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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

 

 

September 12, 2021

“Prophetic Hope” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, September 12, 2021
Year B Pentecost 16 (Proper 19, Ordinary 24):  Isaiah 50:4-9a •  Psalm 116:1-9  •  James 3:1-12  •  Mark 8:27-38

THEME:  Proclaim God’s message of hope no matter the opposition.

 

How many of you remember where you were 20 years ago yesterday, at 9:00 in the morning? 

Yesterday, of course was the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  Most of us have vivid memories of that horrible day.

I was on a New Jersey Transit train going from Newark into mid-town Manhattan.  After we left Newark, the train slowed down to a crawl.  Something was clearly wrong.  People were whispering into their cell phones. 

Word began to spread that planes had struck the World Trade Center.  As we slowly crept across the marshland east of Newark, we could see in the distance the tops of the twin towers, smoking like gigantic candles.

When we finally pulled into Penn Station, the platforms were already filling up with the very same commuters who had come in from New Jersey just a short while before, except now they were all desperate to catch a train back home.  Panic was written all over their faces.  When I reached my office, I discovered why:  it was already becoming clear that this was no accident.  It was a terrorist attack.

Beth also worked in the city.  She and I rendezvoused at the apartment of one of her co-workers on the upper east side.  There, we all watched in disbelief as the TV captured the unreal images of the towers collapsing into rubble. 

Beth’s sister made it back home to New Jersey and was able to pick up our two girls from daycare.  Later that afternoon, Beth and I were finally able to catch a ferry back to Hoboken and a train home. 

For us, it was a long, stressful and traumatic day. But we counted ourselves fortunate.  For the families of those who died that day, including a friend of ours from church, it was much, much worse.

All of us have a story of that day.  No matter where you were, I’m sure it was a long and stressful day for you, as well.  And the days and weeks that followed were pretty dark, too. 

We all knew that our world had changed, but it was almost impossible to grasp the magnitude of that change.  There were voices of hope, but in times as dark as those, it took a long time before we could accept them and trust them.

That’s the same problem that confronts Isaiah.  Isaiah stands in a long line of God’s messengers.  They include the likes of Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, and, of course, Jesus.  God sent all of them to convey his word to the people.  But the people often didn’t want to hear it.  And that made life very difficult, even dangerous for God’s prophets.

The message Isaiah carries from God is a word of hope and promise for the Jewish exiles living in Babylon.  It’s time for them to go home.  It’s time to return to Judah.  God himself promises to strengthen and guide them.

But many of the exiles aren’t so sure they want to leave Babylon.  They’ve been there now for a couple generations.  In fact, they’ve been there so long it seems like home.  The stories their elders tell them about the holy city of Jerusalem and the splendor of Solomon’s Temple seem like ancient history, like fables from a long-ago homeland, distant in both miles and memory.

Worst of all, the exiles have come to doubt their own identity.  They don’t believe they are still God’s chosen people.  If they were, why would God allow them to suffer? 

God gives his response to Isaiah.  Yes, God was angry at the people’s unfaithfulness.  And, yes, he allowed the people to be conquered and sent into exile.  Yes, the people have suffered there.

But God has only done what a stern, but loving parent does.  He has disciplined his children, but he has not deserted them; nor has he disowned them.  And now, he has good news.  Their time of punishment has come to an end.  It’s time to come home.

But many of the exiles still resist that message of hope.  Some are downright hostile to Isaiah, even violent.  This is where we learn what kind of a prophet Isaiah really is. 

Does he shrink back from the withering criticism and the insults?  Does he go off and hide, forsaking his calling?

Absolutely not.  As he says, God is with me.  Who can stand against me?

Friends, Isaiah is giving us a lesson.  It’s a lesson that has three parts.  The first part is a warning.  Never give up on God, because God never gives up on us.  No matter how bad things get, no matter how far astray we go, God will never desert us.  He may leave us to our own devices for awhile to get a taste of what life without him might be like.  But, even then, we are and always will be the beloved children of God. 

The second part of Isaiah’s lesson is a little more difficult for us to hear.  We can never fully understand God’s plan.  Nor should we expect to.  As Isaiah says a few chapters further on,

My thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We don’t know why God allows bad things to happen to us and those we love.  What we do know is that we are called to trust that, somehow, in some way that may not be obvious to us, God is still working in and through our lives to bring us back to wholeness and closer to him.

The third part of Isaiah’s lesson is the most difficult of all.  Like Isaiah, we too have been commissioned to be God’s prophets – God’s spokespeople.  Our message is God’s message of hope, hope of new life in Jesus Christ.  Hope that defies even death itself.  Even when we find ourselves in the midst of dark times our commission does not change. 

That is a difficult message to receive, and even more difficult to deliver, especially in times of suffering, like the months that followed 9/11. 

But God is always as good as his word.  Sure enough, as we groped and stumbled through the weeks and months of post-9/11 darkness, filled with uncertainty and fear, the seeds of hope were already being planted.  This week I came across an example of how those seeds took root and began to bear fruit. 

On 9/11, 3,000 children lost one or both parents in the attacks.  In the months that followed, it became clear that these kids needed to get together with one another, with other kids who were going through the same trauma they were dealing with.  That led to the creation of a free, non-profit summer camp in the Berkshires created specifically for the kids of 9/11.

Beginning in the summer of 2002 and continuing every summer for the next 10 years, these kids of 9/11 were given the opportunity to just be kids, with supportive counselors and the comfort that comes from knowing they did not suffer alone.

If you were watching the Today Show this past week, you got to hear the remarkable story of two of these children.  Katelyn Levy and Brittany Oelschlager were ten years old on 9/11.  Their fathers served in the same fire company in lower Manhattan.  Both of them died in the World Trade Center.  As Brittany put it, “When the towers came crashing down, our lives came crashing down, too.”

But out of the rubble of their grief, something new was born, something hopeful.  Kate and Brittany both decided to attend the 9/11 Kids camp.  There they became bunk mates, best friends and eventually counselors.

As Brittany said, “from something bad, came something great.”

Both girls are now young women who see themselves carrying on their fathers’ legacy of caring for others.  Kate is a teacher and a counselor.  Brittany is a social worker who helps veterans.  They’ve both been inspired to use their own suffering to help others get through their pain.

If that’s where their story ended, that would be inspiring enough.  But they each have a surprising and powerful message to share with us.

Reflecting on the last 20 years, Brittany said “You look back on how far you’ve come, from those dark, really sad days.  We can laugh now.”  Kate agrees. “We can release that taboo about talking about 9/11.  There’s a lot of beauty that came from 9/11.”

That got my attention.  Then Brittany said something even more powerful. “Trauma is beautiful because it can get you to a light, with healing and dancing and happiness.  There can be a light at the end of that really dark tunnel.” 

I have seldom heard trauma described as beautiful, but if anyone can understand that, it’s someone who has lived through what Kate and Brittany have. 

Their message is a powerful word of hope in dark times.  Friends, you and I have been commissioned by God to share a similar message of hope. 

It’s the message of the gospel:  out of death and suffering, God brings new life in Christ. 

And we share that message the same way Kate and Brittany do: not only with our words, but with our lives. 

As we do, let’s remember what Isaiah has to teach us.  Never give up on God.  Trust God even in the hard times, and never stop proclaiming his gospel of hope, no matter how dark this world gets. 

May it be so.

Last Published: September 29, 2021 8:50 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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