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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

May 2021


May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2021


January 31, 2021  "Are You God's Prophet?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 24, 2021  "God's Annoying Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 10, 2021  "Light to See" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 3, 2021  "The Outsiders' Perspective" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2020


December 24, 2020  "Light in the Darkness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 20, 2020  "Are you a Royal?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 6, 2020  "While You're Waiting..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

December 24, 2019

“The Embodiment of Love” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, December 24, 2018, Year C / Christmas Eve – Isaiah 9:2-7  •  Psalm 96  •  Titus 2:11-14  •  Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

THEME:  God’s love, embodied in Jesus Christ, is his Christmas gift to us.  Our gift to God is how we share his love with all.

The week before last, I was at a lunch meeting with some clergy colleagues.  One of them, a young mother, brought her 2-month old baby with her.  As she was heading off to the bathroom, she asked if I would mind holding her baby while she was gone.

I don’t get a chance to do that much anymore.  It’s been 20 years since our youngest was an infant.  But as I took this little baby and held her in my arms, she did exactly what our girls used to do:  she smiled.  Not once, but again, and again and again. 

And instantly all those feelings came flooding back.  Those of you who’ve ever had children, or have cared for others’ children, will know exactly how I felt.  

The sense of awe, of holding a living, breathing miracle.  A sense of deep reverence at being in God’s presence in this squirming, toothless, wobbly-headed, smelly-diapered little infant.  And the overwhelming sensation of a heart flooding with love.

I have to believe that Mary and Joseph felt all that.  And more.  Not only were they first-time parents, but, as the Angel Gabriel told them, their son was no ordinary child.

First, of course, came the Angel’s news of unexpected and miraculous pregnancy.  Then came the bombshell:  their son would take over David’s throne.  He would be the savior of all people – not just the powerful and well-born, but the humble people, people like them.

And, this time, there would be no end to his reign.  His kingdom would last forever.

Just imagine that for a second.  What’s going through Mary’s mind?  What would be going through your mind?

What would you put in the birth announcement?  “Please join us in welcoming our son, Jesus Ben Joseph, Savior of our people, Son of the Most High and Immanuel, God with us.”

That’s funny.  But the real birth announcement was even more amazing, both because of those who delivered it and those to whom it was addressed.

Picture this:  you’re a shepherd in 1st century Bethlehem.  Like most everyone you know, you’re poor.  You have a small land-holding.  You try to feed your family by growing crops, but there’s not enough land to grow that much.  So you hire yourself out to watch other people’s sheep.

And you work the night shift. 

One night, you’re out there in the field with your usual crew of fellow shepherds.  You’re all trying desperately to keep warm as the temperature drops into the upper 40s.

 Suddenly, out of nowhere, a glowing figure stands in front of you.  You’ve never seen an angel before but the light around him is so bright you know this must be one.  And then the angel speaks:

        “I bring you good news of great joy for all the people.  To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

        And then the heavens light up.  Everywhere you look, above you and all around you, are rank upon rank of angels, shimmering in the sky and singing in the most blissful harmonic chorus you’ve ever heard:

[Choir sings the “Gloria” refrain from Angels We Have Heard on High]

In case your Latin’s a little rusty, that’s "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

        And then they’re gone.  It takes you a few minutes to catch your breath.  You’re stunned.  You look at each other and ask, “Did we really just see that?” 

And it takes you all about two seconds to agree you have got to leave these sheep - never mind the wolves - and head back down into the village to see this world-changing birth. 

On a hunch, you head to the guest house, to the lower level where they keep the animals at night, looking for the sign the Angel promised:  this miraculous birth of Israel’s new king. 

There, you find a young peasant couple, Mary and Joseph. They’re from a small village up in the northern hills.  In front of them is a manger, normally stuffed with hay for the animals.  But tonight there’s also something else in it. 

Lying fast asleep in that manger on top of the straw, wrapped up in whatever strips of cloth his parents could find, is a newborn baby, a tiny, living, breathing human being, a newborn infant just like any other, only so much more.

And when you tell his parents your story about the angel, they hear the echo of what the angel told them 9 months before.  God is doing exactly what he promised.

And, with Mary’s permission, you stroke the baby’s cheek.  He stirs, lets out a small cry, and then settles back to sleep.  And your heart overflows with love.

Then you and your fellow shepherds head back up to the hills, singing, praising God for the most extraordinary night of your lives.  And the most life-changing night this world has ever known. 

And all the way back, you remember that feeling of touching baby Jesus’ cheek. 

For centuries, ever since the church began, theologians have argued about what happened that night, what it means and who Jesus really is.  And if you want to know how those arguments were settled, open your hymnal after the service and turn to page 34.  You’ll find all the answers in the second paragraph of the Nicene Creed.

But I’m not here tonight to talk to you about Creeds or Theology.  I’m here to talk about the reality of love that is the basis for all of them.  Behind all those words is one divine, constant truth:  God loves us so much, he simply will not leave us alone.

The Bible is a love story – the story of God’s love for us.  That story began long before Jesus was born. 

God created a garden.  And there, in the midst of that paradise, he set the very first two human beings, Adam and Eve.  His goal was simple:  that they would love and enjoy him and one another.

Then, he reached out to Abraham and made him a promise.  “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you . . .  to be God to you and to your offspring.”

He renewed that promise to Moses.  When he sent him to liberate the Hebrews from Egypt, he promised, “You will be my people, and I will be your God.”

Then, he extended the promise to Joshua, too.  “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you or forsake you.”

And that’s the promise he made to all his prophets, as well.  “Fear not, for I am with you.”  He never left them either.

And on that very first Christmas night, he extended that promise to you and me.  And he did it in the most unlikely and unexpected way.  God actually chose to become one of us.  Not just like us – but one of us.  Real flesh and real blood. 

Now, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about theology, but I’m a Presbyterian Pastor – I can’t help it.  Athanasius, one of our earliest and greatest theologians described what God did that night.  He wrote, “God became like us so that we might become more like him.”

What an outrageous, unprecedented claim!  For the Jews and the Greeks of Jesus’ day, this was unthinkable, even scandalous. 

The Greeks in particular expected they would be joined to God only when they got rid of the constraint of their physical bodies.  The idea that God would intentionally take on a fully human body was sheer madness.

But when you consider why God did it, it no longer seem so crazy.  Afterall, is there anything you wouldn’t do for the children you love?

That’s how God feels about you and me. 

Jesus makes that same promise to his disciples at the conclusion of Mathew’s gospel.  He says “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus made sure of that by going to the cross so you and I might have eternal life, life lived in God’s unending presence.

That is what God’s love looks like. 

On this night, when the children in our lives look forward with sleepless excitement to unwrapping those presents beneath the Christmas tree, let’s remember the greatest gift of all is the one that came wrapped in swaddling clothes, not ribbons and bows.

Jesus is that gift.  That little babe in the manger is nothing less than the embodiment of God’s love.  And, unlike the rest of our Christmas presents, this one is not meant to be kept.  It’s meant to be shared.

That’s the true meaning of Christmas.  

So, over this holiday season and on into the new year beyond, when you find yourself gazing at an infant, and your heart starts filling up with those warm, fuzzy feelings of love, let it be a reminder.  A reminder that God so loved this world and everyone in it, that he gave himself to be with us - now, always and forever.

That’s his gift to us.  Our gift to him is the way we share his love. 

I wish you a merry Christmas.  May all our hearts be so filled with love that it spills over into the lives of everyone we meet.

May it be so.

Last Published: December 24, 2019 10:13 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

May 2021


May 2, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 3: Love and God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2021


April 25, 2021  "Love Actually, Part II: Love in Action" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 18, 2021  "Love Actually, Part I: Love and Family" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

Easter, April 4, 2021  "How Does It End?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

March 2021


March 28, 2021  "The King We Weren't Expecting" by Rev. Don Wahlig

March 14, 2021  "The Cure for Snake Bite" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

February 2021


February 28, 2021  "Are you Kidding, God?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 14, 2021  "Premature Joy" by Rev. Don Wahlig

February 7, 2021  "Need a Liftt?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

January 2021


January 31, 2021  "Are You God's Prophet?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 24, 2021  "God's Annoying Grace" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 10, 2021  "Light to See" by Rev. Don Wahlig

January 3, 2021  "The Outsiders' Perspective" by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2020


December 24, 2020  "Light in the Darkness" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 20, 2020  "Are you a Royal?" by Rev. Don Wahlig

December 6, 2020  "While You're Waiting..." by Rev. Don Wahlig

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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