Sermon Starters

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

Second Last Sunday
Series B

Option #1: "Listening in on the Lord's Conversation"
Mark 13:24-31
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.
If you have lived long enough on this earth, you may well remember a time when there were "party lines." Six, maybe as many as nine, telephone subscribers were on the same "line." Sometimes you’d pick up the phone to make a call and hear a conversation in progress. It wasn’t polite to listen, but it did make good entertainment. In today’s text we "listen in" on a conversation that our Lord had with the disciples. We don’t always know the context of these conversations, but we often can learn from them.
1) With whom? The disciples--vv1-4; Micah 3:12; Lk 19:41-44

2) About what? His return and the end of time--vv24-27; Mk 14:62; 1 Thess 4:16-17; Rev 1:7

3) What does it mean? You must read the signs and be prepared--vv27-31; Lk 21:20-31; John 10:16; re: elect: Rom 4:16-17, 8:33; Col 3:12-14

Regarding verse 28, Richard Lenski:

We now enter the admonitory section. Verses 24-27 give the objective facts and then the application to the disciples. Although the prophecy unrolled a picture of dread, it is nevertheless bright with hope for the elect. So Jesus bids the disciples to learn from the fig tree. When its branch becomes soft with swelling sap and then goes on producing leaves, the disciples realize that summer, beautiful summer, is at hand, and that makes them glad. The aorist indicates that the softness is attained; the branch is in the process of growing leaves.

The matter of the fig tree is observed by all; what it pictures even the disciples need to be told: "Realize" what these things mean! ...The meaning of Jesus is that every sign advertises the end as being "near." Just when the end will arrive, no one knows. We are always to be ready for its coming since all the signs have already occurred again and again. (Interpretation of Mark, p586, passim)

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Children’s Message on Mark 13:27

"He will send his angels to gather his elect from ... the ends of the earth."

Visual: one waste basket marked "WINNER"; another marked "LOSER."

Do you have class officers at your school? If you do, then you know what an ELECTION is. You also know that there was a big ELECTION in our country a few weeks ago. Tell me: What happens in an ELECTION? Right! There are winners and losers. Some people get to serve in an office, such as president or treasurer, etc. Whoever lost the ELECTION isn’t a CLASS OFFICER. The same thing happened on a bigger scale in our state and in our nation. Some people who had been in an office for years have to go home as LOSERS next January when the WINNERS get their jobs as congressman or senator.

What does this have to do with you? Simple! We all know what it means to be a LOSER and sometimes a WINNER. Jesus said in today’s Gospel that on the last day the angels will gather his ELECT and take them to heaven. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. The WINNERS are people who know Jesus as their Savior and who will WIN with him forever in eternal life. The LOSERS have someone other than Jesus for God and they will be LOSERS forever.

Don’t ever let that happen to you! Which basket will you want to be found in? The one that says ELECT or WINNERS? Or the one that says LOSERS? Jesus took you to be his own forever. Don’t make the mistake of voting against him in the life God has given you.

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Option 2: "The Right Race vs. The Rat Race"
Hebrews 12:1-2
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Point: God empowers us to fight to the finish.
Problem: Hindrances and sins threaten to finish us off.
Promise: Because God empowered Jesus to finish the race for us, we, empowered by the Spirit and "a great crowd of witnesses," run the "race" of life with perseverance and are promised a "throne"/crown at its culmination.
1. Whoever wins the rat race is still a rat! (Lily Tomlin)
2. Fear of persecution and a willingness to turn from worshiping Jesus Christ for an easier earthly life could very well be brought up as specific "obstacles" that inhibit the runner in running the race. (David Lewis)
3. To avoid this morass of human hedonism and divine damnation, the author rivets his readers' eyes on Jesus, the "founder and finisher of faith" (12:2). This one chose to endure the cross rather than to enjoy a partial, temporary, or solitary victory. A win too early is not big enough and comes from a god who is not big enough. The author of Hebrews describes Jesus as one who calls us brothers and sisters so that his death can stand for ours and can make us people for whom sin has been laid aside. Jesus does not want his victory to leave anyone out, so he comes to his resurrection the hard way, through a shameful death as a sinner, in spite of the temptation to avoid it. The risen Jesus is humanity's future. And the cloud of witnesses testify that in Jesus' resurrection God is creating that future. (Carolyn Schneider)
4.The threat to this [Hebrew(s)] congregation is not that they are charging off in the wrong direction; they do not have enough energy to charge off anywhere. (Michael Hoy) They were sick and tired of being sick and tired!
5.According to the old tale, on the wall of a city telephone booth was plastered a sticker that read, "If you are tired of sin, read John 3:16." Below this was scribbled a handwritten note: "If you are not tired of sin, call 555-1176. The Preacher's congregation is tired all right, but they are not exactly tired of sin and it is not precisely accurate to say that they are tired of sainthood either. What they are tired of is the struggle between the two, the constant warfare that trying to be faithful entails. (Thomas Long)
6. Who am I? They often tell me
    I would step from my cell's confinement
    calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
    like a squire from his country-house.

    Who am I? They often tell me
    I would talk to my warders
    freely and friendly and clearly,
    as though it were mine to command.

    Who am I? They also tell me
    I would bear the days of misfortune
    equably, smilingly, proudly,
    like one accustomed to win.

    Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
    Or am I only what I know of myself,
    restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
    struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
    yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
    thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
    trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
    tossing in expectations of great events,
    powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
    weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
    faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
    Who am I? This or the other?
    Am I really one person today and tomorrow another?
    Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
    and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
    Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
    fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

    Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
    Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

    (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

7. In the U.S.A., television has captured the American audience with a certain mundane association of Australia with Foster's Beer. The ads always start out with a picture of Australia and an announcer with authentic accent saying "How to speak Australian." Then they might show a great white shark, to which the announcer would comment "Guppy!" Or perhaps they might show a man getting hit in the head with an alarm clock, commented on as "Wake-Up Call." And my personal favorite, a man is standing under a cliff. A giant boulder is heard falling from the sky until it squashes the man into the ground, with only his shoes sticking out. The man says "Ouch!"--to which the commentator adds his own description: "Cry-Baby."

More to the point of this exercise, the above example demonstrates the ability to laugh at what others might take as very serious problems... So might we all, knowing that our Lord Jesus, who has undergone the "discipline" before us, have the joy of being the Father's kids running the race, and have the endurance and strength to finish the race (12:12-13). Then we can have our hands a little more active and a little less droopy; then we can set our feet in the right direction toward the Prize that awaits us. (Michael Hoy)


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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 02:47:55 PM