Christmas comes earlier every year. At least the Christmas season starts earlier every year. Haven't we all preached some sermon like that? The pastor takes on the culture and invites the congregation to hold out for a more meaningful celebration of Christmas. The season that starts now is not Christmas but Advent. Thankfully, the Advent season always starts at the same time. The four Sundays of preparation have some order and method to them. The Advent theme of waiting and preparation comes through the hymns, the candles on the wreath, the words of the prophet, the gospel texts.
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The scriptures for today bind together the beginning of sin in the world, our salvation from sin, and Jesus’ own vulnerability to the temptation of the devil. We see that the devil is very clever (or that we can be very clever in fooling ourselves about our motives and the possible ramifications of our attitudes and actions).
Jesus sets the bar high by resisting temptation even from the imagination of the devil. To show just how amazing that accomplishment is this lesson will put temptation in each kids’ hands. You may have seen the videos of kids in a room alone with a marshmallow. They are challenged to not eat the marshmallow then left alone in the room. The kids obviously struggle with the temptation to eat the marshmallow. For this lesson you can use marshmallows or Oreos, both are relatively allergen free.
We in the West have an interesting culture in which we quite like to be shocked. Many of us enjoy films which are shocking to a greater or lesser degree, and it sometimes seems to be that the higher the rating, the more popular the film. Even huge natural or man-made disasters have a worrying degree of entertainment value in the way they are presented to us over and over again on our television screens. We meanwhile sit in our armchairs munching our chocolates feeling scandalised or shocked or disturbed, but seldom switching off the set.