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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

 

 

June 28, 2020

“Sanctification: A New Ethic” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, June 28, 2020, Year A / 5th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8) – Jeremiah 28:5-9 and Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18  •  Romans 6:12-23  •  Matthew 10:40-42

THEME:  Be instruments of God’s righteousness by following the Spirit’s lead to fight racism and other injustice.

 

This summer has been called the summer of the road trip.  With the high health risk of air travel and low gas prices, many people are deciding to bundle the family into the car and head out onto the road for summer vacation fun.

That’s what we’re planning to do.  Beginning in mid-July, we’re going to put the kayaks on the cars and head up to a lake in the Adirondacks.  It’s supposed to be a scenic drive and an absolutely glorious destination.

It reminds me of all those wonderful road trips to Vermont and Maine we used to take when our girls were little.  Those were great adventures.

Paul is inviting the Roman Christians to take a different kind of road trip, one that will be an even greater adventure, and which leads to an even more glorious destination.

Last week, Paul reminded them that, in baptism, they have died to sin and become alive in Christ.  This week he explains how that happens.

For the Jewish Christians, this means they are no longer subject to the law.  And that’s a very good thing:  because none of them can keep it.  None of their ancestors could keep it, either.  In fact, no one can keep it.

As a result, the law only brings condemnation and death.  It’s the equivalent of demanding someone climb Mt. Everest and giving them detailed instructions, but no one to guide them and no Sherpas to help them.  Of course, they’re going to fail!

But all that changed in Jesus Christ.  When he came along, God’s grace took over and made the impossible possible.  There are two distinct gifts of this life-changing grace.

The first is that those who trust in Jesus – Jew and Gentile alike – are no longer measured by the impossible standards of the law.

In God’s eyes, they are righteous not because of anything they did, but because of what Jesus did.  Jesus’ obedience to God is imputed to his followers.  As a result, they can look forward to joining Jesus after they die, living in God’s constant presence for all eternity.

But this begs a question:  How should we live until then? 

That is the challenge that the Roman Christians face the same way you and I do.  They, like us, are living in between the promise of what Christ did for us on the cross and the fulfillment of that promise in the new creation Christ will bring when he returns.  

Paul tells them to begin by seeing themselves differently, as no longer subject to sin.  But, then comes the hard part:  they have to actually live like it.  Paul has an interesting way of expressing that mandate.

“Present your members to God as instruments of righteousness,” he says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”  

But that does not mean that sin is no longer present.  Far from it!  They will always have to contend with sin, as long as they are living in this life.     

In other words, the Christian life is like a road trip.  As we travel on the road leading to eternal life with God, sin is no longer in the driver’s seat, but it is most definitely still in the car. 

And, like a bad backseat driver, it never stops trying to tell us what to do and where to go, distracting us and tempting us to take various off-ramps.

And all of those dangerous detours lead to the same place:  away from God and toward ourselves, serving our own interests ahead of, and instead of, God’s will.

Which is why Paul introduces the controversial image of slavery as the model of a holy life.  That sounds a little odd, doesn’t it?  We rightly think of slavery as a horrific institution that brutalized Africans and other indigenous peoples around the globe. 

At this very moment, we are still living out the legacy of slavery in this country through the protests here and throughout the country.

Now, there were plenty of slaves in Paul’s day, too.  But slavery in the 1st century Mediterranean world had a different complexion than the colonial-era slavery that we are more familiar with. 

Throughout the Roman Empire, slavery was legal and widespread.  By some estimates, two thirds of the Roman population were slaves at some point in their lives. 

While some Roman slave owners could be harsh and brutal, many were not.  In fact, it was not uncommon for people to sell themselves into slavery to settle debts, or simply to survive. 

In exchange for their freedom, they would be able to feed themselves and their family.  They could also learn new skills.  And by serving their masters well, they could expect to be freed eventually to live a better life. 

But being a slave meant one thing above all else:  unquestioning loyalty.  To be someone’s slave was to belong to them and to obey them, no matter what.  

So, when Paul is urging the Romans to enslave themselves to God, he has in mind their total commitment to obey God’s commands.  He wants them to use all their powers and faculties to honor and obey God. 

And the second gift of God’s new covenant of grace is what allows them to do that.  The gift of the Holy Spirit guides and empowers them in seeking and following God’s path, rather than all those detours that lead to a life of self-indulgence.

The one path leads to righteousness and life.  The other leads to sin and death.  As Paul sees it, there is no in-between, no waffling.  These two paths are mutually exclusive.  Choosing one means foregoing the other.  And it’s the Holy Spirit that helps them – and us – to choose the right one, or maybe I should say, the righteous one!

Truthfully, however, we don’t know how the Spirit works.  We just know that it does.  And the longer we live with it and try to obey it, the better we get at understanding it. 

One of my favorite quotes about the Holy Spirit comes from Pope Francis.  Francis has spent a lifetime being led by the Spirit.  Here’s what he says:

“To put it simply:  the Holy Spirit bothers us. Because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church to go forward. And we are like Peter at the Transfiguration, saying, 'Ah, how wonderful it is to be here like this, all together!' ... But don't bother us.”

And then Francis puts his finger squarely on the problem.  He says, “We want the Holy Spirit to doze off ... we want to domesticate the Holy Spirit.  And that's no good, because it is God.  It’s that wind which comes and goes and you don't know where. It is the power of God, it is the one who gives us consolation and strength to move forward.  But: to move forward!  And this bothers us. It's so much nicer to be comfortable.”

He is absolutely right.  Personally, I like to be comfortable.  I enjoy it.  That’s not always a bad thing.

But too often, we’d rather be comfortable and stagnant, than uncomfortable and faithful. 

But the Spirit won’t let us.  It is relentless.  It keeps bugging us to be those instruments of righteousness that Paul urges the Roman Christians to be.  It demands from us the Christlike obedience of those who are enslaved to God and God’s purposes.

That’s why so many Christians are involved in these unprecedented marches and protests against racism.  The Spirit is not going to let us rest until we are doing what God intends us to do by turning back the tide of oppression that leaves people of color second – or third - class citizens in their own country.

As bad as racism is, especially in its institutionalized and systemic forms, it is by no means the only injustice the Spirit calls us to address.  All around us, there is suffering caused by poverty, hunger, sexism, child abuse, spousal abuse, disease, climate change – the list goes on and on. 

Friends, the Spirit calls you and me to do something about this suffering by addressing not only the symptoms, but the underlying causes that lead to it.

As Aristotle famously said, “The greatest injustices proceed from those who pursue excess, not by those who are driven by necessity.”

And at the root of all excess is sin:  self-indulgence, putting ourselves and our wants and desires ahead of the fundamental needs of others.

Many of us have had to learn that the hard way.  The great English Romantic poet, William Blake, certainly did.  He wrote, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom...You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

But the Spirit leads us along a different road.  You might call it the road of self-giving  and self-sacrifice. 

It’s the very same road Christ himself traveled.  It’s a righteous road trip that puts the needs of others ahead of our own, and the will of God above all else.

Where are you on this road?

Where is the Spirit calling you and me to be an instrument of God’s righteousness?  What injustice is God leading us to fight – with all our might?

What about us as a church?  In light of the racism that many of us are fighting, several of you have suggested we do more to become engaged in mission work in the city of Harrisburg. 

It’s been suggested, for example, that there is more we can do to partner with John Paul Scott AME Zion Church.  That sounds right to me.

Whatever it is the Spirit is calling us to do to fight racism and other kinds of social injustice, we should expect that it will be a road trip like no other. 

Not only will it be the adventure of a lifetime, it will lead to the most glorious destination of all:  a life lived with God himself - forever.

May it be so.

Last Published: June 29, 2020 1:30 PM
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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