

Look carefully.  Zacchaeus never actually repents of anything.  Why?  Because he doesn’t need to.  In his business dealings, he’s already doing more than the Jewish law prescribes.  Unfortunately, the translators of our pew Bibles have obscured that.

You all know how we pastors love to show off our Greek.  This is one of those times when it really matters. 

In response to the grumbling crowd, Zacchaeus speaks in what our pew Bible translates as the future tense.  Half of my possessions I will give to the poor;  if I have defrauded anyone of anything I will pay back four times as much.  

But the present progressive tense of these verbs is better translated as “I am already doing these things”, or better yet, “it’s my custom to do these things.” 

Zacchaeus isn’t making a promise of future behavior, he’s defending his customary ethics. 

He’s not a predatory agent of Rome.  He’s a scrupulous child of Abraham.  He goes above and beyond what the Jewish law requires, and he wants people to know it, especially Jesus. 

Maybe that’s why Zacchaeus was so determined to see Jesus.  Maybe that’s why Jesus is looking for him.  To confirm and celebrate the inclusion of Zacchaeus in the company of the righteous.

Well then, if Zacchaeus is righteous in the eyes of God, why, we might ask, is the crowd grumbling when Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ house?  Maybe it’s not Zacchaeus who needs to repent.  It’s the crowd who need to repent.  They need to change their hearts and their behavior!

For far too long, they’ve assumed they know who Zacchaeus is.  Simply on the basis of his profession, they’ve pigeon-holed him as a pariah and pushed him outside the warm embrace of his own people.

But, in the eyes of Jesus, the day of Zacchaeus’ salvation has arrived.  He has every right to be restored to the community because he, too, is a child of Abraham. 

By inviting himself to eat at Zacchaeus’ table, Jesus is setting the example for the rest of the community.  They, too, should include Zacchaeus at their tables. 

But will they?  That’s the question.

And it’s also a question for us.

Whether we say it aloud or just think it, don’t we all have an idea of who really belongs to the company of God’s faithful?  Isn’t that what we mean when we say “So-and-so is a saint!”

But what actually does make someone a saint? 

When we speak of saints, our thoughts immediately go to those formally recognized by the Catholic Church.  There are over 10,000 of them.  Only about 1,000, however, are on the highest level of a canonized saint.

I don’t want to discourage any of you who might have aspirations in this area, but the bar is set pretty high for these folks.  To be canonized, like Mother Teresa, requires two verifiable post-mortem miracles and evidence of a virtuous life worthy of imitation.  Martyrs qualify.  So do those whose lives reflect a dramatic turnaround from immorality to holiness.

But, as Protestants, that’s not how you and I define a saint.  We follow what we read in scripture.  In both the Old and New Testaments, what makes someone a saint is simply their relationship to God.  That means everyone of us is a saint.

But I dare say that’s not always how we see each other. 

        We tend to focus first on surface-level attributes and, all too often fail to look beyond them.  We stereotype one another, often based solely on appearances, and we judge one another. 

And then of course we don’t see each other as equally belonging to the children of God.  Our lack of understanding leads to conflict, and our lack of unity hinders our common mission in Christ.

We’re not alone here, not by any stretch.  No church I know is immune to this problem.  Some know it and work to address it; others try to pretend it’s not there.

In this congregation, the area where this is most apparent is age.  Like many congregations these days, we are demographically top-heavy.  Almost half our members are Baby Boomers.  That’s those of you born between 1945 and 1965.  Naturally, as we age, this segment is slowly declining in number.

Our fastest growing age segment is the Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000.  These are generally young families who are having children.  As they do, they’re gradually coming back to the church.

The challenge we face is how to get these age groups -  and all our age groups - working together.  We all have one goal here:  to be a truly grace-filled community of faith that shares Christ’s love with all.  This is no small challenge. Experiences, attitudes and expectations are very different across the generations.

The church isn’t the only place facing this challenge. Business consultants have been burning the midnight oil to find ways to smooth the relations between the generations in the workplace.

        One of the most intelligent voices in this area is a consultant named Haydn Shaw.  Haydn is a renowned expert on leadership across multiple generations.  In fact, the Washington Post calls him “a leadership guru.”

He’s worked with 1,500 organizations from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits and churches.  He’s also an ordained pastor and a best-selling author. 

        He describes how we can avoid getting stuck in the stereo-typing mindset that prevents the various generations from working well together. 

He says, “When we understand why another generation thinks the way they do, we are much more likely to appreciate their differences and to speak their language.  We are much more likely to stick together.”

         The key is taking the time to reach out and have a face-to-face conversation.  These conversations start with what he calls the magic word of cross-generational communication:  why.

        In our context, that might involve asking:

  • Why are our committees primarily comprised of older members?
  • Why do we see more of our younger members at the Gathering service than the Traditional service?
  • Why don’t more of our younger members respond to the traditional communications we send out?

If these sound like complaints to you, that’s because we are used to hearing them expressed as critical judgements.  It’s a lot easier to complain about other generations than it is to take the time to understand them. 

That’s where we get stuck.  Complaining does nothing to help us work together for God’s Kingdom. 

That was the problem with the crowd in Jericho.  They got stuck complaining about Jesus, without trying to understand why he sought out Zacchaeus.  

The open question is did they ever take the time to ask why?  If they did, they would’ve come to understand what Jesus knew:  Zacchaeus was just as much a child of Abraham as any of them.  And he belonged to the community every bit as much as they did.

Jesus came to seek out and save the lost.  Without the community, Zacchaeus was lost.  Without Zacchaeus, the community was not whole.  Restored to one another in Christ, all were saved.

Friends that’s the goal for us, too.  We are the community of saints, all of us.  Jesus wants us to be restored to one another across all generations.  We need all the saints pulling together if we’re going to do this Kingdom work to which he calls us.

So let’s not get stuck complaining about one another and judging one another.  Let’s make it our mission to really know and understand one another.  Then we can do Christ’s work better together. 

The saints who came before us managed to do that.  And so can we.  The question is, “Will we?”

May it be so, saints. May it be so. 

Last Published: November 4, 2019 10:37 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2019


November 24, 2019  "How to Recognize Your King" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 17, 2019  "A Good Ending" by Rev. Don Wahlig

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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