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Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

April 2020


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

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

January 5, 2020

“God’s Heavenly Guidance” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, January 5, 2020, Year A / Christmas 1 – Isaiah 60:1-6  •  Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14  •  Ephesians 3:1-12  •  Matthew 2:1-12

THEME:  Just as God guided the pagan wise men to Jesus through the stars, so does he steer us closer to Jesus in unexpected ways.

            This past week, I’ve been thinking about astrology.  I’m curious:  how many of you check your horoscope regularly?

I’m normally skeptical about horoscope readings.  I tend to agree with the author, Edward Abbey, who said, “Who needs astrology?  The wise man gets by on fortune cookies.”

But this week, I decided to give it another shot. 

I’m a Capricorn.  According to horoscope.com, on Friday, Mars apparently moved into my spiritual sector.  It will stay there for six weeks.

I’m not exactly sure how, but I’m told this is a good thing.  Evidently, it makes this a great time to make significant spiritual changes.  If I do that, it will enable me to overcome some unspecified limitations so I can live to my full potential.

          At least that’s what my horoscope says.  I’m not quite sure what to make of this forecast.  It’s certainly hopeful.  At the same time, it’s vague enough to be true for anybody in any number of ways. 

          That’s true of most horoscope forecasts.  Nevertheless, there are a lot of people who take them very seriously.  Especially younger people.  A recent survey found that almost 60% of Millennials trust their horoscope reading, particularly when it comes to compatibility with others.

          What it gets down to is this.  Do we believe the stars can offer us worthwhile guidance?

That’s certainly what those wise men in our gospel reading believed.  Tradition tells us there were three of them, although we don’t really know.  Tradition also calls them kings, but that’s not what these men were.

They were priests. They were practitioners of an ancient religion known as Zoroastrianism.  The founder, Zoroaster, lived in Persia maybe 500 - 1,000 years before Jesus. 

By the time the Greeks got a taste of Zoroastrianism, it became associated with magic.  In fact, the Greek word for Zoroastrian priests is magi.  That’s where we get our word “magic”.

 But these magi didn’t perform magic.  They simply studied the skies, just as their predecessors had been doing for millennia.

We know from 25,000-year-old cave drawings, almost as soon as humankind began noticing changes in the seasons, the arc of the sun, the influence of the moon on the tides, they began looking upward to find meaning in the heavens.

That’s what these Magi were doing.  It was widely assumed the birth of an important person, like a king, was accompanied by a sign in the heavens, usually a new star.  And that’s what the magi had seen.  That star led them all the way from Persia to Jerusalem and King Herod’s palace.

Can you imagine Herod’s face when they tell him they’ve come to worship the new-born King of the Jews?  Didn’t they realize that he – Herod – was the reigning King of the Jews, and had been for the past 40 years?

But Herod was nothing if not cunning, so he puts on his poker face and starts scheming.  In what he does next, it becomes clear that he, too, takes the heavenly sign of this new king very seriously.

The first thing he does is to call in his religious experts.  He asks them where the scriptures say the Messiah will be born.   When he learns it’s just a stone’s throw away in Bethlehem, he sends the Magi there to find the newborn king and return to tell him under the pretense that he, too, wishes to worship him. 

And sure enough, there in Bethlehem, on the ground floor of the local guest house, in the midst of all the animals, they find Mary and Jesus lying in the manger.  Immediately, they drop down on their knees and worship him.  Then they present him with their gifts.  And they’re overjoyed.

Matthew doesn’t tell us very much about their return trip, other than to mention that God warned them in a dream to take a different path home.  

But it’s not hard to imagine their amazement at the divine direction they received, not only in their dreams, but in the guidance of the star as it moved across the heavens.  They must surely have concluded, especially after the confirmation of the Jewish prophetic scripture, that it was indeed God, Yahweh, who spoke to them through this heavenly sign.

That sounds fantastic to us, doesn’t it?  Aren’t we just a little skeptical of that notion?  We shouldn’t be.

The magi are by no means the only ones to whom God speaks in strange ways, celestial or otherwise.  In fact, for centuries, their modern-day descendants, the astronomers, have seen God’s presence and sensed his direction in the heavens.

          Foremost was Nicolas Copernicus, 16th century Polish astronomer and Catholic bishop.  At the same time Martin Luther was writing his 95 theses, Copernicus was quietly studying the skies at night.  When he finally published his controversial proof that the sun was the center of the universe, not the earth, many were scandalized.

For them, his findings were threatening, even heretical.  Afterall, Genesis is clear that God formed the earth first.  To claim that the sun was the center of the universe was to imply that the earth was an afterthought, an insignificant orb at the periphery of God’s concern.

But to others, his findings were cause for wonder and reverent awe.  To them, it was proof of God’s grace that he would pour out such lavish, loving attention on a small planet that wasn’t even at the center of the created universe. 

That’s how Copernicus saw it, too.  When he looked at the stars, he saw the proof of God’s love.

A generation later, Galileo came to the same conclusion.  He gazed up at the heavens through his telescope.  He confirmed Copernicus was right.  The sun was indeed the center of the universe. 

He also affirmed what Copernicus felt about God.  As he became the first human being to lay eyes on the peaks and valleys of the moon, he, too, saw the evidence of God’s majesty and love.

In the 20th century, the astrophysicists took over from the astronomers.  They now became the chief pioneers of God’s majestic universe.  Chief among them was Albert Einstein.

In 1936, Einstein answered a letter from a 6th grader named Phyllis asking if scientists pray.  He responded, “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a Spirit vastly superior to that of man.”

It was a simpler way of saying something he’d written a few years earlier:  “To sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly:  this is religiousness.  In this sense...I am a devoutly religious man.”

          In short, Albert Einstein, unparalleled genius though he was, had a profound humility.  He knew enough to know what he did not know.

And like his predecessors before him, when he looked up at the skies, he felt God’s loving presence and direction.

Friends, there are many ways God can speak to us.  Some of them are direct:  scripture, the teaching and proclamation of the Word, prayer, inspiration from one another, even the events of our lives.  All of these are ways that God communicates his love and direction to us, if we’re listening.

But there’s also another way.  God speaks to us through his creation.  This is what John Calvin meant when he said we can know God through the book of the Bible, and another book:  the book of nature. 

This second book has the same author, and so it conveys the same message.  Whereas the Bible is the direct source of God’s Good News, nature reveals his love and guidance in a more indirect, but universal way.  Nature is available to everyone everywhere, any time.

It’s what Calvin had in mind when he wrote, “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” 

I’ve certainly experienced that.  I can remember a cold night in an indigenous Bolivian village 11,000’ high in the Andes Mountains.  There was no electricity in the village or anywhere nearby, for that matter.  All our small mission team had were flashlights and candlelight. 

After dinner and a discussion reflecting on the events of that day, all 12 of us stepped outside into the brisk night air and looked up. And there was an audible gasp.

I have never in my life seen the Milky Way as clearly as we did that night.  It was as if God had taken a giant scoop of stars and flung them wildly across the sky as far as we could see, and then lowered them right on top of us. 

In that moment, I felt awe at being in the unmistakable presence of God, and profound gratitude for his love and provision like I’d never felt before. 

At a time when I was discerning the call to ministry, it was like a gigantic God sign.  As I looked from one end of the highway of stars to the other, it was as if God were illuminating my path.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like that, too.  The hair-raising understanding that God is right there with you, loving and directing you through the awesome beauty of his creation.

That kind of experience strengthens our faith.  It makes us want to know him better, to follow him more faithfully.  I have to believe that’s what those magi felt as they made their way to the manger, guided by that star.

The question for us is, will we trust it enough to follow it?  Will we let those God signs guide us to a closer walk with Christ?

So, in the end, it turns out I really do believe God can speak to us through our horoscope.  But rather than just reading about it somewhere, let’s take a moment to go outside and look at those stars for ourselves.  

And then let’s allow them to lead us closer to Christ.

May it be so.

Last Published: January 6, 2020 11:52 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

April 2020


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

 

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

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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