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Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

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

 

 

May 9, 2021

“Love Actually, Part 4:  Love and Christ” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, May 9, 2021, Year B / Easter 4 –  Acts 10:44-48  •  Psalm 98  •  1 John 5:1-6  •  John 15:9-17

The big idea:  Trusting that Jesus is God’s son who became truly human and died a human death to show us God’s love and to love each other enables us to conquer the world’s self-centered values.

Application:  Trust that Jesus is the Christ, God in the flesh, and love others sacrificially as he did.

 

Today, we conclude our 4-part sermon series on love.  And what better day to do it than Mother’s day.  Let me wish a happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are celebrating that today. 

Now, not every mother is perfect – present company excluded, of course.  But for most of us, a mother’s love may be about as close as we can get to the kind of self-giving love that the Elder in John’s community is holding up to us this morning.

There is a certain simplicity and downright boldness in the Elder’s message, isn’t there?  In fact, we could sum it up in two commands:  Trust and love.

In fact, that pretty much sums up the theme of the whole Bible, doesn’t it?

Everything starts with love.  Creation was God’s first act of love.  His covenant was the relational roadmap of how we ought to live a life of love. 

But, of course, we had a hard time understanding and accepting that.  As a result, we did not share God’s love the way he intended. 

But, God didn’t give up on us.  Instead, he did the unexpected – no, strike that.  He did the unthinkable:  his love for us was so great, that he actually chose to become one of us.  Not only in appearance, but in reality.  In Jesus Chrst, God became really and truly human. 

That begs a question.

For a moment, put yourself in God’s shoes.  What kind of human being would you become?  A powerful priest?  A rich ruler?  Maybe a strong warrior?  That’s what we would expect the omniscient and omnipotent creator of the universe to do, wouldn’t we?

But no.  Instead, he chose to be born a helpless infant, into a dirt-poor family, in a dusty hill town called Nazareth, a place way off the beaten path and held in contempt by pretty much everybody.  Think Camden, New Jersey, Watts in Los Angeles or Allison Hill in Harrisburg.

And, yet, that is where God chose to enter this world, the first-born child of first-time parents.

In Jesus of Nazareth, God poured out his love into human flesh and blood.  So, we know that Jesus is what God’s love looks like.  Love incarnate – love actually.

When he grew up, the way Jesus taught and the way he lived showed humanity how God intended us to love. 

He became a gentle, but powerful teacher who summed up his teaching – and all teaching – in the great commandment:  love God with your whole being, and love your neighbors as yourself.  And we are to do this even to the point of giving our lives over completely to God’s purpose.

He taught that lesson most powerfully through his own example.  He gave his life for his friends – and that includes you and me.  As he told them beforehand, no one has greater love than that.   And their job – their mission – is to do the same for one another.  

That’s what faith requires.  It means trusting in Jesus as the Christ, God’s Son and humanity’s Messiah.  But it also means trusting that he was not only truly God, but truly human, too.   

As Frederick Buechner wrote, “The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we, too, have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.”

And, that is crucial point that the Elder is taking pains to emphasize to his community.  He’s a theologian at heart and he understands what is at stake in confessing Jesus’ humanity as well as his divinity.  

Let’s follow his reasoning here.  Because Jesus really was human, he really did die a human death.  Because he died, his resurrection really did conquer death, once and for all.  That is the hope of their faith. 

And the Spirit which Jesus sent after God took hm back up into heaven, reassures his followers in their faith.  So do the sacraments of water and blood, meaning baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  

 

This is the irrefutable, divine logic that the Elder is laying out for John’s community.  He concludes his sermon by repeating the two commands he began with.  First, trust in Jesus, that he is fully God AND fully human, and therefore, through his death, we have new life.  Second, love one another as Jesus loved us.

 

We don’t know for sure, but it seems a safe bet that John’s community did indeed learn to obey these commands.  By putting them into practice, they found that faith and love bound them to God, and to one another.  And, slowly the community healed from the devastating split caused by those who departed, who lacked faith and, therefore, lacked love.  

The true power of faith is its foundation in God’s love, and love is the most powerful force we know.  It’s also highly contagious.  When we really do live with love, it can spread like wildfire, faster and farther than even a pandemic.  And, in the end, self-giving love always wins.  That is how faith conquers the world.

        So, then the real question for us is how do we learn to love like that?  How do we make self-giving love a habit?

        Sooner or later, every Christian who makes even a half-hearted attempt to live out the gospel, finds her- or himself face to face with this question. 

And one thing is for sure.  We cannot think our way into becoming more loving.  Developing the habit of self-giving love is not a matter of the intellect or the mind.  It’s a matter of the heart.  It’s a matter of what we desire.

This was the great insight of one of our most influential early Christian thinkers, Augustine of Hippo.  In the fourth century, Augustine wrote what many consider the first spiritual autobiography.  He called it “Confessions”.  It’s his account of the dramatic turnaround in his life that brought him to faith. 

In it, he makes one of the most famous observations ever recorded about the desires of our hearts.  Speaking to God, he says, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”

What Augustine means by heart is not simply emotion.  He means what the Greeks and the Hebrews meant.  The heart is the seat of the will.  It’s the source of our deepest desires. 

OK, then the question becomes how do we change our hearts?  How do we learn to desire self-sacrificial love and self-giving behavior? 

One of our most insightful contemporary Christian writers is James K.A. Smith, a professor of theology at Calvin College. Recently, he suggested a way to reshape our desires.  His premise is that you and I were created by God as “liturgical” beings.

He starts by affirming Augustine’s observation that as human beings we are created by God in order to love.  Love is our baseline orientation.  It’s a force that operates on us and within us, mostly in our subconscious, not our intellect. 

That’s why our mind may tell us we desire things like getting into shape or eating well, while our habits often reveal that we really desire other things like sitting on the couch and eating at McDonalds.

This is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” 

It’s as if we’re on autopilot, desiring something which we have been taught to desire.  Liturgies are the rituals and practices through which we learn these desires.

The world offers many kinds of secular liturgies.  Shopping at the mall, for example, is a liturgy that teaches us to desire buying things.  The more often we repeat this liturgy, the more ingrained the desire becomes.  Eventually, it becomes a habit of the heart. 

This is just one example of the kind of self-serving liturgies the world offers in abundance.  They all pretty much work the same way.  They train our hearts to desire something other than what God made us to desire.

So, what we need are counter-liturgies.  Rituals and practices that recalibrate our hearts to desire what God desires for us.  This is why worship is so important. 

Not just any worship, but worship that leads us through the Biblical story of God’s love:  the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, true human and true Messiah.  

Worship is the great liturgy of love.  But there are many more.  And they happen outside the church, too.  In fact, my guess is that many of us will do that today when we take the mothers in our lives to brunch or dinner, or even just call them to tell them how much we love them.  These are heart-shaping liturgies, and we need them.

A liturgy of love can also happen whenever we gather for a meal and begin by thanking God.  It’s a liturgy of love when we visit a friend or a family member who is sick at home or in the hospital.

Another happens when we help repair the homes of folks in Maine, West Virginia or Florida or here in Mechanicsburg.

These are all liturgies of love.  And each time we participate in them, they change us, they reform our hearts and they change what we want.  They shape our hearts to desire God’s Kingdom. 

Friends, I hope all of us who celebrate today will enjoy a spectacular Mother’s Day to honor the mothers in our lives.  It is a day to show our love.

Tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, what other liturgies of love will you allow to shape your heart?

Last Published: May 11, 2021 3:11 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

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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