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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 24, 2019

“How to Recognize Your King” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, November 24, 2019, Year C / Pentecost 23  –  Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Psalm 46  •  Colossians 1:11-20  •  Luke 23:33-43

 

THEME:  We know Christ is God’s real king because he gives himself to bring others into the kingdom.  We should do the same

 

         

Do you considerable yourself an American history buff?  Let’s try something.  I’ll give you a date, a time and a place, let’s see if anybody can tell me what the event was. 

April 30th, 1789, 2:00 in the afternoon, in Federal Hall in lower Manhattan:  does that ring a bell?

At that precise moment, George Washington stood in front of hundreds of congressmen, domestic officials and foreign diplomats. 

They were all there to witness a momentous event:  our country’s very first President taking the oath of office.  It was cause for great fanfare.   America finally cemented its independence from the rule of a tyrannical king.

At that same moment, across the ocean, French citizens were contemplating the same freedom.  The common people – 98% of the French population – had had it up to here with the monarchy and the feudal system that reinforced it.

King Louis XVI had made a series of blunders that plunged the country into both a fiscal crisis and a food shortage.  The people were poor, hungry and deeply unhappy.  It didn’t help that the King’s wife, Marie Antoinette, continued to spend lavishly.

Later that same summer, the people’s festering discontent boiled over into open rage.  They stormed the Bastille Prison in search of gun powder and the French Revolution was off and running. 

As the people’s resentment grew over the next two years, the King and Queen decided it was time to get out of town.  So, at midnight on June 20th, 1791, they loaded an extra-large carriage, disguised themselves as servants and, together with the royal household, began a 200-mile journey to the supposed safety of northeastern France where they could regain their power.

They almost made it.  30 miles from their destination, their cover was blown when they stopped at the door of a local postmaster in a small village.  He first became suspicious when he noticed the extraordinarily large coach drawn by 6 horses.    

But what clinched it, was the familiarity of the King’s face.  The postmaster recognized King Louis, even though he had never before seen him in person.  The reason was simple:  the king’s face was printed on thousands of bills of French money, including one in the postmaster’s pocket.  His tip led to the King’s arrest and the eventual beheading of both him and his wife.

This postmaster wasn’t fooled.  Despite the disguise, King Louis was no different than most earthly kings:  vain, self-serving and thirsty for power and money.  Just the kind of king the first criminal crucified with Jesus expected him to be.

Both these crucified criminals are guilty, and both are facing imminent death.  As the great English wit, Samuel Johnson, so famously observed, impending execution concentrates the mind wonderfully.  So, this dialogue gives us a window into what is most important to each of these two criminals.

The first criminal knows he’s about to die.  When he looks over at Jesus, he sees someone who claims to be the Messiah, but can’t be because Jesus is dying the same shameful death he is.  And God would never allow his Messiah to die, let alone in such public humiliation and disgrace.  Or so he thinks.

He thinks Jesus is a fraud.  So, he taunts Jesus, who does not respond.  The only thing that will change this first criminal’s mind is if Jesus were to do what he urges and engineer their sudden, miraculous release.

Never does it cross his mind that Jesus has the intention of accepting his own death.  Surely, he thinks, Jesus must want to preserve himself above all else.  Afterall, self-interest and self-preservation are what this first criminal understands best.  And he assumes Jesus is the same.

The second criminal sees things differently.  He, too, knows he’s about to die.  But, when he looks over at Jesus, he sees someone he recognizes as the Messiah.

Now, how does he come to believe this?  There’s no evidence he’d ever heard Jesus preach or teach.  As far as we know, he hadn’t witnessed any of Jesus’ miracles.  

Everything he knows about Jesus he’s learned up there on the cross.  And that’s enough to convince him Jesus is not only innocent of the false charges levied against him, but he’s the Messiah, the King of God’s Kingdom, and Savior of guilty sinners like himself.

It soon becomes clear he’s right.  Jesus is more interested in saving others and bringing them into eternal life than in saving his own earthly life. 

He has no wealth.  His only power comes from his Father.  His only agenda is what his Father has given him to do.  And he does it – even though it means his own excruciating death.

He’s like no king this criminal has ever known.  And, he’s not like any king you or I have known, either. 

There are lots of kings in this world.  They go by different titles, but they’re mostly the same:  they tend to serve themselves, instead of others.  They crave power and money more than they crave justice and peace. 

Our own leaders are not immune to these tendencies, as the events of this past week have made clear.  But our very best leaders have avoided them, beginning with our very first one. 

George Washington had all the reason in the world to act like a tyrannical, self-serving king.

He was elected unanimously by the electoral college, the only President ever to achieve that.  He was a war hero beloved by his troops and his country.  You might think that his ego would have run amok and made him drunk with power.  But not George Washington.

   As his inauguration approached, he may have been the only one in this new country of ours not looking forward to it.  Where a king would have been puffed up by pride, he was grounded in humility.  Where a king would have been consumed by the pursuit of power and privilege, he was committed to a life of service and self-sacrifice. 

He wasn’t even sure he had the ability to do the job, but he knew the future of the new republic depended on him doing it, despite the personal cost.  Even more important, he also knew it was what God wanted him to do.

That doesn’t mean he was happy about it!  Just the opposite, in fact. 

Washington told Henry Knox, one of his incoming cabinet members and a former general of his, “my movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit going to the place of his execution.”

Now, say what you want, but no one has ever accused George Washington of being melodramatic.  He was serious. 

For a humble, God-dependent guy like him, the presidency seemed like a death sentence.  By accepting the office, as he wrote to another old friend, he gave up “all expectations of private happiness in this world.”

In short, he was the anti-king, willing to sacrifice himself for God’s mission and the people God called him to serve.  But, as he set out on the journey from Mt. Vernon to his inauguration in New York, it soon became clear the country had very different expectations.

His arrival in Philadelphia, for example, was choreographed like a coronation procession.  Local grandees persuaded him to enter town riding on a white horse.  When he crossed the Gray’s Ferry bridge over the Schuylkill River, they lowered a laurel crown onto his head.  20,000 people cheered him through the streets. 

As his former aide, James McHenry, warned him before he even set out on this journey: “You are now a king under a different name,” at least in the eyes of the people.

But that’s not how Washington saw it.  After his death years later, Washington’s prayer journal showed what really inspired him.  Among the 100 or so prayers written there, was one of his favorite scripture verses, this one from Psalm 118:  “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

Folks, that’s the lesson for you and me.  We serve the greatest King this world has ever known.  And his kingdom is all around us. 

We recognize his presence wherever love triumphs over fear, where the stranger and the alien are welcomed, and the widows and the orphans cared for. 

Jesus is right there among us when forgiveness overwhelms our desire for revenge, and the instinct to make peace smothers the fires of aggression.

And we’ll recognize him straight away.  And not because his face is printed on the bills in our wallets. 

As we serve the least and the lost, we recognize his face in them, and Jesus’ face is recognizable in us.  That’s how we recognize our king. 

May it be so.

 

Last Published: December 3, 2019 1:37 PM
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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