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Sermons

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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

 

 

July 4, 2021

“Humility Over Hubris” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, July 4, 2021, Year B / Pentecost 6 – Ezekiel 2:1-5 and Psalm 123  •  2 Corinthians 12:2-10  •  Mark 6:1-13

The big idea:  Those who are humble are open to the gift of new life Christ offers by embracing his call to repent.  Those whose pride blinds them to their own need and Christ’s ability to fill it miss the opportunity to gain new life in him.

Application:  Put our egos aside and be humble enough to embrace Jesus’ call to repentance in order to receive his promise of new life.

 

Do we have any teachers with us this morning?

My mother was a teacher.  And when you have a teacher for a parent, school begins at a very young age.  I have early memories of sitting at our dining room table for what seemed like hours as my mother took me through flash cards.

At first, they were individual letters.  Pretty soon those letters became short words, and then longer words.  Some were numbers.  Eventually those became equations – addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division.

My home-schooling curriculum also included foreign language.  Having studied German herself, my mother made sure that I could count to ten in German by the time I began Kindergarten.  I can still do it, without even thinking about it.

Along the way, she also taught me to memorize some German Proverbs.  It’s funny how those stick with you.  One of them came to mind as I read this morning’s scripture.  It goes like this:

“Nur wenige wissen, wie viel man wissen muss, um zu wissen, wie wenig man weiß.”

In English, that means “Only a few know how much one must know in order to know how little one knows.”  You may recognize this proverb.  It is a quote from the great 20th century German scientist Werner Heisenberg.

Heisenberg was the Nobel-prize winning physicist who gave us what we know as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.  As he studied the behavior of sub-atomic particles, he realized that there was a fundamental limitation.

It turns out that photons and electrons are tricky little things.  Heisenberg discovered that it is not possible to observe and measure them accurately.  No matter how much we think we know about them, there is always uncertainty.  It’s a lesson in humility, a reminder that we cannot know all there is to know.

That lesson in humility is one that the folks in Jesus’ home synagogue need to learn.

After he draws huge crowds across Galilee for his amazing teaching, awe-inspiring healing and demon-defying exorcisms, Jesus comes home to Nazareth.  He hopes to bring his wisdom and healing to his family and friends, but they are unwilling to receive it. 

When they look at him, all they can see is the carpenter’s son.  They think they already know all there is to know about Jesus.  They watched him grow up.  They remember when he was a little boy, doing all those childish things little boys do.

They’re still telling stories about that time when he was 12, when Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem for the Passover.  His parents just about had a stroke because they lost him for a whole day!  And why?  Because he was so busy  talking with the scribes back in the Temple! 

Tragically, the wisdom, the healing and the new life that Jesus has come to share is lost on those who know him best.  Their overconfidence in what they think they know renders them closed to what they really need. 

As Jesus puts it, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house."  

And when he sends out his disciples two-by-two, he gives them a similar warning.  And so it comes to pass.  Those who are open to repentance experience the miracle of new life.  Those who are not open to repentance, miss it. 

That is the price of hubris.  Excessive pride leads us to overconfidence.  And, in truth, we are all guilty of this inflated opinion of our own understanding. 

A decade back, a break-through book was published that explains why this is.  It spent ten years on the New York Times best seller list.  It’s called Thinking, Fast and Slow. 

The author is a scholar named Daniel Kahneman.  In his book, he summarizes research he did in the field of cognitive and social psychology.  In 2002, he won the Nobel Prize for this work.  It focuses on the psychological basis for human judgments and decisions. 

He says, “You believe you know what goes on in your mind, which often consists of one conscious thought leading in an orderly way to another.  But that is not the only way the mind works, nor indeed is that the typical way.  

“Most impressions and thoughts arise in your conscious experience without your knowing how they got there . . .  The mental work that produces impressions, intuitions, and many decisions goes on in silence in our mind.”

He is not saying that intuition is bad.  Most of the time intuition is helpful.  The problem is we trust it too much.  That overconfidence in our own judgment creates a bias that stops us from actually examining what we think we know.  And when that happens, we close ourselves off from understanding what we truly need, and what can truly fulfill our need.

That is what happened when Jesus came back home to Nazareth.  And when it comes to our lives of faith, we are more that way than we might care to admit.  We, too, resist his message of repentance that leads to life. 

Repentance means change.  When it gets right down to it, most of us are not really all that sure that we need to change.  We are certain, however, that the world and the people in it need to change.  As the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

So, how do we do that?  How do we open ourselves up to embrace Jesus’ call to repent, to change?

Well, it starts with something we did earlier in this worship service.

We confessed our sin:  our sin against God, and our sins against one another.  We did this out loud and together, as well as in silence.  That’s what we do each and every Sunday.  It’s one of the hallmarks of Reformed worship.

We Presbyterians, in particular, have a certain reputation for emphasizing sin more than most.  Recently, one of our denomination’s prominent pastors joked that if we were to come up with an advertising slogan, it would be something like “Presbyterians:  We’re big on sin, come join us!”

From time to time, folks ask me why we have to confess our sins every Sunday.  Isn’t that just a downer?  Doesn’t it turn people off?

The reason we do that is because we trust that God’s grace is greater than our sin.  That is the good news – despite all our shortcomings, new life is possible in Jesus Christ.  As the saying goes, God loves us just the way we are, and too much to leave us that way.

It just takes a little humility and some honest introspection to recognize our need.  Humility nudges our ego out of the way so we can draw closer to God.  God opens our eyes so we can see ourselves as we really are.  And then God gives us the help we need to change. 

This kind of life transformation doesn’t happen overnight, of course.  And without humility, it doesn’t happen at all.  That’s why people from St. Augustine to Mother Teresa to C.S. Lewis have all said the same thing:  hubris is the greatest human sin and humility is the essential Christian virtue.

Today is July 4th, the day we celebrate our nation’s Independence.  We salute all those who served and sacrificed to gain our freedom from tyranny.  So, it seems particularly appropriate to point to the example of humility and transformation set by George Washington. 

When we think of George Washington we think first and foremost of a great military and political leader, someone renowned for his humble wisdom and respected for his sound judgment.  But he was not always that way.

One biographer described young George Washington as “a mess . . . a festering mass of insecurities and perceived injustices”.  Young Washington was self-centered, ambitious, quick to quarrel and brash.  He was a social climber who relentlessly pursued status and power. 

He had a volatile temper and, when things did not go his way, he tended to blame others.  Above all, he felt certain that he was destined for greatness, and he was determined to achieve it, no matter what. 

As he matured, however, he gained enough self-confidence to realize that his no-holds barred approach to people and leadership had to change.  A few spectacular failures and close brushes with death, convinced him that God’s providence was his real strength, not his own wits or abilities.

With maturity came empathy and humility.  His ambition moderated from seeking his own fame to serving others, even if it meant putting aside his ego.  So, bit by bit, year by year, commission by commission and battle by battle, George Washington learned to become humble and selfless. 

He learned to listen to his advisors, trusting that they might know things he did not.  And as he did, he got closer to God, and learned to listen better to him, too.

There is a tell-tale moment when we see this beginning to happen.  Leading his men through a steep mountain pass, Washington literally gets down from his high horse and gives it to those hauling heavy equipment while he himself trudges along in the mud with his men.

We know how his story ends.  After leading our fledgling country to independence, the entire nation expressed its gratitude.  At his funeral, George Washington was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."   

Washington’s humility led him to rely on God and his transformation as person and as a Christian also transformed a nation.

I don’t mean to suggest that God intends for you to be President one day, but who knows?  Stranger things have happened. 

I do know this, however.  God wants to transform your heart and your life. 

The question is, are we humble enough to be open to the change?

 

 

 

Last Published: July 6, 2021 10:14 AM
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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