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Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2020


November 15, 2020  "Accepting Your Mission" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 1, 2020  "The Hope of the Saints" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2020


October 18, 2020  "Whose Image Do You Bear?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 11, 2020  "Righteous Clothing" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2020


September 13, 2020  "The Circle of Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2020


August 9, 2020  "Faithful Witness in Thyatira" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2020


July 5, 2020  "Sanctification:  An Old Struggle" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

June 2020


June 28, 2020  "Sanctification:  A New Ethic" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 21, 2020 "Sanctification:  A New Mindset"  by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

May 2020


May 31, 2020 "Witness Power" by Rev. Don Wahlig

May 10, 2020 "Show Us the Father" by Rev. Don Wahlig

May 3, 2020 "Abundant Life Amid the Sheep" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

April 2020


April 26, 2020 "We Had Hoped..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 12, 2020 "Meet You in Galilee" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 5, 2020 "The Kingdom and the Cup" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2020


March 29, 2020 "Lazarus:  Faith in New Life in Christ" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 15, 2020  "Faith in the Wilderness: Moses" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 8, 2020  "Faith on the Road: Abraham" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2020


February 16, 2020  "God's Growing Wisdom: our Faith" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 9, 2020  "God's Hidden Wisdom: the Spirit" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2, 2020  "God's Foolish Wisdom: the Cross" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2020


January 26, 2020  "God's Gospel Wisdom:  Christ" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 5, 2020  "God's Heavenly Guidance" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2019


December 29, 2019  "Traveling Tips" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 24, 2019  "The Embodiment of Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 8, 2019  "The Path to Peace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

December 8, 2019

“The Path to Peace” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, December 8, 2019, Year A / Advent 2  –  Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Psalm 46  •  Colossians 1:11-20  •  Luke 23:33-43

THEME:  Trusting in God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, we confess our sins and repent by sharing his love, making peace with God and our neighbors.

      

Earlier this week I ran across something called the Global Peace Index.  It’s the brainchild of an Australian technology entrepreneur. 

His idea was to bring together a panel of leading peace experts from think tanks, academia, politics and religion.  He gave them the task of measuring, country by country, how worldwide peace is improving or declining. 

The result of their work is the Global Peace Index.  Beginning in 2007, they began publishing this annual ranking of the most and least peaceful countries in the world.    

The latest report was issued earlier this year.  For the 7th year running, the most peaceful country in the world was – can you guess?   

Iceland.  And by a wide margin, too.

I wondered about that.  7 years in a row can’t be a fluke.  Yes, Iceland is a small, close-knit, ethnically and culturally homogenous society.   But it’s got to be more than that, because all of that is also true of other island nations and it hasn’t prevented violence there.

So, I did a little digging.  It turns out as far back as the middle ages, Iceland has had a unique system of settling conflict. 

Instead of a winner-take-all decision, the needs of both sides were considered.  Both parties not only asserted their own rights, but confessed their transgressions against the other.  Then they mutually agreed on a path forward that involved each one amending their actions.

And it worked.  At a time when most countries were convulsed by violence, uprisings and even outright warfare, Iceland was the most peaceful country in Medieval Europe.  And that is largely due to this system of confession and behavioral modification that you and I know by another name:  repentance.

That’s the very thing John the Baptist is preaching to the crowds who come out to be baptized by him in the wilderness. 

He’s quite a spectacle, isn’t he?  He dresses in camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist.  He subsists on the Atkins diet of his day:  locusts and wild honey.

Don’t be fooled.  None of this was normal for him. He dressed and behaved like this for a reason.  He wanted the people to be reminded of Israel’s great prophet, Elijah.  Elijah, you remember, called Israel to put away their idols and turn back to Yahweh.

As Jesus himself later affirms, John is the new Elijah. He’s fulfilling God’s promise through the prophet Malachi, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”

And that, in a nutshell, is John’s message to the people.  “God’s kingdom has come near.  Now is the time to change your way of living.”  They need to reorient their hearts, minds and lives away from the idolatry of self-interest, and back to God’s purposes of justice and mercy, especially for the least.  In short, it’s time to repent.

And so, one by one, they step down into the cold water, confess their sins and allow John to dunk them in the river.  This water baptism is a sign of their commitment to repent.  It’s an external ritual that demonstrates their internal desire to live according to God’s ways.  It’s proof that they are indeed his faithful people.

        But when John sees the Pharisees and Sadducees coming he turns them away.  He knows they have no intention of repenting.  They don’t think they need to change one bit.  They’re not only descendants of Abraham, but religious and civic leaders.  Surely, that makes them right in God’s eyes!

        But the truth is they are less committed to God’s justice than their own power and influence.  Make no mistake:  they are allies of Rome.  And, while the people suffer, they have things relatively good.

They love their fine robes and long-tasseled prayer shawls.  They love sitting at the head of the table at banquets.  They’re more concerned with staying in the good graces of Herod, Rome’s puppet king, than they are about truly serving God by serving their needy neighbors.

Yet, for all their worldly influence and surface-level success, they lack what the common people have come to John to receive:  peace.  Peace with God and peace with one another.

        What these power players don’t understand is that peace doesn’t come through wealth, influence and prestige.  The path to peace begins with confession and repentance.  Only then can we move on to real reconciliation.  That’s true of our relationship with God and our relationship with our neighbors.  

This pattern of confession, repentance and peace is fundamental to our faith.  So much so, that it’s even embedded in our liturgy.

Like all our brothers and sisters in the Reformed tradition, we Presbyterians worship God in a distinct way.  One of the hallmarks of our Reformed liturgy is the prominent confession of sin.

Every Sunday morning, we begin by gathering together with words of praise.  We stand in awe of God’s glory.

The very next thing we do, before we ever read a word of scripture or preach a sermon or receive communion, is confess our sins.   We speak them corporately aloud, and then individually in silence.  

This sequence makes perfect sense because, in the light of God’s glory, our brokenness and unrighteousness stand out like a sore thumb. 

Occasionally I hear folks say, why do we have to confess our sins every single week?  The answer’s simple:  we sin every single week, if not every single day! 

We sin against God, we sin against each other.  And our sin erodes our relationship with both.  It puts distance between us and God, and between us and our neighbor.  In fact, that’s a pretty good definition of sin:  anything that separates us from God and one another.

But the good news of the gospel is these broken relationships are not the end of the story.  In those 15 seconds of silent confession, the point is not to leave us mired in despair.  It’s time to take heart, to trust the promise God makes to us all in our baptism that we are his children.  

Through Christ, we live a new life, a life where we are with God and God is always with us.  Nothing can change that.  That’s why we respond to the assurance of pardon with a joyful song.

And only then do we pass the peace of Christ.  Because we’re confident that, through Jesus, we’ve been reconciled with God and so we can be reconciled with our neighbor.

But we don’t stop there.  There’s another step, a crucial step.  Confession is meaningless without genuine openness to change and the commitment to follow it through. 

That’s the fruit John the Baptist demanded of those self-righteous, self-serving leaders.  Confession is not enough.  Words are cheap.  Intentions can be fleeting.  What we need is active, sustained repentance that proves we mean what we say.

That’s what Jesus expects to find when he comes back to sort the wheat from the chaff.  As Isaiah puts its, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.”

As Matthew tells us in the parable of the sheep and the goats, it’s the hungry and the sick, the naked and the prisoner, whose well-being you and I are supposed to make a priority.  

But how?  How do we live that kind of life with any consistency, especially when we may be older with less energy and aging bodies, or younger with little kids to raise, or busy nurturing careers that demand much of our time?

The answer is we do what we can when we can with the resources we’re given.  And we never give up.  We persist.

Only a few of us are called to make social justice our life’s work.  The rest of us need to stay on the lookout for opportunities to join in.  And almost all of us, at one time or another, are given a season in life, when we can give a more sustained commitment to this holy work of sharing God’s love with the least and the lost.

But regardless, whenever we’re able to do this work, the most important thing of all is to remember why we are doing it. 

We don’t do it to feel better about ourselves, or in the false hope that somehow we will achieve our own salvation.  

No.  We do it because we’ve confessed the sins that we know have put distance between us and God, trusting that that’s not the end of our story.

God loves us too much to leave us alone out there in that wilderness of sin. He drew near to us in Jesus Christ, so that by trusting him, we could draw near to God and have peace with him.

And our response is to share his love with others.  This is why Session, on Thursday evening of this week, unanimously voted to adopt a vision statement that will guide all our decisions going forward: 

To become a Grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.

 That is repentance.  It’s the one and only path to peace. 

And you don’t have to be from Iceland to make it work. 

May it be so.

 

Last Published: December 9, 2019 3:11 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2020


November 15, 2020  "Accepting Your Mission" by Rev. Don Wahlig

November 1, 2020  "The Hope of the Saints" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2020


October 18, 2020  "Whose Image Do You Bear?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

October 11, 2020  "Righteous Clothing" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2020


September 13, 2020  "The Circle of Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2020


August 9, 2020  "Faithful Witness in Thyatira" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

July 2020


July 5, 2020  "Sanctification:  An Old Struggle" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

June 2020


June 28, 2020  "Sanctification:  A New Ethic" by Rev. Don Wahlig

June 21, 2020 "Sanctification:  A New Mindset"  by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

May 2020


May 31, 2020 "Witness Power" by Rev. Don Wahlig

May 10, 2020 "Show Us the Father" by Rev. Don Wahlig

May 3, 2020 "Abundant Life Amid the Sheep" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

April 2020


April 26, 2020 "We Had Hoped..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 12, 2020 "Meet You in Galilee" by Rev. Don Wahlig

April 5, 2020 "The Kingdom and the Cup" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2020


March 29, 2020 "Lazarus:  Faith in New Life in Christ" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 15, 2020  "Faith in the Wilderness: Moses" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 8, 2020  "Faith on the Road: Abraham" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2020


February 16, 2020  "God's Growing Wisdom: our Faith" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 9, 2020  "God's Hidden Wisdom: the Spirit" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2, 2020  "God's Foolish Wisdom: the Cross" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2020


January 26, 2020  "God's Gospel Wisdom:  Christ" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 5, 2020  "God's Heavenly Guidance" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2019


December 29, 2019  "Traveling Tips" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 24, 2019  "The Embodiment of Love" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 8, 2019  "The Path to Peace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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