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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

 

 

October 10, 2021

“SSPC Values Part 2:  Show Compassion” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, October 10, 2021 Year B Pentecost 18 (Proper 23, Ordinary 28):  Psalm 22:21b-31  •  Luke 10:25-37

THEME:  Show mercy to all in need by opening our hearts to compassion rooted in our own experiences of being in need.

 

The key to unlocking the meaning of a parable is to see it from the right perspective.  Among readers, this particular parable often raises a question.  Through whose eyes are we meant to understand it, the Samaritan’s or the victim’s? 

Many would say the answer is obvious.  The point of the parable is to imitate the Samaritan.  Afterall, that is what Jesus tells the lawyer to do.  

The fact that Jesus uses a Samaritan as the protagonist would have been deeply unsettling for this Jewish lawyer.  Jews despised Samaritans.  There was a reason for that.  During the Jewish exile, Jews in Samaria intermarried with non-Jews.  As a result, Jews from Judea considered their Samaritan cousins half-breeds, bastard children and barely Jewish.

By holding up the Samaritan’s behavior as something to emulate, Jesus intends to provoke Jewish readers, to goad them into more faithful action.  It’s as if he is saying to this lawyer, “If a Samaritan, whom you despise, is faithfully doing what God’s law demands, how much more should you, an expert in the Jewish law, do the same?”

That’s one viewpoint we can take in this parable. Other readers, however, suggest we take a different perspective. 

For them, the key is to take the viewpoint of the nameless victim lying in the ditch down by the roadside.  He is the one who’s been beaten, robbed and left to die, which he surely will do if no one helps him.  He is in dire need of compassion and mercy.

It’s interesting that Jesus gives this victim no name and no specific identity.  Is he a Jew, Samaritan or Gentile?  We don’t know.  He could be a person of status and means, or just another poor peasant.  He could be anyone – and that’s the point.  We are meant to identify with his desperate need, not his identity.  His perspective is the second viewpoint to take in trying to understand this parable.

But we don’t need to choose between them.  In fact, we shouldn’t because Jesus intends us to take both.

Let’s begin by looking at this dangerous road.  This 18-mile stretch between Jericho and Jerusalem was infamous for bandits.  The road was steep and winding.  Rocks and boulders provided perfect cover for robbers. 

The Samaritan would have been well aware of this.  He would likely have known others who had been attacked and robbed on this very same road.  

And it is by no means far-fetched to suggest that he himself may have had a close shave or two on this road.  He may even have been a victim himself, like this nameless man.

We don’t know that for a fact, but we do know that he felt compassion, and compassion drove him to perform an extraordinary act of mercy on behalf of a total stranger.

 

And that’s how Jesus makes the point that showing mercy like that is what loving our neighbor looks like.  It’s a reflection of the mercy God shows all his children.

And Jesus is God’s agent of mercy.  Luke makes that abundantly clear.  Remember the tax collector and the Pharisee praying in the Temple?  The tax collector’s prayer for mercy is what Jesus commends. 

The blind beggar outside Jericho implores Jesus for mercy.  Jesus has compassion and responds by restoring his sight. 

When Jesus encounters the tragic funeral procession for the only son of the widow of Nain, Jesus is once again moved by compassion.  He restores the young man’s life on the spot. 

That reminds us that this parable is really about life.  The lawyer’s first question was “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus’ answer is to imitate the Samaritan by showing mercy.  “Do this and you will live” he says.

His message is clear.  Eternal life comes from opening our hearts to compassion and then putting our compassion into action on behalf of those who suffer.

Compassion is the fundamental difference between the Samaritan on one hand, and the Levite and the Priest on the other.  The Samaritan was the one moved by compassion.  That made all the difference.

That is the message Luke wants us to take with us today.  To have compassion and put it into action by showing mercy is to be like Jesus, to have a heart that is as open as his.

So, the question for you and me is how do we make sure our hearts are open?  In other words, how do we cultivate compassion?

Until recently, very little was known about this question of whether compassion could be learned. But scientists have recently discovered that, not only can we learn to be more compassionate, but learning compassion can have a lasting impact on how we think and act.

The way they did this is through the technique of guided meditation.  Participants were asked to practice experiencing compassion.  They did this by envisioning an occasion when someone was suffering, and then rehearsing in their mind the desire to relieve that person's suffering.

The participants were asked to do this for different kinds of people.  They began with a loved one or a close friend.  Then they were asked to practice feeling compassion for a stranger.  And then for someone with whom they had been in conflict.

Not only did this training impact their subsequent behavior, making them more caring and altruistic, it actually increased the activity in the part of the brain associated with empathy and understanding of others.

Instead of merely describing this to you, I’m going to ask you to do this right now.  Would you please close your eyes. 

Allow yourself to get comfortable.  With your eyes closed, begin to notice your breath.  Notice how it fills your lungs and your chest.  No need to change it – just observe how it feels as you breathe in and breathe out.  

Now relax your shoulders and arms.  Relax your neck.  Keep noticing your breath.  Feel your heartbeat begin to slow.  Feel a sense of peace wash over you as you breathe in, as if you are filling your heart with God’s love.

Now, imagine the face of a close friend, someone you love dearly.  Picture that person in your mind. [Pause] Keeping an image of this person in your mind’s eye, let yourself fill with feelings of loving kindness.  Think to yourself, may they always know love, well-being and peace.  Now say that once more, as a prayer.  God, may they always know love, well-being and peace.  May they always know love, well-being and peace. 

Once those feelings of loving kindness toward someone you care for are firmly in your thoughts, think of another person, someone about whom you feel neutral, that you neither like nor dislike.  It could be someone you’ve seen in a store or even on television.  Picture them in your mind and try to genuinely wish for the happiness of that person. Think to yourself, may they always know love, well-being and peace.  Now say that once more as a prayer.  God, may they always know love and well-being and peace.  May they always know love, well-being and peace. 

Once those feelings of loving kindness toward someone for whom you feel neutral are in your thoughts, think of someone you dislike or who frustrates you.  As you picture them in your mind’s eye, try to expand that feeling of loving kindness to include that person.  Make the wish for the happiness of that person.  Think to yourself, may they always know love, well-being and peace. [Pause] Now say that once more as a prayer.  Lord, may they always know love and well-being and peace.  May they always know love, well-being and peace. 

Now let all of your thoughts and images dissolve like a cloud evaporating in the sky and let your mind rest.  When you are ready, gently bring your attention back to this room.  Now, open your eyes.

Friends how did that feel?

That exercise is like a work-out for our compassion muscles.  The stronger our ability to feel compassion, the greater our ability to love our neighbor, even the ones who are hard to love, maybe because they’re difficult, or maybe just because they’re so different from us.

Because they suffer, too.  We know what that feels like because suffering is inevitable.  Suffering is part of life.  And while suffering is never enjoyable, neither is it an entirely negative experience.  In fact, suffering is essential to compassion.

That is where the perspective of the beaten man becomes so important for us to adopt.  Jesus wants us to envision what it’s like to be that man, beaten and battered, lying beside the road.  His perspective reminds us that we’ve been down there, too.

The fact that he was nameless and faceless, reminds us that it does not matter to Jesus who it is that we encounter suffering on the roadsides of life.  Nor should it matter to us.  Jesus calls us to love them all.   

What might happen if we all worked on strengthening our compassion?

Who might we find ourselves helping?  What new ministries of mercy and care might spring up?

I don’t know, but I do know this.  If our hearts open wider and our compassion grows deeper not only will we help others enjoy more abundant life, we will, too.

That is how we live into our vision of becoming a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all.

        May it be so.

Last Published: October 11, 2021 1:45 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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