Mark 6: 1-6

Illustrated New Resources

  • Feeling Like a Failure

    by Jim Chern
    It stinks “feeling like a failure” – doesn’t it? It’s one thing when we make a bad choice, bad decision didn’t do what is required or put in the effort and find ourselves struggling – but so often we find that “feeling like a failure” somewhat out of our control: A newlywed couple who finds it difficult to become pregnant; The kid playing baseball or softball who doesn’t hit that game-winning run; The college student who did well academically all their lives who struggles that first semester; The parents or grandparents who brought their kids to Mass, to CCD for years and sees those kids not practicing their faith anymore… In all of those instances, people all did “the right thing”; sincerely tried -and found themselves feeling like a failure. Initially reading this gospel, you can imagine Jesus being able to relate to that feeling...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 9B)(2021)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In his story “Abel Sanchez,” writer Miguel deUnamuno nicely highlights the nature of envy and why it that the envied person is often trapped. In this retelling of the Cain and Abel story from Genesis 4, the Cain character is played by a skilled surgeon who has for years secretly envied his friend, Abel Sanchez, a skilled artist. At one point in the story, the doctor is scrutinizing one of Abel’s paintings. This particular painting is a depiction of the Cain and Abel story from the Bible. At first, the doctor is convinced that the face of Cain in the painting is modeled on his own face. And he becomes furious! How dare Abel Sanchez use HIM as a model for envy? The gall! The nerve! The implied accusation! But then, upon closer inspection, the doctor decides it’s not his face after all. Does this defuse his anger, however? By no means! Instead the surgeon becomes irate that Abel Sanchez did NOT deign to use him in one of his famous paintings! How dare Abel NOT use his face! DeUnamuno’s point is clear: when you are the object of envy, you cannot do a blessed thing to make the situation any better...
  • God Is More Than an Idea. God Is a Person.

    by Terrance Klein
    Consider, for example, the discrepancy between liberty as a notion and real life among American revolutionary patriots. During the winter of 1775-1776, Massachusetts soldiers taunted and hurled snowballs at Virginia riflemen until a thousand men erupted in a massive brawl. A soldier recalled “biting and gouging on the one part, and knockdown on the other with as much apparent fury as the most deadly enemy could create.” In a rage, Washington rode up, dismounted, and “with an iron grip seized two tall, brawny, athletic, savage looking riflemen by the throat, keeping them at arm’s length, alternately shaking and talking to them.” The brawlers broke and fled “at the top of their speed in all directions.” Washington would make an American army if he had to choke every soldier in it...
  • Inglorious Homecoming

    by Shalon Park
    I grew up in Gangwon province in South Korea, right below the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the military division between North Korea and South Korea. My hometown is the same place which had given a traumatic experience of the foreign for Frank Money, an African-American veteran in the Korean War in Toni Morrison’s novel, Home. Now that I have become a perpetual migrant, I doubt if anyone would recognize me there. Home nevertheless evokes mixed feelings and memories for me, some of which remain unprocessed and repressed. For Frank, my hometown represents the distant past that haunts him, invoking memories of the U.S. involvement in the Korean War. These painful memories of war follow Frank after he returns to his own hometown, Georgia, where he sees inhospitality toward African Americans ever so vividly. As it was for many African Americans who served in foreign combat, it was visceral racism and poverty, not fanfare and cheers, that awaited Frank at his homecoming...
  • Appreciated But Not Always Wanted

    by Charles Qualls
    Hugh Thompson did not finish college. He chose instead to enlist in the Army where he became a helicopter pilot. On March 16, 1968 he was flying a routine patrol in Vietnam when he happened to fly over the village of My Lai just as American troops were seen slaughtering dozens of unarmed villagers - old men and women and children. Thompson set his helicopter down between the troops and the remaining civilians. He ordered his tail-gunner to train the helicopter guns on the American soldiers, and he ordered the gunmen to stop killing the villagers. Hugh Thompson’s actions saved dozens of lives, although he was almost court-martialed. It was thirty years before the Army awarded him the Soldier’s Medal. What he did was greatly appreciated by some, but not at all wanted by others. As he stood at the podium microphone, the rowdy student body grew still. Then, Thompson talked about his faith. Simple words. Speaking of what his parents taught him as a child, Thompson said, “They taught me ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” The students were amazed at these words of Jesus, words from Sunday School, words from worship, words of Christian testimony. They leapt to their feet and gave him a standing ovation! Michael Lindvall goes on to say, “Thompson’s words about his faith had weight because the man had obviously walked the talk. In the same way, the church will only be heard if what we do as Christians is congruous with what we say about our faith.”...
  • Shake It Off

    by Beth Quick
    C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia are some of my favorite books. In the second book in the series, Prince Caspian, Lucy and her three siblings, who have had adventures in Narnia during The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, find themselves back in Narnia for a second time. On a difficult journey to save Narnia, Lucy suddenly sees Aslan, the lion, the Christ-figure of the books, leading her down a trail that looks like it is dangerous. But no one else can see Aslan except Lucy, and she, the youngest of the group, can’t convince them to follow. And so Lucy ignores Aslan’s direction, and they keep heading the opposite direction. Eventually, though, Lucy and the rest of the travelers realize they had been going the wrong way for hours, and they’ll have to go back the other way that seemed to be more difficult, now having wasted a ton of time. Eventually, the rest of them can see Aslan too, and they all learn a hard lesson about trusting the one who is their leader. Lucy tries to tell Aslan she couldn’t have followed him on her own - no one would go with her, and she was stuck going the wrong way, even though she knew Aslan wanted her to go a different direction. But Aslan helps her realize that Lucy wouldn’t have been alone - she’d have been with him. And if she’d chosen the right way, even if no one else would go with her? Aslan leaves her to consider the possibilities of such devoted faithfulness.
  • Being Present to God and Life

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    Victor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, like Augustine, also was lucky. He had been clinically dead for a few minutes and then revived by doctors. When he returned to his ordinary life after this, everything suddenly became very rich: One very important aspect of post-mortem life is that everything gets precious, gets piercingly important. You get stabbed by things, by flowers and by babies and by beautiful things—just the very act of living, of walking and breathing and eating and having friends and chatting. Everything seems to look more beautiful rather than less, and one gets the much-intensified sense of miracles...

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!!]
  • Covenant and Community

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis!!)
  • Mission Grounded in Rejection

    by D. Mark Davis
    lots of Greek exegesis!!
  • *Nazareth Rejects Jesus

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("For almost 20 years now, Sister Helen Prejean has been a spiritual advisor to convicted murderers in Louisiana's death row. The sister of St. Joseph's story was portrayed in the Academy-Award winning movie Dead Man Walking. Sister Helen says that when she unexpectedly found herself doing this work, she had to find within herself the courage to go into death row..." and other illustrations)
  • Truth or Prejudice

    by Sil Galvan
    "Five nights after September 11, 2001, business is particularly slow for all the Middle Eastern restaurants and shops on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. At three o'clock in the morning, Labib Salama, the owner of an Egyptian coffee shop, his friend Nasser and several other men are sitting around the café, playing chess, smoking shisha and talking about the recent attack on the Twin Towers..."
  • Proper 9B

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • Is Anybody Listening?

    by Alan Parker
    ("Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson was flying a Huey helicopter in support of American troops engaged in an action over the village of My Lai, in South Vietnam. At some point on that day of flying back and forth over the village, something didn't look right to Officer Thompson..." and another illustration)
  • Exegetical Notes (Mark 6:1-13)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

  • Hometown

    by Josh Bowron
    Several years ago, a diocese was celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary. At the time, the diocese had produced a beautiful coffee table book that contained short histories of each of their parishes, along with a generous helping of pictures. At the diocesan convention that year, the book was being sold everywhere and anywhere, between legislative sessions, in the exhibition hall, you name it. There had even been a table set up in the narthex of the church where the convention Eucharist was being held. The book was being sold to folks as they walked in. When the diocese’s retired bishop took to the pulpit for the sermon, he began with saying, “I’m sorry if you heard the commotion a few moments ago, there was a homeless, long-haired man that got into the church. He was shouting something about his father’s house and he turned over the tables where we are selling our book. Don’t worry, we got rid of him.” Don’t worry, we got rid of him. Of course, he was kidding, there was no commotion, no long-haired, homeless man. But the bishop also wasn’t really kidding. He was leveling a clear criticism using the story of the clearing of the Temple to critique the diocese’s overzealousness in selling the book. The bishop was afraid that the zeal for the book was getting more energy than the mission of the church...
  • When a Loss Is a Win

    by Delmer Chilton
    My younger son was playing coach-pitch baseball. They weren’t a very good team, losing a lot more often than they won. They were 7 years old, and most of them had the attention span of a gnat. They spent most of their time jostling and picking on each other. They seldom knew much about what was going on, even when they themselves were at bat or in the field. After each game was over, as they lined up to shake hands with the other team, I would hear the boys ask the coach, “Did we win? Did we win?” If the coach said “yes,” they would cheer; if the coach said “no,” they would kick the ground. Then they would say, “What’s for snack?”...
  • What Are You Carrying?

    by Marshall Jolly
    Several years ago, a clergy friend of mine began a new ministry in a new diocese. One of the unwritten rules in her new diocese is that clergy are expected to volunteer to serve for a week in the summer as chaplain at the camp and conference center. Before I continue, allow me to dispel any idyllic, Walden Pond-esque notions you may have about the conditions of the camp and conference center of which I speak. This camp and conference center features mosquitoes rivaling a biblical plague; food so sinfully delicious that it comes with a wet wipe and an angiogram; and cabins that wreak of sweat, chlorinated pool water, and mildew. My friend is, shall we say, not the camping type. And after several particularly horrible experiences as a camp chaplain, she and God had a very frank conversation about her ministry at summer camps. She was very clear with God that she never wanted to set foot in another summer camp again. Ever! But as usual, God listened, nodded, and went on with God’s plan...
  • Clean Feet, Dusty Feet

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    The painting here is actually an interpretation of the story of the travelers returning to Emmaus. The composition (both of the painting and the story) are not unlike the Mark 6 text: two travelers, the presence (if not the visible person) of Jesus, and a very dusty landscape. There appears to be a structure and an open door through which shines a light warmer in tone than the landscape. It is, perhaps, a light of welcome for Jesus and these two who believe he is the One.
  • Planning to Fail

    by David Russell
    It is interesting to note how many people we might think of as great successes had actually endured spectacular failure. At the beginning of our service we sang “Ode to Joy,” by Ludwig von Beethoven. Beethoven had an awkward playing style and preferred to write his own compositions rather than play the classical works of his day, as was expected. His teacher called him hopeless as a composer. Hopeless. Thomas Edison’s teachers advised his parents to keep him home from school, stating that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Oprah Winfrey was fired as a new reporter because she was “unfit for TV.” And you may remember that Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, wrote about her life. She said, “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.” She wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter and twelve different publishers rejected the manuscript. Finally Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book but insisted that she get a day job because there was no money in children’s books. J. K. Rowling spoke at commencement at Harvard a few years ago. She told the new graduates, “You might never fail on the scale I did. But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”...
  • Proper 9B

    from Sacra Conversazione
    Perhaps sometimes only after we have explored the usual “religious” dead-ends can we get it: we are invited by God to do God’s work in the world each within the authentic outline of our own personality and history and capacities and opportunities. It is an invitation “to say” and “to do” as only you can– “It’s me here.” Although such an opportunity is so easy to miss, (keep in mind the hometown friends and neighbors who dismissed someone they thought they already knew), yet when it is taken up there is no mistaking what has happened– “a prophet has been here!”
  • Rejection and Resilience

    by David Sellery
    What do we take away from this passage? Be open to the Lord at all times. You'll find him in the most unexpected people and places. Make him such a part of our lives that we can clearly recognize him as he regularly moves in and around us. Through prayer and practice, we must develop Christ-like reflexes… to try to see things through the eyes of Jesus… to be prepared to recognize a need, and offer help. Be ready to overlook slights and forgive injuries. Seek every opportunity to proclaim him and witness his love. We are Christ's hometown crowd now. Let's welcome him home every chance we get...
  • Without Conflict There Is No Story

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    George Anderson wanted to write a book. He had the subject of his book in mind. The title would be Handling Troubles. He knew that if he could get a publisher, the book would help other people. He knew he could do it, but he didn't know how, so he joined a writers' group. A famous and successful author was addressing a group of novice writers at the writers' group meeting. The would-be writers, including George, hung on his every word. "There must always be conflict," the speaker said. "Conflict is the presenting problem, the nerve, of all good fiction. As a matter of fact, without conflict, there is no story." George found himself thinking about that. He was a pastor. As he thought about all the people who had shared their life stories with him, he realized the truth of the speaker's point. All the people he knew had conflicts. He had them too. Currently, he was having a conflict with one of his church council members. "Conflict isn't necessarily bad," he thought. "It all depends on how you handle it." Then George thought about Jesus and the stories in scripture. "Lots of conflicts there," he thought...
  • Origin Stories

    by Debie Thomas
    In her new book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again,” Rachel Held Evans describes the ubiquitous power of origin stories: "Origin stories tell us who we are, where we come from, and what the world is like. They dictate the things we believe, the brands we buy, the holidays we celebrate, and the people we revere or despise. Sometimes we construct our present realities around our stories of origin; other times we construct our stories of origin around our present realities; most of the time, it’s a little of both.”...
  • God's Hometown

    by Brian Volck
    This past weekend, in anticipation of Independence Day, Hobby Lobby, the privately-owned arts and crafts store, took out full page advertisements in city newspapers across the United States to proclaim, “Blessed is the Nation Whose God is Lord”(Psalm 31:22). David Green, who took out a six hundred dollar loan in 1970 to launch the business that would become Hobby Lobby and is now worth more than $6 billion, began purchasing newspaper ads for Christmas in 1996, and has since added Easter and Independence Day in an annual holiday cycle. The Green family has used its considerable wealth to fund evangelical ministries and the recently-opened American Museum of the Bible, and to sue the US for a religious exclusion from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover medications they consider to be abortifacient. Whatever one’s politics, there’s no doubting the Green family’s influence...

Illustrated Resources from 2012 to 2017

  • He Is the Way

    by W. H. Auden
  • You Are Not One of Us

    by Thomas Lane Butts, Sr.
    ("When I finished Seminary at Emory University, my wife and I decided that my ministry might be enriched by some in-depth study in the field of pastoral care and counseling. We put our worldly possessions in our car, and we went to a foreign land--Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, Illinois. In the mid '50's our home state of Alabama was in turmoil. The Methodist Church was struggling to free itself from segregation. The socio-political climate in the South was not just 'unpleasant', it was dangerous...")
  • Proper 9B (2015)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "A few years ago I was working at a United Methodist Retreat Center here and received the opportunity to write some short devotional pieces to be printed on the back of United Methodist church bulletins. One summer night my college age son had a friend over who was also home from college. I stuck my head in my son's room to say hello and the friend said, 'Hey Rev. Chilton, I saw your devotion on the back of our Methodist church bulletin this morning. I said to the people around me, 'Hey, that's Rev. Chilton from the Retreat Center. That's Joe's dad,' and all the people around me said, 'Oh no; that couldn't be him'..."
  • When Is a Loss a Win?

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("I learned my most important lesson as a 'sports Dad' when my younger son was playing coach pitch baseball. They weren't a very good team, losing a lot more often than they won. They were seven years old, and most of them had the attention span of a gnat. They spent more time jostling and picking on each other than paying attention to what was happening on the field...")
  • Proper 9B (2015)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("In his story "Abel Sanchez," writer Miguel deUnamuno nicely highlights the nature of envy and why it that the envied person is often trapped. In this retelling of the Cain and Abel story from Genesis 4, the Cain character is played by a skilled surgeon who has for years secretly envied his friend, Abel Sanchez, a skilled artist....")
  • And the Gospel Is? Hospitality.

    by Karoline Lewis
    ("When Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church flung open its doors the Sunday after the shooting did you, could you even, imagine what it would be like to walk through those doors that Sunday? Are you ready for that kind of hospitality? Are you prepared for that kind of showing of mercy? (Psalm 123) Are you willing to be received with that kind of welcome?...")
  • Welcome Home, Jesus!

    by Larry Patten
    ("Familiarity breeds banality. How often have I preached since ordination thirty-five years ago? Probably thousands of times! I've served bustling city parishes, isolated country congregations and even helped start a new church. Regardless of the setting, I often went through an interesting process from the first stages of study on a Monday to the actual preached word on Sunday...")
  • Next to the Chocolate

    by Andrew Prior
    (includes several quotes)
  • Buying the Ticket

    by Anthony Robinson
    ("Every week when the results of the lottery were announced, Goldberg prayed to God, 'God, why don't I ever win the lottery? What have I done wrong? I've been a good man. Why shouldn't I win?' Again next week the lottery winner was announced and again Goldberg was disappointed...")
  • Shake the Dust Off Your Chucks...

    by Martha Spong
    ("Around the world, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was respected for his courage and witness during Apartheid in South Africa. But at home, in South Africa, he had a different experience. Matthew Willman, interviewing Archbishop Tutu, asked: 'You were often protested against, wrongly quoted and many times lied about during the long years of apartheid. Many believed what the newspapers wrote...")
  • *Watch Your Step

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("There are two types of travelers. There are those that travel light; and, there are those who pack for self-preservation. Do you take a small bag with the basic essentials and figure you'll pick stuff up as you go? Or do you cram everything you can into every corner of an extra-large expandable bag, making sure that whatever comes your way on your trip, you are prepared?....")
  • Independence Day Prophet

    by Peter Thompson
    ("One of the most powerful speeches in American history was Frederick Douglass' The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro. An abolitionist leader and himself an escaped slave, Douglass fiercely and justifiably condemned the practice of slavery in the United States, calling attention to the extreme violence and profound injustice of the American slave trade...")
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Healing

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2011

  • Faith by the Hour

    by Brittany Accardi
    ("Two weeks ago I did not know how I was going to pay for my July rent. One day, like every other, I came home from job-seeking and was met with an invitation from my neighbor to babysit for the month of June while they prepare to move...")
  • The Tall Poppy Syndrome Circa 30AD

    Narrative Sermon by Jan Coates
  • Sent with Power

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • *Thwarting Jesus

    by Jim McCrea
    ("I once read a true story about an eight-year-old girl named Tess, who overheard her parents talking about how sick her little brother was. Tess wasn't sure what Andrew had; all she knew was that her parents had spent all their money —even selling their house and moving into an apartment — to pay for Andrew's medical bills..." and other illustrations)
  • Proper 9B (2009)

    by Merrill Morse
    ("In Japan there is a well-known proverb which states that the nail which sticks up will be hammered back down. It means that individuals who don’t conform, who upset the social norm, will be put back in their place, by force if necessary....")
  • Mapping the Mysteries

    by Jan Richardson
    ("Elizabeth received a call to preach when she was twelve years old and still living in slavery. It would be years before she would be able to fulfill that call. The path by which she did so was marked by struggle and by grace...")
  • Being Present to God and Life

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("Victor Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning, like Augustine, also was lucky. He had been clinically dead for a few minutes and then revived by doctors. When he returned to his ordinary life after this, everything suddenly became very rich: "One very important aspect of post-mortem life is that everything gets precious, gets piercingly important..." and other quotes)
  • Proper 9B (2009)

    by Debbie Royals
    Here is a Franciscan Benediction to keep in mind as we strive to end domestic poverty. May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts. May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for economic justice for all people. May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, hunger, homelessness and rejection, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.
  • How to Fail

    by David Russell
    ("Once upon a time, Ed McMahon was working as a door-to-door salesman. He was always trying to get his appearance just right. At some houses his suit and tie made people suspicious, but when he didn't dress up, others would be less than impressed. He didn't want to look too well off, but he also knew that it wouldn't do him much good to look like a bum..." and other illustrations)
  • *Nobody Is Too Big to Fail. Nobody Is Too Small to Prevail.

    by Leonard Sweet
    ("Titanic. Say the word, and everyone, everywhere knows the story. Whether you know the name because you saw the movie, or you know the name because you spent the bulk of your life in the twentieth century, you still know the name. Titanic means huge, gargantuan, immense....")
  • Don't Let It Get You Down: Jesus' Rejection at Nazareth

    by Kelly Diehl Yates
    ("Participating in a traveling ministry group while in college, we relied on the churches we visited to provide lodging. Sometimes we stayed in lovely homes with comfortable beds, gleaming showers, and steak dinners. Sometimes we slept on church fellowship hall floors...")

Illustrated Resources from 2006 to 2008

  • Proper 9B (2006)

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("In his story Abel Sanchez, writer Miguel deUnamuno nicely highlights the nature of envy and why it that the envied person is often trapped. In this retelling of the Cain and Abel story from Genesis 4, the Cain character is played by a skilled surgeon who has for years secretly envied his friend, Abel Sanchez, a skilled artist...")
  • Ordinary 14B (2006)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once back in the nineteen forties there was this very popular and very intelligent priest who presided over a certain suburban parish. The people loved him because he was urbane and sympathetic and kind and preached a fine sermon, as the homily was called in those days...")
  • Offended by the Nice Little Kid from Nazareth

    by Edward Markquart
    ("A woman came to me and sat down in my office to talk. She having problems with her marriage. It was so clear to me what was going on. It was so easy. She asked: 'What do you think that God wants me to do?' And so I told her...")
  • Strength in Weakness

    by David Martyn
    A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. “ “Why? “ asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”...
  • *Where There Is Doubt, Faith

    by Jim McCrea
    ("For those of you who haven't heard of - or haven't personally endured - the Road Rally yet, the essence of it is a journey into the unknown. Teams of people pile in their cars to follow a series of rhymed clues that lead from one to another to another across the countryside with the intent of meeting up again for dinner at a restaurant in a secret location..." and another illustration)
  • An Expert Is Someone 300 Miles Away from Home

    by Steven Molin
    "In 1978, Richard Wilson and David Karr of Minneapolis wrote a musical entitled He Lived the Good Life: The Story of Jesus. In it was a song that speculated what Jesus’ childhood was like. 'He must have run with his friends..." and another illustration
  • Ordinary 14B (2006)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("a few days ago I had a young man in my office with his girlfriend ­ both much in need of healing. Both of them had just tested HIV positive. Like many people who are newly diagnosed with HIV, they were in despair. They wept tears of pain, grief, shame and bitterness...")
  • Love and Compassion or Arrogance

    by William Oldland
    ("The year was 1948. The presidential race was up and running. President Harry Truman was running for his first term as president for the Democratic Party. He had taken the position after Franklin Roosevelt passed away in office. The Republican candidate was Thomas Dewey...")
  • *The Voice of the Spirit

    by Michael Phillips
    ("when the voice of the Spirit intervenes, a person becomes radically transformed; she or he is turned into another person. Suddenly, they have a word to speak that language cannot contain; they have a vision to share that isn’t rooted in our common experience. In effect, they have no way to relate to us who have yet to undergo their transformation...")
  • *Taking Things for Granted

    by Paul Rooney
    ("There is a wonderful poem called Blessings Are the Things We Take for Granted, which is attributed to an Irish composer named Turlough O'Carolan. I think it is a beautiful way for us to get in touch with the fact that those very people and things closest to us that we take for granted..." and another short illustration)
  • How to Deal with Fame and Fortune

    by Jim Standiford
    ("The Nasa Indians are a minority people of southern Columbia. They are a self-sustaining community of about 100,000 people who demonstrate God's promise: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.'...")
  • Don't Look Back

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time there was a young man who lived a miserable life. He was orphaned at the age of three and taken in by strangers. He was kicked out of school, suffered from poverty and developed a serious heart condition. His wife died at an early age and he was an invalid most of his life...")
  • Illustrations (Proper 9B)(2006)

    Compiled by Tim Zingale
  • A Paradox

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Six -year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter,opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar...")

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

  • Hometown America

    by Robert Allred
    ("Sam Coker was destined to be the successor to the famous Pierce Harris as Pastor of Atlanta First. Sam had grown up there and was Dr. Harris' pick. However, when Sam visited back for a look around he found that the folks treated him like he was still a kid...")
  • The Sacrament of Failure (RCL)

    by Mickey Anders
    ("In 1961, the Swedish warship Vasa broke the surface of the water after 333 years on the bottom of the sea. Divers had discovered the ancient wooden vessel just a few years before. When it was built in 1628, the Vasa was a marvel of the latest technology. It was the atomic bomb of its day, the biggest and mightiest of warships with two decks and 64 massive cannons..." and other illustrations)
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    by Amy Butler
    ("It was written as sort of an afterthought one day in the recording studio by blues legend Otis Redding. It was 1965 and he was frustrated by the racial inequities he experienced as an African American musician. The recording was mildly successful within the blues community, but it wasn't until two years later, in 1967, that the song really took off...")
  • *Ordinary 14B (2003)

    by Allison Cline
    ("The following poem written by Ted Loder speaks to new beginnings, to starting over, finding strength in our weakness, being pruned and having faith in God...")
  • My Power Is Made Perfect In Weakness

    by Richard Fairchild
    "I went to seminary with a student by the name of Mark. Mark had great ability, but he could not get along with other people. Mark always wanted to control our discussions in class. He always was ready with an answer to the questions asked by the teachers and the rest of us..."
  • *When the Going Gets Tough

    by Justin K. Fisher
    ("Signing the Declaration of Independence was not a painless act of heroism. They paid the price. Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned...")
  • The Quality of Mercy

    by Leah Grace Goodwin
    ("For the past month, I have had a new man in my life. All right. Entertaining though it is to see the looks on all your faces, I should point out that this new love of mine is three months old and wears diapers with Big Bird on them. His name is Luke, and I am his nanny. We have a date five days a week...")
  • Ordinary 14B (2003)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a mommy and a daddy were preparing to take their two children for two weeks vacation in the country. They had, as do most mommies and daddies these days, a sports utility vehicle (SUV). They figured that they would travel light...")
  • Ordinary 12B (1997)

    by Andrew Greeley
    "Once upon a time, a group of children went for a hike in the woods near the summer village in which they were spending their vacation. The woods were not all that deep or thick or even scary. But city kids who haven’t spent much time in even a tiny forest can turn even small groves into something like Sherwood Forest..."
  • *Faithful Failures

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("Melody and I went to Spokane last week, and we saw the movie Bruce Almighty. The plot was predictable, and there were one or two scenes that were disgusting. But mostly it was funny, and it showed the limits of power. God takes a week's vacation and puts Bruce Nolan in charge of Buffalo, New York...")
  • On Being Sent

    by John Jewell
    "When I was a small lad, my dad sent me on an errand to pick up the daily paper for him at Joe's lunch. It was an easy enough mission and I felt rather important that my dad would trust me to bring home the paper he loved to read after dinner..."
  • Overcoming Obstacles

    by Beth Johnston
    "TV star Ed McMahon was telling about his experience as a door-to-door salesman. He says that he was always trying to get his appearance just right. At some houses his suit and tie made people suspicious, but when he didn't dress up, others would be less than impressed..." and other illustrations
  • The Prophetic Voice

    by Kirk Kubicek
    ("Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon have put it, 'What we are left with from the Declaration of Independence is not self-freedom, but self- centeredness, loneliness, superficiality, and harried consumerism. Free is not how many of our citizens feel - with our overstocked medicine cabinets, burglar alarms, vast ghettos, and drug culture...")
  • Our Greatest Need

    by Ben Manning
    ("A missionary in India was talking about Jesus to a group of native pearl divers. He told them how Jesus had compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a seed which a man sowed in his field, and to a treasure hidden in a field, and to a net that gathered fish of every kind, and to a pearl of great value for which a merchant gave all he possessed...")
  • An Expert Is Someone 300 Miles Away from Home

    by Steven Molin
    "In high school, I was known as "The Class Clown." Now there's a shock! I was forever cutting up in class, telling jokes, making smart comments. When I arrived in biology class on the first day, the teacher took role, and when she came to my name, she said 'Steve, I've heard about you, and you've got one chance. If you smart off in my class, you're out of here.' Well, I lasted about a week..."
  • Shoot the Messenger

    by Nathan Nettleton
    ("A few years ago I was in a class of trainee ministers and we had to do this simulation game exercise. We had to pretend we’d all survived a plane crash in the desert and we had to make a group decision about how important to our survival various objects salvaged from the plane would be...")
  • His Hands and Feet

    by Ray Osborne
    ("Even though this is my second Sunday with you I still feel a bit like the young man who was delivering his first message in a brand new appointment. His heart was beating rapidly. His palms were sweaty. His lips were excessively dry. His voice was cracking. His text was from the Revelation of John where Jesus is quoted as saying, 'Behold I come quickly.'..." and other illustrations)
  • The [Too] Familiar Son of God

    by Tim Pauls
    ("Thirty years ago, sci-fi novelist Ray Bradbury wrote the famous book Fahrenheit 451. He writes of a society in which books are prohibited so that no one can learn anything that the state doesn't want them to know...")
  • Controversial Preaching

    by John Pavelko
    William Willimon visited his mother in California over a Fourth of July holiday. That Sunday they attended a worship service at a large nearby church. The architectural design of the building featured a rather impressive array of glass panels and the church broadcast its worship service throughout the world. During the service, the congregation sang several patriotic songs including America the Beautiful and My Country Tis of Thee. The children’s message was delivered by the Associate Pastor and followed the patriotic theme of the weekend. The preacher at the church was spreading the gospel in Hawaii so a guest speaker was invited to deliver the message—Chuck Colson. Some of you may not be old enough to remember Colson’s involvement in the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s reelection campaign. For his illegal transgressions, one of the most trusted Presidential advisors and ex-Marine officer was convicted of several counts of felony, stripped of his license to practice law, and serve time in a federal prison. Willimon’s mother lean over to her son and whispered rather loudly, “I haven’t come here to church to listen to a some jailbird preach.” The Chaplain of Duke University responded, “But he has had a conversion experience, he has given his life to Christ.” “That’s what they all do when they come before the Parole Board,” she said. Colson began his sermon by telling the congregation about how different it was for him to be preaching before such a magnificent congregation knowing that millions were also watching on TV...
  • Homecomings

    by John Pavelko
    ("One Scottish preacher was asked to deliver the evening message to a congregation that had a reputation for being non responsive. Later the eminent Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte asked his colleague, 'And how did you get on?'...")
  • *Risking Rejection (RCL)

    by Stephen Portner
    ("In the Peanuts comic strip Lucy had an alternative to the traditional lemonade stand. It was her 'Psychiatric Help 5¢' stand. Lucy would have her feet propped up while Charlie brown poses a problem to her. Charlie Brown says, 'I want to be liked. No, I want to be more than 'just' liked… I want people to say, 'That Charlie Brown is a great guy!'...")
  • A Prophet Among Us

    by Barry Robinson
    ("Bob Smith was quoted in the Observer as saying, 'It seems to me we are living in the last days of the church as we know it. . . the church finds itself being judged, but at the same time sustained by the grace of God...")
  • The Turning Point

    by Martin Singley
    ("Dan was 19 or 20 years old. Brilliant athlete who went off to college on an athletic scholarship. Great intellect. Had such a bright future. One day, Dan came home from college on vacation and got together with some old high school friends at the town park. They popped a few beers, told a few jokes, and about midnight decided to go swimming in the town pool. Dan was the first to dive in...")
  • My Grace Is Sufficient

    by Ann Smith
    ("Henri Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and the author of the book The Wounded Healer, explains that it is our brokenness that allows us to minister to others. It provides us with an understanding of the brokenness of others. In our brokenness we reach out in compassion to others...")
  • Practicing the Presence (RCL)

    by Bob Stump
    ("I remember a particular trip home to be a guest speaker at my home church. It happened in the fall of 1991, just short of nine years ago. I came to my hometown and was well received by the whole congregation. During the time of the sharing of our joys and concerns, several of my Sunday School teachers and the Scout Master of the Boy Scout troop of which I was a member all spoke expressing their pleasure at my coming to share the word on that day...")
  • This Is Urgent

    by Alex Thomas
    ("Scott Peck in his book A World Waiting to be Born describes the illness of our ailing society as incivility , which is more than the want of politeness, but includes morally destructive patterns of self-absorption, callousness, manipulative, materialism ingrained in our society..." and other illustrations)
  • *Ordinary 14B (2003)

    by John Vildzius
    ("we have the 'Tall Poppy syndrome' here in Australia too, don't we. Even people who are successful in one field or another become targets for criticism and innuendo. We love to hear of their crashes and falls and faults...")
  • On Not Meeting People’s Needs at Church

    by William Willimon
    ("Once, I departed from my usual practice and preached a sermon which was very judgmental and negative, downright critical, prophetic even. At the end of the service, as you were filing out, I froze when one of your greeted me at the door with, 'Your sermon!' But then you said, 'Thanks for telling it like it is...")
  • 'Trusting God' for People Who Have Everything

    by Andrew Woff
    ("I was a youth pastor at East Doncaster Baptist. I helped to lead a discussion group of 14 to 17 year-olds on issues of life and faith. At one point, I decided that I would like to explore the themes of faith and trust with them, and in an attempt to ground the idea a bit, I began by asking them to tell me something that they really needed..." and another illustration)

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

Other Resources from 2012 to 2014

Other Resources from 2009 to 2011

Other Resources from 2006 to 2008

Other Resources from 2003 to 2005

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable

  • Faith by the Hour

    by Brittany Accardi
    ("Two weeks ago I did not know how I was going to pay for my July rent. One day, like every other, I came home from job-seeking and was met with an invitation from my neighbor to babysit for the month of June while they prepare to move...")
  • Just Who Does He Think He Is?

    (Poetic Homily by Michael Kennedy)
  • *Ordinary 14

    by Lanie LeBlanc, OP
  • *Ordinary 14

    by Lanie LeBlanc, OP
  • *Ordinary 14

    by Cheri Magrini
  • *Children's Sermon

    by Roland McGregor
  • *Children's Sermon #2

    by Roland McGregor
  • Sermon Theme

    by Dorothy Okray
  • Planning to Fail

    by David Russell
    "It is interesting to note how many people we might think of as great successes had actually endured spectacular failure. At the beginning of our service we sang Ode to Joy, by Ludwig von Beethoven. Beethoven had an awkward playing style and preferred to write his own compositions rather than play the classical works of his day, as was expected. His teacher called him hopeless as a composer. Thomas Edison's teachers advised his parents to keep him home from school, stating that he was 'too stupid to learn anything'...