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Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

January 2020


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

 

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

 

 

December 29, 2019

“Traveling Tips” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, December 29, 2019, Year A / Christmas 1 – Isaiah 63:7-9  •  Psalm 148  •  Hebrews 2:10-18  •  Matthew 2:13-23

THEME:  Trust that God is always with us on our journey of discipleship.

 

One of the privileges of the work I do as a pastor is counseling newly engaged couples.  I’m always impressed by their willingness to set aside time in the midst of all their logistical preparations, to discuss the obstacles they’ll face as they move forward as a married couple. 

The purpose of these counseling sessions is not to avoid those challenges, because you can’t.  The goal is to help them recognize and address them when they occur, as they inevitably do.

For most couples, one of the biggest of these challenges is children.  Don’t get me wrong - starting a family is wonderful. It’s one of God’s great blessings. 

But, as those of you who have had children know, introducing an infant into a previously blissful, uncomplicated relationship changes life in a big way.

In my experience, friends and even family are reluctant to be completely honest about the challenges that children pose to their relationship.

First and foremost, there’s a lot less time for each other. 

Then there’s the lack of sleep.  Did you know that sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture?  It’s true. 

Then there’s the work.  Lots and lots of work:  laundry, diapers, feeding, cleaning, bathing, soothing, comforting. As they grow, the work changes, but it never stops.

Some couples are prepared for this.  But there is one challenge that even they are not quite ready for:  the difficulty of traveling with an infant.  Those of you who have young children have probably experienced this over the holidays, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The diapers, bibs and wipes; the strollers, car seats and back-packs; food and medicine; bottles and pacifiers; outfits and jackets – the list goes on and on.  Even short trips feel like organizing a traveling caravan.  And always the nagging fear, “What have we forgotten?”

I have to believe, as challenging as it is for parents to travel with a baby today, it was that much harder for Joseph and Mary 2,000 years ago. 

Just a week or two after Jesus’ birth, they get a visit from three wise men.  They’ve already tipped off Herod that there’s a newborn king of the Jews out there somewhere.

We’ll talk more about those wise men next week.  But, no sooner have they left, when – for the second time – an angel interrupts Joseph’s sleep with a disturbing dream and an urgent command.

“Get up and take Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt.  Stay there until further notice.”  It seems that Herod, that wily old fox, is plotting to destroy all the little babies in Judea to eliminate his competition.  Little does Herod know how futile his efforts will be.

So, Joseph wakes Mary in the middle of the night. They gather their things, wrap Jesus in swaddling cloth and off they go on a donkey into the cold darkness.  400 miles later, they arrive in Egypt.

There they stay for a few months until Herod dies.  Then the angel once again disrupts Joseph’s sleep with a dream.  “Time to go back, Joseph – it’s safe now.”

Between Jesus waking up to be fed every couple hours and the angel’s dream messages, it’s a wonder Joseph and Mary got any sleep at all. 

At any rate, no sooner do they get back to Judea when the angel comes yet again in a dream.  Herod’s eldest son, Archelaus is now in charge, and he’s no better than his father.  Best to go up north to Galilee, out of his clutches. 

And so, Mary and Joseph pack up one more time and make their way up to the isolated hilltop town of Nazareth.  And there they make their home, safe in the obscurity of a village from which no one ever expects anything good, let alone the Messiah.

Altogether, they’ve logged close to 1,000 miles. 

All this traveling to and from Egypt seems a little odd to us, doesn’t it?  Luke doesn’t mention it.  Neither do Mark or John.  But Matthew’s audience of Jewish Christians would have understood the point:  Jesus is the new Moses. 

Like Pharaoh in Moses’ day, Herod wants Jesus dead.  Like Pharaoh did at the time of Moses’ birth, Herod issues orders to kill Jewish children.  And just as Pharaoh’s threats forced Moses to flee, so do Herod’s threats force Jesus and his family to flee, until he gets God’s message to return, just as Moses did.

Most important of all, just as God was with Moses on that long journey to the Promised Land, so too is he with Jesus, Joseph and Mary on their journey to safety.

The conclusion for Matthew’s audience is inescapable.  Trust Jesus and follow him.  God’s guiding him to liberate his people from oppression, the same way God guided Moses.

In Jesus, God’s promised reign is already and inexorably becoming fulfilled.  The earthly rulers who oppose it, no matter how powerful, will not prevail against it. 

However, God’s reign is not yet fully established.  And so God’s people have to navigate a long, difficult and sometimes dangerous path, just as Joseph and Mary did.

Friends, that’s the real story of Christmas.  Jesus’ birth is not the culmination of our journey of discipleship.  It’s the starting point.  What lies ahead for us, as it did for Joseph, Mary, Jesus and his disciples, is a struggle.

The warm and fuzzy story Luke tells of baby Jesus asleep on the hay, adored by shepherds and angels alike, gives way in Matthew’s gospel to the reality of earthly powers who oppose God’s people and want to stamp out God’s reign.

That’s our journey, too.  You and I are part of God’s extended family.  Where Jesus leads, we follow.  And we know that path is not always an easy one.

Sometimes, in order to go forward, you have to stop and  look backward to see where you’ve been.  I can’t think of a better time to do that than right now.  In a few days we’ll turn the calendar over to a new decade.  It’s a good time to take stock of what has brought us here.

Let’s start with our church family.  As a congregation, it seems to me we’ve been faithful this past year. 

First and foremost, we’ve been faithful in worshiping God.  I feel a genuine vibrancy and authentic sense of joy in our worship.

We study God’s word together.  We’ve passed on the faith to the newest confirmed members of our SSPC family.

We’ve been faithful in our mission work, too.  We’ve engaged in new mission experiences like our trip to the migrant fruit pickers in Adams County. 

Meanwhile, we’ve continued to put our hands and hearts to work serving our neighbors here in Harrisburg, West Virginia, Maine, Florida and even South Africa.  

We’ve been faithful in our financial stewardship, too.  We’ve begun to build a financial foundation that will allow us to continue being faithful in the lean times that are surely coming.

Along the way we’ve taken the first steps toward a new congregational mindset that makes it a priority to engage and include our younger members in everything we do.

And earlier this month, after much prayer, discussion and debate, our Session has discerned a new vision for us as a church.  They’ve heard God calling us to be a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.  That vision will inspire and guide everything we do.

There’s always room for improvement in faithfulness, of course, but these are all steps in the right direction.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.  Like all churches these days, we are trying to make headway against the cultural headwinds of secularism.  The ruling powers in this secular age aren’t named Pharaoh or Herod.  Instead, they have names like greed, self-interest, and blind ambition.

They may have different names, but their effect is the same now as it was in Jesus’ day:  they stand opposed to God’s reign and they hinder those who would follow Jesus in establishing it.

These same forces try to hold us back in our personal faith journey, too.  As we approach a new year, it’s a good time to look back and see where we’ve been faithful and where we’ve let these things get in the way of our discipleship.

Maybe a schedule that’s become too busy?  Maybe a daily prayer practice that’s fallen by the wayside, or maybe we’ve fallen out of the habit of gratitude, and lost sight of God’s grace. 

These are the ones I have to fight against most often.  Maybe you have others that are holding you back.

Whatever it is that hinders us from being Jesus’ faithful disciples, we should remember two things. 

First, the journey of faith is long, and it’s often difficult.  It can feel a lot like trying to ride a donkey day-in and day out for a thousand miles with a newborn baby. 

Second, we do not walk this path of discipleship alone.  Just as God was with Joseph, Mary and Jesus, as he was with the patriarchs and prophets before them, so is he with us.  Every day, every step of the way. 

His promise to them is the promise Jesus makes to us:  I will be with you until the end of the age. 

We can be sure the powers that seem to rule this world will oppose us.  We can be even more sure that, in the end, God will overcome them.  

May it be so.

Amen.   

Last Published: December 30, 2019 9:07 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

January 2020


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

 

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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