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Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

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


Third Sunday In Advent
Series C

Option #1: "A Great Man's Jail Cell Doubt"
Luke 7:18-29 [29-35]
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

1) Doubt about the prophecies--vv18-20; Gen 22:18; Isa 11: 1-2; Jer 23:5-6

2) Doubts answered--vv21-23; Matt 21:14; John 9:30-33; Acts 26:17-18

3) The doubtless record of history--vv24-28; Lk 1:76, 9:48; John 5:35

Disciples Study Bible: John’s disciples could not understand how John as God’s elect could suffer imprisonment. John could not decide how Jesus’ ministry filled the role of the promised Messiah. Personal suffering and lack of worldly recognition and power may lead people away from Jesus. The elect trust Jesus even when human logic may point in other directions.

Greatness in God’s kingdom is determined by humility, faith, and trust. John exhibited these qualities, but Jesus referred to John the Baptist as the end of an era. John did not live to see the triumph of Jesus over sin and death at the cross. This event marked the beginning of God’s reign in a unique way.

 

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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN

I need you to tell me something. Who is your favorite player, someone who plays sports? (Allow for answers.) There is a famous football player in New York who isn’t very old who announced at the beginning of this season that he was going to retire. This season will be his last, even though he’s at the top of his game right now.

Some players retire because they doubt if they can play as well as they should in the next season or two. They doubt their ability to play well.

In the Gospel reading for today, a really great man had some doubts too. His name was John. He was the man who announced the coming of Jesus, our Savior. John was put in jail for doing his job, and he had a lot of time to think. He began to doubt about Jesus being God’s Son. So he sent some messengers to ask Jesus: "Are you the One we were waiting for? Or should we look for someone else?" Jesus told them: "Tell John what you have seen and heard: (Luke 7:22) The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."

Our football player probably could play a few more seasons; his coaches would tell him that. Jesus told John that there is no reason to doubt. He is doing what was foretold of him: He is making blind men see, lame people walk, people with leprosy were being cured, even the dead were raised.

John needed to hear that, because he would soon be dead. His faith needed a boost and his doubts needed to be swept away. When you have doubt, do what John did. Talk to Jesus about it! He will help you. And there is no doubt about that!

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Option 2: "'Tis the Season to be Joyly!" or "Joy to the Goy(im)!"
Philippians 4:4-7
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

A. Earthly Peace
    1. A human-made plan for a good and happy life
    2. Anxiety-ridden, though appears as stress-free

B. Heavenly Peace
    1. A gift from God: His Person and The Parousia
    2. Calm and bright, tender and mild

Notes:

1. "Joy suggests the falseness of the alleged dilemma of self-fulfillment vs. self-sacrifice. Joy is ethically ambiguous. It may be generous, selfish, both, or ecstatic, though it tends to direct the self outward toward others in some way. Thus, the context in which joy occurs largely determines its ethical implications." (Paula M. Cooey, Cross Currents, 1998)

2. "Gentleness," v5
        a. Patience, moderation, equity/fairness, mildness
        b. Yielding, not insisting on one's legal rights, meekness is its inner quality (R.C.H. Lenske)
        c. "Only our perverted reason would think that 'yieldingness' might include a yielding of truth to error, of right to wrong, of virtue to vice and crime." (Ibid)

3. "Anxious," v6 = to be troubled with cares, to seek to promote one's interests, of a divided mind

4. "Prayer," v7 = prayer addressed to God; a place set apart or suited for the offering of prayer

5. "Peace," v7 = a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals, i.e., harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous); of the Messiah's peace; the way that leads to peace (salvation); of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is; the blessed state of devout and upright people after death

6. "Understanding," v7
        a. The mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially
        b. "The Christian does not depend on his...his mind...to fend off worry from his heart and his...thoughts" (Lenske)

7. "Guard," v7 = to protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight; under the control of the Mosaic law, that we might not escape from its power

 

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