Isadore Isaac Isin
Lent 1A Matthew
4:1-11 and parallels
(This sermon was
initially preached by our minister of music, Kenneth Duley. He
played a carpetbagger salesman, dressed in a red cape, dark
sunglasses, Fedora hat with a red brim, and of course, his sly smile
as he tried to sell the congregation the temptations in his bag. The
sermon was hilarious but true to life and the Bible. It is wise to
watch the video of this sermon after reading it. The sermon can
easily be enacted in oneís congregation. It is fun for the
preacher to wear a costume: carpet bag full of temptations, red
cape, dark sunglasses, hat with a red cumber bun. All people
responded positively to this sermon, especially the children.)
Isadore Ivan Isin
is my name. Isadore is my name and selling sin is my game. My
initials are I, I, I. is the title of this gameÖfor all those
young people taking notes on the sermon.
I sell sin. I sell
sin because sin is pleasure. Sin is enjoyment. Sin is happiness. Sin
isnít death. Sin isnít painful. I would like to sell you on the
pleasing pleasures and positive possibilities of sin. Life can be so
boring, and a little sin can add zip to your life. I am here to sell
you the zip, the zing, the zow of life as a way of escaping boredom.
Now, I must confess
that I have had a ďbum rap.Ē That is, I mean to say, some people
say that I am a liar, that I tell all kinds of lies about God and
sin. Not true. That I spread lies about God, lies about the devil,
lies about what makes for happiness, that I get people to lie about
themselves in order to get out of trouble. Not true at all. Trust
me. I wouldnít lie.
Some people say
that I am a twister, (every time that Isadore says ďtwister or
twist,Ē he slowly twirls 360 degrees in his red robes to
physically symbolize that he twists the truth.). That I twist the
truth about God, about evil, about human beings. Some people suggest
that I distort the consequences of sin and suggest that sin is
painful. No. No. No. It is just the opposite. Sin is not painful.
That is just negative thinking. That is a boring attitude. I want to
talk with you about the pleasing pleasures of sin, about the
positive possibilities of sin. Trust me. I wouldnít lie.
Some people say
that I am a trickster, that I trick people into not believing in
God, that God is merely the anthropomorphism of goodness. That I
trick people into not believing in evil; that Satan is only the
anthropomorphism of evil. That I am out to trick you. Nonsense. We
all know what the devil is. You know what the devil is, donít you?
The devil runs around in a little pair of red underwear and he has
some pitchfork sticking up from his hand, with a beard and horns.
Who would believe in evil when you can believe in the devil running
around in a red suit? Trust me. I wouldnít lie.
I have been told
that there are seven deadly sins, that these seven deadly sins
create death. I would like to suggest to you that there are seven lively
sins and that these sins bring life, not death. Pleasure. Joy. Good
times. They donít tell you that in the fine print. I would like to
share with you the pleasing pleasures
and positive possibilities of the seven lively sins. Life is not
boring when you are sinning.
Letís see what I
have here in my carpetbag. Oh, what lovely, lovely, lovely things
that I have in my bag. What is this? A mirror!!! Pride. Isadore
Isaac Isin. My initials are I. I. I. Pride, the central word, the
first word, has the letter ďIĒ right in the middle of the word.
Spelled, Pr I de. I I I. S I N. Sin. The middle letter is I. P R I M
E. Prime. I am in my prime. The wonderful letter I right in the
middle of the word. I look great in this mirror. So handsome. So
intelligent. So.. ummm. Ö Pride is so healthy. A self love.
Doesnít your Bible command you to love yourself? Of course it
does. Pride. Self love. These are wonderful qualities. Doesnít it
feel good to know that you are a little bit better than those peons
around you? What pleasure in life to know that those peons around
you are just a little less intelligent, a little less rich, a little
less personable, a little less athletic, a little less musical, a
little less gifted than you are. One of the great joys of life is
feeling subtly superior to people around you. And God doesnít
mind. God doesnít mind if you puff yourself up a bit, to inflate
yourself.. God doesnít mind. Trust me. I wouldnít twist (slowly
twists body in a circle) the truth. Pride is healthy and I am
interested in health and self love that can make for pride.
What else in here
in my bag? There are endless possibilities herein. Of course. Of
course. A hundred dollar bill. This one hundred dollar bill is
absolutely wonderful, with the picture of Benjamin Franklin on it
and all. If you have one of these, it will bring you great
happiness. If you have ten of these, then you will have ten times
more happiness. If you have a hundred of these, you will be a
hundred times as happy. A thousand of these, a thousand times of
happiness. A million of these is a million times of happiness. And a
billion of these makes you the richest man in Seattle who lives up
north. His name is Gates and he is so happy because he has so many
of these. Ö Happiness
means to have more things, and this one hundred dollar bill can buy
you more things. Canít you see yourself stretched out on a chaise
lounge floating on the surf of Hawaii? Or a trip to Tahiti?
Or Fiji? Oh, what pleasures. Donít worry, God doesnít
mind if the people living next to you are hungry and starving. God
doesnít mind. Greed isnít greed but simply meeting our need.
Trust me. I donít twist (slowly twist) the truth. Get more of
these ($100 bill) and you will be more happy.
What else is here
in this bag? The third lively sin that makes for good living is
envy. I have a catalogue here in my hand, and I could have chosen
from several catalogues. I could have chosen the Pennyís catalogue
or the Sears Catalogue, but they are too cheap, and I am much more
macho. I am much more yuppie. Much more buppie. I am an REI man. See
this REI catalogue in my hand. When I look at the male models in
shorts in this magazine, I know that I will look just like those
studs and I will become buff. When I look at the women in this
catalogue, I know that my wife will look just like those beauties
after she buys all the REI stuff and she will look buffer. And the
two of us, in REI clothing, will be the buffiest couple that you
have ever seen. We will be just like all those people who use REI.
Enjoy yourself. Envy those other people. Envy motivates you to work
harder. Envy motivates you to improve yourself and look more buff
and dress more buff. Envy sees the possibilities what you can do for
yourself. I donít twist the truth. Trust me. I donít lie.
What else is here
in my bag? Oh, Oh. This is a Lutheran congregation. Oh, Oh. This is
a Norwegian Lutheran congregation. We donít talk about lust in
this place. Norwegians Lutherans donít lust, and so we will just
peek only at the title on the top of this magazine titled
ďPlayboy.Ē Yes, I said the word Playboy in a Norwegian Lutheran
Church. The magazine shall remain covered by the brown paper bag
because Norwegian Lutherans donít look at such things. One more
peek. O my, I donít see anyone out here in this congregation who
looks like this!!! Enjoy your sexuality. Let your sexual fantasies
run wild. Take great pleasure in your sexual dreams. It wonít hurt
your marriage. It wonít make you disenchanted with your spouse. It
wonít hurt those other people around you. Besides, all that stuff
about Aids and gonorrhea and syphilis is grossly exaggerated.
Condoms always work and those reports that condoms donít
always work are grossly exaggerated. And besides, if she
gets pregnant, she can always get an abortion. She. We. She wonít
get hurt. Trust me. I wouldnít lie. Lust is wonderful. Lust is not
at all addictive. In fact, the more you lust, the better your
marriage will be. I donít twist the truth. Trust me. I wouldnít
What else is in
this bag? Oh, of course. A bottle of holy wine. A bottle of St.
Chapelle. Saint Chapel. A wine by the name of Saint Chapel must be
holy. In the old days, I drank
Blue Nun wine but Blue Nun isnít available anymore. San
Chapel and Blue Nun wine must be a religious experience to drink.
The label suggests that I will become more saintly, so holy that I
will feel like a chapel inside of me. Drink this and your aches
inside you will go away. Drink to your hearts excess. Eat to your
heartís excess. When your stomach gets churned into a knot and
your stomach gets all upset and things arenít going well, drink a
glass of Saint Chapel wine and you will feel good. The pain will go
away. And when your stomach gets a tad nervous, you just get into
that refrigerator and eat and eat and eat and eat and eat. Eat to
your heartís content and eat all of those sweet things, and all
those inner tensions will go away and your stomach will feel so
full. Donít worry. This wonít hurt you. Eating and drinking too
much are not at all addictive. And when you get a little nervous
inside, try one of those cigarettes which are not at all addictive.
And it is not true that you can get stomach cancer thirty years
after you stopped smoking. I do not twist the truth. Trust me. I
donít lie. These are all good for you.
What is this?
Laziness? Canít be but it is. The remote control for the TV. Good,
I got it in my little fingers and can control the boob tube. Oh,
look at that channel. Oh, look at that channel. Oh, look at that
channel. Oh, look at that channel. Oh, Oh, Oh. Couch potato, here I
come. Couch potato, here I am. Wife, would you bring me a six-pack
of beer? Wife, wait on me. Wait on me. Bring me chips. No, not any
green salad. More dip please. It is so wonderful to feed on all
these chips in front of me. I need to lie back in my recliner,
stretch out and relax. I read that kids nowadays watch at least
twenty hours of television a week. It would be so much better if
they watched forty hours of television a week, sixty hours, eighty
hours. TV is so educational. So informative. So mind shaping.
Watching TV does not teach passivity. Watching TV does not teach
laziness. Watching TV teaches relaxation and mellowness. Trust me. I
donít lie. I donít twist anything.
What do I have
here? Oh, oh, oh. What do I have here? I have what every American
has. A handgun. The FBI tells me that in the good old USA, there are
more guns than people. Shoot all those people around you. Shoot.
Shoot. Shoot. Down there in Los Angeles. Way back east in Ohio. Down
in the south in Alabama. Road rage. The more guns we have in our
cars and homes, the safer we will all feel. It is good to know that
people driving in the car next to me have a gun.
More guns in more hands in more homes makes us safer. Let
your anger hang out, I say. When you are angry inside, let those
feelings out. When you are feeling mad at somebody; when you are
feeling hostility; when you are fuming inside; let it all out. Blast
them with all your feelings. Your husband. Your wife. Your kids.
Your neighbors. The people under you at work. The guy the road. The
person at the stoplight. It feels so much better to let your rage
and frustration out. It feels so good to spit out all that anger
that is inside. Nobody will get hurt that much. Those people will
get over your anger. I donít twist the truth. Trust me. I donít
lie. It is therapeutic to get rid of your anger, especially
unloading it on others.
About that God of
yours. Your God is a God of pure grace. Your gracious God forgives alllllll
your sins. That is true. It is true that God wants to forgive sins.
Doesnít it make sense that if you sin more, then God can forgive
more? Then God can become even more gracious and forgiving. That is
what God wants to be, to be more gracious and forgiving. If you
humans sin more, then God can forgive more. I donít twist the truth. Trust me. I donít lie.
It says in the
Bible that God delights in you, even when you are a sinner. So God
doesnít really care if you sin. God doesnít care at all. God
delights in you. God is so nice and kind. God would never judge
anybody. In the Bible it says something about hell. Hell, judgment
and wrath. Those are some gross exaggerations about Godís anger.
God doesnít get angry at sin. No, not at all. I do not twist the
truth. Trust me. I donít lie.
My name? My name is
Isadore Isaac Isin. I.I.I. are my initials. Sin is my name; selling
sin is my game. I want to sell you some sin today. You. You.
You. I am always here at church even if you donít recognize me.
Donít worry, I am here, always here. In case you donít want to
buy when you are in church due to social pressures, I will be
visiting your house very soon. Your home. Your place of work. I am
always available. I will always be around to sell you some sin, at a
more opportune time. Good day, for the time being. We will meet
again and soon. I promise you.
SERMON: Ask the
children what they think is the opposite of God. They will answer:
the devil. Ask them what the devil looks like? Suggest to them that
some people think the devil wears long red underwear and has a
droopy bottom. Ask the children if that is what the devil looks
like. They will say no. Ask the children if there is a power of evil
in this world? They will puzzle about that question. So ask another
question: Is there a voice inside of them that tells them to do bad
things? Ask the adults the same question. Ask them another question:
Is there any child here who does not have that voice inside of them?
Where does that voice come from? Teach them that there is a power of
evil in this world, that the power of evil wants them to do bad
things; that the power of God in them wants them to do good things.
It is like a war going on inside of us sometimes, with a battle
going on inside of us between two voices, the bad voice and the good
voice. One last question for the children: who is stronger? The
power of God or the power of evil. Yes, the children all know that
the power of God is stronger than the power of evil inside of us.