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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

 

 

January 1, 2023

“Love in the Stars” by the Rev. Don Wahlig, January 1, 2023, Year A / Christmas 1 – Isaiah 60:1-6  •  Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14  •  Ephesians 3:1-12  •  Matthew 2:1-12

THEME:  Pay attention to the signs of God’s love in creation and reflect his love in our living. 

 

        This past week, with the record cold and snow across the country, I have been thinking about a ski vacation we took some years ago when our girls were little.  We had visited New Mexico in the summer and loved it, so we decided to spend the winter school break at Taos Ski Valley in northern New Mexico. 

        It was spectacular.  The snow, the mountain, the people, the food – a wonderful experience.  One of my most vivid memories of that trip was being outside one night and looking up at the sky. 

        At 9,000 feet in altitude and miles from the nearest big city lights, the constellations were clearly visible.  The Milky Way looked like a river of stars stretching from one horizon to the other. 

        It occurred to me that humankind have been gazing at those stars for as long as we have been here.  Over time, we have even learned to navigate by them. 

        That’s what those magi were doing.  Tradition tells us there were three of them.  Tradition also calls them kings, but that is not what they were.

They were astrologer priests. They practiced an ancient religion known as Zoroastrianism.

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Zoroastrians’ knowledge of the stars was so advanced it seemed like magic.  But these magi were not magicians.  They were religious scholars.  They studied the skies for signs of what God was doing in the world.

On the night Jesus was born, they saw a star they had never seen before.  They understood it was a sign, a sign that God had crowned a new king.  They used that star to navigate their way to Jerusalem where they eventually found their way to King Herod’s palace.

We can just imagine what Herod thought when they told him they had come to worship the new-born King of the Jews.  Herod himself was the reigning King of the Jews.  He had been for the past 40 years.  And he had no intention of relinquishing his crown.

News of a new king did not sit well with Herod.  When Herod got angry, people usually suffered and died.  But he held his temper in check as he hatched a scheme to get rid of this usurper to his throne.

The first thing Herod does is to call in his own religious experts.  He asks them where the scriptures say the Messiah will be born.  When he learns it’s Bethlehem, he sends the magi there under the pretext that he – Herod – wants to worship this newborn king as well. 

And sure enough, there in Bethlehem, on the ground floor of the local inn, where all the animals are kept, the magi find Mary and Joseph, and their newborn child lying in a manger.  They drop to their knees and worship him.

Matthew tells us very little about their return trip, but were surely amazed at the divine direction they received from God.  With this star, God drew them to Bethlehem to worship not just any king, but the Messiah, the one destined to be the savior of God’s people.

The magi are by no means the only ones who have sought heavenly signs of God’s direction and love.  Their modern-day descendants, the astronomers, also see God’s presence and providence in the stars.

        In the 16th century, at the same time Martin Luther was devising his 95 theses to tack up onto the church door at Wittenberg, over in Poland, a local Bishop and astronomer named Nicholas Copernicus was quietly studying the skies at night.  When he published his controversial proof that the sun was the center of the universe, not the earth, many were scandalized. 

But to others, his findings were cause for wonder and reverent awe.  To them, it was proof of God’s grace.  Why else would God pour out such lavish, loving attention on a small planet that wasn’t even at the center of the created universe?

That’s how Copernicus saw it, too.  When he looked up at the stars, he saw signs pointing to God’s love in Jesus Christ.

A hundred years later, an Italian scientist named Galileo peered through his telescope and became the first person to lay eyes on the peaks and valleys of the moon.  Like Copernicus before him, he too, saw it as a heavenly sign pointing to God’s love, revealed even more clearly in Jesus Christ.

In the 20th century, astrophysicists became the chief pioneers exploring the heavens.  For many of them, gazing at the stars in the sky is the experience of God’s presence and love.  

        Thanks to the James Webb space telescope, you and I can have that same experience.  Never before have we been able to see with such vivid clarity faraway galaxies and the stars within them. 

As I looked at those pictures again this week, I wondered how anyone can view such stunning images of the heavens and not be awed by God’s goodness and grace.  It’s clear to me that they are signs of God’s love, pointing to the ultimate reality of his love in Jesus Christ.

But why doesn’t everyone come to that same conclusion?  That’s what I’ve been wondering this week.

John Calvin, our theological ancestor, has given us the best answer to this question.  Calvin said that God discloses himself to us through two books.  One is the book of the Bible.  The other is the book of nature. 

The book of nature is open for all to see. To understand its true meaning, however, we need the Bible.  The Bible is what enables us to interpret the signs of God in nature.  That’s why Calvin compared the Bible to a pair of spectacles that help us read clearly.  As he wrote,

“For the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any book . . . is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written, [they] are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words.  

“But, when aided by glasses, [they] begin to read distinctly.  So Scripture . . . dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.”

That is exactly what happened to the magi.  They saw the new star God hung in the heavens.  They were amazed by it.  They vaguely understood it’s importance:  there was a new King of the Jews. 

But it wasn’t until Herod’s advisors checked the scriptures that they understood the star was a sign that none other than the Messiah had been born. 

There in that humble stable, in the presence of Mary and Joseph and their newborn son, they realized that in this child God was redeeming the world he created.  Bad news for Herod, but wonderful news for those he ruled, and for people everywhere ever since.

Friends, you and I are the same way.  The signs of God’s love are clearly visible in the natural world.  As Calvin put it, “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world, that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

But the experience will never be more than a momentary sensation of beauty until we understand it in its Biblical context. 

Whether it’s a glorious sunset over the ocean, or the stars of the milky way sparkling in the nighttime sky, we are in the unmistakable presence of God.  And God wants us to know he loves us so much that he chose to become one of us, a helpless infant born in a humble manger 2,000 years ago. 

Scripture is the key to interpreting these God signs.  When we see his creation in light of what the scriptures tell us about his love, we are naturally overcome with profound gratitude, and the firm desire to live and love as his son teaches us.  That is the true experience of nature God intends for us to have.

Have you ever had an experience like that?  Maybe watching the dew drip from flowers on a spring morning, or watching lightning bugs on a summer’s night?  Or maybe somewhere magnificent like the rim of the Grand Canyon, or the peak of a high mountain? 

Wherever it was, maybe you suddenly had the awesome, hair-raising understanding that God is right there with you, showing you through his creation how much he loves you, and guiding you to serve him.

That kind of experience strengthens our faith.  It makes us want to praise God, to know and love him better, to follow him more faithfully.  It’s an effect that we feel not just for a moment, but for a lifetime.

I imagine those magi on their long journey home experienced a similar effect.  Friends, we can all have that experience.

The signs of God’s love are everywhere.  We just have to remind ourselves to interpret them through the lens of God’s love story, the book we call the Bible. 

It’s a discipline, a habit we form.  It takes commitment.  And there is no better day to do that than this one.
 

Here we are on New Year’s Day, the perfect time to make resolutions to live better in the year ahead.

Among our other resolutions, let’s all make the most important one.  Let’s pay closer attention to the signs God has placed in the world all around us to remind us of his love. 

And, then, let’s live more faithfully by reflecting his love to all.

May it be so.

Last Published: January 3, 2023 3:33 PM
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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