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Sermons

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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

October 2022


October 2, 2022,  "Keeping the Flame Burning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2022


September 18, 2022,  "Mammon, Part I:  The Way of Righteousness" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2022


August 28, 2022   "Why Do We Sing?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 7, 2022 "The Essence of Faith" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2022


July 24, 2022 "God's Goodness, Part 4: The Judge Who Shows Mercy" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 17, 2022  "God's Goodness, Part 3: The Covenant Partner Who Blesses" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 10, 2022 "God's Goodness, Part 2: The Law-giver Who Prospers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2022


June 19, 2022 "Words from the Wise: Gamaliel" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

June 12, 2022 "The Trinity: The Holy Spirit" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

June 5, 2022  "The Day the Universe Changed" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

May 2022


May 29, 2022  "Easter Discipleship, Part 5: Waiting with Joy" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 22, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 4: Trust in My Healing Grace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

March 13, 2022

“Images of Jesus—Part II: Friend of the Cross” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, March 13, 2022  -  Year C / Lent 2:  Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18  •  Psalm 27  •  Philippians 3:17-4:1  •  Luke 13:31-35 or Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)

THEME:  Imitate Christ by being more concerned for the suffering of our neighbors than our own success and comfort.

 

Have you ever received a letter from someone in prison?  I got one not long ago from an inmate in the Camp Hill prison.  It reminded me that there have been some very famous and influential writings from incarcerated authors.

Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a classic example.  Equally famous is Nelson Mandela’s biography, “The Long Walk Home”, written while he was a prisoner at Robben Island in South Africa. 

One of the most infamous examples was Adolph Hitler. He used his jail time in the 1920s to write an autobiographical manifesto called “Mein Kampf”. 

A much more powerful and inspirational example of jailhouse writing came from his fellow countryman, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who opposed the rise of the Nazi party.  After a failed plot to assassinate Hitler, he was thrown into prison.  In April 1945, just one month before the allies liberated the concentration camp where he was held, he was executed.  

His writings, however, survived.  They were published a few years after the war in a book called “Letters and Papers from Prison”.  It became an instant classic of Christian literature.  In fact, I have been reading it this year for my Doctoral program. 

Writings from prison are not just a modern phenomenon.  You may not realize it, but what Nathan and I have just read to you is a 2,000-year-old jailhouse text.  Paul is writing from prison. We’re not sure where – maybe Rome, maybe Ephesus.

But we know why he’s there.  He is in jail for proclaiming the gospel.  But not even prison bars can stop Paul from sharing the gospel.  He even befriends and shares the gospel with his Roman guards. 

All the while, Paul is thinking about the churches he planted.  So, he writes this letter to the church at Philippi.  This is a congregation he founded and loves dearly.  He wants nothing more than to be with them, to guide them, but he can’t.  So, he puts down on paper what he would say to them in person, if he were able.

Apparently, there is trouble in Philippi.  Paul mentions the opponents who are working against the gospel.  We don’t know for sure who these opponents are.  What we do know is how they live.  Their attitudes and actions are diametrically opposed to everything Paul considers Christian.  That’s because their orientation is not Christ.  Their lives are oriented around themselves.

They are guided by the single-minded pursuit of their own satisfaction.  Instead of minds being set on Christ, their minds are set on earthly things.  That mentality has twisted their lives into something very different from the way Paul believes Christian should live.

These opponents may, in fact, be nominal Christians.  They have not denied Christ by their confession or their words.  They have denied Christ by their behavior.  Paul calls them enemies of the cross of Christ because they refuse to conform their lives to the pattern of humility and self-giving love that led Jesus to Calvary.

We call that the cruciform or ‘cross-shaped’ life.  Paul has been their shining example of what the cruciform life looks like.  That explains why he lays out such a stark contrast between a Christ-like life lived for others and a worldly life lived for oneself.

But there are two problems with his description.  First, Paul makes it seem as if this is an either-or-decision.  But for you and me it’s just not that clear-cut.  None of us lives in perfect imitation of Jesus Christ.  Nor does any one of us live entirely according to the belly, using Paul’s language.  Each of us exhibits aspects of both ways of living. 

There’s another problem.  By drawing such a strict boundary between the Christ-like and the earthly-minded, Paul seems to suggest that we Christians can live in some separate realm apart from the world.  He even uses the language of citizenship to distinguish Christians, whose citizenship is in heaven, from the other Philippians who are citizens of Rome. 

This distinction is true spiritually speaking, but on a practical level, this is a fallacy.  We cannot live the life of faith separate and apart from the world around us.

Many have tried.  Christians formed communities where they hoped perfect faith and discipleship could be practiced.  We call these utopian communities.  They were a big deal, especially in the 1800s, but they have since petered out.

The reason they didn’t last is that the members of these communities became disillusioned by the reality that even in their communities life was inevitably more worldly than any of them hoped.  They realized that the world is where we have to live out our faith. 

And that is not an easy thing.  Anyone who has made even a modest effort to live as Christ’s faithful disciple in the midst of this world knows this firsthand.

This was something Dietrich Bonhoeffer discovered, too.  In July 1944, after he’d been imprisoned for over a year, Bonhoeffer wrote a moving letter to his best friend.  This is what he said:

“During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. . .  I don’t mean the shallow and banal this-worldliness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this-worldliness characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection.”

In Bonhoeffer’s view, to be a Christian is to suffer death and resurrection as Christ did.  What he means by this is suffering the death of our old, self-centered life, and rising up to our new life of serving others.

For him, this meant that he would write prayers and blessings for his fellow prisoners.  Instead of giving in to bitterness with regard to his sometimes cruel captors, he counseled them.  He ministered to them.  He prayed with them.  He listened with compassion as they privately confessed to him that they knew they were serving an evil regime.  Sounds just like Paul, doesn’t it?

It is astounding that a man who had been deprived of his freedom and his prominent place in the world, who knew he was likely to die and soon, would be so concerned with living for others as Christ did.  If you or I were in his situation, could we remain so concerned about the well-being of others?  I’m not sure I could.

Maybe none of us can.  We are, after all, human.  Looking after our self-interest is simply part of who we are.  There is, and always will be, a part of us so deeply concerned with our own well-being that it risks crowding out the love of our neighbor.

The real question for us then is how can we, living fully in this world, learn to live more like Christ and less according to the god of the belly, as Paul puts it?  How can we live more for the well-being of others, and less for our own comfort and success?

Friends, these are the great questions of Lent.  There is no better time for us to ask them than right now. 

And Bonhoeffer can help us.  He was right   The only way we can grow in our discipleship is by living completely in this world.  For that, we need a this-worldly Christianity.

This is a faith that, in the face of human suffering, does not hold up its hands. as if we can do nothing but pray to God to change it.  It goes further.  It recognizes that ours are the hands and feet through which Christ works to alleviate the world’s suffering.

And it doesn’t stop with addressing individual suffering.  As Bonhoeffer put it, "We are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice; we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” 

This is what is needed to alleviate the suffering in our world today, whether we find it in Ukraine or among its refugees or among any other marginalized and persecuted peoples wherever we encounter them, including right here in our own country.

A this-worldly faith is not a liberal or conservative faith.  It is Christian faith.  It is what Christ demands of us, we who would call ourselves friends of the cross. 

        But it is not easy.  It requires change, change first in ourselves and then change on a cultural scale.  This change is always difficult. It’s slow and often risky.  The good news is that we do not have to undertake it alone.  We have the help of God, and the help of one another.

This is what it means to be the church.  Whether we know it or not, we are part of something far greater than ourselves.

Using Paul’s metaphor from Corinthians, we are part of the body of Christ.  We are the same glorious body Paul speaks of here in his letter to the Philippians.  It’s the humble, self-giving, other-focused body that Christ will transform into the body of his glory.

In Lent, we are called to self-reflection and repentance.  That means examining our lives to see how we can be more faithful disciples, and then to change our living to conform

 This week I’d like you to spend some time considering 2 questions:

One.  How can I as an individual live more like Christ by living for others, especially those who are suffering?

Two.  How can we as Christ’s body respond more faithfully to the suffering around us?

So, friends, as we consider these questions, let’s also consider the image of Jesus.  The one who emptied himself, and humbled himself, obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And, in so doing, may we all live as friends of the cross.  

May it be so.

 

Last Published: March 14, 2022 3:26 PM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

October 2022


October 2, 2022,  "Keeping the Flame Burning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

September 2022


September 18, 2022,  "Mammon, Part I:  The Way of Righteousness" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

August 2022


August 28, 2022   "Why Do We Sing?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

August 7, 2022 "The Essence of Faith" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 2022


July 24, 2022 "God's Goodness, Part 4: The Judge Who Shows Mercy" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 17, 2022  "God's Goodness, Part 3: The Covenant Partner Who Blesses" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

July 10, 2022 "God's Goodness, Part 2: The Law-giver Who Prospers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

June 2022


June 19, 2022 "Words from the Wise: Gamaliel" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

June 12, 2022 "The Trinity: The Holy Spirit" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

June 5, 2022  "The Day the Universe Changed" by the Rev. Lisa Strong Chase

May 2022


May 29, 2022  "Easter Discipleship, Part 5: Waiting with Joy" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 22, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 4: Trust in My Healing Grace" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 15, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 3: Love One Another (as I Have Loved You)" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 8, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 2: Follow My Voice" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

May 1, 2022 "Easter Discipleship, Part 1: Feed My Sheep" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 2022


April 17, 2022 "New Life, or an Idle Tale?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

April 10, 2022 "The Deeper Meaning" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

March 2022


March 13, 2022  "Images of Jesus- Part II: Friend of the Cross" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

February 2022


February 13, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part III: The Life of Hope" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2022


January 30, 2022  "Love, Faith, Hope - Part I:  Acts of Love" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 2, 2022  "Jesus Draws a Crowd" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 2021


December 19, 2021 "Advent Anticipation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 5, 2021 "Advent 2: Wilderness Preparation" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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