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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

 

 

September 5, 2021

“A Vision of Our Future” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, September 5, 2021
Year B Pentecost 15 (Proper 18, Ordinary 23):  Isaiah 35:4-7a  •  Psalm 146  •  James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17  •  Mark 7:24-37

THEME:  Embrace the vision God has given our Session of becoming more of a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.  Like Isaiah’s hopeful vision for the Babylonian exiles, the path to reaching God’s vision will require both faith and faithfulness.  That means acting on our values of glorifying God, showing compassion, sharing hospitality, nurturing relationships and stewarding God’s gifts. 

 

 

This has been some summer, hasn’t it?  What a rollercoaster ride!  Think back to Memorial Day.  We were hopeful that the worst of COVID might finally be in our rearview mirror.  Yet, here we are at Labor Day, seemingly heading back deeper into the COVID wilderness.  Our hopes for an imminent return to normal have been squashed, leaving us resigned to another extended period of COVID restrictions. 

Beyond the actual physical suffering that COVID causes, the hardest thing is getting our hopes up, only to have them dashed.  We are like a people in exile, living in a sort of twilight zone.

Yet, even now, we hear voices of hope.  The daily average of new infections seems to be plateauing.  The 2-month cycle of rising and falling infection rates that we’ve seen in previous spikes, seems to be true of this one, too.  Ever so slowly, more people are getting vaccinated. 

Some experts are even beginning to offer a vision of what life might look like going forward.  These hopeful voices are suggesting that COVID will be with us like the flu is with us.  Just as we know how to manage the flu, we know now how to manage COVID.  As a result, in the not-too-distant future, life can indeed return to something like normal.

How’s that for a vision of hope?

We hear a similar message of hope from Isaiah this morning.

Speaking through Isaiah, God is offering a vision of the future for the Jewish exiles living in captivity in Babylon.  Man, oh man, they sure could use some hope. 

They’ve been exiles now for a couple generations.  There are still a few who can remember that terrifying day when the Babylonian army broke through the walls of Jerusalem, sacked the city and burned the temple.  Then came the longest journey of their lives.

Leaving the smoking ruins of Jerusalem behind, the Babylonian army marched the people of Judah hundreds of miles across the desert to Babylon. 

That’s how it came to be that God’s chosen people found themselves living in a strange land, among a strange people who worship strange gods.  

And into that life of alienation and suffering, God holds up this fantastic vision of redemption, renewal and return.

Not only will God bring the exiles back home to Jerusalem, but unlike the 3-month slog through bone-dry, desert wilderness that brought them to Babylon, this time on their return, the desert will look more like the Garden of Eden than Death Valley. 

Water will gush up from the ground and make the flowers bloom to greet them.  It will be as if the wilderness itself were singing with joy, praising God for bringing his people home.

This return journey is not just for some, it’s for everyone.  The elderly and the infirm will not be left behind.  God himself will mend their arthritic hands, strengthen their failing knees and bolster their fearful hearts.  The deaf, dumb and blind will be given hearing, speech and sight.  The lame will leap up and walk along with everyone else.

That is some vision, isn’t it?  It’s almost too good to be true.  So, we’ll have to forgive the exiles if they are just a little skeptical. 

You see, they know a thing or two about the desert wilderness.  Their scriptures tell them all about it.  The animals are deadly, the water is scarce and nothing good grows there.  The wilderness is where you go if you don’t have anywhere else to go.  It’s a desolate, dangerous place.  It’s easy to get lost.  God help you if you do.

But the desert wilderness is also where God does some of his very best work.  It’s where he teaches his people to trust him.  The wilderness is where God led them and fed them.  He guarded them and guided them.  It’s where the people Moses led out of Egypt truly became the children of God.

The question is do the exiles dare trust that vision?  Do they trust that, once again, God might lead his people out of bondage, through the desert, and on to the Promised Land?  Can God once again re-form this exile community into his faithful people?

That same question is facing the church today.  As you know, these are tough times for the church.  Membership in every major denomination is falling.  COVID has not helped that.

We are increasingly a people in exile.  More than any period in our lifetimes, the culture around us is apathetic or even hostile to organized religion.  Many people, especially younger folks, are suspicious of institutions, particularly the church.  They wonder whether it’s relevant to their lives.

Although we here at SSPC are doing better than most, we face the same challenges.  The good news is that we, like the exiles in Babylon, have been offered a divine vision of hope.

Two years, our Session began to prayerfully discuss, debate and discern a new vision for our future as God’s people.  That vision is printed on your bulletin.  We are being led to become a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.

Every single one of those words was chosen carefully.  All of our committees contributed to the discussion.  And in order for this vision to become more than mere words, Session, again with the input of our committees, has identified five values that will guide our decisions going forward.  These values are like the road map through the desert for the Babylonian exiles.  They guide us to the place where God wants us.

Let’s take a look at these values now, shall we?  Would you turn to the 5th page of your bulletin and follow along with me.  As we go, I’d like you to ask yourself a question.  For each of these 5 values, how could we do a better job of demonstrating it?

 Number 1 is glorifying God.  Achieving the vision God has set for us begins and ends here.  This is the reason we exist.  Everything we do, from worship to Christian Education to mission, should first and foremost glorify God.  If it doesn’t, we should probably be doing something else that does.

But we need to be more specific than that.  Certainly, what glorifies God is showing compassion to others, especially the least, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.  Whether we are caring for our own members who are going through tough times, or reaching out through our various mission teams to care for the suffering and the marginalized outside of our walls, compassion is what drives us.

But we also know that compassion alone is not enough.  That’s why number 3 is hospitality.  If we are to be an authentic family of faith, then we need to be as intentional about welcoming the stranger as Jesus was in his own ministry.  That means welcoming others, especially those who are different, including those who don’t look like us, live like us or love like us.  In these divisive times, hospitality may be one of the more difficult values to practice with consistency and integrity.

The true test of hospitality is how we carry it forward by forging bonds that join us to each other.  That’s why number 4 is nurturing relationships.  If we are going to share Christ’s love with all, it has to start by sharing his love with one another, here in this body of Christ.  

Everyone needs to feel a part of this family of faith and joined with one another, whether young or old, long-time member or newcomer, Gathering worshiper or Meeting House worshiper.  This takes an intentional effort to build relationships that are not only respectful, but mutual, caring and loving. 

Finally, number 5 is stewarding God’s gifts.  This means not only our willingness to commit our own time, talent and treasure to God’s work here at SSPC, but encouraging and supporting each other in putting their gifts to work here, too.  That is what faithful stewardship looks like. 

This coming October, as we begin our season of commitment, our Commitment, Legacy and Endowment Committee is going to lead us in envisioning what we might do to be more faithful in living out each of these 5 core values.  So, have you been keeping track of your ideas to make us more faithful in these 5 areas?  Write them down.  Discuss them with your family and friends.  Each Sunday in October we will spend a few minutes in worship discussing your ideas, one value at a time.

And we aren’t going to stop there.  As we develop our budget for next year, Session and our committees will take the ideas that we develop together and will build them into next year’s budget.

And then it’s up to us.  Are we willing to trust God’s vision for our future?  Do we trust that God can bring us through the desert to the place where he wants us to be?

The exiles did.  Can we?

Last Published: September 14, 2021 11:32 AM
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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