- While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, "It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!" They replied, "We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, 'He may come today.'"
- ("In the movie Mrs. Brown, Queen Victoria is sunk in a deep depression after the death of her husband Albert when her advisers come up with an idea. They send for her pony to be brought to Balmoral, accompanied by a handsome Scot named John Brown..." and other illustrations)
- ("Years ago there was a fire at the Sailors' Home a Liverpool, and when the crowd assembled at the cry of "Fire!" they were appalled to see some men in the upper stories, crying for help. The fire escape was not nearly long enough to reach them..." and another illustration)
- ("At one point in Antoine de Saint Exupery's classic tale The Little Prince, the young protagonist happens upon and befriends a fox. After the two agree to meet for a little while every day, the following conversation ensues..." and other illustrations)
- It's not too early to give some things away this Christmas. Not just on Christmas Day, but during all the days leading up to December 25. We could call these daily gifts 'our Christmas projects'. Maybe one per day from now 'til then. Here are a few suggestions..." and another humorous illustration
- It was in a church in Munich that I saw him - a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to a defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. â€œWhen we confess our sins,â€ I had said, â€œGod casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.â€ One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, the blue uniform and a visored cap with its swastika. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking past this man naked. The place was Ravensbruck and the man walking toward me had been a guard - one of the most cruel of them all. Now he was standing in front of me, hand thrust out: â€œA fine message, Fraulein. How good it is to know that, as you say, our sins are at the bottom of the sea. You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk; I was a guard there. But since that time, I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things that I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,â€ again the hand came out, â€œwill you forgive me?â€...
- Works well with the apocalyptic theme of the readings.
- ("While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them..." and several more)
- “‘From the very first note, music penetrates the soul and we no longer belong to this world.’“These words from the 110-year-old pianist Alice Herz-Sommer (introduce a) sensitively made documentary about musical life in Terezin, a garrison town in the Czech Republic which was turned into a transit concentration camp by the Nazis. Herz-Sommer describes most movingly how intense music-making … managed to thrive in this environment, bringing succour, consolation and even hope to those who realised that there was precious little prospect of their survival.”...
- This past week, late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel found himself in a Twitter debate with Judge Roy Moore. Moore said that "if Mr. Kimmel wanted "to mock our Christian values," he should go to Alabama to do it."
In what I can only say is a marvelous example of standing up for what he believe, Kimmel responded on national TV by saying, "It doesn't fit your stereotype, but I happen to be a Christian too. I made my first holy communion, I was confirmed, I pray, I support my church, one of my closest friends is a priest, I baptized my children. Christian is actually my middle name. I know that's shocking, but it's true. So if you're open to, when we sit down, I will share with you what I learned at my church. At my church, forcing yourself on underaged girls is a no-no. Some even consider it to be a sin."...
- One of the things I decided to do during my time away was not to tell the people I met that I was a preacher. All kinds of baggage and transference surfaces when you do that. I wanted an honest perspective. For example, one Sunday morning I didn't go to worship. Instead, I went to that great American institution, the "Waffle House"! I got to know our waitress. I found out she had two kids and was working two jobs to make ends meet. Some of the hardest working people in America are waitresses at the "Waffle House." She told me how long she had been working there and explained what "scattered, smothered, and covered" meant. Then she told me that around 11 a.m. on Sundays they start to get real busy because that is when the church crowd comes in. I thought, "Here is my chance!" I asked, "What are the church people like?" She replied, "Most of them are terrible tippers." I don't know if she goes to church, but her impression of a church crowd is that they are not very generous. So I filed that away - "Impression of church folk: lack generosity."...
Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit)(2014 to 2016)<span class="adminModeAdvanced" style="display: none;"> (#1,900)</span>
- ("the first gospel reading for the Season of Advent is not 'something new'. Instead it recalls a prediction from the old as recorded by the prophet Daniel. Daniel 7:13 evokes the vision of a 'son of man coming with the clouds of heaven'. It describes this heavenly figure as one who will 'gather his elect', a message that suggests that those not 'elected' are in fact 'rejected',..")
- ("The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But then one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened..." and other illustrations)
- ("Salmon do it. Hummingbirds do it. Butterflies do it. Turtles do it. All these creatures, and many more: they all . . . go home again. Salmon find their way from the vast ocean back to whatever tiny tributary in which they were hatched. Hummingbirds fly over 6000 miles to find their nesting sites. Butterflies congregate in the same trees,..")
- ("We've all done it; played the "what if" game. We worry about something we can't control and our imaginations take over and before we know it we're creating all kinds of dire outcomes...")
- ("One Internet Website available offers to calculate the date of your demise. Tapping in your date of birth will give you your own personalise computer countdown timer called 'death clock'...")
- ("Investment advisors talk about future proofing, as if the uncertainties of our world were something you could “insulate” yourself against. Yet, today's television and other media bring into our homes the disasters and violence and suffering of the whole world...")
- ("Passing by a school we attended in the past always brings back memories. The years fall away, the corridors of memory are prowled. There is a part of us forever a child. One common school experience was when a teacher left the room...")
- ("a woman was visiting a new church. She appreciated most of the service. But the sermon seemed to go on forever, and many people in the congregation fell asleep. After the service, she walked up to a very sleepy looking gentleman, extended her hand in greeting, and said, 'Hello, I'm Gladys Dunn.'...")
- "Elie Wiesel is a Jewish writer whose novels prod the depths of the Holocaust, asking difficult questions of humanity and of God. In Night, a child hangs from a S.S. gallows and the question goes up, 'Where is God?' Wiesel writes: 'And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is he? Here he is. . . he is hanging on this gallows.'..."
- ("Many years ago I was blessed to see Richard Harris as King Arthur in the musical Camelot. It is the story of fabled reign of King Arthur, his wife Guinevere, his trusted knight Lancelot, and the knights of the Round Table...")
- ("My husband, Philip, told me this week about something that happened in a physics lessons he was teaching recently at school. He was talking to one of his classes – 13 and 14 year olds – about the way that scientific ideas have changed over the centuries...")
- ("Charles Swindoll makes the point that suffering can be a means of growth, using the New England fishing industry as an example. He says, 'in the northeastern United States codfish are a big commercial business. Note the following facts: There is a market for eastern cod all over, especially in sections farthest removed from the northeast coastline...")
- ("It’s been a while since I’ve worn my bathrobe in church. It’s time again. I love my bathrobe…. It makes me feel all warm – there is no pretense in a bathrobe. You’re just you...")
- ("One day, an angel asked a woman if she wanted to see the difference between heaven and hell. In an instant, after she said yes, she was transported into hell. But, it wasn't what she was expecting. It was beautiful, with many mansions...")
- ("You can picture the scene. It's right out of a Hollywood. Think Charlton Heston or Ben Hur and you'll see the image congeals in your mind, an ancient city, shrouded in dust, silhouetted against a setting sun. Somewhere within its walls, a gnarled hand pushes against a wooden gate. The angle widens. An elderly servant lights a lamp and recedes into the shadows...")