Isadore Isaac Isin
Lent 1 Luke 4:1-13 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 one’s 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, but especially the children were engaged.)
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 game…for 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 isn’t death. Sin isn’t 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 “bum rap.” 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 wouldn’t lie.
Some people say that I am a twister, (every time that Isadore says “twister or twist,” he slowly swirls 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 wouldn’t 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, don’t 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 wouldn’t 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 don’t 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.
Let’s 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 “I” 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. … Pride is so healthy. A self love. Doesn’t your Bible command you to love yourself? Of course it does. Pride. Self love. These are wonderful qualities. Doesn’t 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 doesn’t mind. God doesn’t mind if you puff yourself up a bit, to inflate yourself.. God doesn’t mind. Trust me. I wouldn’t 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. … Happiness means to have more things, and this one hundred dollar bill can buy you more things. Can’t 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. Don’t worry, God doesn’t mind if the people living next to you are hungry and starving. God doesn’t mind. Greed isn’t greed but simply meeting our need. Trust me. I don’t 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 Penny’s 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 don’t twist the truth. Trust me. I don’t lie.
What else is here in my bag? Oh, Oh. This is a Lutheran congregation. Oh, Oh. This is a Norwegian Lutheran congregation. We don’t talk about lust in this place. Norwegians Lutherans don’t lust, and so we will just peek only at the title on the top of this magazine titled “Playboy.” Yes, I said the word Playboy in a Norwegian Lutheran Church. The magazine shall remain covered by the brown paper bag because Norwegian Lutherans don’t look at such things. One more peek. O my, I don’t 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 won’t hurt your marriage. It won’t make you disenchanted with your spouse. It won’t 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 don’t always work are grossly exaggerated. And besides, if she gets pregnant, she can always get an abortion. She. We. She won’t get hurt. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie. Lust is wonderful. Lust is not at all addictive. In fact, the more you lust, the better your marriage will be. I don’t twist the truth. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie.
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 isn’t 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 heart’s excess. When your stomach gets churned into a knot and your stomach gets all upset and things aren’t 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 heart’s content and eat all of those sweet things, and all those inner tensions will go away and your stomach will feel so full. Don’t worry. This won’t 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 don’t lie. These are all good for you.
What is this? Laziness? Can’t 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 passivity and mellowness. Trust me. I don’t lie. I don’t 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. 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 don’t twist the truth. Trust me. I don’t lie. It is therapeutic to get rid of your anger.
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. Doesn’t 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 don’t twist the truth. Trust me. I don’t lie.
It says in the Bible that God delights in you, even when you are a sinner. So God doesn’t really care if you sin. God doesn’t 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 God’s anger. God doesn’t get angry at sin. No, not at all. I do not twist the truth. Trust me. I don’t 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 don’t recognize me. Don’t worry, I am here, always here. In case you don’t 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.
CHILDREN’S 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.
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