Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

First Sunday in Advent
Series A

Option #1: "A Wake-Up Call"
Romans 13:11-14
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

The time: Saturday morning. The place: your bed. Your intention: to sleep in. That's when your spouse shouts: "We've got company! Get up!" The Lord Jesus tells us in today's text that this is no time to "sleep in" when it comes to things of the Spirit. So He issues a wake-up call.

I. His coming is nearer now than before

   A. Nearer than when Paul wrote this letter 

   B. Nearer now than when you first became God's child

  C. There are only so many days left (cf Acts 17:31)

  D. The Night is nearly over (v12--"night" is a symbol of ignorance, similar to the early waking)

II. Take your shower!

    A. Go back to your Baptism in repentance (1 Cor 6:11)

    B. You were washed, so change your mind and don't "roll around" in the mud of:

        1. The "wild life"--orgies & drunkenness (1 Cor 6:9-10)

        2. Sexual sins (2 Cor 12:21, Eph 4:17-19, Jude 6-7)

        3. Power games--dissension and jealousy (Prov 17:14, Prov 20:3, 1 Cor 1:1 & 3:3 ["still worldly"]; also 2 Cor12:20)

III. Get dressed!

    A. Clothe yourself with Christ's righteousness (text, v14; Eph 4:22-24)

    B. Be what you are in God's sight!
         1. See Col 3:12-14
         2. See what Christ's peace does to your heart! (Col 3:15ff)

    C. Don't think that joy is found in sin (see Rom 6:21-23)
        1. See Rom 1:30
        2. Ps 73:3 passim

Albert Barnes writes: to awake. This is a beautiful figure. The dawn of day, the approaching light of the morning, is the time to arouse from slumber. In the darkness of night, people sleep. So says the apostle. The world has been sunk in the "night" of paganism and sin. At that time it was to be expected that they would sleep the sleep of spiritual death. But now the morning light of the gospel dawns. The Sun of righteousness has arisen. It is "time," therefore, for people to cast off the deeds of darkness, and rise to life, and purity, and action; compare Acts 17:30-31. 

The same idea is beautifully presented in 1 Thess 5:5-8. The meaning is, "In our old way of life we walked in darkness and in sin. Now we walk in the light of the gospel. We know our duty. We are sure that the God of light is around us and is a witness of all we do. We are going soon to meet him, and it becomes us to wake up and to do those deeds which will bear the bright shining the light of the truth, and the scrutiny of him who is "light, and in whom is no darkness at all"; 1 John 1:5.

 +  +  +

Option #2: "Advent Apparel"
Romans 13:11-14
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Night Clothes

    1. Lethargy in doing good and/or (pre-)occupation with evil

    2. Human resolution and will power against sins of the flesh, for virtuous living

B. Knight Clothes

    1. Negative and positive Christian behavior: avoiding evil and practicing love

    2. Divine resolve empowering us to be clothed with Christ's righteousness and subsequent obedience

(The above outline is inspired, in part, by sermon notes from Francis Rossow)


1. kairos (verse 11): time, season, opportunity, due time, measure; a measure of time, a larger or smaller portion of time, hence: a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for; opportune or seasonable time; the right time; a limited period of time;
to what time brings, the state of the times, the things and events of time

2. nux (verse 12): night, midnight; metaphorically, the time when work ceases; the time of death; the time for deeds of sin and shame; the time of moral stupidity and darkness; the time when the weary and also the drunken give themselves up to slumber

3. skotos (verse 12): darkness; of night darkness; of darkened eyesight or blindness; metaphorically,
of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway

4. hoplon (verse 12): weapon, instrument, armour; any tool or implement for preparing a thing; arms used in warfare, weapons; an instrument

5. phos (verse 12): light, fire; the light emitted by a lamp; a heavenly light such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth; anything emitting light; a star; fire because it is light and sheds light; a lamp or torch; light, i.e., brightness of a lamp; metaphorically, God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality; of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual
purity associated with it; that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly; reason, mind; the power of understanding, especially moral and spiritual truth

6. euschemonos (verse 13): honestly, decently; in a seemly manner

7. komos (verse 13): reveling, rioting; a revel, carousal; a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence, used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted until late at night and indulge in revelry 

8. koite (verse 13); bed, conceive, chambering; a place for laying down, resting, sleeping in a bed, couch; the marriage bed; of adultery; cohabitation, whether lawful or unlawful; sexual intercourse 

9. aselgeia (verse 13): lasciviousness, wantonness, filthy; unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence 

10. zelos (verse 13): zeal, envying, indignation, envy, fervent mind, jealousy, emulation; excitement of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit; zeal, ardor in embracing, pursuing, defending anything; zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing; the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal; an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy

 11. sarx (verse 14): flesh, carnal, carnally minded, fleshly; flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts; the body; the body of a human; used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship; born of natural generation; the sensuous nature of humanity, "the animal nature"; without any suggestion of depravity;
the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin; the physical nature of humanity as subject to suffering; a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh), whether human or animal; the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God

 12. epithumia (verse 14): lust, concupiscence, desire, lust after; desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

 13. "The night is far gone, the day is at hand," Paul writes in v. 12. The reference is to "The Day of the Lord" tradition. Yet Paul inverts that tradition from doom and gloom (beginning with The Day of the Lord = "darkness" in Amos 5:18) to the dawning of a new day. In the end, Paul seals the notion by reference to baptismal clothing. We are people of the day because we "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." If baptism is where we first get clothed with grace, we shouldn't be surprised that the most ever-lovin', grace-spiked bash of final salvation might mean we should stay dressed for the occasion! (David Schnasa Jacobsen)

 14. God calls us to love not as a task long-ago given, but because our destiny is to be "lost" in such wonder and love. Perhaps this is why people love New Year's parties so much. Sure, the whole point is to be up after midnight and to enjoy the revelry of the new year. Yet the joy of party is that the fun begins while the old year is still dying. For love is not just the fulfillment of what was--it is also the fulfillment of what will be. (Ibid)

 15. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C.S. Lewis)

16. These words have forever been made famous by their connection with the conversion of Saint Augustine. Augustine was a young man in the 4th century who was what we would call a swinger. He lived a wild, carousing life, running around with evil companions, doing everything they were doing. He forbade himself nothing, went into anything and everything. And, as people still do today, he came to hate himself for it. 

One day he was with his friend in a garden, and he walked up and down, bemoaning his inability to change. "O, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! How can I free myself from these terrible urges within me that drive me to the things that hurt me!" And in his despair, as he walked in the garden, he suddenly heard what he thought was the voice of a child-- perhaps some children were playing in the garden next door--and the voice said, "Take and read, take and read." 

He could not remember any children's games with words like that, but the words stuck. He went back to the table and found lying on it a copy of Paul's letter to the Romans. He flipped it open, and these were the words he read: [Romans 13:13-14a] Augustine said that at that moment he opened his life to Christ. He had known about him, but had never surrendered to him. But that moment he did, and he felt the healing touch from Christ cleansing his life. He was never the same man again. He went on to become one of the greatest Christians of all time--Saint Augustine. (Ray Stedman)

 17. ...the cure for evil behavior and the power for good behavior lie not in ourselves but in Christ. Refraining from evil and performing good are not the products of human resolution and human will power. Virtue is not of our own manufacture. It is something from outside us, given us and placed upon us like an article of clothing. (Francis Rossow)

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