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Sermons

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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 30, 2021

“The Spirit, Part 3:  Life and Peace” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, May 30, 2021, Year B / Pentecost 2 – Trinity Sunday –  Isaiah 6:1-8 and Psalm 29  •  Romans 8:12-17  •  John 3:1-17

The big idea:  The union of God the Father with God the Son produces the Holy Spirit, which is the power of God’s love that works in us and through us. 

Application:  Follow the path that Christ pioneered for us by living in the Spirit.

 

I saw something in the news this week that caught my eye.  A 75 year old man, became the oldest American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.  I got curious and so I looked at the history of those who have climbed Mt. Everest.

68 years ago yesterday, at almost exactly this time of day, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and a Nepalese Sherpa named Tenzing Norgay, took the last step to stand where no human being had ever stood before.  They were on top of Mt. Everest. 

The summit of Mt. Everest is the highest point on earth.  It is 29,000 feet above sea level.  That is two-thirds of the way up through the earth’s atmosphere, It’s cruising altitude for jetliners.  The oxygen level is low, the temperature is cold, and the weather is treacherous.

Hillary and his Sherpa needed no reminder of just how dangerous it was.  They were well aware that back in the 1920s, an English climber, George Mallory, tried several times to find the path that would reach the summit.  He failed, and seven Sherpas were killed. 

The last time he tried, Mallory himself died.  His body was not discovered for 75 years.

Until Hillary’s ascent in 1953, no one had found a route to the summit.  But Hillary did what ho one had been able to do before.  He reached a point just 200 feet below the summit where the only way up was to scale a nearly vertical rock face up onto a narrow cornice that led to the summit.  There was a 10,000 foot drop on one side and an 8,000 foot drop on the other.

Others had seen this potential route; none had climbed it.  But, as he looked closely, Hillary noticed a narrow crack leading up the rock face.  He dug in with the spikes attached to his boots and, inch by inch, propelled his way up to the top.  Then he and his Sherpa made their way along the cornice to the peak.

Thousands of other climbers have since reached the summit by the same route.  Eventually this route up the rock face became known as the Hillary Step. 

As I read our scripture today from Paul’s letter to the Romans, it occurred to me what a good metaphor Hillary’s achievement is for what Jesus did for you and me.

In Christ, God created a way for humanity to be joined to him forever.  That was what the Jewish law was intended to do.  It was the mechanism to maintain the bond between God and his people.

But the people could not keep God’s law.  So, instead of being the means of salvation, the law became their condemnation.

That’s what Paul means when he says, “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do:  by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

You may be wondering about that word ‘flesh’. When Paul says “Flesh” he’s not talking about our skin or even our bodies.  He’s talking about what is inside of us.  He’s talking about our inner nature. 

Ever since Adam and Eve, our inner nature has been corrupted.  It’s like a compass that is off, in fact, so far off that it constantly leads us in directions we really should not go.

Those paths lead us away from God.  The further we are from God, the more danger we are in.

The good news is that we don’t have to trust in our own faulty compass.  There is another whose compass is absolutely correct, all the time.  That is Jesus.  No matter where we are, he points us straight to God and to life lived in God’s constant presence.

We have access to Christ’s direction by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

After Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples received the gift of the Spirit.  You and I received that gift in our baptism.

What Paul wants us to know is that the Spirit within us is directing us along the pathway that Christ opened for us, that path that leads to life and peace – a life characterized by peace with God, and peace with our neighbors. 

Life in the Spirit is like following the Hillary Step.  Like Edmund Hillary, who pioneered the route up that stone cliff face and along that narrow ridge up to the summit of Mt. Everest, Christ forged the pathway that leads us to our life’s highest goal: union with God.  Deviating from his path is dangerous, even deadly.  Following in his path leads to life.

But how does that happen? 

First, Paul tells us it requires focus.  He calls this ‘setting our minds on the Spirit’.  He means to live intentionally, sifting our actions and thoughts, and being willing to sacrifice, even suffer for following in the path Christ pioneered.

In addition, he says that faith requires an even more fundamental change.  When we accept what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, that his death and resurrection has freed us from any and all condemnation, our motivation for living completely changes.

We no longer live for ourselves.  Instead, we live out of profound gratitude to God and the desire to please him.  That’s life in the Spirit.

Without the Spirit in us, everything we do, even the things we consider to be good, helpful and moral, we ultimately do for our own benefit.  They makes us feel good about ourselves, better and more worthy than others.  And, inevitably, those whom we serve recognize that.  And, of course, God does, too.

I’m as familiar with that temptation, and probably as guilty of giving in to it as anyone.  I worked 7 hours on Spring work day around the campus!  Boy did I do a good job.  Or, I served at the Harrisburg Homeless Shelter.  I was really good!

This is really just another way of living in the flesh.  It’s about us, not God and not those we help.  As a result, our relationships with both remain distant.

Living in the Spirit, however, is exactly the opposite.  We may do similar things, but the Spirit guides us to do them in order to please God, not ourselves.  Such selfless motivation is evident to others.  The result is that our relationships with them are strengthened. 

The same thing is true of our internal spiritual lives.  When we live in the flesh, it’s all about us, so there is no pressing need to spend time with God, beyond the odd bedtime prayer or grace over dinner.  In truth, we aren’t convinced that we really need him.

But living in the Spirit inevitably drives us to our knees.  The Spirit convicts us that we really do need God’s help.  In fact, we’re lost without him.  As a result, our prayer life is vibrant and vital.  So is our relationship with God.

The happy result of living in the Spirit is to discover that we are indeed what we were created to be:  children of God and heirs to Christ’s Kingdom.

In the end, like everything else in the Christian life, living in the Spirit boils down to love:  love that connects us with God through the love of Jesus Christ.  And love that connects us with our neighbors, too.

This is what prompted C.S. Lewis to say that love is at the heart of the Trinity.  “This spirit of love,” he wrote, “is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and the Son.”

What follows is one of the very best descriptions of the Trinity.  He wrote,

“If you think of the Father as something ‘out there’, in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you.”

This is helpful.  We don’t visualize the Spirit the way we visualize God and Jesus.  That’s because the Spirit is working in us and through us.  The Spirit is God’s love in action.

C.S. Lewis uses an analogy to describe this.  He compares the Trinity to a gathering of family or friends.  When they’re all together, something changes.  There is an energy there that was not there before.  The energy is the spirit of the gathering. 

So it is with the Trinity.  The union of God the Father and God the Son produces the Holy Spirit which is its own divine person, dynamic, pulsating with the energy of divine love.

God is love.  As Christians who know God’s love, we catch that energy, too.  When we live in the Spirit, it works in us and through us. 

Consider this:   If more and more of us were to live that way – in the Spirit – can you imagine what might happen?   

Our relationships would be stronger.  Hatred would melt into mutual understanding.  Prejudice would give way to neighborly concern.  The needy would be fewer and fewer, because there would be more and more folks reaching out to help. 

Conflicts would be rare and resolution would be quicker.  And war would disappear.

Dare we hope for such a reality?  In fact, we already do.  We pray for it every Sunday.  We call it the Kingdom of God.  It’s where life in the Spirit leads. 

It may sound as impossible and impractical to reach as the top of Mt. Everest, but there’s a pathway there.  It’s the path Christ has pioneered for us. 

Are you willing to follow it?

 

Last Published: June 2, 2021 3:23 PM
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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