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For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

February 2023


February 5, 2023  "The Kingdom, Part 2: Tasty and Bright" by the Rev. Wahlig

 

January 2023


January 29, 2023  "Revealing the Kingdom" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 1, 2023  "Love in the Stars" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2022


December 18, 2022 "Coming Home" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 4, 2022 "The Future King and his Peaceable Kingdom"  by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2022


November 20, 2022  "Who Is This Jesus?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 13, 2022  "Steady Faith" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2022


October 30, 2022  "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 3: Relationship Redeemers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 23, 2022 "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 2: Generous Givers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 16, 2022   "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 1: Covenant Connectors" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

December 18, 2022

“Coming Home” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, December 18, 2022  -  Year A / 3rd Sunday of Advent (preached on the 4th Sunday of Advent) – Isaiah 35:1-10  •  Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55  •  James 5:7-10  •  Matthew 11:2-11

THEME:  Prepare for the journey to the Kingdom by working together to strengthen our heart, head and hands to share God’s love.

 

Have any of you ever been members at the YMCA?

Last year, as a Christmas present, I got us a family membership to the Harrisburg YMCA.  As you know, I had injured my shoulder earlier that year playing tennis.  Beginning that fall, I started doing Physical Therapy, but I needed to do more.  So, I signed up for an exercise class.

Then one day after class I discovered the weight room.  I need to confess that I have never been a gym rat.  I tried lifting weights in my 20s.  I hated it.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.  Here I was approaching 60 with my first significant injury that left me unable to get back onto the tennis court.  That’s when I decided it was time to strengthen my body.

After going a few times, I developed a routine.  A mile and a half jog on the treadmill, some upper body work on the machines and the free weights, and then stretching.  I could do it all in less than an hour, in any kind of weather, and, equally important, in the company of others who motivated me to keep going.  Slowly, but surely, my body got stronger.

  I think God has a similar work-out routine in mind for the exiles in Babylon.

 Isaiah 35 combines one of scripture’s most compelling images with one of its most deeply comforting messages.  Through his prophet, God speaks to the elite of Jerusalem who are now living in captivity in Babylon.  This is where the Babylonian army marched them after sacking and burning their city.  The exiles have lost everything:  their home, their temple, and their freedom. 

Into their deep despair, God speaks astonishing words of hope.  They can go home!  It is an astounding promise.  God will make the desert bloom with flowers, the parched ground will overflow with living water, and no one will get lost or hurt on God’s holy highway leading them back through the desert to Jerusalem.

But, to make the journey home they first have to get stronger.  They have to strengthen their hearts, their minds, and their limbs.  Many people assume when they read this passage that God is the one doing the strengthening.  That is not what the text says.  God is commanding the people to strengthen themselves.

That is how it is for you and me as well.  We, too, are a people in exile.  We Christians are in the world, but not of the world.  As Paul tells the Philippians, we are citizens of Heaven, because that is where God’s Kingdom is located.  That is our true home.

To get home to the Kingdom, we first have to journey through this life.  Inevitably, that journey leads us through times that feel a lot like the desert.

So, like the exiles, we have to prepare for the journey home by getting stronger.  Spiritually stronger.  So, what we need is a spiritual work-out program, a regimen that strengthens our heart, mind and hands.  The place to start is with our heart.

When we talk about our heart, most of us think about our emotions.  But the heart is much more than the source of our emotions.  The heart is the center of our will.  It dictates the things we desire, and it determines what we want to do.

What God wants is for us to want the same thing he wants.  What he wants most of all is to gather us all into his Kingdom.  So, then, the question is how do we increase our desire for the Kingdom?

We do that by reminding ourselves what the Kingdom is like.  The best person to help us do that is Jesus.  In the gospels, Jesus talked about his father’s kingdom more than anything else.

        That is what we have been doing during this Advent season.  It’s what these candles represent.  Each Sunday we focus on renewing our longing for hope, peace, joy, and love.  These are sure signs pointing to the reality of God’s Kingdom. 

And when we light that white candle in the middle on Christmas Eve it will be to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world in anticipation of his return.  That’s when he will make the Kingdom a full-blown, worldwide reality.  That is how these candles remind us to want what God wants.

After we strengthen our heart’s desire for the Kingdom, the next thing we have to strengthen is our mind.  That means learning to think like Christ, to see the world the way he does, and to understand what the world needs to make it more like the Kingdom.

Let me unpack that.  Having the mind of Christ means that we learn to value what Christ values.  Righteousness.  Compassion.  Justice - especially on behalf of the poor and the marginalized.

These are the values of the Kingdom.  When they are present, they help us understand that not only is the Kingdom real, but it can and should be experienced now – in this life, if only partially.  Making these values our priority is how we learn to value what Christ values.  That is the hallmark of a strong, Christ-like mind.

But even when we have strengthened our hearts to want what God wants, and strengthened our minds to value what Christ values, our spiritual exercise program is still not complete.  There is another step required to make us spiritually stronger.

We have to get busy.  We have to use our hands and feet, our words and wallets, to share God’s love with others in tangible ways.  Providing food for the hungry.  Shelter for the homeless.  Friendship for the lonely.  Love for the lost.  This is God’s justice.  As the Reformed Theologian Cornel West reminds us, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

In other words, we can build up our heart and head all we like, but if we don’t actually put our Kingdom desire and our Christ-like values into practice, we don’t get any closer to the Kingdom.  Neither do those around us.  It takes all three - heart, head, and hands - to make the journey to the Kingdom.

As I thought about that this week, it occurred to me that getting spiritually stronger is a lot like working out in the gym.  We have to want it.  We have to understand why it’s important.  And then, like the old Nike ads said, we just have to do it.

This is what I’ve discovered about going to the gym.  Along the way, I’ve discovered something more.  Going to the gym has two more lessons to teach us about training for our journey to the Kingdom. 

First, just like working out in the gym, a spiritual work-out is almost always better in the company of others.  Work-out partners support one another and motivate one another.  When we lift weights in the gym, for example, we need someone to spot us to make sure we’re not trying to do more than we should.  We also need others to motivate us when we’re not doing as much as we can.

Spiritual workouts are the same.  When we do them with others, they help us recognize when we try to do too much.  It is easy to burn out when we are doing God’s Kingdom work.  When that happens, we’re not doing any good for anybody.

By the same token, if we are coasting and merely giving lip service to the work of God’s Kingdom, our spiritual work-out partners motivate us to do more.  They inspire us and guide us. Together, we will do more than any of us could ever do on our own.  This is why it’s important to do our spiritual work-outs with others.  That is the first lesson.

Second, we feel better when we do it.  Science tells us that physical exercise releases endorphins.  Endorphins are those feel-good hormones that give us a wonderful sense of calm and well-being.  They reduce stress and anxiety, and they put us in a better mood.

Spiritual exercise has the same effect.  When we strengthen our head, heart, and hands by doing God’s work, we feel better.  We are more hopeful, peaceful, joyful, and loving.

That is our preview of life in the Kingdom.  We can experience that even when we are in those challenging desert days of life.

Best of all, we help those around us experience the Kingdom as well.

So, friends, where are you on your spiritual exercise regimen?  Do you have some spiritual work-out partners to support you and challenge you? 

Maybe you’ve gotten a little out of shape, spiritually speaking?  Do you need to start a new routine?  If so, let me suggest you look into one of our new small groups.  That is exactly what they are for.

Regardless of where you are and who you’re with, let’s all use these last few days of Advent to remind ourselves that the signs of the Kingdom are right here [point to candles], and the values of the Kingdom are up in here [point to head]. 

What remains is to get our hands busy making that Kingdom real – for us, and for others.

May it be so.

 

Last Published: December 19, 2022 8:59 AM
Sermons

Click here to view Worship Videos.

For sermon texts, please click on the links below.

 

February 2023


February 5, 2023  "The Kingdom, Part 2: Tasty and Bright" by the Rev. Wahlig

 

January 2023


January 29, 2023  "Revealing the Kingdom" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

January 1, 2023  "Love in the Stars" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

December 2022


December 18, 2022 "Coming Home" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

December 4, 2022 "The Future King and his Peaceable Kingdom"  by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

November 2022


November 20, 2022  "Who Is This Jesus?" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

November 13, 2022  "Steady Faith" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

 

October 2022


October 30, 2022  "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 3: Relationship Redeemers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 23, 2022 "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 2: Generous Givers" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

October 16, 2022   "Tech, Time and Tithe, Part 1: Covenant Connectors" by the Rev. Don Wahlig

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

 

 

Click here for previous sermons

 

 

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