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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

September 2021


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

 

 

August 15, 2021

“Wise Living” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, August 15, 2021
Year B Pentecost 12 (Proper 15, Ordinary 20):  I Kings 2:10-12, 3:3 -14 • Psalm 111 • Ephesians 5:15-20 • John 6: 51-58

 

          Back in June, Beth and I had the opportunity to go out to California for Jane’s graduation from UC Santa Barbara.  With COVID having canceled all her in-person classes, Jane had relocated to Los Angeles.  While we were there, she gave us a tour of her neighborhood in West LA. 

          For fun, we drove around Beverly Hills.  That is, of course, where a lot of famous people live, including some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  People are always curious to see how the stars live.  You can buy a map of their homes and drive by to take a look. 

For example, you can see the homes of the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift; Marilyn Monroe, Dick Van Dyke and my personal favorite, Jimmy Stewart.  As you might guess, however, most of what you see are lots of tall gates with big houses behind them.  But people will go to great lengths just to get even that small glimpse of the life of fame and money.

          This week, as I was reading our scripture passages, it reminded me just how powerful that allure is.

          Last week we left Jesus in the midst of an argument. He was jousting with the Jewish religious leaders.  What set them off was his claim that he is the bread of life, the bread which has come down from heaven, and the source of eternal life.

          His opponents are Pharisees.  They claim to be disciples of Moses.  They are looking for an earthly redeemer like Moses, a prophetic leader who will lead the people back to prominence and prosperity just as Moses led the Israelites into the Promised Land.  They’re looking for the Messiah, and they don’t believe Jesus fits the bill.

          So, Jesus ups the ante, theologically speaking.  He tells them, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life.”

          Can you just picture the folks in the synagogue that morning as they listen to this?  They probably looked at one another, mouths gaping wide, shock and horror written all over their faces.  They ask each other “Did he really just say what I think he said?”

          They have taken him literally.  Cannibalism was a no-no, and ingesting blood was a serious violation of the Jewish law.  Blood is the life essence, given by God.  All blood was therefore sacred.

          So, what is Jesus doinge here?  Is he simply being outrageous? 

Well, yes, he is definitely doing that.  But he is doing it to make an important point.  He is superior to Moses.  Moses was merely the middle man in God’s gift of manna.  Jesus is himself God’s gift.  He is the source of true life, the deep satisfaction of every human need, satisfaction which is not partial and temporary like the manna provides, but total and eternal.

          John’s audience would recognize that he is tapping into a very old and important tradition in the Bible.  It’s called the wisdom tradition.  It’s what gave us the books of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. 

          In this tradition, bread is associated with wisdom.  Like manna, wisdom comes down from heaven.  So, when Jesus says he is the bread that comes down from heaven, he is claiming to be God’s wisdom in the flesh. 

          This language of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood sounds familiar, doesn’t it?   It sounds like the communion liturgy, right?  Yet, nowhere in John’s gospel do we find the institution of the Eucharist the way we do in the other gospels.

          In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus institutes the Eucharist at the last supper.  So, why don’t we find that in John?

The answer is that, in John’s gospel, Jesus himself is the Passover sacrifice, the lamb of God who gives his life for the sheep.  As he says, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” 

Friends, that’s what we remember and celebrate in communion.  Christ lives in us, and we live a new life in Christ.   

This new life was very different from the way other people in the Roman Empire were living.  Roman culture was socially competitive and surprisingly decadent.  For Romans, living wisely meant seeking wealth, influence and social position.  Worship often meant drinking a skinful of wine at the local shrine to some pagan god and then visiting with the temple prostitutes.

          The life Christ offered his followers was a far cry from that.  Instead of competing, it meant cooperating.  Instead of seeking higher status, it meant helping the least.  Instead of being constantly greedy for more, it meant genuine gratitude for having enough.  Above all, it meant love – love for God, and love for neighbors.

          That is the kind of life you and I want, don’t we?  And God wants it for us, too.  That’s why, from our baptism onward, he sent us the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit constantly pulls and prods and pushes and pokes us to live life united with Christ, and with one another.  But it’s up to us to choose it. 

What that means, above all else, is seeking and following God’s will instead of our own narrow self-interest. 

          That is what Solomon chose.  As a young man, probably not much more than 20 years old, he found himself sitting on his father’s throne.  The Kingdom was more secure, united and prosperous than it had ever been. 

For most new leaders, that would go to their head.  They’d be enthralled by the power and prestige of their office.  They’d be keen to see how rich it could make them.  Power tends to do that to people. 

But not Solomon.  Solomon had the rare gift of humility.  He knew it wasn’t all about him; it was about God and God’s people. 

So, instead of asking God for riches, long life and honor as many would have done, he asked for the most important thing of all:  an understanding mind to know the difference between what is good and evil, to know what is right in God’s eyes.

Putting God’s priorities ahead of his own made Solomon synonymous with wisdom.  But those priorities don’t seem to be very popular in the world we live in today, do they?

          Wealth, power and fame have been the false gods humanity has chased after for a very long time.  For many people down through the ages, living wisely has meant pursuing these things over everything else.

          But sooner or later, everyone who starts down that road finds that money and fame do not guarantee a happy and satisfying life.  

          For examples of that, you don’t need to look much further than the lives of famous people – including perhaps a fair number of those whose gated mansions we drove past in Beverly Hills.  Their lives are a reminder that the single-minded pursuit of fame, and the riches that go with it, all too often leads to divorce, addiction, alienation, and deep unhappiness. 

But there are still some who, despite the temptations that come with success, are wise enough to understand that there is better way to live.

          The actor Jimmy Stewart is one of them.  By all accounts, he was as kind and giving in real life as the nice-guy roles he played in the movies. 

For example, we’ve all seen the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a small town banker who faces a choice similar to the one Solomon faced.

You’ll remember the scene where he’s nervously twiddling a cigar in the office of the greedy villain, Mr. Potter.  George has to choose between a life lived for himself and his own material comfort, and a life of lived for the well-being of his neighbors.

He’s tempted, but he chooses the right one.  And in the end, with the help of his guardian angel Clarence, he realizes that living for others is the most satisfying life of all. 

The movie ends with all his neighbors and friends coming together in his living room in an outpouring of generosity.  Even Mr. Potter’s henchmen, the bank examiners, join in showing their affection for George.  Then his brother shows up unexpectedly.  He make a toast.  “To George Bailey, the richest man in town!”

What makes him rich is not money, but relationships, and love.  George is wise enough to understand that his own happiness is tied to the well-being of those around him, especially those who have less and depend on him.  And the result is something that looks a lot like the Kingdom of God.  I suspect that, when we get there, heaven will be like that, too.

That is a lesson that Jimmy Stewart himself would have learned as a young man, growing up attending the Presbyterian Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and then later at Mercersburg Academy.  It’s a lesson he would have taught as an Elder in the Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

Friends, that is wise living.  It’s what new life in Christ looks like in practice.

          We gain the strength and encouragement for that life right here at this table.  This is where we get living bread for our journey as Jesus’ disciples.

          Whether or not honor and riches follow, as they did for Solomon, becomes immaterial.  What makes us rich is love. 

So, what do you say, Friends?   

Are you living wisely?

          May it be so.

    

 

Last Published: August 16, 2021 2:01 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

September 2021


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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