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Graded Airey Sermon 1 Rom. 13..11.14

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Homiletics I

Sermon 1

Text:  Romans 13:11-14

  He is Coming!  (Advent 1)

 Submitted to:  Prof. David Schmitt


Focus:  The Savior is coming!

Function:  That my hearers would anticipate the second coming of our savior with joy and, remembering their baptism, be ready for Him, while not falling into sin.

Sermon Structure:  Four Pages of the Sermon

Have you ever anticipated something so much that you thought you were going to die?  When we are looking forward to something, we manifest all kinds of feelings, from anxiousness to excited ness and everything in between.[DS1] 

I remember going to see President Bush just before the election[DS2] .  My family and I went to Queenie Park to see him after the debate here in town.  We waited four hours.  We watched different speakers, a band, and then the debate, before he made his way over to the park from where the debate was held.  When he was getting close to the park the Secret Service became very active as they scanned the auditorium and checked the President’s pathway through the building.  Then they lowered the lights and began playing some kind of “build up” music, apparently for his entrance.  We were all getting very excited.  As a Secret Service agent attached the Presidential emblem to the podium it struck me that now the President of the United States was going to speak there, and they had to prepare it for him…the most powerful man in the world.  I can remember telling my wife that I felt chills on the back of my neck when the lights went down and the music began to play.  This was a joyful kind of anticipation.  [DS3] Then the music seemed to loop around and just kept on playing the same tune over and over.  Some of the crowd would break into a chant of “four more years” then this would slowly subside as he still didn’t seem to be coming in.  The crowd was patient, yet we all seemed to be on the verge of impatience.

I remember anticipating Christmas like that.  [DS4] This was especially true as I was being read “The Night before Christmas.”  The stockings had been hung, as in the story, and the tree was a shimmer with lights.  I can remember my mother reading to me and my mind being consumed with wonder of what would happen the next morning.  I could hardly sleep!  I would flirt with the idea of sneaking out of my room in the middle of the night to see what was happening.  My childhood memories, of not being able to wait for the night to end and for the morning to come, remind me of this text.

We have a strange way of anticipating the coming of Christ.  Are we ready?  Do you feel ready for Him to come?  Are we excited?  Are we even anxious?  Have we prepared for his arrival?  Do you ever feel like you are asleep at the wheel as a Christian?  That you are just going through the motions and posing, but…you know in your heart you aren’t in line with what God would have you doing.  We are born anew…yet has the newness faded, or have we fallen asleep?[DS5] 

I became a Christian at age thirty.  When I did, I was renewed through my baptism.  I confessed to a loving savior that could finally forgive me for all the sin that I had committed through those thirty years of life!  Through confession with my pastor and at the Lord’s alter altar I felt as though a tremendous burden had been lifted off of my shoulders and lay at the feet of Jesus.  This was fourteen years ago and many things have happened in my life since then.  Unfortunately…I have sinned again since then.  There have been days when this “new sin” has weighed me down.  I have felt in my heart that, now that I am a believer, I should know better than that!  This makes me feel as though I have fallen backwards.  Or that the Spirit, which had entered me in baptism, might have left me.  I felt that this “new Christian” had fallen asleep in darkness.  I pray that He will come to me at those times.  Times like…when I have had an argument with my wife and cannot find it in myself to go to her and ask for her forgiveness.  I feel as though something else has taken control of me as I stand firm on being right and I play the game of “no talking until one of us cracks.”  Do you ever have days like that?[DS6] 

I believe Paul was trying to wake the Romans from this kind of a sleep [DS7] in our passage for today.  [DS8] To appreciate the context of this call, we must look at the rest of his letter to the Romans.  He had just laid out an exhortation on the conduct expected of a Christian and the traits to be exemplified.  In the immediately preceding section of chapter 13, Paul delineates the role of a Christian in his relationship with the government as an ordinance of God.  He speaks of righteousness practiced through faith in the body and with a government established by God.  He continues this theme by bringing our attention to the commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself.”  He exhorts that we must pay the “continuing debt to love one another,” and this includes all people as a fulfillment of the law.   

This then brings us to our text, in which we start with the word “and.”  [DS9] This “and” really should be translated from the Greek as “And especially” or “And at that.”  Assigning a more intensive tone and demanding that the context of this passage be addressed[DS10] .  He is not just saying to do these things “also” because they understand the present time, but “especially” because they know the time.  The force of the participle, “understanding,” describes a particular understanding and even culpability because of that understanding.[DS11]   The Romans are being told to uphold all of these laws he has listed especially because they knew that the coming of Christ was near.  He conveys a sense of urgency with the use of language like; “the hour has come” and “our salvation is nearer now.”

This is not the first time we see this kind of call to wake up in the Bible.  In Matt. 26 we read of Jesus saying to the disciples, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”  This text displays urgency as in our text.  But this text pertains to the crucifixion then resurrection of “the hour” of the Son of Man, while our text looks to His return.  Both of which are pressing and imminent and are requiring the hearers to be awake and alert.

Paul appeals to the Romans to not step backwards into the life of darkness, but put aside the deeds of darkness in preparation for His coming.  This appeal includes a list of actions that typify immorality from a Christian perspective offering a contrast between the world and the life of a believer.  This is a general classification of a sinful life known in the world of the Romans at the time.  He exhorts for them to live Godly lives in light of the certainty of the close of the present age.  In the midst of all of these exhortations about Christian living, Paul offers a vision of the future coming of Jesus that must change the way they live now.

He calls them to “put on the armor of light.”  [DS12] But what is this “armor”?  It can be translated as a weapon and as both an offensive and defensive armor.  It refers to “the weapons of righteousness” from 2 Cor. that are given in the time of God’s favor, the day of salvation, of the present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.

In Eph. 5:14 we read, “…for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”  This also deals with “light” and “waking up.”  We see again the urgency to arise and this brings in the light of Christ that we see in Romans.  In both we will be given life through the light of Christ.  He is exhorting us to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and avoid the darkness of a fallen world.[DS13] 

Now Paul gives us good news between the lines of all of this urgent warning of darkness[DS14] .  He tells you about your close proximity to the second coming of Christ, to your salvation and its promise.  He assures you that the “night is nearly over.”  Paul encourages the Romans with the hope of their salvation being closer now than ever before.  He reminds them of the excitement of the coming savior.  He now raises our eyes to the larger perspective that shapes our Christian living in a climactic way.  This is the knowledge that the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  The only way the “armor” could work is if Christ has already won the victory over sin through His death and resurrection.

We have this revelation of His salvation through the Introit in which it utilizes Psalm 25 and Zech. 9 to prophecy the coming of the King.  [DS15] He is righteous and carries salvation.  We have the common thread of the return of Christ, not knowing the time, the call to be ready, and the salvation through His grace that we enjoy only because of Him.

This passage in Rom. 13 is bringing us back to Rom. 6 which addresses Baptism and our new life in it.  [DS16] We see that we have the certainty of our future through baptism, so now we are not frightened by the world around us and our slips in the darkness because we know the love of Christ!  Our salvation is sure because we are first buried with Christ in baptism and then arisen raised anew with Him, our savior.  We are told of salvation and the anticipation of something that will bring us closer to God and the comfort of being under His headship in His kingdom in heaven.  The salvation that brings a time that we can worship the Father in spirit and truth unhindered by the temptation of sin.

Christ has already won our victory over sin, darkness, death and this evil age.  He has awoken from the sleep of death for us.  Without Him, and our dieing dying with Him, we could not awaken.  Through His work on the cross we are able to recover from our slumber and walk with Him awaiting His return.  Even though we have been waiting two thousand years and the Romans were waiting only twenty-five years, the promise is still the same.  He is coming, and the time is nearer now than ever before.  His glory is hidden in His suffering on the cross today for many.  The glory of the Son of Man will be plainly manifest when He returns.  We may have fallen backward into the darkness of sin.  [DS17] But Paul tells us earlier in His letter to the Romans that all fall short of the glory of God.  He tells us that we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is through Him that we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the Glory of God.

I must say it was quite something to be as close as we were to the President of the United States, but I am sure this can be no comparison to the joy of being with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe.[DS18] 

May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you always.  Amen.


            You do an excellent job in this sermon with the sections where you offer us a personal narrative and heartfelt relation of events in your life.  Your opening rhetorical units are quite effective.  In these stories, you are able to offer us a variety of sensory details that help us visualize the event you are speaking of with all of our senses.  This is precisely the type of technique that Wilson is talking about when he says, “moviemaking.”  Great work.  By the end of the introduction, we are definitely able to sense the idea of anticipation and relate to that feeling in our lives.  Also, as you deal with trouble in the world and relate to us your personal experience of “falling asleep” as a Christian, I think you do another effective job of giving us an honest and authentic representation of the struggle with sin.  The compassion in this section is precisely the type of attitude we want to convey as we proclaim the law to our hearers.  Great work. 

            Now, as you read the whole sermon, notice how the effective development occurs primarily in these opening units as you are discussing human anticipation (the President and Christmas) and human failing in watching for Christ (your experience after your baptism).  These aspects of human life are certainly necessary for this sermon but they are also ones with which your hearers will be familiar.  The more obscure aspects of this text and its proclamation of grace (putting on the armor of light, anticipating the coming of Christ, being clothed in Christ), these matters are not developed concretely or in terms that relate to our real daily experience.  Remember one of the major rules in preaching:  we want to spend our time developing those aspects of the Christian faith that our hearers may not understand or be able to put into words.  In this case, I think you will want to have more time spent on the closing aspects of the sermon where you seek to help us see in concrete realistic terms what it means to anticipate the coming of Christ. 

            In terms of the sermon structure, I can see how you are working with trouble in the world and grace in the world.  These sections are clear.  The trouble in the world is well-developed but the grace in the world is somewhat hastily put together without much development of what this looks like in real life.  The real difficulty in this sermon, however, is the entire middle section:  the trouble in the text and grace in the text.  As soon as you enter into the text, Mark, it seems like you end up moving into a strange commentary mode where you are simply offering us random commentary on different aspects of the verses.  I don’t mean to sound harsh but notice how quickly you offer information and how little development it receives.  I believe that it will be hard for the hearers to fully comprehend precisely what you are doing in this part.  I am not sure of the cause for this problem.  It seems to me that you are having trouble figuring out how to integrate the exegetical work of the sermon study into the sermon itself.  It could also be that you are nervous about getting something wrong so you are covering the whole text and explaining it to us.  As you approach this part of the sermon, remember that you are not teaching a bible class but preaching a sermon.  Your sermon study will provide you with a bunch of information about how to interpret the text.  Now that you have figured out how to interpret it, you actually do the interpreting in the sermon.  You preach what the text means rather than explain why you are preaching it this way to the hearers.  For example, your study has helped you link Romans 13 to Romans 6 and offered you the connection between “being clothed with Christ” and baptism.  Now since you know this connection, when it comes to the sermon you will want to preach it.  This means that you don’t explain how this is true.  You simple do it.  When it comes to being clothed with Christ you are going to preach baptism and you might want to use a story to do it.  So, you talk about how at baptism, we sometimes have a white garment that we put on the child and the alb is the basic white garment of all Christians, our baptismal clothing.  You talk about how it symbolizes the righteousness of Christ and you help us then understand that when Paul is talking about being clothed in Christ, he is describing the righteousness that is ours in baptism.  Now, is Paul talking about this custom?  No.  You are using your own material to communicate the meaning of this text.  Paul is talking about baptism.  Your exegetical work has helped you establish that.  One you have interpreted the text, you now need to stop and say, “Okay, I know what it means; now how do I communicate that?  What images, stories, serial depiction, or analogies can I use?”  This is the difference between reporting how you came to a conclusion and preaching the conclusion you have come to. 

            The other thing that is important in this central section is that you will want your sermon structure to narrow down what details from the text you include.  You are doing two things here.  You are offering us a development of trouble in the text and then a development of grace in the text.  You are not walking through the whole text, explaining every word.  You are just doing trouble and then grace.  Since that is the case, you will filter what stuff you are going to cover to communicate these two main things.  It may be that your outline will be thematic.  In that case, you let the main idea of the theme be what governs what you include and what you leave out.  In general, then, I am encouraging you to carefully think through precisely what your sermon structure is doing at this point in the sermon and then use the text to do that.  In this case, it seems like once you moved into the textual mode, you lost control of the outline of the sermon and entered into a biblical commentary. 

            Overall, then, Mark, you have done very well in the sections of hearer interpretation in this sermon.  Your use of narrative, particularly the President’s rally, was effective.  You work well here with concrete details and evoking experience.  And the section of law proclamation is done with compassion and clarity.  You will want to strengthen your work with grace among the hearers at the close but you seem to do well in the use of narrative and personal life experience.  The area that is weakest in this sermon, however, is your handling of the text (which unfortunately happens to be pages 3-5 in the sermon).  Here, you seem to lose control of the structure and of methods of development and somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of material you are seeking to cover.  More work on identifying precisely what you want to accomplish in these rhetorical units and how only some of the biblical material will help you accomplish these things may help you in revising these sections and strengthen your work.

Grade:  B-

 [DS1]Here, you are doing well to offer a deductive movement in this rhetorical unit.  You are opening with a clear statement of the main idea for us – anticipation.  Notice also, however, how it becomes a bit confusing precisely what you want us to think about this feeling.  You offer many options and, as I read on, I don’t think the idea of “many feelings come with anticipation” is really your main focus of this unit.  Good work in terms of technique (offering a clear statement of the main idea as a deductive movement).  You may want to work a bit more on making the description that you provide more clearly reflect the actual point you are seeking to make. 

 [DS2]If you wanted to make this an inductive rhetorical unit, you would just begin with this story and then slowly reveal the main point of the at the end.  That would be an inductive movement. 

 [DS3]I appreciate the way in which you are using concrete details to help develop the situation for us.  You are slowly adding different things that were happening, using different senses (what you saw and what you heard and what you felt) to give us a full description.  Good work.  Unfortunately, this illustration because it deals with a political party and your self-identification with that party may cause some trouble for some of your hearers.  You will need to perhaps include something near the beginning of this illustration to help us realize that this is not a political ad and you are not telling this because of the politics but simply because it is one time in your life when you recently felt anticipation like you had not for a long time. 

 [DS4]Here, it seems to me that you are wisely moving from an illustration that is closely related to you and your life experience to an illustration that more people will be able to relate to.  That’s a good technique, to move from the personal to the corporate so that everyone can share in the experience.  Good work.  Now, I might argue that you could possibly just start your sermon here.  After all, anticipation is not really an idea that is that difficult for us to relate to.  Remember, we want to develop the things that are hard to understand and leave underdeveloped the things that are easier to grasp. 

 [DS5]This is the portion of the sermon that seems very awkward to me.  You have spent about 3 minutes helping us sense anticipation, its feeling, its delight, its anxiety, and now the main point you want to make is that we don’t anticipate Christ.  How then does all of this relate together?  Why have us think about anticipation when the point is not anticipation but falling asleep?  It seems to me that if you the point you want to be making here is that in the Christian life we move from enthusiasm to falling asleep, then you will want to give us examples in your introduction of times when you moved from enthusiasm to a lack of enthusiasm about something (excited about seminary but then after 6 weeks of Greek, you were less excited).  Notice how this way your illustrations will actually support your idea rather than contradict it. 

 [DS6]Wonderful work, here, Mark.  You hare honest and authentic as you describe the Christian life in very real terms.  This is great.  You help us see this truth (as Christians we can sometimes fall away from our original enthusiasm) through the eyes of character, your personal story.  Then, at the end, you invite us to think about this feeling in our own lives as well.  Good work.   

 [DS7]Good, you are helping us move from the trouble you identify in the world to the trouble you identify in the text.  While I will disagree with you that this was the trouble among the Romans that Paul was addressing here, I would agree with you that Paul knew this was a problem that could arise in the Christian life.   

 [DS8]Unfortunately, I must disagree with you.  You seem to be reading paraenesis as accusing law rather than encouragement (third use of the law).  I tried to direct you on this in your sermon study but you seem to disagree with my teaching on this matter.  I will honor your interpretation here but please read up on paraenesis.  Read the books and articles by Arand, Aune, and Malherbe listed on the syllabus under the selected bibliography.  I would encourage you to examine these scholarly works on this matter and hopefully you can work more carefully with texts in the future.  I wouldn’t raise such a stink about it, but you will encounter a lot of paraenetic texts in the epistle readings over the years and I think it is necessary that you have some sense of their illocutionary and perlocutionary forces as you seek to help hearers understand what these texts meant and did in their original context.   

 [DS9]At this point in the sermon, it seems like you move into a strange exegetical mode that is going to list for us the various words and concepts in the text in order.  Remember the sermon structure you are using.  You are not working with a verse-by-verse structure but with the four pages of the sermon.  Your goal, then, at this point is to take us through the trouble in the text and then move to the grace in the text and the grace in the world.  If you clutter our attention at this point with all sorts of details about the text, we tend to lose focus on the main dynamic of the sermon. 

 [DS10]Notice here how you actually might need fewer words here and be able to actually do this in front of your hearers as you interpret the text vocally for them – or you might given them a quick comparison to what this is like in our own conversation.   

 [DS11]Is this really establishing their culpability or is it bringing to their minds something that inspires them and serves as the motivation for their loving action?   

 [DS12]Mark, I hope you can see that what is happening now in the sermon is that you are simply walking through the text giving us exegetical information that you have gleaned from your study.  While these ideas are important and certainly can be used in a sermon, you will want to ask yourself, “how do all of these things hold together to communicate the main idea of this section of the sermon – trouble in the text?”  Remember, the structure you are using is not a verse by verse commentary but rather a movement from an explication of the trouble in the text to the grace in the text.  As you enumerate various connections to the text for us, we end up losing sight of the purpose of this section of the sermon.  The sermon begins to blur for us as we are overwhelmed by all of the various details of the text that arise.  This is always a struggle in preaching – what portions of the text do I include and what portions do I not emphasize in the sermon.  The answer is not to emphasize it all but rather to focus on a main idea that you are communicating and then to use the text as it supports that idea at that point in the sermon.  This then allows the hearers to follow the structure of the sermon and to see how the main idea that is present is grounded in the text. 

 [DS13]Again, notice the assortment of ideas that are now floating in our minds.  We have thought about armor, about light, about waking, about urgency, about immorality, about the disciples sleeping, about a listing of exhortations.  How will all of this hold together for the hearers?  Remember, in the sermon design you have chosen, this section has been designed as the point when you will show how there is trouble in the text.  That is the main point you want to communicate, then you will move from trouble in the text to grace in the text.  That will be the turn in the sermon.   

 [DS14]This, I assume, is your turn to the gospel proclamation of the sermon.   Here, you are now helping us see the good news of the text.  Notice how you have many ideas in this one small paragraph.  Any one of these ideas could be a great rhetorical unit to develop.  You could preach for a about 3 minutes on the larger vision Paul gives or on the sense that salvation is nearer to us now or on the armor of Christ.  Listing each of these ideas in a rather rapid fashion, however, will be hard for your hearers to process.  Remember this is oral discourse.  They are relying on your to take your time and slowly develop a single idea for them so that they can remember it and experience it during the sermon.  I would encourage you to choose one of these ideas for yourself and then pick one of our methods of development and help us come to know this idea through a single method of development.  For example, you could develop the idea of armor of light by character, telling of the life of Paul and his experiences in which he discovered the armor of Christ in the face of the world’s evil. 

 [DS15]Again, I see shades of your sermon study popping up into the sermon.  The integration of your study with your sermon is a good thing but you will want to be very careful to full develop the idea that you are presenting in the sermon.  So, if you want to help us see that this idea of salvation coming is present in our liturgy today, take some time to develop that with us rather than quickly stating it.  In this case, however, notice how you are now moving from grace in the text to grace in the world in terms of the four pages design.   

 [DS16]Again, this is a jump that will be hard for the hearers to follow.  For me, this is the kind of thing that you discover in your study but then that you don’t explicitly state in your sermon.  Instead, it informs your work.  That is, you know this from your study, know when you preach you make this connection for the hearers in the imagery you use, the stories you tell, the creative approach you have taken.  Then, if someone asks you why you had all this baptismal stuff in the sermon when it isn’t in the text, you can then offer them this behind the scenes look that justifies what you have creatively communicated in the sermon. 

 [DS17]Here, I think you have the main idea that you want to be communicating at the close of the sermon.  Remember, your function is that we anticipate the second coming with joy.  Here is the place where you will want to develop what this actually looks like in real life.  Notice how the sermon has offered us two stories about anticipation (the President and Christmas) but no actual stories of anticipation of the second coming.  This is idea that most hearers probably don’t relate to very well and is therefore the idea that you will want to develop.  It may be a member you have visited who is awaiting death with joyous expectation or it may be a person who at the funeral of loved one is remembering the promises of the Lord.  You will want to give us a glimpse of what this looks like in real life. 

 [DS18]Nice work with your conclusion here, Mark.  You make that subtle dynamic change of this idea so that we have inclusion (the story of the President) but also a dynamic reversal (as we are now near God).  Good work. 

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