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Sermons

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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

 

 

February 16, 2020

“God’s Growing Wisdom:  our Faith” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, February 16, 2020, Year A / Epiphany 6 – I Deuteronomy 30:15-20 or Sirach 15:15-20  •  Psalm 119:1-8  •  1 Corinthians 3:1-9  •  Matthew 5:21-37

THEME:  God used his servants as vessels to grow our faith and we should do the same for others.

                           

One of the real joys of my undergraduate academic career as an English major was being introduced to the great English poets.  That started one fall semester when I became enthralled by the likes of Blake and Shelley, Keats and Coleridge, and, of course, William Wordsworth.

But somehow I managed to get through that course without gaining an appreciation for one of the greatest of them all:  Alexander Pope.

From the time of his youth, Pope was constantly scribbling, imitating the great poets he idolized.  By the age of 21 he was famous for his own poetry, and his satire. 

He was also known for his epigrams, those memorable and pithy sayings that convey a golden nugget of timeless truth:

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

 “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

Those are all his.  He’s also the one who gave us the phrase, “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” 

Like the others, it expresses a timeless, universal truth about humanity that was as true 2,000 years ago as it is today. 

And although he didn’t put it in exactly those words, the Apostle Paul was thinking precisely that when he wrote to the Corinthians.

Paul is bringing his argument back around to the fundamental critique with which he began his letter.  The competitive, elitist posturing of various Corinthian factions has divided the church.  Where there should be unity and harmony, there’s jealousy and infighting instead.

Some are claiming to be above the rest because they were baptized by Paul.  Others claim to be spiritually superior because they were baptized by the eloquent Apollos. 

But in Paul’s eyes, none of them are spiritually mature. In fact, just the opposite. They’re all infants in the faith, and their quarreling is proof.

If you read between the lines here, you can hear Paul getting a little touchy.  The Apollos faction appear to be looking down their noses, not only at those whom Paul baptized, but at Paul himself.  They have judged him and his plain proclamation inferior to the polished speech of Apollos.

That’s understandable.  Apollos was, by all accounts, impressive.  He was a well-educated Jewish Christian from Alexandria, the intellectual and cultural center of the Greek world.  He was known for his inspired, fervent preaching and teaching.

Even though he was Paul’s partner in ministry, it’s not surprising that Paul gets a little defensive.  Afterall, he himself is no slouch when it comes to persuasive rhetoric. 

Nevertheless, as he readily admits, when he first proclaimed the gospel to the Corinthians, he used plain, unadorned language.  That was intentional.  And it was appropriate.

Paul made the first Corinthian converts.  They were all brand new to the faith.  So, as he puts it, he couldn’t feed them with the solid food of sophisticated, theologically deep teaching.  They weren’t ready for it. He had to feed them like the spiritual infants they were:  with the plain milk of the gospel alone.

The reality is, despite the lofty opinions they hold of themselves, the Corinthians are still infants, spiritually speaking.  They do not yet have the mind of Christ.

They are, as Paul says, of the flesh, not the spirit.  They value the things the world values, not what God values.

Paul’s task in this letter is to reorient them.  What really matters is not which evangelist helps them grow in the faith, but God who causes the growth. The Corinthians belong to God, not his servants. 

But that doesn’t change the fact that they need God’s servants. The problem with the Corinthians is they think they know more than they do.  To put it another way, they don’t know what they don’t know.

They’re a prime example of what Alexander Pope meant when he wrote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  That’s where Paul and Apollos come in. 

Paul planted the seeds of faith.  Apollos came later and watered them.  They are both the instruments through which God is growing the Corinthians’ faith.  And, despite what some of them think, they are still very much in need of growth.  Which is why God continues to send them teachers like Paul.

God’s doing the same thing today, 2,000 years later.  He’s using his servants to plant and nurture the seeds of faith.  Because great faith starts with great teachers.

That’s true in the secular world as well.  There’s a story about Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

When he was a fourth-grader at an elementary school outside Seattle, Bill was a messy, nerdy kid.  He was a massive introvert, desperately trying to hide the fact that he loved books.  That was cool for girls, but not for boys.  It didn’t help that he also had the world’s worst handwriting. So, he did his best to keep to himself.

Then someone came into his life and changed it forever.  The school librarian, Blanche Caffiere, took Bill under her wing.  She shared with him her love of books.  She asked him what he liked to read, and why.

Then she gave him challenging books like biographies that stretched him far beyond the adolescent science fiction he spent most of his time reading.  Her interest in his development didn’t end there.

After he read a particular book, she sat down with him and ask him if he liked it, and why.  Most important, she asked him what he had learned.  

9-year old Bill Gates adored her. It was clear to him that she was passionate about books, just as he was.  And equally clear that she was genuinely interested in him and his growth.  They became good friends.

Before she died in 2006 at the age of 100, he got in touch with her.  He thanked her for the impact her love and contagious curiosity had on his life. 

To this day, Bill Gates credits Blanche Caffiere for sparking the interest that led him and his wife Melinda to use their foundation to build libraries and schools.  Their goal is to help every child in America have what Bill had when he was a child:  the benefit of great teachers. 

As Bill wrote in his blog, “It’s remarkable how much power one good person can have in shaping the life of a child.”

That’s exactly what Paul is trying to do in Corinth.  He’s taking immature Christians under his wing and inspiring, chiding and guiding them on a faith journey from infancy to adulthood.

That’s what Sunday School teachers have done ever since the earliest days of the organized church.  And it’s what they do today as well. 

Let’s stop a second to reflect on our faith development.  Think back to your younger days as a Christian.  Was there a Sunday School teacher who inspired and guided you to grow in your faith?

How did they do that?  Were they engaging and passionate about the faith, like Paul was?  I’ll bet they were, each in his or her own way.

But Sunday School teachers are by no means the only servants God uses to grow our faith. God has a wonderful habit of placing into our lives passionate, engaging faith teachers. He always seems to send us just the right person at just the right time. 

For me, it started with my father.  He was an Elder and the Clerk of Session at the church I grew up in.  Then, in my 20s, it was a series of seminary interns at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.  They led the young adults group where I met my wife, Beth.

In my 40s, God sent a clergy couple, who, one night at a dinner party, invited me to go on a mission trip to Bolivia.  That trip changed my life.  They became my spiritual mentors, and it was through them that I discerned the call to seminary. 

Friends, I’m sure there are people like this in your life, Christians who conveyed God’s Word to you in loving ways that changed you profoundly and built up your faith.  They are proof that you don’t have to be a Sunday School teacher to serve God by sewing and growing the seeds of faith in others. 

And God doesn’t want that faith development to stop with us.  He wants to use you and me as his servants, too.  He wants us to be his vessels, pouring out his love to sew the seeds of faith in others, and to nurture them into a mature faith. 

It doesn’t matter whether we think of ourselves as engaging, passionate and articulate teachers like Apollos or Paul.  Or Blanche Caffiere, who was herself a devoted, lifelong Christian.

What matters is what we have in common with all of them.  We share a common purpose.  You and I are meant to build up the community of faith.  Our ministries may differ, but the goal remains the same.

We teach the faith as much by what we do as by what we say.  As the great theologian, musician, philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning physician Albert Schweitzer put it, “Not only is example the best way to teach, it’s the only way.”

In other words, our actions speak louder than our words. 

Where do we spend our Sunday mornings?  How do we spend our money?  How do we respond to those in need? How do we forgive others when they hurt us?  And how do we seek reconciliation when we’ve hurt them?

And, most important of all, how is love visible in what we say, and what we do?

Friends, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, let’s follow the example of St. Valentine, the great Christian martyr.  Let’s give ourselves as examples of love that will inspire generations of Christians to do the same.

May it be so.

 

Last Published: February 18, 2020 2:14 PM
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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