- ("Engelmar Unzeitig was born in a German district of Czechoslovakia in 1911. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a missionary priest--to travel to foreign lands, to dedicate his life to the conversion of pagans and perhaps to offer his life for the salvation of souls. Ordained on August 15, 1939, he was arrested within two years by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau charged with making insidious expressions and defending the Jews in his sermons..." and other illustrations)
- "In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray encounters a homeless man on his 'deja vu' journey through the same day over and over again. At first he avoids him like the plague. Then, on one of his reruns of the day as he is becoming more compassionate, he pulls out a wad of bills and flips through it, trying to decide on how much he should give him..."
- When my father spoke to me, he always began the conversation with "Have I told you yet today how much I love you?" The expression of love was reciprocated and, in his later years, as his life began to visibly ebb, we grew even closer...if that were possible. At 82 he was ready to die, and I was ready to let him go so that his suffering would end. We laughed and cried and held hands and told each other of our love and agreed that it was time. I said, "Dad, after you've gone I want a sign from you that you're fine." He laughed at the absurdity of that; Dad didn't believe in reincarnation. I wasn't positive I did either, but I had had many experiences that convinced me I could get some signal "from the other side".
- (lots of good stuff here!!)
- As a campus pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I served on a committee that supports the local Lutheran Social Services Ministry foster care program. One Thursday, we heard about a young girl who had run away from home at age fourteen. By the time we heard about her, she was sixteen, and LSSM was trying to get her some help by putting her into an independent care program. She'd lived on her own for two years, so it seemed too late to put her into a foster care family. She would receive money for living expenses and get life skills training from a case worker. Unfortunately, she wouldn't receive her first check until the end of the month, and she'd already moved into her apartment. She needed immediate help: pots and pans, soap, toilet paper, and food. The case worker wondered if we could help set her up. I offered to go to the food pantry at a local Lutheran church and get some groceries to tide her over. But when I got to the church on Friday, the food pantry was closed. Fortunately, the pastor was there, and he offered to help me load up a bunch of bags that I could take back to LSSM. I said, "Well, I don't know. We're both pretty busy writing sermons on the 'Good Samaritan.' Do you think we have time to help out a stranger?" God has a way of preparing pastors for their sermons - and a very good sense of humor! ...
- Some years back, the Trenton Times ran an editorial that asked, “Does your use of money reflect the values to hold, the desires you have for the world, the kind of person you wish to become?” The writer then suggested this alternative to consider:
“Let’s give our treasure to the spiritual priorities we affirm, knowing our heart will follow like a dog runs after a stick. This may be the time to hold possessions loosely, […] being generous toward others as God is generous. This, in fact, may be the best way if not the only way, to experience freedom from the fear of wondering if you have enough.
“Investing in God’s economy allows us to look to money for what money can provide (a way to express our values) and to God for what God can provide ([that is] life, salvation and abundant life). Such economics is an exercise in imagination and a practice in priorities whose time has have come.”
- "Is it OK to love yourself? How do you love yourself without being selfish or arrogant or getting caught up in the epidemic of "Me-ism"? As a backdrop for our thinking along these lines, remember that verse in Luke 10: "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength... and love your neighbor as you love yourself." Jesus follows this up by saying: "Do this and you will live."
- A recent multi-national study of altruism in children ages 5–12 came up with what I believe are very surprising results. According to this study, the more religious a child’s family is, the more likely that that child will behave in a harsher and less generous manner than those children who are raised in non-religious families. The children in the study live in the USA, Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa and China. They also came from eight different religious backgrounds, although the largest three groups represented were Muslim, non-religious and Christian in that descending order. Those three categories combined for 94.5 percent of the children sampled. The study noted that Christian children did not differ significantly in their levels of altruism from Muslims; however, both of those groups were significantly less altruistic than non-religious children. That was true regardless of the frequency of the family’s religious practice or their level of household spirituality. In addition, these unexpected results were more pronounced in older children than in younger ones. That would imply that the longer children are exposed to their family’s religious teachings, the more selfish they became.
- ("Cynthia Huling Hummel tells of a time when she and her husband were first married and didn't have a lot of money. They were on a long camping trip and they ran into problems on a highway in Elkhart, Indiana, hundreds of miles away from their home and family. Suddenly as they were driving along, the car began to shriek and shutter. Something began dragging on the pavement and whatever it was, it sounded expensive..." and other illustrations)
- ["'Mister Rogers' anyone? With his zippered cardigans, canvas sneakers, and handmade puppets, 'Mister Rogers' was a pioneer in the early days of educational television for young children. Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, started developing the characters and themes of his program in the mid-1950's. But it wasn't until 1967 that Mister Roger's Neighborhood took its final form and appeared on PBS stations across the country...."]
- ("Her name is Rhonda, and she is beautiful. She is a single parent whose ex-husband is $65,000 behind in child support which he promised beginning 15 years ago. She works two jobs to make ends meet for her and her two daughters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, her heart became overwhelmed by the plight of the many victims and she decided to volunteer at a local Red Cross shelter in Houston...")
- ("Henry Nouwen in Sabbatical Journey says 'Our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness and human need. If the church has a future, it is a future with the poor in whatever form.'...")
- ("If Fred hadn’t died he’d be celebrating his eightieth birthday next spring. Fred was a creative, imaginative young man. He received his college degree in music composition. He dabbled for a while in television because he said he hated it so much. He thought it needed help. Then he went to the Seminary and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1962...")
- ("In 1921, Lewis Lawes became the warden at Sing Sing Prison. No prison was tougher than Sing Sing during that time. But when Warden Lawes retired some 20 years later, that prison had become a humanitarian institution. Those who studied the system said credit for the change belonged to Lawes. But when he was asked about the transformation, he said: 'I owe it all to my wonderful wife, Catherine...")
- ("how many of your most rewarding experiences came from unexpected circumstances and people? In many ways our journey is like that of the scriptures set before people. It is to take the law of God from the pages out onto the streets. Are we here to see through people or to see each other through?...")
- ("In January 1996 in Tasmania (Australia’s southerly, island state), the capital city Hobart was having a lot of trouble with skate boarders. Not unlike other towns and cities in the world. There was nowhere for them to ride, so they were riding wherever they liked. And one of those places was the city mall...")
- ("I was so excited to start the sixth grade in a new town and in a new school. Of course it was a hard thing to leave behind my circle of friends in the little town of Alsea and my best friend in the world Donny Davis in order to go to Washington Grade School in the big city of Corvallis...")
- ("I was visiting a woman with Alzheimer's in a nursing home and the nurse there and I were chatting when she said, 'Pastor, I can't handle it anymore. I can't handle taking care of these people.' This woman, this nurse, had this enormously big heart to do what she was doing. I said to her, .Your problem is that your heart is too big.'....")
- ("I went to my daughter’s graduation earlier this week. Of course the most important moment for me was when she walked across the stage to receive her hard-earned Philosophy degree, but an added bonus at this particular ceremony was the special guest at the ceremony. As you may know, it is the usual custom at university graduations to confer an honorary degree on someone who has achieved notable success in some field or other...")
- ("Apparently a similar incident took place within the past few weeks in the Kansas City area. A woman was stabbed at a convenience store and, as she lay on the floor bleeding, people stepped over her to continue their shopping; some even took pictures of her on their cell phones. Eventually someone called 911, but, as a result of the lengthy delay, she died from a loss of blood...")
- ("I know the story. After all, To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite movies. No matter how many times I watch this film, you can be assured that I will cry in the same scene! For some reason, I have never picked up the book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee to read until this weekend...")
- ["About 15 years ago, there was a terrible famine in Africa. One of those few (who wanted to do something) was a failed Irish rock star, who also happened to be an ex-alcoholic and drug user. His name is Bob Geldof...."]
- ("There is a story about the young 7-year old farm boy who accidentally overturned his wagonload of wheat on the road. The farmer who lived nearby came to investigate. 'Hey, Johnny,' he called out, 'forget your troubles for a while and come and have supper with us. Then I’ll help you overturn the wagon.' 'That’s very nice of you,' Johnny answered, 'but I don't think Grandpa would like me to...")
- ("Whatever the method, life and it’s people can round up on us and leave us half-dead along the road. Robbed of our self-worth, stripped of our inherent dignity. Disappointment can come as expected sources of help walk by. Good Samaritans do the little 'two denarii' things. A word of praise, a compliment, treating everyone respectfully..." - a good short reflection)
- ("On the road of life, not just Jerusalem to Jericho like our unfortunate traveller you meet three types of people: users, avoiders and lovers. Give some time today to trying to figure out which one you are...")
- ("Fred and Marlene Nichols stopped at a service station near Mobile, Alabama. Suddenly a truck without brakes hit the car and Marlene was terribly injured. Fred needed to go to the hospital with his wife. What about the car and all their belongings? Suddenly he heard a reassuring voice behind him....")
- "A woman was working in her garden when she was approached by another. The first woman greeted the newcomer, 'You’re new in town aren’t you?' 'Yes, we just moved into town. Tell me, what kind of neighbours do we have around here?' Without any pause the gardener asked, What kind of neighbours did you have in your last town?..."
- ("Kay was walking the streets of New York City one day with lunch in hand, when she passed a woman rummaging in the trash can on the corner. She paused and asked the woman, 'Would you like my lunch?' The woman said, 'No thank you, I've already eaten.'...")
- ("I watched a delightful movie last evening, Pay It Forward. It was a delightful retelling of the Good Samaritan story, full of complications and apparent setbacks. A young boy is the hero who brings the adult world to an idea which changes the world: If each person would repay a kind deed by helping three other people, in a sort of Amway-like distributed sales gimmick, the world could be transformed...")
- ("When I was in seminary, I was making the long trip home from Evanston, in rush hour traffic, when suddenly I heard that awful noise that told me my tire had gone flat. I was in the far left lane, angling to get through the I-Pass at the upcoming tollbooth, so I pulled over to that side of the road. Sure enough, my tire was a goner...")
- ("In Ivan Tolstoy’s brief novel, The Death of Ivan Ilych, we see how very easily someone who is dying can become more and more isolated from the people around him as death draws near. Ivan Ilych’s wife refuses to face the fact that he is dying, so she maintains an air of false cheerfulness, saying that he would get well if he would just take his medicine at the appointed time...")
- ("Wali Dad was an old man, who had no family and lived by himself in a little hut in the forest. He earned his living by cutting grass for fodder. Each day he earned twopence halfpenny for his labours – not a lot. But actually his life was so simple that he only needed twopence to live on...")
- ("Dick Thornburgh is a former governor of Pennsylvania and former Attorney General of the United States. But long before he appeared on the national political scene, his wife was killed in a car accident that also caused significant brain damage to his young son Peter..." and another illustration)
- ("The psychologist Kinch in 1967 described an amusing experiment conducted by a group of five male graduate students. They chose as their subject, or shall we say 'victim', a very plain-looking girl who was a fellow graduate student. The boys' plan was to begin in concert to respond to the girl as if she were the best-looking girl on campus...")
- ("The other night, CBS documented the historic landing on the moon with a special entitled, . The title described the mingling of two worlds. While we witnessed our dramatic first flight to the moon, we also heard Charles Kuralt narrate old clips of what Americans were doing back on earth on July 20, 1969...")