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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 24, 2021

“SSPC Values Part 4:  Nurture Relationships” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, October 24, 2021 Year B Pentecost 20 (Proper 25, Ordinary 30):  Hebrews 10:19-25  •  I Corinthians

THEME:  Put love into action by nurturing relationships of mutual care.

 

        We often refer to this passage as Paul’s hymn to love.  It may be the best-known scripture passage in all of his letters.  It is definitely the most popular scripture passage at weddings.  I preach on it at the weddings I officiate.  Lots of other pastors do, too.

Especially that last verse – faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  This verse has become something of a wedding mantra. 

Couples not only have this passage read aloud, they have it printed on wedding invitations, bulletins, napkins and balloons.  They have it engraved on wedding rings, mirrors and wall plaques.  Some eager couples even have it tattooed on their bodies. 

We can understand why, can’t we?  It’s meant to celebrate a moment when love is at its height.  Two people have fallen deeply in love.  Their lives have become so intertwined that they ask family and friends to gather with them in God’s presence to witness their vows of unwavering unity and enduring commitment to one another.

        But the ironic thing is that Paul has the exact opposite situation in mind when he writes it.  The Corinthians have asked Paul about spiritual gifts, which are becoming a point of contention for this congregation.

In particular, some folks in the church – let’s call them Spiritualists – are claiming they have been given special knowledge.  They claim that this knowledge enables them to experience God’s Kingdom in all its fullness in the present. 

As proof, they are speaking in tongues.  In their minds, this special gift of the Spirit sets them apart and above those who have been given other, lesser spiritual gifts. 

 

        As you can imagine, this is causing some serious conflict and division in the church.  That’s why Paul is eager to remind them that the most important gift of all is love. 

Love is not only superior to all other spiritual gifts, it is the essential motivation that gives them their meaning and purpose.  Love is the true hallmark of the presence of God’s Kingdom.

And love is what the Corinthian Spiritualists lack most.

To help them understand, Paul describes love by what it does.  Love is not only a noun.  It’s not just an internal feeling; it’s an active, vibrant force that never ceases to work.  Love is a verb.  Love shows patience.  Love acts with kindness. 

        On the other side of the coin, love is not self-serving, self-centered, or self-seeking.  Love is not angry, irritable or offensive.  Love does not hurt or injure others. As Paul has said earlier in this same letter, knowledge puffs up, love builds up. 

I noticed something about this passage as I read it again this week.  I didn’t see it before because it’s easy to overlook.  As Paul makes the shift from talking about the body of Christ, and the necessary diversity of spiritual gifts to be used for the greater good of all, he also makes a subtle grammatical shift. 

He stops speaking in the second person and begins speaking in the first person.  It’s no longer “you”, it’s “I” and “we”.  He means for us to do the same.

So, let’s do that right now.  I want you to try something.  You can think of this as an internal love audit. As I read each of Paul’s descriptions of love, I’d like you to repeat what I say to yourself.  And then ask yourself “Is this generally true of me?”  If the answer is yes, give yourself a point and keep track of your score.  There are 11 of these. 

I am patient.

I am kind.

I am not envious or jealous.

I am not excessively proud.

I am not rude.

I do not insist on getting my own way.

I do not easily get irritated or angry.

I bear all things life throws my way by trusting in God.

I believe all things that God promises.

I hope all things by expecting goodness from others and from God.

I endure all things without losing hope or faith.”

 

So, how’d you do?  If you are like me, then you have some room for improvement.  We all do.  None of us loves others perfectly. 

It’s hard enough to love those who are closest to us and most like us.  It’s even harder to love those who are different, with whom we don’t have a connection. 

But love is more than a feeling of connection.  Love is a commitment.  As Paul tells the Corinthians, love is measured less by how we feel than by how we act.  We know love by what love does. 

Love is the willingness to build one another up, to actively nurture relationships, even and especially with those who are different.  That’s what makes a real family of faith.

        You may think, OK, that’s all well and good for a church, but what about the rest of the world?  What does loving others look like in a secular organization?

You may be as surprised as I was to learn that corporations are beginning to realize that cultivating a culture of loving others is a powerful management tool. 

A few years ago, two researchers published an article in the Harvard Business Review making this very point.  They conducted thousands of surveys.  They found that employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture had greater job satisfaction, better teamwork, and more reliable attendance.  Their caring relationships with co-workers also translated to better job performance and results.

        The kind of love they have in mind is not romantic love, but rather what they call companionable love.  It’s collaborative, caring and affectionate in a platonic sense.  Co-workers look out for one another’s feelings.  They show compassion when things are not going well.  When there’s a problem or someone makes a mistake, they work together to solve it. 

We’re not just talking about small companies here.  These are companies like Pepsi and Whole Foods.  Zappos, the online shoe retailer puts it this way:  “We are more than a team . . . we are a family.  We watch out for each other, care for each other and go above and beyond for each other.”

Danny Meyer, the owner of the Union Square Hospitality Group that I mentioned in last week’s sermon says the very same thing.  He puts his employees’ well-being and happiness first.  He even says, “Put your customer second.  Your customers will never be any happier than the people working in your company.”  For him, that means hiring the right people and creating an environment that encourages them to care for each other, support each other and enjoy each other.

        The common thread in all of these examples is the power of putting love into action to create and nurture relationships.  That same power has been at work in the church for 2,000 years.  The early Christians were renowned for how they cared for each other. 

In stark contrast to Roman culture of callous disregard for the marginalized, Christians cared for the poor and the vulnerable.  When someone got sick, their Christian brothers and sisters cared for them and brought them food. 

When Christianity was legitimized in the 4th century, Christians created the first hospitals.  In the Middle Ages, when the plague ravaged cities and many fled to the countryside, Christians stayed behind to care for the sick and the dying, even at the cost of their own lives.   

Friends, this is what love looks like when we put it into action.  It creates relationships that transcend differences.  

But love does even more than that.  Love encourages us to celebrate those differences and put them to work for God’s purposes.  That’s what Paul is highlighting in his hymn to love.  Love is what it takes for the body of Christ to truly glorify God, because love makes room for everyone to use their gifts.

The same thing is true in sports.  There is a saying that goes like this:  Teams beat talent when talent isn’t a team.  That’s the explanation for why teams with well-known and highly-paid players often lose to better organized teams with lesser talent. 

Exhibit A is the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.  The US Men’s hockey team, made up of college and amateur players, beat the mighty Russians and the Fins to win the gold medal. 

Or in baseball, the Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians have been doing this for years.  The difference in all these cases is the ability of a coach to encourage players to care for each other, support each other and make room for everyone to use their gifts.   

Mike Krzyzewski, the former coach of the Duke University basketball team once said, “You develop a team to achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone.  I frequently tell the players, ‘All of us alone are weaker, by far, than if all of us are together.'” 

That’s what Paul is trying to communicate to the Corinthian church.  And that’s also what God is calling us to do here at SSPC.  We are the body of Christ.  We have all been given gifts to use for the glory of God.  No one person’s gifts are superior to another’s.  We need them all.  

To unleash the power of our gifts, we need to follow the way which Paul calls most excellent:  the way of love that Christ showed us.  That’s how we nurture relationships with others both inside the church and beyond. 

That’s how we become a grace-filled family of faith sharing Christ’ love with all.

May it be so.

Last Published: October 25, 2021 12:15 PM
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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