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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

 

 

November 7, 2021

“How It All Ends, Part 1:  Return” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, November 7, 2021 Year B Pentecost 24 (Proper 27, Ordinary 32):  Isaiah 25:6-9  Revelation 21:1-7  (Non-lectionary)

THEME:  Trust that God will bring us into the new creation of his Kingdom on earth and create signs of hope to help others endure the trials we face.

 

        Don’t you hate it when a new best-selling novel or blockbuster movie comes out, and somebody spoils it for you by telling you how it ends before you’ve read it or seen it?  Seems to me we’re all a bit like that. 

But I don’t think that’s true when it comes to truly classic stories.  Think about Gone with the Wind, or Casablanca, or Les Miserables or Star Wars.  We watch these movies again and again despite the fact that we know how they end.  I’ve been wondering this week why that is.

The fact that we know the ending inspires us to really walk with these characters through the suffering and trials they have to endure.  It ends gives meaning to their suffering.  Knowing that they will triumph in the end enables us to enjoy the journey required to accompany them there. 

The same thing is true of the Bible.  Today’s text is not just the ending of Revelation, it’s the ending of the entire biblical narrative, which is the story of salvation.  That story begins in Genesis when God creates the world and everything and everyone in it.

Here at the end of Revelation the story culminates with God seated on the throne declaring, “I am the Alpha and Omega”.  Because he is exactly that:  the first and the last.  God is sovereign over all.  God brought creation into being, and God will surely draw it to its conclusion.

And what an ending this is.  A new heaven and a new earth replace the former world that has passed away.  The Kingdom of God comes to earth in the form of a New Jerusalem, descending from the clouds. 

It’s a spectacular image.  A city, gleaming with gold, crystal and precious quartz, with a garden in the middle of the city and a river flowing out from beneath the throne, through the gigantic roots of the tree of life, with all its precious fruit and healing leaves.

And best of all, God himself now lives among his children, personally comforting them and dabbing away every tear.  The mourning and crying and pain that characterized the former world are no more, because Jesus has conquered death itself.

That phrase ‘no more’ is repeated here, which means we really should pay attention to it.  It tells us that God’s Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, is the very opposite of the kingdom it replaces:  the corrupt, oppressive and violent empire of Rome, to which John gives the code name Babylon.

Not only is Rome no more, but the sea itself is no more.  The Mediterranean Sea was the highway over which Rome transported slaves and all manner of ill-gotten goods.  This was was the foundation of Roman wealth, power and dominance. 

The sea also represents something more than that.  In Jewish literature the sea symbolizes chaos.  In God’s new creation, the destruction of the sea means that chaos itself is banished.  It’s replaced by the divine order of God’s sovereign love, enfolding his children with comfort and care.

What a wonderful, awe-inspiring ending to God’s story of salvation!  Knowing the glorious ending that awaits them, Christians of all generations have been inspired to persevere in the faith, even in times of persecution, suffering and pain.

We are living in just such a time.  It’s difficult to remember times more challenging than these.  On a national and international level, COVID still stalks humanity everywhere.  Violence, war and famine fuel an ongoing global refugee crisis.  Poverty and hunger remain at epidemic proportions, including right here in the richest country in the world where millions, including children, go without enough food to eat. 

Corruption and greed are rampant in both private and public sectors.  Racism and class warfare contribute to the perpetuation of social and political division.  And, of course, there is the looming spector of climate change and our seeming unwillingness to do what is required to address it.

Even closer to home, we here in this community and in this congregation have struggled with these issues, too.  Among the sharpest of these pangs, may be COVID and the death and disruption it causes. 

Last Sunday in honoring All Saints Day, we had 17 white roses here on the communion table.  It was a stark reminder of those loved ones in our faith family who died in the last year.  We grieve as we mourn their loss.

The inescapable conclusion is this:  we, too, have been living in Babylon.  Suffering and pain, disease, death and decay – these are part and parcel of our lives.  Like the Roman persecution of Christians, we don’t experience these things all the time, but still we experience them often enough that we are never entirely free of their grip.  It is a struggle to remain hopeful in dark days like these.

What carries us through these times is knowing how our story ends.  Revelation paints that vivid picture for us, in all its magnificent glory.  It’s a vision of what will happen when Christ returns and God makes this world and everything in it new. 

Love triumphs over fear.  Compassion banishes hatred.  Comfort eases grief.  That’s what I call a really good ending. 

That is our future.  Knowing that, keeps us from losing hope.  It keeps us on track, trusting that in the end God will prevail, despite all the evidence to the contrary that we see all around us.  The ending is guaranteed because of what Christ did on the cross.  We just don’t feel the full effect of that yet.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be suffering along the way.  But grief, pain and even death itself, do not get the final word.  God does.  And God wins.

That’s why I’m an optimist.  I have always been an optimist.  That doesn’t mean I’m not also a realist.  It just means that, despite the facts that confront us, I refuse to lose hope. 

This is not because bad things have never happened to me.  In fact, quite the contrary.  It’s just that I refuse to give in to despair because I know how this all ends.  As a result, I refuse to surrender my trust in God, who is the source of hope.

Don’t you lose hope either, friends.  Martin Luther King said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”  

He went on to offer a helpful definition of hope itself.  He said hope is the anticipation of good.  But it’s more than that.  Hope is not merely passive and internal.  True hope is active and contagious.

I can think of no better example of that than a young Oregon mother of two named Amy Wolff.  In May 2017, Amy learned of a string of suicides in her community.  She knew about the ongoing mental health crisis in this country, but she was stunned that it had hit so close to home. 

Amy was raised in the church.  In fact her mother is a pastor.  She felt an immediate impulse to help.  At the same time, she also realized that she was utterly unqualified to offer any sort of medical assistance.

Amy felt something I think we all feel at times like that:  the conflict between the desire to help, and the uncertainty of how to go about it.  She felt helpless to do anything, but also the unwillingness to do nothing. 

Then she had an idea.  She would create yard signs with simple, hopeful and encouraging messages like:  Your mistakes do not define you.  You are worthy of love.  You matter.  It’s not too late.   And one dreary, rainy Oregon Saturday, she and her husband and daughters got in the car and placed 20 of these signs throughout their community.

By the time she got home, a friend texted her that people were already talking about her signs.  Not only that, they wanted signs in their yards, too.  And from that humble beginning, a movement started.  It’s called the Don’t Give Up movement.

And then the stories started rolling in.  Amy learned that a young father struggling with depression was on his way home to drop off a pizza for his family before going out to commit suicide.  Then he passed one of her signs.  He pulled.   And he changed his mind.  Similar stories soon followed.

This small action sparked a global movement of love, encouragement and hope.  It’s reached all 50 states and dozens of countries.  This past spring, in the midst of COVID, when our need for hope was peaking, Amy published a book called “Signs of Hope: How Small Acts of Love Can Change Your World.”

Friends, what about you and me?  We don’t have to publish a book to create signs pointing to the power of hope to carry us through suffering.  But our lives can do that. 

Sometimes, it’s just the small things.  The phone call to someone going through a hard time.  The note you send on the spur of the moment to someone who’s grieving.  The visit you make to a neighbor who’s lost their job or their spouse.

Or maybe you’re the one going through mental angst and suffering.  If so, then let your act of hope may be simply having the courage to reach out for help.  We all need help, friends.  No shame in that. 

Either way, let’s remember that we know how our story ends.  God wins.  And hope triumphs. 

May it be so.  

Last Published: November 8, 2021 10:41 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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