Mark 4: 26-34

Illustrated New Resources

  • How to Grow God's Kingdom

    by Craig Condon
    Most of us have heard of the legend of Johnny Appleseed. That legend is based on fact. Johnny Appleseed’s real name was John Chapman. He worked in a greenhouse and worked with plants, trees and shrubs. He really loved apple trees and planted them all around his hometown in Massachusetts. He really wanted people to enjoy apples as much as he did, so he traveled all around the United States planting apple trees and giving away apple seeds until he died in 1845. God wants us to be just as passionate about planting seeds of faith as Johnny Appleseed was about planting apple seeds...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 6B)(2021)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Every day the “Congressional Record” is published and it is each and every day a very thick book detailing every word spoken on the floor of the House and Senate. Every week the Biden Administration issues a flurry of new policy initiatives, also totaling into the thousands of pages. The United Nations works hard to cobble together solutions and coalitions aimed at addressing what ails this world. Were you to bring together all the newspaper sections that record the daily activity on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nikkei Index, the Chicago Board of Trade, and all other financial markets in the world, you would have a stack of newsprint many inches thick. Such a huge output of words, such a thick volume of records detailing the policy efforts of governments: that is the kind of thing you expect when people seriously tackle this world’s challenges. Yet we Christians stand on the sidelines and what do we offer? The thin, sixteen-chapter little volume called the Gospel of Mark. It’s small. It’s old. And although we don’t say we could do without the efforts of government or of those involved in commerce, we do make the audacious claim that none of those things is ultimately very meaningful compared to the gospel.
  • It Grew!

    by Beth Johnston
    An elderly man was teaching his grandson about life. He said, "A fight is going on inside me," he told the young boy, "a fight between two wolves. The dark wolf is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The Light wolf is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you grandson…and inside of every other person on the face of this earth.” The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asked, "Grandfather, which wolf will win?" The elderly man smiled and simply said, "The one you feed"...
  • Seeds, Gardeners and Grace

    by Jen Nagel
    Our family loves the musical “A Year with Frog and Toad”. It’s a based on a series of children’s stories by Arnold Lobel, published in the 1970s. The books were made into the musical that premiered at Children’s Theater Company here in Minneapolis. In the musical, Frog is tall, green and easy-going. Toad is short, brown and more of a worrier. The story (the “year”) begins in the late winter. Frog and Toad, who are still hibernating, visit each other’s dreams. Once they wake up, Toad eagerly plants seeds. Seeds he watches obsessively, expecting immediate results. shouting at them, and then fearing they are too frightened to grow, he is full of regret Toad invites the support, the loving affirmation, of the birds, only to have the birds eye the poor seeds as tasty food. Toad writes poetry for them, plays the tuba for them, he even tries interpretive dance. Every which way, to springtime exhaustion, toad coaxes and cajoles his seeds, encourages and serenades them: Don’t be afraid, go on and grow Are you afraid, or are you slow I am your gardener, you are my seeds I will attend to all of your needs And finally….Toad falls asleep. In the morning, it’s Frog who wakes him. “Oh, Frog!” Toad says, “I was up half the night! June 13, 2021, page 2 I think I must have frightened my seeds VERY badly.” “Well, you couldn’t have frightened them too badly,” Frog explains, “They’re growing!” “Look! … Look more closely! … They will grow bigger….Soon, Toad, soon.”...
  • Kingdom Seeds

    by Ryan Wilson
    ("When I came to be a pastor in Seneca, S. C., I was quickly invited to a meeting to talk about a possible homeless shelter for the county. I found out that there had been talks about a shelter for years, but most of the talks had died down and nothing had been done. As a good friend of mine once told me, 'Sometimes when all is said and done, more is said than done'. The need, however, was still there...")

Other New Resources

Recommended Resources

  • Scattered Spores and Mystery Yields

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis)
  • Nearly 20 Years Later, Lonise Bias Pushes On

    from ESPN
    ("'If Len (Bias) would have lived, he would have entertained you,' Lonise Bias said. 'But in death, he brought life.'...")
  • This Could Be the Start of Something Big!

    by Sil Galvan
    ("on our tandem bicycle, Dad and I were invincible. Riding with Dad, I didn't think about being blind. I just did what everybody else did on the back seat of a tandem: no steering, just pedaling. It was late spring in my quiet hometown of Bradley Beach, New Jersey. For the first time since the previous summer, there was enough light left for a bike trip after supper...")
  • Seeds Scatter

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Twin sons were born prematurely to Buzz and Debra in August of 1983. Here's how the author of Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger records first sight of his son Zach: 'Doctors and nurses surrounded him in a tight circle. He was a bloody quiver in their hands, born thirteen and half weeks too soon and weighing one pound and eleven ounces..." This one is a must-read!!!)
  • Proper 6B

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Exegetical Notes (Mark 4:26-34)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • *Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Ordinary 11B)

    by Various Authors
    ("A visitor to the Vatican was quite impressed with the beauty and power of the place. He asked Pope John XXIII this question: 'How many people do you have working here?' With a twinkle in his eye, the pope replied, 'About half of them'...")

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

[If you have any questions about navigating through the site (and for some helpful tips even if you do!), please check out our video guide. Just copy this link (https://www.loom.com/share/afe3352a69f44bff814af8b695701c5e) and paste it into your favorite browser.]
  • The Little Things DO Matter

    by Jim Chern
    A couple of years ago, a police officer in Texas was given the horrific task of having to break the news to an 18 year old that his parents had been killed in a traffic accident when a drunk driver crashed into them. Kazz Portie, the youngest of 5 children was at home by himself when Lt. Eric Ellison delivered the devastating news. Ellison admitted that telling the young man that he had just lost both of his parents in such a horrific way was one of the hardest things he’s had to do in his 21 years as a Police officer. In his overwhelming grief, Kazz spontaneously shared that he had a week to go until he graduated from High School - now with his parents gone, he didn’t know what to do. The officer said to him “You’re going to walk! Your Mom and Dad will have a front-row seat from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.” When Kazzie’s day to walk the stage at his graduation came, Lt. Ellison was there to cheer him on. “I walked up on the stage he looked at me and I looked at him and we both cried ...” Lt. Ellison recounted, reflecting on the emotional moment that soo n went viral...
  • Walking by Faith

    by Delmer Chilton
    There is a wonderful line in Sinclair Lewis’ novel Elmer Gantry. The book is a long ramble through the life of a blowhard ex-football player turned preacher who is variously successful and self-destructive. Gantry is on an upswing; he is the minister at a big church in a big city and he is on a speaking tour around the state, telling other people how to be as successful as he is. Andrew Pengilly is a gentle and humble minister with a long career in the same little church who volunteers to put the famous preacher up for the night when he comes to town. Gantry sits at the kitchen table, drinking coffee while boasting and bragging about all the things he has done, and plans to do, to bring in the kingdom. Suddenly, Pengilly interrupts, “Mr. Gantry, why don’t you believe in God?”...
  • The Kingdom of God and the Sown Seed

    by Jim Dahlin
    One of my favorite books is Good Omens, a humorous take on the apocalypse written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The two best characters are an angel and a demon who have been working for their respective ‘sides’ undercover, posing as humans—for millennia. They share a lot in common and end up occasionally getting together to vent about their bosses, life on Earth, and the peculiarity of humans. They’re astounded by what humans find as miraculous. We see the image of the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast and praise God for the bountiful blessing. Instead, the angel and demon think humans should be astounded that a seed put in the ground eventually becomes a vine that grows grapes—and it does it every year! That’s a miracle. Existence as we experience it every moment of every day is the miracle. And we humans seem to take it for granted...
  • Faith in a Seed

    by Chris Henry
    Each time I read this parable, a favorite children's song returns to my mind. I've been singing it as I wrote this sermon, though I'll spare you that particular pleasure. "The Garden Song" was written by David Mallett, but the voice in my head is always John Denver: Inch by inch, row by row Gonna make this garden grow All it takes is a rake and a hoe And a piece of fertile ground. Inch by inch, row by row Someone bless these seeds I sow Someone warm them from below Till the rain comes tumblin' down...
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 6B)(2018)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Every day the “Congressional Record” is published and it is each and every day a very thick book detailing every word spoken on the floor of the House and Senate. Every week the Trump Administration issues a flurry of new policy initiatives, also totaling into the thousands of pages. The United Nations works hard to cobble together solutions and coalitions aimed at addressing what ails this world. Were you to bring together all the newspaper sections that record the daily activity on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nikkei Index, the Chicago Board of Trade, and all other financial markets in the world, you would have a stack of newsprint many inches thick...
  • Chosen to Serve

    by Beth Johnston
    In the 1990s Sarejevo became embroiled in war. That beautiful country was bombed to shreds and its people devastated by divisions. One day a little girl walking on the street was severely wounded by sniper fire. A man rushed up to her, scooped the child up and pleaded with a reporter to take her to the hospital. ‘You have a car,’ the man begged. ‘Please won’t you take us to the hospital?’ What could the reporter do. He loaded them into the back seat of his car and began to drive. “After a minute or two, the man said urgently, ‘Please hurry; she is still living!’ The reporter drove on. A few minutes later, the man in the back seat said, ‘Hurry please, she is still breathing!’ Soon, they pulled up to the hospital, but unfortunately doctors could do nothing as she had died on route to the hospital. “The man and the reporter went into the restroom together to wash the child’s blood from their hands. ‘Now comes the hardest part,’ said the man. ‘What is that?’ asked the reporter. ‘Now I have to go and find that little girl’s father and tell him she is gone.’ “The reporter was stunned. ‘But I thought you were the father! I thought she was your child!’” (I think this sermon illustration originated in a sermon by Will Willamon) “‘Aren’t they all our children?’ the man replied...
  • The Secret Lives of Trees, Ourselves and Our God

    by Terrance Klein
    There is no need to guess what Peter Wohlleben’s international bestseller is about. Its title announces what its text admirably delivers: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World. The title is meant to titillate. How can trees feel? And do trees really communicate with each other? The book glides effortlessly through material that far exceeds what we learned in middle school science. (For me, that is little more than the distinction between deciduous trees and conifers). For example: “A mature beech tree can send more than 130 gallons of water a day coursing through its branches and leaves.” And, being in a forest lowers your heart rate and blood pressure...
  • Tell Me a Story

    by Larry Patten
    Jesus told tales. Mustard seeds and men left to die in a ditch. A woman on her hands and knees, seeking the glint of a lost silver coin or a rich man banishing his wedding guests to the streets. In the ancient tradition of make-believe and once-upon-a-time, Jesus spoke stories to people who were convinced they knew the stories of their lives. We come to believe, in our old oft-told tales, there’s only sorrow, forgiveness is foolish and the rich get richer. And then Jesus tells a new story. We glimpse new, unexpected endings or beginnings...
  • A Prodigal God

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    A few years ago, Barbara Kingsolver wrote a book entitled Prodigal Summer. It tells the story of young woman who got pregnant during a summer within which everything seemed to be dangerously fertile. From the plants, through the insects, through the animals, to the people, everything seemed to be teeming with fecundity, overactive, overabundant in seed. Life seemed to be bursting forth everywhere. The title of the book is good metaphor for what she describes, a summer overabundant in fertility...
  • Sowing Seeds

    by David Russell
    A man in Tennessee has had kidney disease for many years, and now it has gone from painful and very serious to life threatening. Back in October two different close donor matches did not pass the final tests to be kidney donors, and it was a big blow. A local TV news reporter spoke with the family about it. A woman named Rhonda Jackson, who happened to live in the same small town, was watching the news that day. She didn’t really know the man but she knew who he was. And as she watched the news story, she somehow knew she needed to help. She said, “I think the Lord just spoke to me that day and said ‘You need to do this. You just need to go ahead and do it.” So she called the number at Vanderbilt Medical Center. She said she didn’t want to tell anyone at first, because she didn’t want to get their hopes up if it didn’t work out. But as she kept passing the tests she reached out to the man’s wife. And last week, when Jason Robbins arrived for his dialysis, he had the surprise of his life. His wife, children, mother, sister and other family were there along with a woman he had seen around town but did not really know. That woman was Rhonda Jackson, who had been approved as his kidney donor. She said she was never scared because she knew this was something God wanted her to do. And in fact, Jackson even had a doctor write that down as her reason for donating her kidney. The surgery is set for a few weeks from now. My question is, how does somebody do that? How does that happen?...
  • What Mustard Seeds Have Transformed Your Life?

    by Michael Simone, SJ
    An invasive vine called kudzu thrives throughout the southern United States. The Department of Agriculture brought it to the United States from Japan in the early 20th century to stabilize eroding hillsides. The vines grow exceptionally fast and produce dense vegetation that protects loose soil from water and wind but also blocks sunlight from anything that tries to grow below it. Lacking any predators or natural competition, kudzu will rapidly smother shrubs, trees, rocks and even houses and cars. In the course of only a few years, Kudzu’s range expanded throughout the Southeast. Only the drier climate farther west and the colder winters farther north halted its expanse. It is, as one author descibed it, the “vine that ate the South.”...
  • Harvesting What We Plant

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    Steve Morrison tells a story about a friend of his who likes to read fairy tales to his two young sons at night. This friend has great sense of humor and often times ad-libs parts of the stories just for fun. One day his youngest son was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to gather building materials for his home.
    She said "...And so the pig went up to the man with a wheel barrow full of straw and said 'Pardon me sir, but might I have some of that straw to build my house with?'"
    Then the teacher asked the class "And what do you think that man said?"
    This friend's little boy raised his hand and said "I know! I know! he said, 'Holy smokes! A talking pig!'" The teacher was unable to teach for the next ten minutes...
  • Let the Seed Grow Within You

    by Alex Thomas
    There was an interesting dialogue in the movie, O God when Jerry was told by God to deliver a message to the world but no one seemed to be listening he felt that his mission had failed. “We blew it ” he says. But God says, “I don’t think so. You never know; a seed here, a seed there, something will catch hold and grow.”...
  • Tell It Slant

    by Peter Thompson
    “Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth’s superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind —“ Emily Dickinson’s brief but classic poem advocates a measured and indirect approach to the truth. The truth, she suggests, is a wonderful and powerful and important thing, but it is so wonderful and powerful and important that people cannot bear it all at once. Truth-tellers must exercise patience and care if they want to communicate the truth both effectively and honorably without overwhelming the truth-hearers. For Dickinson, a certain kind of obliqueness with the truth is not harmful or misleading; it is helpful and considerate. Being diplomatic about the truth—being sensitive to how people will hear it—ensures that the truth will be accurately and fully understood and not rejected angrily or dismissed prematurely as irrelevant...

Illustrated Resources from 2012 to 2017

  • Meaning of the Mustard Seed

    by Phil Bloom
    ("In My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, Dawn Eden courageously reveals her own traumatic childhood experiences. She tells how those experiences led to fear, anger and destructive behavior. How does a person overcome that negativity? Dawn had the benefit of therapy, but she discovered something more...")
  • Large Things in Small Parishes

    by Kyle Childress
    ("The Texas historian of a generation ago, Walter Prescott Webb, has a wonderful paragraph in his classic book, The Great Plains. He contrasts the West with the East in the raising of cattle and notices that even though the West raised fewer cattle than the farms of the East, it was the West that defines for us what cattle raising is all about...")
  • Proper 6B (2015)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "There's a favorite story in my family about my grandfather Reid Chilton, who was just absolutely crazy about playing baseball. When he was a teen-ager, he lived with and worked for his uncle, a holiness preacher who didn't hold with the foolishness of ball playing. One day Uncle Arrington knew that Reid was scheduled to play in a baseball game, so he put him to working sowing peas in the cornfield. Uncle Arrington said, 'Finish sowing those peas and you can go.'..." humorous story
  • Ordinary 11B (2012)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a certain well known priest was seen coming out of a disorderly house in his parish. A photographer got a picture of him. A newspaper printed it. A group of Catholic laity put together a petition to the bishop to remove him as pastor. No priest should be seen emerging from such a place. The priest was summoned downtown...")
  • God Gave the Growth

    by James Kegel
    Pastor Kristofer Skrade is thirty years old and a minister at Kent Lutheran Church in Washington State. Last New Year's Eve, he was invited to a costume party and could not think of anything to wear except his clerical color. Part-goers were dressed as cats and pirates and Arab sheiks, but he came as what he was, a pastor. Like the other people there he was young, wore a goatee and spoke the same language, but they did not believe he was a pastor. One young woman told him she did not believe in God. Many of the others echoed that statement and he knew he was in a different environment––far different from his usual church work with church people. But as he talked with these twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, Generation Xers and Millenials, he came to realize that what they wanted was authenticity not authority. They were isolated. Many had come from broken homes and they yearned for commitment and caring and community. He also came to understand by the end of the evening, that the four people who told him they were atheists, turned out, in conversation, not to be. They just resented the church. In fact, what they seemed not to understand was that they really wanted a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pastor Skrade said what we as the Church should be aware that a whole generation of Christians needed to be reached again with unpretension and authenticity, reached with the message and person of Jesus Christ...
  • Size Can Be Deceiving

    by Ken Kesselus
    ("Jared Fogel became a familiar figure on television by revealing his dramatic weight loss through selectively eating Subway sandwiches. The national fast-food chain, however, has a current advertizing campaign, boasting that 'Bigger is better. Biggest is Best'. This reference to their fountain drinks might make one wonder whether Subway actually originated in Texas rather than New York City...")
  • Waterloo and Wisdom

    by Terrance Klein
    ("We can cite when someone is born and when the same dies, but it takes years to understand the sum and source of a soul. It's only in death that a human life appears as a completed whole, as something formed and finished. Then time's reckoning truly begins. Waterloo, like all other human moments, changes as it moves through time. We understand it better, and we gain from that. At least, we should. The Kingdom of God grows in time, where Christ so surely planted it. Given time, and grace, we see that. We gain wisdom...")
  • Unholy Anxiety

    by Nicholas Lang
    ("At my house there is a gardener and there is a worrier. The gardener is a pretty easy-going fellow. Every May or June he comes through the door with a brown paper sack full of seed packets and a couple of evenings later he can be found puttering around the yard, emptying the packages into shallow furrows, heaping the dirt into little mounds and curling pieces of fence around them. Several weeks later, plants appear in the strangest places. He has been known to plant green peppers between the azalea bushes and broccoli by the mailbox...")
  • Preach the Truth Slant

    by David Lose
    ("What's the difference between a fable and a parable? A fable is primarily didactic, a clever story meant to offer some insight into and instruction about life – think Aesop's Fables for a moment. Parables, on the other hand, are useful when the truth you want to share is difficult – whether difficult to hear, comprehend, or believe. I don't know if Emily Dickinson had parables in mind when she wrote her poem on telling the truth "slant" but she just might have: 'Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight...")
  • The Kingdom of God Is Like

    Poem for Worship by Anna Murdock
  • Spiritual But Not Religious

    by Fran Ota
    (includes several quotes)
  • Secret of the Seed

    Poem for Worship by Jan Richardson
    "The emptiness that you have been holding for such a long season now that ache in your chest that goes with you night and day in your sleeping, your rising: think of this not as a mere hollow, the void left from the life that has leached out of you. Think of it like this: as the space being prepared for the seed. Think of it as your earth that dreams of the branches the seed contains, and of the nest the branches will hold..."
  • Harvesting What We Plant

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Steve Morrison tells a story about a friend of his who likes to read fairy tales to his two young sons at night. This friend has great sense of humor and often times ad-libs parts of the stories just for fun. One day his youngest son was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to gather building materials for his home...")
  • Just a Little Bit

    by Keith Wagner
    ("The country singer, Reba McIntire once told about several people in her life who planted seeds to encourage her singing career. First there was her mother, who encouraged her to use her gift of singing. Then there was her second grade teacher, Mrs. Kanton, who helped her learn the song, My Favorite Things from Sound of Music. Reba's grandmother planted seeds in her too, only they were the stories from the bible she taught Reba when they went fishing together..." and another illustration)
  • It's Alive!

    by Carl Wilton
    ("Want to get away from it all — I mean, really get away? You may want to consider the Norwegian island known as Spitsbergen. Spitsbergen is just 800 miles from the North Pole — the same latitude as northern Greenland. Other than its splendid isolation, Spitsbergen doesn't have whole a lot going for it: with one exception. It's home to one of the most secure storage facilities on earth...")

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2011

  • Godly Patience or the Power of the Seed

    by Hubert Beck
    ("We live in an age marked by phrases such as 'Immediate gratification is too slow', 'No! Not later! Now!' 'Speed is the mark of efficiency,' 'What's taking so long? I've been waiting two minutes already!' Seeds could care less. They take their sweet old time to grow...")
  • Noisy Spring

    by Kimberleigh Buchanan
    ("Five years ago we bought a house on a lot covered with trees, mostly pines, some hardwoods, a few dogwoods. When we stood in the kitchen with the realtor and looked into the forested back yard, we knew we would buy. Oh, how we loved those trees!...")
  • Seedtime and Harvest

    by Suzanne Guthrie
    ("The Japanese natural farmer Mananobu Fukukoa says that the purpose of farming "is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings." I'm aware of a moral shift, a sense of Earth farming me. Each seed presents me with a cosmic mystery: the seed falls to the ground to die, the sower sleeps and one day rises to see that death, transformation, and resurrection have taken place in the dark...")
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 6B)(2009)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Every day the "Congressional Record" is published and it is each and every day a very thick book detailing every word spoken on the floor of the House and Senate. Every week the Obama Administration issues a flurry of new policy initiatives, also totaling into the thousands of pages...
  • Nourishing Seeds

    by Betty Long
    ("One day I went for a walk, by myself as usual, and I went by the church. In those days the church rectory was next door to the church and as I passed by I saw my minister out in the yard digging. I walked over to him to say 'hello' and he put down his shovel, sat down in the grass and began talking to me....")
  • Proper 6B (2009)

    by Robert Morrison
    ("Annie Dillard wrote a book with the marvellous title Teaching a Stone to Talk. In it she said, 'Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions..." and other illustrations)
  • Planting Seeds

    by Fran Ota
    ("Farm Town is an interactive game on Facebook. It’s kind of a virtual farm where you plough the ground, plant seeds, and wait for them to grow. When they are ready to be harvested, you can either do that yourself, or get someone else to do it for you. If you get someone else, both people make more coins and benefit...")
  • Sowing Seeds

    by David Russell
    "A week ago Friday, I happened to read John Carlson's column in the Register. He told about driving past a group of kids waiting for the school bus, and seeing the biggest kid pick on one of the small ones. Carlson drove past and in his rear view mirror saw the big kid swing a stick and hit that the smaller kid, who fell to the ground..." and other illustrations
  • *The Third Ear and the Imagination of Jesus

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Every morning the early local newscast reports on how good or bad the daily commute is going. Strategically perched cameras and computer generated models show whether there is clear sailing or clogged arterials on the major commute-routes. Seattle is a city consistently in the Top 10 for its gelatinous traffic jams - the LA freeway is a breezeway compared to Seattle's Route 5 most of the time...")
  • Infinite Blessings

    by Keith Wagner
    ("The country singer, Reba McIntire tells about several people in her life who planted seeds to encourage her singing career. First there was her mother, who encouraged her to use her gift of singing. Then there was her second grade teacher, Mrs. Kanton, who helped her learn the song My Favorite Things from Sound of Music..." and other illustrations)
  • Patience with Growth

    by David Zersen
    ("In raising Jesus from death, God insists that this is the last time such evil needs to take place and that all of us are welcomed into a new way of living which does not end. Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, says this so powerfully in a chapter entitled The Gospel according to Luke:...")
  • Illustrations (Proper 6B)(2006)

    Compiled by Tim Zingale

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

  • Proper 6B (2006)

    by Luke Bouman
    "In the movie Jumping Jack Flash, Whoopie Goldberg’s character must solve a riddle to help a spy to come in. In order to communicate with the spy, she has to figure out a 'code key' in the Rolling Stones song, which gives the title to the movie. The problem is that she doesn’t have an internet search engine to direct her to the lyrics of the song..."
  • Proper 6B (2006)

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("Because we are a nation obsessed with big things. In recent years people have made what could be described as pilgrimages to the Mall of America in Minnesota. Why? Is it because there is merchandise available there that cannot be found anywhere else? Is stuff cheaper there? No, but the Mall of America is the BIGGEST mall in the country...")
  • A New Perspective

    by Hugh Eichelberger
    ("The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, began her orphanage with such a vision. She told her superiors, 'I have three pennies and a dream from God to build an orphanage.'...")
  • God's Mustard Seeds

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Who was Homan Walsh? In 1847, the people of the city of Niagara Falls decided a bridge spanning the gorge would boost the economy. They had the technology to build a bridge, but they couldn't figure out how to get the first line across the gorge. The steep cliffs, rapids, and winds hindered any conventional methods...")
  • Proper 6B (2006)

    by Frank Hegedus
    ("Back in 1990 when the now famous Hubble telescope was first launched, there was not much hope for its success. Apparently its reflecting mirror had been manufactured improperly, causing the telescope’s pictures to be out of focus. In fact, Hubble needed a giant -- and expensive -- pair of eyeglasses or refractions to correct its vision...")
  • *Not the Purdue Way

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("Every year millions of people go on diets. Again. And they try harder. And a few of them actually lose weight, for a while. But only one out of a thousand takes it off and keeps it off. The only people who are successfully dieting are anorexics...")
  • You Gotta Plant 'Em!

    by Beth Johnston
    Mean Mister Mullins was a strange old man who lived in a rundown house. He always wore the same old clothes. He really and truly looked like a scarecrow in his dark pants, dingy white shirt, black coat and old brown hat - that he always wore pulled down until it almost covered his eyes. It cast a shadow on his face, which was covered with scruffy white whiskers...
  • Tempus Fugit

    by Nancy Jo Kemper
    ("Dorothy Bass wrote in her book Receiving the Day that in her town, children in the fourth grade are required to have datebooks—not homework assignment books, or grids on which to block out classes, but datebooks like business executives often carry...")
  • In the Garden (Not THAT Garden!)

    by Linda Kraft
    "Last year I read about a Century Plant growing at the University of Connecticut. This gigantic plant only blooms once in every hundred years – and most people would say that’s a really good thing. When it IS fully grown and opens up its flowering bud, its scent is grotesquely unappetizing..."
  • *Seeds and Weeds

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("Pliny the Elder, a Roman author writing at the same time as Jesus knew it well. This is what he wrote about it: 'With its pungent taste and fiery effect, mustard is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand, when it has once been sown, it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it...")
  • Nourishing Seeds

    by Betty Long
    ("One day I went for a walk, by myself as usual, and I went by the church. In those days the church rectory was next door to the church and as I passed by I saw my minister out in the yard digging. I walked over to him to say 'hello' and he put down his shovel, sat down in the grass and began talking to me....")
  • The Mustard Seed

    by Edward Markquart
    ("in northern California, my wife and I drove into Stout Grove. Stout Grove had the biggest, most giant redwood trees that I had ever seen. There was a giant redwood there that had an arch cut right in the middle of it. The road drove right through the middle of that redwood tree..." and other illustrations)
  • Gifts for Fathers

    by David Martyn
    ("The parable of the Seed Growing Secretly might be better titled the parable of the Earth Producing of Itself. The Earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. The sower does not dominate the production and does not make it happen; the sower only sows and goes about life, while the earth brings forth the harvest out of itself...")
  • Yup, Them Are Mustard Seeds!

    by Steven Molin
    ("About ten years ago, the youth director on our staff told me a riddle, and then he left town on a week-long camping trip without telling me the answer. What is stronger than God, more evil than the devil, poor people have it, rich people don't need it, and if you eat it, you'll die?"...")
  • Ordinary 11B (2006)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("Some people imagine that the passage of two millenia since Jesus’ time has somehow diminished the first evangelical fervour of that mustard seed. I have to admit that, until I was myself sent on the missions, I would have been one of them. That was before I was sent to work in the Rupununi in South America ­ the Northern riverain of the Amazon...")
  • Seed and Sower

    by William Oldland
    ("South Island in Georgetown, SC is part of a wildlife refuge of the state. One of the practices of the island is to plant winter wheat and rye grass around the houses. These plantings are done for the deer. While they have tractors and plows, fertilizer spreaders and seed spreaders, some of the planting is done the old fashioned way. Some of the areas are too tight or root-filled for the tractors...")
  • The Kingdom of God Is Like This

    by T. V. Philip
    ("After the communist revolution in 1949 and especially after the cultural revolution, the Christian Church in China suffered much; in fact, many thought that the Christian Church in China had come to an end. Recently I was in Taiwan and Hong Kong and had an opportunity to talk with several people...")
  • *The Smallest Things

    by Michael Phillips
    ("Nick Thomas found himself at the age of forty-seven unemployed and under tremendous financial pressure. Though he had a successful career in the Air Force and the insurance business, some reversals had set him back and left him with no place to go. His wife, Liz, made their situation a matter of prayer..." and other illustrations)
  • The Mustard Seed

    by Charles Royden
    ("I have put down as our next hymn I vow to thee my country. But I have chosen the hymn for the second verse because it is extremely helpful in thinking about God's Kingdom and this parable of the mustard seed. 'And there's another country, I've heard of long ago, most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know...")
  • A Day of Small Things

    by Martha Sterne
    ("Our son and his wife got married in lower Manhattan four and a half weeks after 9/11. The acrid smell and smoke were still hanging in the air, and the horror, and the pathos-and, God, terrible pain-I can still see the posters with the photographs hanging on the light poles and the sides of building...")
  • Harvesting What We Plant

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("Steve Morrison tells a story about a friend of his who likes to read fairy tales to his two young sons at night. This friend has great sense of humor and often times ad-libs parts of the stories just for fun. One day his youngest son was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs..." and other illustrations)

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

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Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

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Other Resources from 2006 to 2008

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable

  • Lectionary Reflections

    by Rosalind Brown
  • Kingdom Growth

    by J. David Hoke
  • The Choices of Discipleship: Growth or Decay?

    by John and Robin McCullough-Bade
  • The Amazing Phenomenon of Growth

    by Alex Thomas
    ("Eugene Kennedy in The Joy of Being Human points out that there is stage of personal development in general during which an individual is challenged to look beyond their own interests and their own years and into the future with a sense of caring rather than just the passion of curiosity. Humanity depends on it He goes on to say...")
  • Sowing Seeds

    by David Russell
    "Clarence Jordan was born in 1912 in a small town in Georgia. From an early age he was troubled by the racial and economic injustice he saw in that community. He earned a degree in agriculture and wanted to help sharecroppers with scientific farming techniques. But Jordan decided that there was a large spiritual dimension to the problem. So he went to seminary and earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Greek..." and another illustration
  • What a Wonderful and Miraculous Thing a Seed Is

    by Alex Thomas
    ("In a chapter of The Gospel According to the Simpsons entitled Does Lisa Speak for Jesus?, the author Mark I. Pinsky points out that it is Lisa, within her human limitations, who has a commitment to the 'Social Gospel' . A number of episodes in the series are pointed out where she is the one who supports the poor and downtrodden and is critical of the rich..." and other quotes)
  • Ordinary 11B (2018)

    by Jude Siciliano, OP