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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

 

 

May 23, 2021

“The Spirit, Part 2:  The Life of Hope” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, May 23, 2021, Year B / Pentecost  –  Ezekiel 37:1-14  •  Psalm 104:24-34, 35b  •  Romans 8:18-28 or Acts 2:1-21  •  John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

The big idea:   As Christians we are not called to deny the suffering in the world.  Instead, we are called to trust that it is not final and to live in hope, which the Holy Spirit enables us to do.

Application:  Seek the hope that comes from the Holy Spirit, especially as it is at work in Christian Community.

 

Does the name Gottfried Leibniz mean anything to you?  If it does, then my guess is that you are either very well read or a student of mathematics – or both.

Gottfried Leibniz has been called the last universal genius.  Born in 17th century Germany, Leibniz quickly showed extraordinary intellectual promise.  By the age of 12 he knew Latin and Greek.  He published his first book at age 19. 

After earning his doctoral degree, he went on to make significant contributions in the fields of law, science, philosophy, theology, technology, and even politics and diplomacy. 

The list of his achievements is as stunning as it is diverse.  He originated the theory that the earth was originally molten rock.  He developed new kinds of hydraulic presses, water pumps, windmills, clocks and even submarines.

He is most famous for developing differential and integral calculus.  But he also invented the binary system which is the basis of the modern computer.  He even developed a mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply and divide.

With all his numerous achievements, Gottfried Leibniz’ contributions to philosophy and theology are often overlooked.  This is where he earned his reputation as the world’s most famous optimist.

It stems from his thesis on the nature of God and creation, in light of the problem of good and evil.  In a nutshell, here is his argument.

Since God is both good and omnipotent, and since he chose this world out of an infinite array of possibilities, then this world must necessarily contain the most good and the least amount of evil.  To describe this, Leibniz came up with the famous phrase “the best of all possible worlds”. 

Not surprisingly, later philosophers like Voltaire skewered Leibniz and poo-pooed his optimism.  To their minds, the world contained far too much suffering to ever be called good.  They thought Leibniz was naïve, at best.

But Leibniz was no Pollyanna.  He knew a thing or two about worldly suffering.  When he was just 6 years old, his father died.  

Other deaths in his family were stark reminders of the recently-ended evil of the 30 Years War.  That was the worst war Europe had ever seen.  8 million people were dead across the continent, and it left his hometown of Leipzig in ruins.

So, it’s fair to say that his optimistic outlook was not the result of a sheltered life.  And, even as brilliant as he was, his it could not have come from his intellect alone.

Instead, it came from a much more profound source.  His sense of hope was grounded in his Christian faith, despite all worldly evidence to the contrary.

That is the message Paul offers to the Roman Christians.

This chapter, Romans chapter 8, has been called the most joyous chapter in all of scripture.  Nowhere else in the Bible do we find the good news of Jesus Christ packed into almost every sentence.  This week and next, we will spend time unpacking this astounding good news of life lived in the Spirit.

Paul’s message this morning is about Christian hope.  For Paul, hope is not some pie-in-the-sky optimism that wants to gloss over the reality of sin, suffering, and death.  In fact, it’s no coincidence that the place we most often hear this passage is at funerals, where the reality of decay and death is immediate and undeniable.

That reality goes back to Genesis chapter 3 and Adam and Eve.  As the penalty for their disobedience, God placed the curse on them and their offspring, and on all creation, too.  That is the source of the world’s futility.  It is evident in the characteristic decay suffered by all life – human, animal and plant alike.  Everything becomes dust.

But death and decay are not God’s final word.  In fact, it was God’s intention from the very beginning to reverse the curse.  That is the source of Paul’s hope. 

To help us understand that, he draws a vivid comparison.  On the one hand, you have the current state of creation:  groaning, crying out, sometimes screaming in pain like a mother giving birth.  Climate change and its numerous ill effects is the most recent evidence of that suffering. 

On the other hand, there is the future glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns.  It will be beyond comparison with anything we know in this life.  It will be the full manifestation of our adoption into God’s family.

It will mean freedom – from sin, from death, from decay.  It will mean new bodies – bodies that are as glorious as the angels.  For those of us trying to shed the excess pounds we gained from COVID, that is some really good news. 

Finally, in this blessed state of redemption that awaits us, there will be no more crying or pain, no more suffering and decay.  Sin and death will be no more.

And, thanks to the Holy Spirit, we get a taste of that resurrection life now.  That’s what Paul means by the first fruits of the Spirit.  Like a farmer, pulling those first few ears of plump, delicious corn and seeing the future of a bountiful harvest, our life in the Spirit today is God’s pledge of our life with him in the age to come.

That is the source of our hope.  We cannot see that life of redemption - not fully, not yet.  But, then again, as Paul points out, it wouldn’t be hope if we could.  Hope is what carries us from here to there.  Hope is what defines us as faithful Christians.

And hope is the true gift of Pentecost.  Forget the tongues of fire dancing over our heads and the rushing wind and the multi-lingual translation.  Hope is the true sign of a Pentecostal faith. 

Yes, we are all Pentecostals, not because we talk in tongues and are slain in the Spirit, but because we live with hope, which is what life in the Spirit is all about.

It’s the willingness to see beyond what is, trusting in God’s promise that what will be, is far beyond even our wildest imaginations.

But hang on a minute.  Do you hear that nagging little voice in our heads?  It’s the voice of realism and it wants to raise an objection.  It says, “But we are all still so very human.  The evidence is all around us.”

That’s true.  We see a world rife with all the symptoms of our fallen humanity:  greed and violence, cruelty and suffering, death and decay. 

The question is:  What does the Christian life of hope have to say about all that?

20 years ago when I was in the midst of a post-9/11 midlife crisis, wondering what God wanted me to do with the rest of my life, this was one of those big questions I asked myself.  And I found the answer in a place I never expected:  in the AIDS-ravaged country of Malawi.

Back then, Malawi was the epicenter of the African AIDS pandemic.  Over 30% of the population was HIV-positive.  That year, the number of adults who died from AIDS exceeded 70,000 for the first time. 

Within a decade, life expectancy dropped from 52 to 42.  Then, a severe food shortage made things even worse.

Like catastrophes everywhere else in the world, the ones who suffered most were the children.  More than half a million children were orphaned.  And it was to one of these AIDS orphanages that I went with a church mission team.

I was prepared to see children and families ravaged by this deadly plague.  I was prepared for tragedy, grief and even death.

What I was not prepared for was the joy and the hope that we experienced there.  And it taught me a lesson I will never forget.

Our new African friends responded to our visit with sheer, unadulterated joy.  Many of them were malnourished, some had signs of parasites like ringworms, and all had lost one or both parents.

Nevertheless, they were children who wanted to grow up to be the next President or soccer star.  They wanted to hold our hands, to be picked up and hugged.

The adults who cared for them were equally joyous and hopeful.  They were simply glad to be with us, and to be with one another.

The worship services we participated in were full of singing and joy, and uplifting messages of God’s promise of new life.  At first, I was confused by the coexistence of such hopeful joy amid such heart-breaking tragedy.

Then it hit me.  Their hope-filled joy was so prominent for the same reason Gottfried Leibniz was such an optimist.  It was precisely because they had known tragedy so intimately.  They understood, in a way that I did not, God’s promise of future glory that Paul describes to the church in Rome.

As a result, they also understood, better than I did, the present signs that point to that coming glory.  Christian community - even makeshift community like the orphanage - offered them the simple gift of not suffering alone, the gift of friendship and companionship with fellow Christians who suffered right along with them, who cared for them and listened to them, who comforted them and encouraged them.  

Friends, that is the Holy Spirit in action.  It’s the voice that reassures us when we are tempted to despair, and prays for us when we don’t even have the words.  

How about you?  Could you use some of that hope? That encouragement, that reassurance?  Are there some folks in your life who need that, too?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.  The Spirit is here.  It’s at work in you and me and everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ and the glorious future he makes possible. 

Can you feel it?

 

Last Published: May 24, 2021 11:14 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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