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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

 

 

August 7, 2022

“The Essence of Faith” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, August 7, 2022  -  Year C / 9th Sunday after Pentecost - Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23  •  Genesis 15:1-6 and Psalm 33:12-22  •  Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16  •  Luke 12:32-40

THEME:  When we trust God and step forward in faith he will give us a glimpse of our heavenly homeland. 

 

One of the more remarkable experiences I have had in ministry was a mission trip I led some years back to Zimbabwe in Southern Africa.  One of the highlights of that trip was a visit to Victoria Falls.  Anyone been there?

Vic Falls, as the locals call it, is the world’s tallest waterfall.  It is located at the point where the Zambezi River plunges over a cliff and down 350 feet into a narrow gorge.  The water falls so hard and fast that it creates mist you can see and hear for miles around.  That’s why native people called it the smoke that thunders.

The first European to see this awesome sight was the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone.  That’s a name you probably know.  Livingstone is the most well-known missionary of the modern age.  He was a remarkable man as well as a remarkable missionary.

He was a doctor, a scientist and an ordained pastor.  He was as much an explorer as he was a missionary.  Other missionaries would set-up a home base called a Mission Station.  Then they would evangelize the people around it. Livingstone had an entirely different approach. 

He was an itinerant missionary.  He traveled throughout the interior of Southern Africa, going wherever God led him.  He shared the gospel with everyone he encountered.

Livingstone spent the better part of 30 years blazing trails across 12 countries including many places where no European had ever gone before.  His objective was to open a "Missionary Road" into the interior to reach new peoples with the gospel.  He called it "God's Highway". 

All in all, Livingstone traveled 30,000 miles.  Along the way he survived the death of his wife, a lion attack, and serious illness, not to mention frequent frustration, opposition and doubt.  Despite all of this, he kept going.  He even bushwhacked from the east coast of Africa to the west – and then back again.

That’s when he came upon those majestic falls that he named after Queen Victoria.  He described that vision as “scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”  It was a foretaste of the heavenly destination God had in store for him and all the faithful who live this life in obedience to Christ.

Livingstone’s faithfulness and perseverance were the inspiration for generations of missionaries who came after him.  That is exactly the kind of inspiration our text from Hebrews offers us.

We call Hebrews a letter, but it’s really a sermon.  It’s addressed to the house churches in Rome a generation after Jesus.  Most of these early Christians are Jewish, and a few are Gentiles.  Together, as they proclaim Jesus the Messiah, conflict erupts within the broader Jewish community.  This conflict becomes so heated that it spills over into the streets.  It even causes public riots.

To keep the peace, the Emperor expels from Rome all the Jews – Christian or not.  Those who are forced to leave and the Gentiles left behind are all at risk of abandoning their faith.

That is exactly what the writer of Hebrews does not want.  More than any other book in the Bible, Hebrews focuses on faith.

By ‘faith,’ he means what you and I call faithfulness.  He encourages these beleaguered Christians to persevere, to continue living a life of active obedience to Christ, even in the midst of suffering. 

To do that, he holds up for them a vision of the reality of God.  This vision was secured through Christ’s death on the cross.  Now, the risen Christ rules on God’s throne.  Although his Kingdom is not yet visible to the naked eye, his resurrection and ascension guarantee that God’s reign is real.  His plan for the world is unstoppable.  It’s just a matter of time.

In the meantime, Christians must step forward in faith, trusting in God and confident that his plan is unfolding, even if they can’t see it, and even if they are suffering.  That is the very definition of faith, isn’t it?  As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

But that leaves us with a question.  Where does that faith come from?  What sustains it?

Hebrews gives us the answer.  The writer reminds us to look backward for inspiration.  Our confidence comes by recalling the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before.

“Look to your ancestors.  Look at Abraham,” he writes.  When God called Abraham to leave his home and go to a new land, he and Sarah obeyed.  They had no idea where God was leading them.  They trusted God in the absence of any tangible proof that the blessings he promised would come true. 

So, who in your life has done that for you?  Who inspires you on your journey of faith?  Do you have ancestor stories to draw on for inspiration?

Here’s my story.  Like many of you, the inspiration for my faith comes from my parents.  Their path in life was anything but easy.  They struggled mightily throughout their lives.  Their faith was what pulled them through. 

When my father died suddenly at age 52, it was the single biggest setback of my mother’s life.  She still had two teenage sons to raise, even as she worked through a deep depression. 

On top of that she had to reinvent herself, from homemaker to lab technician – a tough transition for anyone, especially when you are an older woman in a male-dominated field.

But that was the road God called her to walk.  Her faith community sustained her, and her faith kept her going. 

She learned that faithfulness from her mother.  My grandmother was the youngest of 12 children growing up in poverty in rural North Carolina.  As the youngest, it fell to her to care for her father, a severely wounded Civil War veteran.

After his death, God called her to go to a new place, a strange place – the big city of Philadelphia.  She was scared.  But she obeyed God’s call, trusting him to lead her to a better life.

Now, I’m not saying Philadelphia is the promised land. 

But for my grandmother, it was a taste of it.  She joined the Arch Street Presbyterian Church.  That is where she met my grandfather.  Together, they raised a wonderful family.  She trusted God’s plan and stepped out in faith.  As he always does for those who are faithful, God led her to a new life, a glimpse of the life that follows this one.

The key to that life is the willingness to act in faith.  Only when we take that first step does God give us a taste of the new life he promises.  That promise is always there.  It’s up to us to listen, to trust, and to act. 

That’s what Abraham and Sarah did. When they took that step forward into the unknown, God rewarded their faith.  In their old age, he gave them a son, a sign of the multitude of ancestors to come.  It was a glimpse of the full promise. 

God also gave them a taste of the land he promised.  This too was a glimpse of the full promise, even though they never lived to see it fulfilled.  Their willingness to trust God and obey his call allowed them to get a taste of his Kingdom.

That’s how it is with you and me.  God is calling each one of us to follow him somewhere.  Where is that for you?  Maybe a new job, a new career?  A new ministry or mission work?  A new dedication to prayer or a deeper understanding of scripture?

Wherever that is, it won’t be our final destination.  It’s not our heavenly home.  But it will give us a glimpse of that.

To see it, we have to step forward in trust, leaning on our faith community to sustain us.  And, as Hebrews reminds us, recalling our own ancestor stories to inspire us.  

We here at SSPC are certainly blessed by the inspiration of our ancestors. 

300 years ago, God called a young Scottish immigrant and his English bride to cross the Atlantic Ocean for a new life.  Like many others, they settled west of Philadelphia.  They made a living by farming the fertile land of Lancaster County. 

Then God called them from there to a new place, a wild and unsettled place on the western shore of the Susquehanna River.  So, once again, James and Hanna Silver put their trust in God and stepped forward in faith.  

They crossed over the river on John Harris’ ferry and made their way along an old Indian path that you and I now call the Carlisle Pike.  God rewarded their faithfulness by placing them on a 500-acre tract of upland fields and forests. 

No doubt, they felt the same sort of awe David Livingstone felt at Victoria Falls. It wasn’t their heavenly homeland, but it gave them a taste of it.  And, grateful for what God had done, they began gathering worshipers here beside the spring in back of this Meeting House.

James and Hanna stepped out in faith.  They listened for God’s call.  They trusted it and they acted on it.  So did David Livingstone.  And do did Abraham and Sarah.  For all of them, only when they acted in faith, did God give them a taste of the Kingdom.

Friends, let’s let their example of faithfulness inspire us.  I guarantee that when we do, God will give us a glimpse of the Promised Land - our heavenly homeland.

May it be so.

Last Published: August 8, 2022 12:14 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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