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Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2021


October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

April 18, 2021

“Love Actually, Part I:  Love and Family” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, April 18, 2021, Year B / Easter 3 –  Acts 3:12-19  •  Psalm 4  •  1 John 3:1-7  •  Luke 24:36b-48

The big idea:  Mutual love is the hallmark and glue of the family of faith, joining us together as the Children of God.

Application:  Trust in the unifying power of God’s love to unite us as a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.


What makes a family functional?

I thought about that this week when I came across a story of two German brothers.  Their names are Rudi and Adi Dassler.  

Rudi and Adi lived in a small village in Bavaria.  In the bleak days following World War I, Adi got the idea to place spikes on the soles of athletic shoes.  Today, you and I know these as cleats.  Back then, this was unheard of. 

But it wasn’t long before the idea caught on.  Adi formed a company to produce the shoes and his brother Rudi came on board to sell them.

They hit the big time when they convinced the American sprinter Jesse Owens to wear their shoes in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  The rest is history.  Jesse Owens won four gold medals.  Rudi and Adi’s shoes became world famous.

You would think that this was the beginning of lifelong joy for the Dassler brothers.  But sadly, that is not what happened.

As the company grew, the two brothers had a number of disagreements.  Finally, after World War II, their conflict became so great that they decided to split the business and move to separate factories across the river from one another.

Adi renamed his company Adidas.  Rudi called his company Puma.  The two brothers, despite all they had achieved and endured together, remained bitter rivals the rest of their lives.  As did their wives and their families.

This is a sad illustration of the old saying that there is no feud like a family feud.  And that, unfortunately, is also what is happening to John’s family of faith in our reading this morning.

His community is the same one that produced the Gospel of John.  Now, it’s a decade later, and a schism has occurred.  A faction of members have separated from the main community.

This is no minor conflict.  It’s not about property lines or inheritance or who can marry whom.  This family feud is about something fundamental.  It’s about keeping the gospel of love at the heart of community life.

Those who have departed no longer believe the gospel that the community Elders have passed down.  Specifically, these skeptics reject John’s teaching that Jesus was human.

They had no problem with Jesus being divine.  They expected that.  They just could not believe that he was ever fully human.

How on earth, they argued, could God offer salvation and eternal life through a mere mortal?  To them, eternal life meant immortality.  That had nothing to do with physical, flesh and blood life in this world. 

In their eyes, salvation was totally spiritual.  How could that possibly come from Jesus’ brutal, bloody, bodily death? 

It makes us wonder, doesn’t it?  What happened to their belief in the magnificent gospel of John?

Evidently, they had fallen prey to one of the most pervasive cultural myths in the ancient Greco-Roman world.  Most of the philosophy schools that were popular at the time taught the ideas of Plato.

Like Plato, these schismatics believed that the material world was evil.  They believed that creation was a mistake and the human body was a hindrance that had to be overcome through secret wisdom in order to achieve salvation.

And so, completely contrary to the gospel, they claimed that Jesus only appeared to be human in order to communicate with us.  Therefore, his physical death and resurrection were not only meaningless, but pointless, with absolutely no benefit whatsoever for believers.

The disagreement between the two sides has led this wisdom faction to split off from the community, causing pain and confusion for those left behind.  Naturally, in the wake of such an overheated conflict, they wonder how can we be sure which side is right?  How do we know we can trust the gospel?

That’s why an elder in John’s community writes this tract.  He gives them the criterion by which they can know for sure that their faith in the gospel is not misplaced, that the gospel is indeed God’s truth.

In a single word, that criterion is love. 

Out of love, God created humankind.  Out of love, he adopted believers as his children.  Out of love, God formed them into a new family, his family – the family of faith.

The object and the center of that faith is Jesus Christ.  He is what God’s love looks like in the flesh.  His love is so great that, in Jesus, he willingly suffered and gave his own life on the cross so that all his children could enjoy new life with him for all time.

This faith is not confined to the individual believer.  It’s a family affair.  It draws the believers together into a fellowship of love, a family of faith.

Those who are in community with their fellow believers are also in community with God.  They express their faith by obeying Jesus’ command to love one another.

This mutual love is the unmistakable hallmark of God’s presence and the definitive proof that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

The schismatics can no longer boast that.  They have no such fellowship. 

For them, faith is strictly an individual matter.  Salvation is an internal quest.  Their lack of fellowship with one another is evidence of their lack of fellowship with God, and proof that their ideas are erroneous.

As the Elder puts it, they have become lawless.  They no longer obey Jesus’ command to love one another.  As a result, they are missing out on the loving community of the faithful children of God.

This experience of living in a loving community of faith is what God wants for all of us.  We all want to believe our churches are just this kind of functional faith family, don’t we?

We assume this means there will be no conflict.

But I don’t know of a single family that never experiences conflict.  Likewise, I don’t know of a single congregation where that’s the case either.  That includes us here at Silver Spring.

But friends nowhere is it written that functional families, and functional communities, are free of conflict.  There’s a very good reason for that.

Conflict is normal, even in the healthiest of families.  It happens simply because we are human.  It’s not all bad.  From early childhood, our experiences of conflict with parents, caregivers and peers help us learn that the world is not exactly like us, or as we think it ought to be.

The important thing is how we respond to conflict.  The key is the willingness to repair the disruption it causes to our relationships.  A renowned UCLA neuropsychiatrist recently said, “Repairing ruptures is the most essential thing in parenting.”  It’s also essential in repairing marriages.

And the same is true in communities.  What matters most is not the existence of conflict.  There will be conflict.  It’s how we go about repairing the relationships damaged by conflict.

Even when the conflict is over something as foundational as the gospel, the path forward is always to keep the door open and the dialogue flowing.  To do our best to remain in relationship with one another, as hard as that may be.

I don’t know of anyone who has done that better than James McCord, the former president of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Speaking of religious conflicts, he famously said that, if you have a choice of being either a heretic or a schismatic, choose heresy every time.  “As a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion.  As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ.”

Now, that may sound odd coming from a fellow Presbyterian.  If you know our history, then you know we have divided dozens of times over any number of issues since we first split off from the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago.

But, when it came to repairing ruptured relationships in the family of faith, Jim McCord walked the talk.

He was a leader in the world ecumenical movement.  As president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, he worked tirelessly to unite Reformed and Congregational Churches around the world. 

He also led a group of Presbyterians working to reunite Protestant denominations who had split from one another over the centuries.

In recent years, these efforts have born fruit.  We in the PCUSA are now in full communion with Lutherans and Congregationalists.  Discussions are under way right now to renew our communion with Episcopalians, too. 

These are all fellow Christians with whom we have had significant theological differences in the past.

And, friends, there is room for us to do the very same thing in our congregations, too.  In recent times, Presbyterians have split over contentious issues like sexuality and others.  As important as those issues are, there is something even greater that joins us to each other and to God.

That something is Jesus’ command to love one another.  If we commit to it and place our trust in it, it may take time, but it will unite as the children of God.

Unfortunately, although they were both Christians, Adi and Rudi Dassler never realized that reunion while they were alive.  When they died in the 1970s, they were buried at opposite ends of the same cemetery.

But right now, somewhere up there, in the life that awaits all of us, they are reunited - not only as brothers, but as God’s children.  In the bright light of Christ’s love, they know just how trivial was the conflict that divided them in this life.

Friends, let’s learn a lesson from that.  Let’s continue trusting in the unifying power of God’s love to realize the joy of a united family of faith. 

Afterall, that is our vision:  to become a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all. 

May it be so.

“Love Actually, Part I:  Love and Family” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, April 18, 2021, Year B / Easter 3 –  Acts 3:12-19  •  Psalm 4  •  1 John 3:1-7  •  Luke 24:36b-48

The big idea:  Mutual love is the hallmark and glue of the family of faith, joining us together as the Children of God.

Application:  Trust in the unifying power of God’s love to unite us as a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.


What makes a family functional?

I thought about that this week when I came across a story of two German brothers.  Their names are Rudi and Adi Dassler.  

Rudi and Adi lived in a small village in Bavaria.  In the bleak days following World War I, Adi got the idea to place spikes on the soles of athletic shoes.  Today, you and I know these as cleats.  Back then, this was unheard of. 

But it wasn’t long before the idea caught on.  Adi formed a company to produce the shoes and his brother Rudi came on board to sell them.

They hit the big time when they convinced the American sprinter Jesse Owens to wear their shoes in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  The rest is history.  Jesse Owens won four gold medals.  Rudi and Adi’s shoes became world famous.

You would think that this was the beginning of lifelong joy for the Dassler brothers.  But sadly, that is not what happened.

As the company grew, the two brothers had a number of disagreements.  Finally, after World War II, their conflict became so great that they decided to split the business and move to separate factories across the river from one another.

Adi renamed his company Adidas.  Rudi called his company Puma.  The two brothers, despite all they had achieved and endured together, remained bitter rivals the rest of their lives.  As did their wives and their families.

This is a sad illustration of the old saying that there is no feud like a family feud.  And that, unfortunately, is also what is happening to John’s family of faith in our reading this morning.

His community is the same one that produced the Gospel of John.  Now, it’s a decade later, and a schism has occurred.  A faction of members have separated from the main community.

This is no minor conflict.  It’s not about property lines or inheritance or who can marry whom.  This family feud is about something fundamental.  It’s about keeping the gospel of love at the heart of community life.

Those who have departed no longer believe the gospel that the community Elders have passed down.  Specifically, these skeptics reject John’s teaching that Jesus was human.

They had no problem with Jesus being divine.  They expected that.  They just could not believe that he was ever fully human.

How on earth, they argued, could God offer salvation and eternal life through a mere mortal?  To them, eternal life meant immortality.  That had nothing to do with physical, flesh and blood life in this world. 

In their eyes, salvation was totally spiritual.  How could that possibly come from Jesus’ brutal, bloody, bodily death? 

It makes us wonder, doesn’t it?  What happened to their belief in the magnificent gospel of John?

Evidently, they had fallen prey to one of the most pervasive cultural myths in the ancient Greco-Roman world.  Most of the philosophy schools that were popular at the time taught the ideas of Plato.

Like Plato, these schismatics believed that the material world was evil.  They believed that creation was a mistake and the human body was a hindrance that had to be overcome through secret wisdom in order to achieve salvation.

And so, completely contrary to the gospel, they claimed that Jesus only appeared to be human in order to communicate with us.  Therefore, his physical death and resurrection were not only meaningless, but pointless, with absolutely no benefit whatsoever for believers.

The disagreement between the two sides has led this wisdom faction to split off from the community, causing pain and confusion for those left behind.  Naturally, in the wake of such an overheated conflict, they wonder how can we be sure which side is right?  How do we know we can trust the gospel?

That’s why an elder in John’s community writes this tract.  He gives them the criterion by which they can know for sure that their faith in the gospel is not misplaced, that the gospel is indeed God’s truth.

In a single word, that criterion is love. 

Out of love, God created humankind.  Out of love, he adopted believers as his children.  Out of love, God formed them into a new family, his family – the family of faith.

The object and the center of that faith is Jesus Christ.  He is what God’s love looks like in the flesh.  His love is so great that, in Jesus, he willingly suffered and gave his own life on the cross so that all his children could enjoy new life with him for all time.

This faith is not confined to the individual believer.  It’s a family affair.  It draws the believers together into a fellowship of love, a family of faith.

Those who are in community with their fellow believers are also in community with God.  They express their faith by obeying Jesus’ command to love one another.

This mutual love is the unmistakable hallmark of God’s presence and the definitive proof that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

The schismatics can no longer boast that.  They have no such fellowship. 

For them, faith is strictly an individual matter.  Salvation is an internal quest.  Their lack of fellowship with one another is evidence of their lack of fellowship with God, and proof that their ideas are erroneous.

As the Elder puts it, they have become lawless.  They no longer obey Jesus’ command to love one another.  As a result, they are missing out on the loving community of the faithful children of God.

This experience of living in a loving community of faith is what God wants for all of us.  We all want to believe our churches are just this kind of functional faith family, don’t we?

We assume this means there will be no conflict.

But I don’t know of a single family that never experiences conflict.  Likewise, I don’t know of a single congregation where that’s the case either.  That includes us here at Silver Spring.

But friends nowhere is it written that functional families, and functional communities, are free of conflict.  There’s a very good reason for that.

Conflict is normal, even in the healthiest of families.  It happens simply because we are human.  It’s not all bad.  From early childhood, our experiences of conflict with parents, caregivers and peers help us learn that the world is not exactly like us, or as we think it ought to be.

The important thing is how we respond to conflict.  The key is the willingness to repair the disruption it causes to our relationships.  A renowned UCLA neuropsychiatrist recently said, “Repairing ruptures is the most essential thing in parenting.”  It’s also essential in repairing marriages.

And the same is true in communities.  What matters most is not the existence of conflict.  There will be conflict.  It’s how we go about repairing the relationships damaged by conflict.

Even when the conflict is over something as foundational as the gospel, the path forward is always to keep the door open and the dialogue flowing.  To do our best to remain in relationship with one another, as hard as that may be.

I don’t know of anyone who has done that better than James McCord, the former president of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Speaking of religious conflicts, he famously said that, if you have a choice of being either a heretic or a schismatic, choose heresy every time.  “As a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion.  As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ.”

Now, that may sound odd coming from a fellow Presbyterian.  If you know our history, then you know we have divided dozens of times over any number of issues since we first split off from the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago.

But, when it came to repairing ruptured relationships in the family of faith, Jim McCord walked the talk.

He was a leader in the world ecumenical movement.  As president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, he worked tirelessly to unite Reformed and Congregational Churches around the world. 

He also led a group of Presbyterians working to reunite Protestant denominations who had split from one another over the centuries.

In recent years, these efforts have born fruit.  We in the PCUSA are now in full communion with Lutherans and Congregationalists.  Discussions are under way right now to renew our communion with Episcopalians, too. 

These are all fellow Christians with whom we have had significant theological differences in the past.

And, friends, there is room for us to do the very same thing in our congregations, too.  In recent times, Presbyterians have split over contentious issues like sexuality and others.  As important as those issues are, there is something even greater that joins us to each other and to God.

That something is Jesus’ command to love one another.  If we commit to it and place our trust in it, it may take time, but it will unite as the children of God.

Unfortunately, although they were both Christians, Adi and Rudi Dassler never realized that reunion while they were alive.  When they died in the 1970s, they were buried at opposite ends of the same cemetery.

But right now, somewhere up there, in the life that awaits all of us, they are reunited - not only as brothers, but as God’s children.  In the bright light of Christ’s love, they know just how trivial was the conflict that divided them in this life.

Friends, let’s learn a lesson from that.  Let’s continue trusting in the unifying power of God’s love to realize the joy of a united family of faith. 

Afterall, that is our vision:  to become a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all. 

May it be so.

Last Published: April 19, 2021 9:36 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

October 2021


October 10, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 2: Show Compassion" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 3, 2021  "SSPC Values Part 1: Glorify God" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 2021


September 19, 2021  "Gentle Wisdom, or Worldly Ways?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 12, 2021  "Prophetic Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

September 5, 2021  "A Vision of Our Future" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 2021


August 15, 2021  "Wise Living" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2021


July 4, 2021  "Humility Over Hubris" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2021


June 27, 2021  "Faith Over Fear" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 2021


May 30, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 3: :Life and Peace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 23, 2021  "The Spirit, Part 2: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 16, 2021  "The Spirit, Part I: Wisdom and Revelation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 9, 2021  "Love Actually, Part 4: Love and Christ" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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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