Mark 1: 9-15

Illustrated New Resources

  • “Game On” (or in Other Words Repent)

    by Jim Chern
    Twice in the last decade, our Newman Catholic Center at Montclair State University has been fortunate to have a Vatican-trained exorcist, Father Vincent Lampert with us to share his experiences in a public lecture. It was fascinating to see how huge the interest in this topic was… both times we hosted it, by far it was the largest attended event we had ever sponsored. People were riveted and understandably freaked out with stories of heads spinning, bodies levitating, peoples speaking in unknown ancient languages or with a completely different voice, bodies crawling up a wall like a spider. They were even more impressed by Father Lampert’s faith – and how calm and confident he was in sharing his experiences. He was in no way glamorizing the evil things he had encountered and confronted in his role as an exorcist. No matter how bizarre or dramatic the story, Father Vince was unimpressed by these tricks of the devil and saying Jesus was and is far more powerful… that faith in Him was always victorious…and that was the thing that was and is most impressive that he wanted us to leave those nights remembering...
  • Who Are You, Really?

    by Jason Fisher
    The reading from Mark today is a very condensed version of many of the stories we know about Jesus. What, in other gospels, takes six or seven paragraphs, Mark covers in seven verses. Yet packed within this short reading is the crucial pattern of what happens to all of us throughout our faith walk with Jesus. Jesus is called away from home, baptized and tempted. Then he spends his life sharing the Good News of God. The ELCA talks about this pattern by saying we are Called, Gathered, Enlightened and Sent Out. Another way to think of this pattern is language from Henri Nouwen’s book Life of The Beloved. Nouwen says we are Taken (Chosen by God), Blessed (Called Beloved by God in Baptism), Broken (Tempted), and Given (Sharing the Good News of God with the world). Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. We see this cycle in this short text and God invites us into it over and over again throughout our lives...
  • Sermon Starters (Lent 1B)(2021)

    by Scott Hoezee
    It may seem a trite example but years ago on the TV series M*A*S*H the unit’s priest, Fr. Mulcahy, tried to talk with a wounded soldier who had been severely traumatized by what he witnessed on the front lines of the war. But when this soldier discovers that the good Father had never been anywhere close to where the fighting of the war was taking place, he concludes they just cannot talk. The soldier had no interest in hearing the pious platitudes of one who had no idea what he was talking about. Later in the episode, after Mulcahy does come under enemy fire and is forced to perform an emergency medical procedure on a soldier even as shells are exploding all around him, the soldier welcomes the Father after all. Now they have a common frame of reference, now they can talk. Now Mulcahy gets it...
  • Lent 1B (2021)

    by Ryan Mills
    There’s a wonderful museum down in Philadelphia, of sculptures by the artist Rodin, where Kathleen and I had one of our first dates. And two of my favorite sit there side by side: the Hand of God, and the Hand of the devil. Rodin only sculpted right hands, except for his sculpture of the devil–sorry all you lefties! The devil’s hand is lean, and attractive, but also almost bony, it lays out straight and flat, and in its fingers is just the torso of a woman, a woman who seems to be dissolving down into chaos and nothing. Temptation is nothing: powerful only like a black hole, and it dissolves faith, dissolves our trust in God, dissolves the goodness of life, dissolves our love and care for our neighbors, brings us down to doubt and chaos and destruction. But next to it is God’s hand: rough, strong, bursting up high from out of solid rock. And cradled in his hand, being formed, being found, being kept, is a man and a woman nestled together, cradled, provided for, rescued from chaos and given trust, togetherness, and a good future. That’s you, that’s us, that’s the church, cradled together in God’s strong hands...
  • Chaos and Grace

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    In her biography, The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day shares how, shortly after her conversion to Catholicism, she went through a painful, desert time. She had just given birth to her daughter and her decision to have the child baptized, coupled with her profession of faith, meant the end of her relationship with a man she deeply loved. She suddenly found herself alone. All her old supports had been cut off and she was left with no money, no job, few friends, no practical dream, and no companionship from the person she loved the most deeply in this world. For a while she just stumbled on, trusting that things would soon get better. They didn’t. She remained in this desert. One day, not knowing what else to do, she took a train from New York to Washington to spend a day praying at the National Shrine of Our Lady. Her prayer there was wrenching, naked. She describes how she laid bare her helplessness, spilling out her confusion, her doubts, her fears, and her temptations to bitterness and despair. In essence, she said to God: “I have given up everything that ever supported me, in trust, to you. I have nothing left to hold on to. You need to do something for me, soon. I can’t keep this up much longer!” She was, biblically speaking, in the desert—alone, without support, helpless before a chaos that threatened to overwhelm her—and, as was the case with Jesus, both in the desert and in Gethsemane, God “sent angels to minister to her.” God steadied her in the chaos. She caught a train back to New York and, that very night, as walked up to her apartment she saw a man sitting there. His name was Peter Maurin and the rest is history...Martin Luther King shares a similar story.

Other New Resources

Recommended Resources

{Based on requests from several members (although I am reluctant to do so since my favorites may not be those of others), I am listing here some of my own favorite resources. FWIW!!]
  • Repentance and Sin

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • Repentance

    Resources from the Archives
  • The Beloved, Tested Son

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis!)
  • Jesus Tempted In the Desert

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("The poet, Robert Herrick, strikes the right note for Lent: Is this a fast--to keep the larder lean? And clean from fat of veal and sheep? Is it to quit the dish of flesh, yet still to fill the platter high with fish?..." and other illustrations)
  • Repentance

    by Sil Galvan
    When Matthew was seven years old and in the second grade, he became fascinated with comic books--so much so, that one day he stole some from the library. When Walter found the comic books in Matthew's room, he confronted him, corrected him, disciplined him, and took him back to the library to return the books. Matthew received a stern lecture regarding stealing from the librarian and also from his dad. The following summer, however, it happened again. Matthew stole some comic books from a resort gift shop. Again Walter corrected him, told him how wrong it was to steal and made him return the magazines. A year later, Matthew once again stole some comic books from a drug store. Walter decided he had to do something to get his son's attention and to underscore the seriousness of stealing. So he took Matthew into his study and said, "Matthew, I have never spanked you before, and I don't want to now, but somehow I've got to get through to you and help you see how wrong it is to steal." So Walter bent Matthew over and spanked him five times with his bare hand.
  • Lent 1B

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • "These Are a Few of My Lenten Things"

    by Nikki MacDonald
    ("I recently wrote the following ditty, based on the tune My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music. It goes like this: Sackcloth and ashes and psalms penitential, Bowing and scraping, looking reverential. Ashes on foreheads, repenting of sins - These are a few of our Lenten things...")
  • Exegetical Notes (Mark 1:.9-15)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Lent 1B)

    by Various Authors
    ("The local sheriff was looking for a deputy, and one of the applicants - who was not known to be the brightest academically, was called in for an interview. 'Okay,' began the sheriff, 'What is 1 and 1?' 'Eleven,' came the reply. The sheriff thought to himself, 'That's not what I meant, but he's right.'...")

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

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  • Out There

    by Luke Bouman
    I am currently in the cast of a production of a stage version of the Disney Musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” It uses some of the music from the classic Disney movie, but follows the darker story line of the 19th Century Victor Hugo novel. In the story, the Hunchback, Quasimodo, muses on stage as he sings about what it must be like “out there” beyond the walls of the famed French cathedral, from which he has never ventured. He decides to go out after seeing the festival unfolding below the parapets, only to discover that the dangers of life, about which his master Frollo had warned him, were all too real. He is ridiculed and beaten by the crowd. In the story, Frollo also faces danger beyond the walls of his sanctuary, only in his case they come in the form of temptation from within his own person, though he blames it on the gypsy, Esmerelda that he encounters “out there.” One is left to wonder, is the risk of the danger in the world "out there" worth the adventure that might be had?...
  • Repent and Believe in the Gospel

    by Jim Chern
    This fifth grade teacher after witnessing the horrors of Columbine in 1999 where 13 were killed and 24 others were wounded by two young men wielding guns and knives in their high school - she decided that every week, -every Friday afternoon - she would ask her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit with the following week and nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen for that week. As she goes through these private ballots handed out to her, she’s not really interested in making a new seating chart or declaring a “student of the week” winner. Instead, she asks herself: Who is not getting requested by anyone else? Who can’t think of anyone to request? Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated? Who had a million friends last week and none this week? She explained that her purpose was to look for lonely children; look for children who are struggling to connect with other children. To identify the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social circle. To discover whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying...
  • Forty Days in Our Wilderness

    by Delmer Chilton
    A few years ago, Damian Rossitis told this story in the Readers’ Digest. He had just gathered his bags at the luggage carousel in the San Diego airport. He was standing with a large group of Marine recruits waiting for a military bus to take them to boot camp. They all still had their hair and were dressed in civilian clothes. As the drill instructor began to put them in lines and bark out an order to stand at attention, Damian heard a young man behind him muttering, “I think I’ve made a big mistake. I think I’ve made a big mistake.” Damian felt sorry for him and tried to calm him down. Keeping eyes front, he whispered out of the side of his mouth, “Stay positive. It’s only 12 weeks and it will be worth it when we graduate and become Marines. The man behind him gave a huge sigh of relief and started laughing, “Thanks for clearing that up. I thought this was the line for the shuttle bus to Enterprise Rent-A-Car.”...
  • The Rainbow Path of Covenant

    by Jim Eaton
    The wilderness comes in many ways, in many places. There is the wilderness of a doctor’s office and a frightening diagnosis; there is the wilderness of grief, there is the wilderness of depression. The wilderness is not geography, it is theology. The wilderness is where we feel abandoned, lost, wandering, in danger. There are so many more wildernesses. The wilderness is where we are alone and overwhelmed. How can we deal with the wilderness? How can we live in the wilderness?...
  • His Presence in the Darkest Times

    by Vince Gerhardy
    C.S. Lewis wrote a little book after his wife’s death exposing the raw edges of grief and asking, “Where is God?” He goes on to say that it’s easy to find God when we’re happy; we readily turn to him with praise and gratitude when we feel welcomed into his open arms. He goes on, “But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After the silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become” (A Grief Observed). Remember this man is looking for God through the bitter tears of grief, and he can’t see God’s closeness. Lewis is not alone in these kinds of situations...
  • Taking the First Steps

    by Joe Mitchell
    “You’ve taken your first steps into a much larger world!” -Obi Wan Kenobi These are the words spoken by the wise old Jedi Obi Wan Kenobi to a young Luke Skywalker after the latter’s first Jedi training session in Star Wars (or, as time has forced us to call it, Episode IV or A New Hope). Luke, stretching out with his feelings and trusting his instincts, has just successfully used his lightsaber to ward off several shots from a droid while unable to see a thing. Obi Wan congratulates him. This is a huge moment for Luke, one that merits some sort of celebration. Yet there is no time for celebrating Luke’s accomplishment in this first Jedi training, instead he and Obi Wan must rescue Princess Leia, and later Luke must continue his training on his own after his mentor is defeated by Darth Vader (SPOILER ALERT!) This moment, though, is where it begins. These are Luke’s first steps...
  • Why in the Wilderness?

    by Steve Pankey
    On Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after the Parkland shooting, I was in the car early, listening to Golic and Wingo on ESPN Radio as they interviewed Stugotz, a sports radio personality who lives within walking distance of Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. They asked him what the feeling was in the community. His answer reminded me that because of Jesus’ time in the wilderness, God is able to understand what these families are feeling. It also reminded me that as the body of Christ, we are invited to stand there as well, to bring the love of God to those who are lost, wandering in the wilderness. “Some of the acts of kindness I saw yesterday,” he said, “you know… it takes something like this to get us to act like that…
  • A Costly Invitation

    by James Pitts
    In his essay on “Costly Grace,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer states: “grace is costly because it calls us to follow, it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son; “you were bought at a price”, and what has cost God must not be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us...
  • The Beginning

    by David Russell
    In the old Wild West, a stranger arriving in town went to the saloon, which he immediately noticed was full of the toughest and meanest looking cowboys he’d ever seen. Tough and fearless himself, he strode in among them, hoisted himself up onto a barstool, and ordered a drink. He had hardly had time to take his first sip, however, when a man burst through the saloon doors, obviously in a panic. “Big Red is coming to town!!” he yelled. “Big Red is coming to town!!” On hearing this, the hard-bitten cowboys in the saloon were instantly terrified and ran screaming out the door. The stranger thought that was odd, but being genuinely fearless, he remained to finish his drink. About that time, he heard the saloon door swing open again, and turned to see a huge man, 7 feet tall, massively muscled, with long fiery red hair -- on his head, on his face, on his chest, on his arms -- and the meanest most evil face and eyes he had ever seen. And the stranger, who had never known fear, suddenly was very afraid. The floor of the saloon shook as this massive incarnation of evil walked up to the bar ordered a drink and threw it down his throat. Still shaking with fear, the formerly fearless stranger could think of only one thing: get on the good side of this monster. So he said to him, “Please allow me to buy you another drink.” “Another drink??!!” the fellow said. “I ain’t got time for another drink. Ain’t you heard? -- Big Red’s coming to town!!!” “After me comes one who is greater,” said John the Baptist...
  • Jump Starting Lent

    by David Sellery
    My father-in-law recently joked that he suffered from “Irish Alzheimer’s”… He said he forgets everything but grudges. Unfortunately, this is a condition not limited to the Celts. How many slights are still fresh in our minds? How many wounds do we carry around with us waiting for payback time? What a burden. What a waste. Hate harms the hated, but it destroys the hater. Failure to forgive makes us slaves to the past and blind to the future. To jump start Lent… to repent… we must clean out our spiritual attics and basements. We must dump the spiteful junk that has been piling up… reminding us of past slights and festering humiliations. We must let in the fresh air and the sunlight of grace. We must forgive. Then see what a difference it makes… to be refreshed and renewed… to confidently await the coming of the risen Christ...
  • He Was with the Wild Beasts

    by Gordon Stewart
    A young woman sits in the Atlanta airport. She is returning home from a year of study abroad. All flights have been delayed because of a storm. She is anxiously awaiting the final leg of her journey home. But home as she had known it no longer exits. Her mother and father have separated. Her father has entered treatment for alcoholism. She has entered a wilderness not of her own choosing. The beasts are tearing her apart. Her ordered universe has fallen apart. She goes to the smoking lounge to catch a smoke. A stranger, her father's age, sits down. He jolts her out of her fog. "Do you have the time?" he asks. As strangers are sometimes wont to do, they begin to talk...
  • Into the Wild

    by Debie Thomas
    Nadia Bolz Weber suggests that temptation (Jesus’ and ours) is always about identity — about who we are and whose we are: “Identity. It’s always God’s first move. Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own. But almost immediately, other things try to tell us who we are and to whom we belong: capitalism, the weight-loss industrial complex, our parents, kids at school — they all have a go at telling us who we are. But only God can do that. Everything else is temptation.”...
  • Facing Yourself in a Faceless World

    by Todd Weir
    As she made the long journey from New York to South Africa, to visit family during the holidays in 2013, Justine Sacco, 30 years old and the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, began tweeting acerbic little jokes about the indignities of travel. There was one about a fellow passenger on the flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport:  ‘Weird German Dude: You’re in First Class. It’s 2014. Get some deodorant.’ — Inner monologue as I inhale BO. Thank God for pharmaceuticals.” And then: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” No one replied, which didn’t surprise her. She had only 170 Twitter followers. She turned off her phone for her London to Johannesburg flight. Here’s what happened when she turned her phone back and a text popped up on her phone: “You need to call me immediately.” It was from her best friend, Hannah. Then her phone exploded with more texts and alerts. And then it rang. It was Hannah. “You’re the No. 1 worldwide trend on Twitter right now,” she said...

Illustrated Resources from 2015 to 2017

  • Angels in the Wilderness

    by Talitha Arnold
    ("My friend Bill tells this story. The youngest of three children, he was in the sixth grade in 1964 when his father began to manifest signs of what turned out to be a severe mental illness. The day before Bill's fourteenth birthday, his father was committed to the State Hospital. Given the stigma that surrounded mental illness, neither his mother nor his grandparents wanted anyone to know what had happened. The family story was simply that his father was away on business...")
  • Lent 1B (2015)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "My wife and I have been married for over forty years, and we met while we were still in high school. When you've been together that long, you have a lot of shared memories. Well, actually not so much. What you have is a lot of shared experience which you almost inevitably remember differently. It's a good thing then that we can be sure that God's memory is better than ours; clearer, more precise, and, most importantly, more to be trusted..."
  • To See Death Daily

    by Dan Clendenin
    ("The novel The Corpse Washer by the Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon tells the story of Jawad Kazim. Jawad is a fourth generation corpse washer and shrouder from a poor Shi'ite family in Baghdad. He tenderly washes and wraps the corpses of the abandoned, the unidentified, and the unclaimed, bodies that are mutilated, decapitated, and burned, plucked from garbage dumps and fished out of the river. Jawad is irreligious, but his vocation forces him to explore questions about life and death...")
  • A New and Renewed World

    by Tom Cox
    ["many of us have had to begin again. Neighbours who have lost jobs and homes. Family members who have had to travel abroad seeking work and new life. Loved ones who have survived addiction and learned how to carve out a new life. Vulnerable adults and children who suffered at the hands of those who should have cared for them. The list goes on and on, like the Passion of Christ till the end of the world..."]
  • More Than Enough in Wilderness Times

    by Janet Hunt
    ("On my day off this week I installed a new toilet paper holder. So it was that I went out and bought a new toilet paper holder, brought it home, and took it out of its package. Now I did notice there was a template provided in the instructions, but I thought that was a bit superfluous as all I needed to do was hold the mounting bracket against the wall and mark where the holes needed to be. Well, in spite of my careful measuring, it turns out that I put those brackets too close together...")
  • Visions from the Catacombs

    by Terry Kyllo
    ("I went to see the movie Selma with Sheryl a few weeks ago. One of the things that struck me about how Dr. King was portrayed in the movie was the many ways he was tempted. I am not speaking about the temptations regarding the multiple affairs that Dr. King was involved in, although the movie handled that honestly, and with appropriate pain...")
  • Survival Gear

    by Rick Miles
    My sister Barbara was one of 30 women chosen by the Cycling Federation and the American Olympic Committee to train to compete in the Olympics. Ranked in the top five of women nationally, Bell Laboratories approached her one day with a revolutionary helmet design for her to test for them. It was a hard-shell helmet; the very first successful one of its type. One day, as she was overtaking her competitors in the final dash to the finish line, another cyclist went down in Barbara’s direct path. The crash was unavoidable, and the consequence was the worst possible. As Olympic and Cycling Federation officials looked on, Barbara was thrown from her bike. The spectators at the finish line gasped in horror as she came down directly on the top of her head, not just once, but twice, bouncing and skidding on the top of her helmet until she at last lay sprawled and motionless on the course...
  • Into the Wilderness

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    British artist Stanley Spencer sought to give some form to the forty days that Mark passed by in the blink of an eye. In the 1930s and 1940s Spencer set himself the project of creating forty paintings, one for each day Christ was in the wilderness. The series, called "Christ in the Wilderness", never came to full completion. Eighteen drawings were made and eight paintings completed. Each of the designs explores the solitary figure of Christ interacting with various elements of the wilderness - a hen, a scorpion, lilies, eagles. The painting titled "Driven by the spirit into the wilderness" was inspired by Mark 1:12.
  • The Grammar of Lent

    by Larry Patten
    ("What did Jesus see in that split, splitting second of heaven's revealing? I believe it was love, and while Mark's account used words, I fancy Jesus more sensing in his soul than hearing with his ears that the Holy desired the deepest relationship with him. On the Jordan flowed, and maybe John the Bapitzer had a bewildered look, and the wings of a dove literally or figuratively fluttered, and every moment and molecule in the world changed and Jesus felt...Dearly loved...")
  • Beauty and the Beast

    from Presentation Ministries
    ("Mark's Gospel was written around 70 A.D., and is believed to have been written in Rome. At that time in Rome, it was not uncommon for Christians to be thrown into an arena with hungry wild beasts, such as lions and tigers, to be martyred by being devoured by them. Can you imagine how the early Christians of Rome must have been encouraged to hear that Jesus dwelt in safety among the wild beasts?...")
  • Home in the Wilderness At Last

    by Andrew Prior
    (includes several quotes)
  • The Desert: A Place of Preparation

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("Later, as the scriptures developed, the concept of desert was de-literalized. It was taken to mean more a place in the heart than a place on a map and was understood to be a mystical thing: Before you are ready to fully and gratefully receive life, you have to first be readied by facing your own demons and this means going 'into the desert', namely, entering that place where you are most frightened, lonely, and threatened. "Every tear brings the messiah closer!" This was a refrain in Jewish apocalyptic literature...")
  • The Starting Line

    by David Russell
    William Willimon told about leading a Sunday School class, and one Sunday morning the topic was temptation. The class was asked if they had any personal examples of temptations they faced, and a young salesman was the first to speak. 'Temptation is when your boss calls you in, as mine did yesterday, and says, "I'm going to give you a real opportunity. I'm going to give you a bigger sales territory. We believe that you are going places, young man.'"...
  • Jesus and Siddhartha: The Temptation to Give Up

    by Bob Stuhlmann
    ("I'd frequently retreat for a day into the mountains. There the tempter would sometimes come with me. The typical approach of the tempter was to list my various failings. The list was sometimes extensive and at least partly true. However, the major one was the attack on my sense of call: To be of some use to the holy and the world. The temptation was to give up because one could not, with one's limitations, be of any earthly use....")
  • Show Me Your Baptismal Certificate

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["'What's in your wallet?' That is the take-away line for a credit card company that wants their card to be front and center in your wallet. Forget the advertising pitch. It's a good philosophical question. 'What IS in your wallet' is a reflection of who you are, where you are, and where you are headed in your journey of life..."]
  • The Middle

    by Peter Thompson
    ("The great American preacher Phillips Brooks once preached a sermon called 'The Egyptians Dead Upon the Seashore', in which he noted that the Israelites had been oppressed by the Egyptians for many years before they were finally able to overcome their enemies and escape from captivity. He used the example of the Israelites to show how even the most long-standing enemies can be defeated and how even seemingly interminable periods of suffering can come to an end. 'When we are in the thick of an experience,' he explained, 'we find it hard to believe or to imagine that the time will ever come, when that experience shall be wholly a thing of the past...")
  • Three Days in the Wilderness

    by John Wertz
    ("On a Wednesday morning in late January, Julie Abrahamsen, a 20 year old Norwegian native, set out for a day of snowboarding in mountains of British Columbia. Intent upon exploring some of the wilderness areas around her resort, Ms. Abrahamsen decided to leave the marked trails and ski out of bounds. Initially, Ms. Abrahamsen connected with a group of backpackers, but she quickly became separated from that group and found herself lost and alone in the wilderness...")
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Repentance

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Temptation

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Lent 1B (2015)

    by Samuel Zumwalt
    ("Tom Wright says, "If we start the journey imagining that our God is a bully, an angry threatening parent read to yell at us, slam the door on us, or kick us out into the street because we haven't quite made the grade, we will fail at the first whimper of temptation. But if we remember the voice that spoke those powerful words of love [you are my beloved Son] we will find the way through. The angels were there [in the wilderness], too...")

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2014

  • Meditation on Mortality

    by Daniel Clendenin
    (includes several quotes)
  • Preparation

    Poetic Sermon by Michael Coffey
  • God on the Loose

    by Kathy Donley
    God is on the loose. The Spirit is blowing in our time. We are not safe. We might be hurled into the wilderness, danced to the edge of what we know and trust. And if we are, let us ride the wind and join the dance, knowing that in the beginning, this same wind swept over the dark and the deep, bringing light to the darkness, bringing order out of chaos, and God said that it was very, very good.
  • John the Baptist

    Narrative Sermon by Sarah Foulger
    ("I have been called a prophet. If a prophet is one who speaks the truth regardless of the cost, I suppose that is what I am. The truth I am called to speak, however, is as narrow as a single strong reed. I was given but one message to offer the people. Repent. Repent!...")
  • Where to Begin

    by Christopher Henry
    ("Several years ago, I was attending a Sunday afternoon book club in a small town in North Carolina. That day we found ourselves sharing personal stories of faith formation. One by one, members of the group described how we had been raised by loving and faithful parents. Each story sounded something like that, until there was only one person left to speak. As tears formed in her eyes, she said, 'I am a Christian because the Christian church saved my life.'...")
  • Lent 1B (2015)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("When I was growing up, my parents had an old pump organ that my father had refurbished. When a certain stop was pulled out, the organ's keyboard would automatically play bass clef chords to correspond with and harmonize with notes you played in the treble clef. I used to like playing that organ...")
  • Lent 1B (2012)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("According to Tom Long there was an occasion a few years ago when a biblical scholar was explaining Mark 1 to a group of teenagers. This scholar told the teens that when Jesus was baptized, the skies did not just open up, as some older translations said, but in the original Greek of Mark 1:10 we are told the skies ripped open, split in an almost violent way...")
  • If Emily Had a Pulpit

    by Terrance Klein
    ("if Emily Dickinson had a pulpit, she could remind us that, even if we can’t find time to think of death, it will nonetheless remember us. 'Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility...")
  • Beloved Children

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("It's like that moment in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when the Beaver makes a mysterious announcement to the children. 'Aslan is on the move' he says,'perhaps he has already landed.'...")
  • Let's Go Fishing

    by David Leininger
    ("This man was not well educated and his manner was somewhat rough and crude, but he became a Christian and took his commitment seriously. He kept pestering his pastor to put him to work. Finally, the minister handed him a list of ten names with this explanation: 'These are all members of the church, but they seldom attend. Some of them are prominent people in the community. Contact them about being more faithful...")
  • Walking in the Wilderness

    by Sharron Lucas
    ("Chris McCandless walked into the wilderness near Alaska's Denali National Park to live off the land for a few months. He would not return; his journey ended in death. McCandless left a journal which author Jon Krakauer would use as the springboard to write the book Into the Wild, which in turn was made into a film by Sean Penn, receiving two Academy Award nominations...")
  • Face It!

    by Rick Miles
    In C. S. Lewis' book, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, the wicked queen entices the boy, Edmund, with a box of enchanted Turkish Delight. Each piece is sweet and delicious, and Edmund has never tasted anything better. There is only one problem. The more he eats of this enchanted Turkish Delight, the more he wants. He doesn't know that this is the wicked queen's plan. The more he eats, the more he will want, and thus he will eat and eat until it kills him. It would never satisfy his hunger; it would never fill him would simply kill him. Lewis is giving us a metaphor for sin. This is how sin is...
  • Lent 1B (2012)

    by Robert Morrison
    ("The famous Bilbo Baggins said, 'It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.' So we have to be on the lookout whenever we set out to follow Jesus – not only for ourselves, but perhaps more for others. We have to be the rainbow signs of love and of hope to a world in which there seems to be so much disconnectedness and worry..." and other quotes and an illustration)
  • See Jane Run

    by Larry Patten
    ("Jane was adventurous and stubborn. She'd directed several non-profit agencies. You should also know she was around 60 when she arrived at Lake of the Lone Indian. Further, she was a cancer survivor. And . . . she'd been my boss because she'd chaired the church's Staff-Parish...")
  • And the Angels Waited

    by Jan Richardson
    ("After the desert stillness. After the wrestling. After the hours and days and weeks of emptying. After the hungering and the thirsting. After the opening and seeing and knowing. Let this blessing be the first sweetness that touches your lips the bread that falls into your arms the cup that welcoming hands press into yours.....")
  • A River Runs Through Him

    by Jan Richardson
    ("Hagar cast into the wilderness with her young son. Jacob on the run from his brother; Moses and Miriam and Aaron and all the children of Israel wandering but delivered from their bondage. Elijah fleeing for his life from queen Jezebel. Jesus was in good company...")
  • Overcoming Your Circumstances

    by Henry Roberts
    ("Years ago when I was in college I drove to a community just south of Monroeville, Alabama, to preach every other weekend at the Bermuda Methodist Church. I had a friend who now lives in Monroeville who recently told me an amazing story: He and his sister grew up in a shack of a house in Bermuda, Alabama. His father was a two-mule farmer, his mother a part-time beautician...")
  • Are You Doing Time On The Bench?

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["The 'wilderness' is biblical shorthand for the outskirts of acceptance. The edge of acceptability. The place where those who have no place are banished. You know the place. We've all spent time wandering in that wilderness..."]
  • Embracing the Wilderness

    by Carol Wagner
    ("I'd like to read you an excerpt from a book called Gentle Darkness. 'Those of us who live in the city have nearly forgotten how to appreciate the dark. With the coming of artificial light last century, first by gas and then by electricity, life was radically transformed.'...)
  • Lent 1B (2009)

    by Martin Warner
    ("Something of this anticipatory quality of now-but-not-yet is captured by the artist Stanley Spencer in his series of paintings entitled Christ in the Wilderness. Spencer originally intended to produce 40 paintings, but he never completed the whole series. The scenes he did paint relocate moments from the teaching ministry of Jesus back into the desert...")
  • Do What God Requires of Us

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Michael was both excited and scared all at the same time. Tonight was his big night, for tonight he would stand up in church to be enrolled in the Christian faith. Michael wondered what would happen, and how he would feel. His Sunday school teacher had warned him that he might not feel any different, but deep down inside Michael was sure his life would utterly change...")

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from the Archives

  • The Religious Experience of Jesus

    by John Ashton
    ("The topic I have chosen for this lecture is one that would without question have held the deepest interest for William James. In speaking and writing about religion he was particularly concerned, as he said himself, with 'the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude'...")
  • Wilderness Spirituality

    by Gayle Bach-Watson
    ("Leonard Sweet tells of a Native American tribe which had a unique practice for training young braves. On the night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, he was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then he had never been away from the security of his family and tribe...")
  • Lent with C. S. Lewis

    by Phil Bloom
    ("C. S. Lewis has a reflection for the First Sunday of Lent which helps us understand the meaning of temptation: 'What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could be like gods - could set up on their own as if they had created themselves...")
  • Sir, Go on the Other Side

    by Phil Bloom
    ("On this First Sunday of Lent, I want to tell you about the conversion of a scientist named Niels (Nicolaus) Stensen. You may not have heard about him, but after I tell you his story I think you will agree that he deserves to be better known...")
  • Lent 1B (2006)

    by Luke Bouman
    "Author and poet, Madeline L’Engle puts it this way: 'To learn to love is to be stripped of all love until you are wholly without love because until you have gone naked and afraid into this cold dark place where all love is taken from you you will not know that you are wholly within love.'...""
  • A Fool for Your Love: St Francis and Discipleship

    by Mark Brett
    Dr. Jane Goodall, famous for her work amongst chimpanzees in Tanzania, tells the story of something that happened about ten years ago at an American zoo. The story is about a chimpanzee named Joe-Joe who was born in Africa and arrived as a two-year-old to live for eight or nine years in a small square cage. Then the zoo raised enough money to build a huge enclosure to hold more chimpanzees, and it was surrounded by water, which was an effective boundary since chimps don’t swim. One day, Joe-Joe, was challenged by one of the new young males. The older chimp knew nothing about fighting, and he was so frightened that he jumped into the water. He came up three times, gasping for air, and then disappeared...
  • The Apple of My Eye

    by Rosemary Brown
    ("I can still hear my father saying to each one of his three children: 'You are the apple of my eye, my pride and joy'. We were all marked by our parent's love. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible explains that the 'apple of the eye' is an English idiom denoting the pupil of the eye and therefore a precious thing...")
  • Preaching Helps (Lent 1B)(2006)

    from Center for Excellence in Preaching
  • With the Wild Beasts

    by Dan Chambers
    ("When we find ourselves in the wilderness, our energy is low and we become more exposed and vulnerable to the beasts. Of course, the wild beasts are not outside us, but within us. We know them as greed, envy, lust, apathy, anxiety, fear. Their power over us in the decisions we make can be terrifying...")
  • Repentance and Hopefulness

    by John Claypool
    ("I do believe that our greatest human temptation is the temptation to despair. This was brought home to me very powerfully a few years ago. I was going through a busy airport in a large southern city and I bumped into a lady who had been a friend of mine decades before...")
  • Hearing and Heeding

    by Tom Cox
    ("The modern pilgrim to Jericho will find the aptly named 'Temptations Restaurant'. The title comes from the view of the ancient ruins of Jericho. Mount Temptation is ahead of you. To one side the lush green of modern Jericho surrounded by orange, date, banana and almond crops...")
  • The Desert Experience

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("A mother camel and her baby are talking one day and the baby camel asks, 'Mom why have we got these huge three-toed feet?' The mother replies, 'To enable us trek across the soft sand of the desert without sinking.' 'And why have we got these long, heavy eyelashes?'...")
  • The Rainbow and The Cross

    by Richard Fairchild
    There is a story told about a man called Sam. Sam wasn't make much headway with his diet. He was one of those folks who could resist everything but temptation. One day he came into the office with a whole box of freshly baked Danish...
  • The Spirit Drove Jesus Into The Wilderness

    by Richard Fairchild
    There is a true story told by Stephen Covey about a man who experiences a time in his life when everything seemed flat, boring, dull. He went to this physician who found nothing wrong with him physically. The doctor then suggested that he take a day for some spiritual renewal...
  • Face to Face With the Tempter

    by Art Ferry, Jr.
    ("Russian novelist Feature Dostoyevsky made the Temptation scene a centerpiece in his master work The Brother Karamazov. Ivan Karamazov calls the Temptation the most stupendous miracle on earth: the miracle of restraint. If he had yielded to the Temptation, Jesus would have been a very popular figure, not just with Satan but with all Israel..." and other illustrations)
  • Lent 1B (2006)

    by Susan Gamelin
    ("what does this humble and amazing journey look like? I think that it looks like Russ' journey. Russ is my dad. He's 87 today, and he's living with lymphoma. Lymphoma has enlarged his tonsils and shown up on CT scans as spots that march from his throat down into his abdomen...")
  • Highs and Lows

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Have you ever watched the trees at the height of a severe storm? There are those that sway back and forth, bending under the force of wind. The wind howls through their branches shaking them so violently that you are sure that they will be ripped off at any moment...")
  • Standing Firm

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("A father wrote this and helps us understand more about temptation. 'When my oldest son was about three years old, I was outside doing some work in the garden one afternoon. I took Kevin outside to play while I trimmed the hedges. Holding his hand, I knelt down beside him so that we could look at each other face to face...")
  • Lent 1B (2003)

    by Robert Giannini
    ("Bishop Festo Kivengere from Uganda, who died a few years ago, was visiting in America, and some of us asked him to outline for us the main differences between the church in Africa and the church in America...")
  • Lent 1B (2003)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the women who were the leaders in a certain parish decided that their Lenten project should be something that would benefit the whole parish...")
  • Lent 1B (1997)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a husband and wife who grew up after Lenten fasting was abolished. They had never heard of such a thing till it was mentioned once in a study group at their parish...")
  • The Good Life

    by George Griffin
    ("Back in the early 1960's, Tony Bennett had a nice little hit on a song called THE GOOD LIFE: 'Oh the good life / Full of fun seems to be the ideal / Wow the good life / Makes you hide all the sadness you feel...")
  • Lent 1B (2003)

    by Roger Haugen
    ("It happened in a small, South American village. It happened on a Sunday morning, as the people gathered in the old church building in the middle of the village. They had come together to remember the old and familiar story and to respond in songs of worship and praise. Then, in the middle of their worship, the mood changed dramatically as the congregation began to sing a somber funeral hymn...")
  • A Brand New Thing

    by Mark Haverland
    ("It seems Forest Gump dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter greets him at the Gates to say that heaven has been getting a bit crowded of late and they have instituted an entrance exam to help with the over-crowding. 'Okay,' say Forest. 'Fire away.' 'Well, there are three questions. First, how many days in the week start with "t"? Second, now many seconds are there in a year? And third, what is God's first name?'...")
  • I Feel Your Pain

    by Mark Haverland
    ("Think of the heroine of the book and movie Bridges of Madison County, Francesca, who falls in love with a traveling photographer. Life as the companion to someone so romantic and adventurous would have been really exciting for her - far more exciting than life on an Iowa pig farm...")
  • Lent 1B (2000)

    from Homilies Alive
    ("I still remember a story I heard as a dhild. It was about the medieval times when kings ruled over sections of what is now France and Germany. To enteratain the court and the king, often the king would hire a clown; he was called the court jester, or the court fool...")
  • The Art of the Pilgrimage

    by William V. Johnson
    ("Martin Buber rediscovered the old story of a poor and pious old Rabbi who lived long ago in the city of Cracow, Poland. His name was Eisek, son of Jekel. One night Eisek was called by a dream. The dream told him to make the journey to Prague, many days arduous travel away...")
  • Where the Wild Things Are

    by James Kegel
    "Children have fears that we may not always be aware of. Monsters Inc, the Disney movie, is a wonderful story about the fear of monsters in the closet that children may have. But in the movie, the scary monsters turn out quite nice after all..."
  • Isadore Isaac Isin

    Narrative Sermon by Edward Markquart
    "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..."
  • Sugar Cookies, Ice Cream and Popcorn

    by Edward Markquart
    ("There was a reception at the church, and therefore, a reception table. On that reception table were several platefuls of cookies. My eyes glanced over all the cookies on the reception table and then focused on the plate of white, round, sugar cookies. I knew these cookies...")
  • The Life of the Beloved

    by Henri Nouwen
    ("I would like to tell you a little story about our community. There is one of my friends there who is quite handicapped but a wonderful, wonderful lady. She said to me, 'Henri, can you bless me?' I remember walking up to her and giving her a little cross on her forehead...")
  • Join Us to Your Tree of Life

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    ("Scott, Eldon, Lanny, and Pete live in the rural town of Elk Ridge. They are members of the 'Buttercream Gang'. We find out how they got their name from the local grocery store owner: many generations ago, most of the town's men-folk were off to war, and the widows in town were having trouble churning their butter. A gang of young boys were founded to help them. Yes, a gang whose charter was to help people...")
  • Lent 1B (2003)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("It is not very often that a man's life is changed in a single day. I have a friend called Chris. he tells me that between the ages of 16 and 22, He did absolutely nothing but play football, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and other drugs and chase girls, mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk...")
  • Forty Days is a Challenging Pattern

    by William Oldland
    ("Many years ago there was a television show about animals. I guess it was kind of a precursor to today's Crocodile Hunter. The show was called Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. The show was really quite fun and interesting. The show was filmed in many interesting places from Africa and Australia to the Florida Everglades...")
  • Jesus' Temptation in the Wilderness

    by William Oldland
    ("Years ago I heard a very old song about the Garden of Eden and temptation called Dem Bones. In the song there are several verses about the serpent and Eve near the Tree of Forbidden Fruit...")
  • Discoveries in the Desert

    by John Pavelko
    ("The small tent stood alongside the desert airstrip. It was the home and office to Navy Chaplain Alan Baker, assigned to serve the 4,500 Marines stationed at the air base during Desert Storm. On this particular morning, he sat in his tent wondering why God had sent him to the desert...")
  • Prepared for Anything

    by John Pavelko
    ("A violent earthquake shook Anchorage Alaska during the early morning hours on Good Friday in 1964. Homes were smashed, streets were torn apart and tidal waves ravaged the coast. When the earth stopped moving 117 people died and $750 million in property was destroyed..." and other illustrations)
  • Friendly Rattlesnakes?

    by Paul Rooney
    ("Many years ago, Indian braves would go away in solitude to test themselves, as a preparation for manhood. One young man hiked into a very beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers and beautiful sunshine. Then, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow...")
  • Cross Eyed: Focus

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("A business man driving home from work one day, saw a little league baseball game in progress. He decided to stop and watch. He sat down in the bleachers and asked a kid what the score was. 'We're behind 14 to nothing,' he answered with a smile...")
  • Cross Road: Tempted

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("A little girl was totally engrossed in drawing a picture, one Sunday after Church and Sunday School. Dad walked up behind to look at the picture, when the little girl said: 'There. All finished.' On one edge of the drawing, there was a group of people standing next to some water. A couple of the people were actually in the water..." and other illustrations)
  • The Power of a Nail

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("Have you ever stopped to consider the simple nail? I went to Home Depot and counted the different types and sizes of nails that they sell. Did you know there are 14 different sizes of just the common nail? And I found 28 different kinds of nails? There are horseshoe nails, upholstery nails, and concrete nails...")
  • WWF: Smackdown in the Wilderness

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("There's an old episode of the Dick Van Dyke show that I just love. The title of the episode was The Curious Thing About Women. In this episode, Rob's sense of humor backfires when he decides to base a television skit on Laura's curiosity and penchant for opening his mail..." and other illustrations)
  • First Things First

    by Alex Thomas
    ("John McCain, one of the presidential candidates in the USA, although critical of the religious right as being promoters of intolerance, spoke recently of his religious experience as a Prisoner of War . He had suffered many things from the Vietnamese..." and other illustrations)
  • Forty Days to a New Beginning

    by Alex Thomas
    ("I remember one time talking with children during a church service about the subject of moving from one place to another. I fully expected that the children would relate moving with some painful experiences like leaving friends behind, leaving the house that they had grown accustomed to, leaving what was familiar..." and other illustrations)
  • Living With More Power

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Charlotte Yonge tells the story of the Wives of Weinsberg. It happened in Germany, during the middle ages. The year was 14ll. Wolf, the Duke of Bavaria, sat trapped inside his castle at Weinsberg. Outside the walls was the army of Frederick, the Duke or Swabia, and also his brother...")
  • Remember Your Baptism

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time a pastor had just finished a service which included a baptism and was preparing to turn off the lights in the church when he noticed a woman sitting in the first pew. When he approached her, she said her name was Mildred Cory, and she commented on how lovely the baptism had been...")
  • Vocational Temptation

    by William Willimon
    ("Robert Coles spent the summer of 1960 in Mississippi interviewing folk, black and white, caught up in the troubles there. He interviewed a white supremacist named John, spending hours listening to this man who had planned crimes of hate. What made him do it?...")
  • To Tempt

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Many years ago a king had one beautiful daughter. She had many offers of marriage, but she couldn't make up her mind. A romantic girl, she wanted a man who would love her more than he loved anything else. Finally, she devised a way to test the love of her suitors...")

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