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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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 17, 2021

“SSPC Values Part 3:  Share Hospitality” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, October 17, 2021 Year B Pentecost 19 (Proper 24, Ordinary 29):  1 Kings 17:10-16  •  John 4:1-30, 39-42

THEME:  Invite, receive and offer hospitality to share the transforming presence of Christ that makes us family.
 

Last Saturday, Beth and I went to New York to attend a funeral.  While we were there, we had dinner at a restaurant near Lincoln Center.  It reminded us of two fundamental characteristics of New York dining.

#1:  New York is not a cheap place to eat out. 

# 2:  Eating out in New York is a world-class dining experience.  The food is outrageously good.  And the service is remarkable.

How is it, I wondered, that the very best restaurants are able to make you feel at home when you’re not at home?  I was looking into that this week, when I came across an interview with Danny Meyer. 

Danny Meyer is the owner of the Union Square Hospitality Group.  The operate some of the best loved restaurants in New York and beyond.  One of the most well-known is one that you may know called Shake Shack. 

Danny got his start in 1985 when, at the tender age of 27 he opened the Union Square Café.  Almost immediately it became a huge hit. Over the years, it’s won just about every dining award you can imagine.  According to the Zagat dining survey, year in and year out, the Union Square Café is at or near the top of the list of New York diners’ favorite restaurants.

In the early years, some dismissed that as a fluke.  But then in the ‘90s, Danny did it again.  He opened his second restaurant, the Gramercy Tavern.  Once again, it was a huge hit.

That made Danny Meyer a household name.  Over the years, he has opened more than 20 restaurants.  28 times he has been given the James Beard Award.  He’s also won the Julia Child award and a spot on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. 

He’s been so successful for so long that business consultants have taken note of how he does things.  What they have found is that at the heart of his success is a simple, but powerful concept:  hospitality.  Here’s how he describes hospitality:  

“Hospitality is a dialogue.  If you feel like I’m on your side, hospitality is present.  If you think I did something for you, hospitality is present.”  The difference between hospitality and service is that service gives you something.  Hospitality makes you feel like family. 

I think that is what the Samaritan woman discovered when she encountered Jesus at the well.

 

If this story tells us one thing about Jesus, it is that he is not afraid to break convention.  A man speaking to a woman alone.  A Jew speaking to a Samaritan.  A Jew sharing a drinking vessel with a Samaritan.  All these interactions are taboo.  They are boundaries that must not be crossed, according to social convention and Jewish law.  But evidently Jesus doesn’t care.  He is determined to cross them in order to reach and transform this Samaritan woman’s life.  

 

        And her life sure could use some transformation.  This woman has had five husbands.  We know she’s not a widow, and yet we are not told why these 5 are no longer her husbands.  Nor are we told why the man she lives with is apparently unwilling to marry her. 

The common wisdom is that she is somehow to blame for her failed marriages.  But the law says that only a man can sue for divorce, so the only thing we know for sure is that her husbands – all five – have sued for divorce.

        Before we presume that this string of failed marriages is her own doing, we probably ought to take a step back and consider that, when Jesus describes her marital history and current living situation, it’s more commiseration than judgment.  She has had a tough road to walk.

        And the fact that she is here fetching water at noon instead of early in the day with the other women is proof.  She’s a pariah.  The other women avoid her like the plague. 

Their assumption is that there must be something wrong with her.  Why else could she not keep a husband?  Why is she not married to the man with whom she lives?  They don’t blame the men who have cast her aside.  They blame her.

        And then, one fateful day, she meets this peculiar, startling, amazing Jewish man, leaning against the side of the well asking her for a drink.

 

From this simple invitation for hospitality comes a conversation.  And from the conversation comes revelation.  Jesus is not only a prophet, he’s the Messiah. 

And then revelation becomes witness.  She drops her bucket and runs off to tell her family and neighbors about this stranger who may just be the long-awaited Messiah. 

She invites them to come and see.  They do.  And they come to faith.  They, in turn, invite Jesus into their homes. Their lives are never the same.

 

Hospitality leads to conversation.  Conversation leads to revelation.  Revelation leads to witness.  Witness leads to faith.  And a whole new cycle of Christian hospitality begins.

 

Danny Meyer is right.  Hospitality is a powerful force.  It makes us feel at home even when we’re not at home, even when we’re among strangers.  Hospitality turns outsiders into family.  We find that all throughout scripture. 

God welcomes Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden.  Abraham and Sarah entertain angels disguised as strangers.  The prostitute Rahab welcomes the Hebrew spies.  Even at the height of a famine, the widow of Zarephath invites Elijah to share her last morsel of food. 

Jesus elevates hospitality to an entirely new level.  He shares hospitality with everyone from pharisees to sinners and tax collectors to women of ill-repute.  He converses and dines with them all.

This is how the church grew.  Early Christians practiced a different, more inclusive hospitality than the Roman culture around them.  That’s how they got the reputation for love.  The early Church loved outsiders as if they belonged, as if they were family.

   That makes us ask do we do the same?  And how might we do this better?

To appreciate the full power of real hospitality, I think you have to get away from home.  You have to put yourself in a place where you are vulnerable, where you are the outsider. 

That happened for me in Africa.  As a newly ordained pastor, I participated in a church trip to visit our partners in the Presbyterian church in Zimbabwe.  As you might imagine, these were not wealthy folks.  Most subsisted not far from poverty-level.  Yet, they invited us into their homes.  They fed us and made sure we were safe.  They included us in their family life and their church life. 

They treated us as if we were long lost cousins, members of their extended family, brought together once again in a joyous reunion.  Even in the face of adversity, those family bonds remained firm.

We discovered that one night while we were staying at a hotel in Victoria Falls.  After dinner, many of us went on a tour bus to a nearby animal park.  When I say animal park, I’m talking about lions, leopards and elephants roaming free. 

Attempting to navigate an uphill stretch of a dirt road, our bus got stuck in deep sand.  We could move neither forward, nor backward.  As the sun was starting to set, we knew this was serious.  It’s not like they have park rangers circling to make sure all visitors are accounted for. 

We had cell phones, but the signal was one bar and intermittent at best.  Numerous times we tried to send text messages to the hotel where but got no reply. 

As the hours dragged on, it seemed clear that what lay ahead of us was a long, thirsty uncomfortable night on the bus, followed by a long, dusty, fear-filled walk through the park in the morning.  Wondering all the time where the lions were. 

We prayed hard that night.   We prayed for safety and for one another.  Most of all, we prayed for God’s providence and deliverance.

Sometime around 11:00 that night, God answered our prayer.  Someone in the front of the bus made a noise.  They thought they had seen lights in the distance.  Pretty soon, we saw headlights emerge over the hill.  It was a van, a van from the hotel. 

One of our African hosts, who had stayed behind, had received one of our text messages.  He rousted the hotel manager, and they came to rescue us.

That’s what family does for one another.  That is what true hospitality is all about.

It was as transformative for us Americans as it was for our African hosts.  We had experienced God’s presence and providence together.  It drew us closer to him and to each other.

 We began that trip as strangers.  By the time we got home, we were family.  And like the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at the well, we witnessed to the folks back home that God’s presence had made it possible.

When you’ve been on the receiving end of powerful hospitality like that, you want to pass it on. You want to help others experience it.  That’s what drove Danny Meyer to become so successful.

The same applies to you and me.  I’m not suggesting you have to go to Africa – although I do recommend it!  But we all ought to ask ourselves a few questions in the meantime.

How can we invite others into that kind of transformative experience of hospitality?  How might we do that more often and more effectively?  Not only in our personal lives, but in our congregational life, too.

We shouldn’t be surprised if this means crossing a few boundaries.  But in the end, this is how we will become more like the grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’s love with all that we envision.

May it be so.   

Last Published: October 18, 2021 10:19 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

November 2021


November 14, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 2: Resurrection" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 7, 2021 "How It All Ends, Part 1: Return" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 2021


October 31, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 5: Steward God's Gifts" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 24, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 4: Nurture Relationships" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 17, 2021 "SSPC Values Part 3: Share Hospitality by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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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