Mark 8: 27-38

Illustrated New Resources

  • True Greatness

    by Jim Chern
    A farmer, a meteorologist, and a firefighter… sounds like the start of a bad joke. But these three guys: Jason, Craig, and Steven came to mind this week. On the surface, just hearing their names and some brief descriptors for them, they probably wouldn’t strike people as too memorable: Jason a farmer in North Carolina – Craig who gives the weather forecasts on the broadcast team of WKBN in Ohio and Steven a member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Yet they each exemplify “greatness” -the true greatness that Jesus calls for in this Gospel and something that at this point, Simon Peter doesn’t yet understand...
  • So Who Are You Anyway?

    by Owen Griffiths
    “Who are you anyway?” the angry man yelled at me. He’d heard me scolding his son who was riding his bicycle through the playground of the St. Michael Lutheran Summer Tutorial Day Camp in the West Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. Younger children were playing there, and, as Camp Director, I was getting pretty fed up with neighborhood kids using our property as their BMX track and endangering the safety of my campers. I thought, “What do you mean asking ‘Who am I?’ It should be obvious. I’m an adult and your son’s a kid and he has no business doing what he’s doing. I have every right to chastise the little miscreant.” But I didn’t take into consideration the fact that I was a white dude in a shirt and tie in a predominantly Black neighborhood. When I thought about the rather acrimonious encounter I’d had with this angry father, I realized “Who are you anyway?” wasn’t intended as an insult to impugn my right or authority. It was actually a legitimate demand that I identify myself. The next day I saw the father out in his yard. I went over and apologized to him, told him who I was, and explained the difficulty the camp had been having with neighborhood bike riders. We ended up shaking hands and he promised to tell his son not to ride on St. Michael’s property when the younger kids were there...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 19B)(2021)

    by Chelsey Harmon
    A number of years ago, I remember hearing a story about a man who died 40 hours into a marathon video game tournament. The police said when they went to the scene, all of the other participants had simply continued playing (and were still playing as they attended to the body). A cursory google search reveals that this was not an isolated occurrence. Apparently, the drive to play blinds some of these players to the danger they are exposing themselves to, and in turn, they become numb to everything and everyone else. In the process, they lose a part of their humanity. What are they living for, what are they hoping to gain, as they risk it all?
  • The Disciples' Midterm Exams

    by Jim McCrea
    Apparently Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life and the pastor of the massive Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, once described his theology of life in a similar way. Warren once wrote, “Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. […] We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness. He added, “[…] I believe that [life is] kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. “You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is ‘my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.”
  • That's What He Said: Get Behind Me, Satan

    by Betsy Swetenburg
    At thirty years old, David Bailey began to experience awful headaches. He tried to ignore them and refused to see a doctor, but eventually a seizure led to the discovery of a baseball-sized brain tumor and a prediction that he wouldn’t live more than six months. He had two young children and a wife he loved and a promising job in corporate America. Rightfully, David couldn’t help but ask “Why me?” each morning when he woke up. It was the first thought to cross his mind and it stirred up fiery rage in his bones. He wanted God to answer for his suffering. Better yet, he wanted God to put an end to his suffering. After a while, David said he realized that his anger toward God was pointless and it wasn’t helping him get an answer to his question… so he changed his question. He began each day asking, “What now?” “What now, God? What will you teach me through this pain?” Asking what now is what ultimately led David to leave his corporate job and pursue his passion for music full-time. Through song, he shared what he was learning about himself, his faith, and God...

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!!]
  • Sacrifice

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • Cross Purposes

    by Robert Baggott
    ("I have a clergy friend whose grandfather knew a lot about crosses, literally. As my friend tells it, back in the 1950's his grandfather was a Grand Wizard of the KKK. On more than one occasion, his grandfather had led other men in erecting and burning crosses on public property and on private lawns. What motivated the use of these crosses for this purpose? Hatred, animosity, hostility, bitterness, ignorance--all these were driving forces in the life of my friend's grandfather..." - a must-read and, I would dare to say, almost a must-use!!)
  • A Staggering Difference and a Profound Transformation

    by Dan Clendenin
    ["When Patrick Fermor died last year at the age of ninety-six, many people regarded him as Britain's best travel writer. That reputation came from two books that recount his teenage trek across Europe — A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986). When he was eighteen, Fermor left England with little more than a back pack; three years later he arrived in Istanbul....")
  • Censuring and Calling: The Heart of Mark's Gospel

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis)
  • The Imperatives of Discipleship

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis)
  • Jesus Rejects the Title "The Christ"

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis)
  • *Take Up Your Cross

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Last year a woman with the lively name of Pepi Deutsch died at the age of 101. She lived with her daughter Clara in Scarsdale, New York. Her life of self-denial was so great that the New York Times wrote a whole feature about her, much more than even their famous obituary notices. The following is based upon that account. 'Imagine a woman already forty-six years old, living comfortably in a small town in Hungary..." and other illustrations)
  • Follow the Leader

    by Sil Galvan
    When he was six years old, Charlie was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. Although an operation was performed to remove the tumor and the gland, Charlie was not given much of a chance for survival; in fact, the doctors gave him only six months to live. Undaunted by the news, Charlie enrolled in the second grade, did well in his studies, and made a new best friend...
  • Lent 2B

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Proper 19B

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Exegetical Notes (Mark 8:31-38)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • The Tragic Sense of Life

    by Bob Stuhlmann
    ("All of us have to face into the tragedy, the big and little ones, neither denying nor letting their cruelty and power destroy. Jesus had to go up to Jerusalem, my boy of a father had to go to war. Martin Luther King had to go to Memphis and Selma, Some were involved in relationships that caused suffering from the cruelty and abuse, and others from the loss of a great love. We are forged by our tragedies to find a way through the forest of our fears and grief and loss...")
  • *Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Lent 2B)

    by Various Authors
    ("Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University wrote a remarkable study of the significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ titled Jesus Through the Centuries. Dr. Pelikan demonstrates how Jesus has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture..." and many more!!)
  • *More Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Lent 2B)

    by Various Authors
    ("Robert Capon in Hunting the Divine Fox presents a wonderful picture of our typical American Messiah -- and it doesn't look much like Jesus on the cross. . . . almost nobody resists the temptation to jazz up the humanity of Christ. The true paradigm of the ordinary American view of Jesus is Superman...")
  • *Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Ordinary 24B)

    by Various Authors
    ("Marva Dawn in Reaching Out without Dumbing Down suggests the possibility of different christs today when she writes: At the 1987 Vancouver World's Fair, the Christian pavilion's presentation utilized glitzy double-reversed photography and flashing lasers..." and other illustrations)
  • A God Who Forgets

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Tony Campolo tells a wonderful story about a friend of his who had to take a bus trip across central India. He was in one of those old-model buses that should have been retired a decade ago. it was seemingly held together with string and glue. As is often the case with buses in Third World countries, this bus was packed, not only with people, but with packages, furniture, and just about every kind of domesticated animal..." and other illustrations)

Illustrated Resources from Ordinary 24B (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.]
  • Before and After

    by Jim Chern
    every once in a while, twitter will prove it’s value to me. I’ll see something that I doubt I would’ve encountered elsewhere that actually gets me thinking. The other night was one of those times. There was a headline that said 29-Crucial events that divided people’s lives into Before and After. Of course one of my first thoughts was, they couldn’t think of one more and round it up to 30? But anyway, the headline was provocative enough to get me to click. It was a slide show (which normally I hate because of all the pop up ads) but I confess, I clicked through all of them. And it was really fascinating: The first was a United States Marine and his wife on their wedding day with the quote: “The best day of my life after months of waiting to see him again!” That was followed with a wide array of extremes. Two friends in a hospital room posing together with the words “On new years day, my best friend received the kidney he’d waited 18 years for . Today he came home!” A little girl holding a puppy with the headline “Best present ever” (no, we’re not going to talk about me getting a dog) . A mother with two pictures of her holding her baby on the day of her birth and three months later, explaining “My daughter was born 3 months earlier due to infected placenta but she managed to cope with all the challenges and became a healthy baby.” A man with two pictures of himself “As of today, I’m 4 years clean from drugs. I have a career, a house, a dog, and a fiancé.”...
  • Do You Know Who You Are?

    by Delmer Chilton
    Thad Eure was secretary of state in North Carolina for over 50 years, from the 1930s into the 1980s. He was an entertaining and informative speaker who usually referred to himself as “the oldest rat in the Democrat barn.” He liked to tell a story about a politician at a big campaign rally where they were having a fried-chicken dinner out under a tent. The candidate had spent several hours passing out campaign buttons, shaking hands and kissing babies. After he made his speech, he wandered over to the food tent. As he went through the line he was handed a plate with potato salad, green beans, a biscuit and a chicken leg. He leaned over the table and said, “May I have another piece of chicken?” The woman replied, “One piece per person.” He tried again, “I’m a big guy and I’m pretty hungry and this is just a little bitty leg.” She said, “One piece per person.” Finally, the man lost his temper a bit and tried to pull rank, “Look, do you know who I am?” She said, “No sir, but I know who I am. I’m the chicken lady, and it’s one piece per person.”
  • Large-Hearted Theology

    by Bruce Epperly
    Will Campbell, the only white person at the 1957 founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, scandalized many of his friends when he provided pastoral care for members of the Ku Klux Klan. When a reporter asked why he attended the trial of one parishioner, a former KKK imperial wizard who killed a grocer for selling food to African Americans, Campbell responded, “Because I’m a Chris­tian, Goddammit!” He believed that “if you’re gonna love one, you’ve got to love ’em all.”...
  • Learning Discipleship

    by Louise Kalemkerian
    Twelve years ago the community of Nickel Mines, PA was rocked by the murder of five school girls. And within a day or so after the murders the families of the girls, and the whole Amish community, forgave the murderer and embraced his widow and family. While much of the world stood by in disbelief at their actions, forgiveness was a normal response for this community that takes seriously the words of the Lord’s Prayer, and believes that they will not be forgiven their own sins if they do not forgive others. They practice forgiveness in the “small stuff” of the day to day, and when confronted by such a horrific thing as murder, while it’s not easy, they’ve had a lot of practice...
  • Tribalism

    by Ken Kesselus
    Describing a very troubling dilemma of our time, Andrew Sullivan wrote in New York Magazine (September 18, 2017) about a spirit of “tribalism” in America that has produced an “increasingly dangerous dysfunction,” one that also plagues people around the world. As an example, Sullivan quotes George Orwell from several generations ago. The great social critic suggested that a function of tribalism holds that, “There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it.” This is a belief that anything done by me – by us – must be okay, and whatever is done by you – by them – must be wrong. Quite interesting – but quite true. And – quite horrible – because this mentality describes much of American thought and practice in 2018. What tribalism creates, obviously, is an “us against them” mentality. To offer a remedy, Sullivan quotes Pope Francis. In Colombia, as a fragile peace agreement met public opposition, the Pope insisted that grudges be left behind, saying that, “All of us are necessary to create and form a society. This isn’t just done with the ‘pure-blooded’ ones, but rather with everyone. And here is where the greatness of the country lies, in that there is room for all and all are important.”...
  • To Experience God Is to Know Life Is Not Meant to Be Sad

    by Terrance Klein
    Novels that matter reveal us to ourselves. They identify something that most of us have experienced but perhaps have never been able to put into words. In her newest novel, The Gunners, Rebecca Kauffman does a wonderful job of describing what Holly Golightly, in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, once called “the mean reds.” As a child, one of Kauffman’s characters watches an eclipse of the sun with his classmates in the schoolyard. It is a moment of pure joy: What a universe. There was so much to see! So much to feel! And yet, if there was one thing Mikey knew of feelings…There was always that other feeling, crouched and waiting nearby in the shadows, even at a moment like this, even when he was on the brink of the most beautiful thing he would ever see in his life. It was the low tide. The sacred, empty void after the birds had taken flight. The tangled thing that tugged on Mikey, kept him sewn up inside himself, made happiness hard. Mikey didn’t yet have words for this feeling, but already at this young age, he understood that it would never leave him entirely—nature had put it in his heart, and there it would always remain, even when he thought he was in the clear, even when he thought he had left it behind...
  • When the Cross Bears Us

    by Jim McCrea
    Gayle Bach-Watson tells the story of an atheist couple who had a child. The couple never told their daughter anything about Jesus. Then one night when the little girl was 5 years old, her parents had a terrible fight with each other and the dad shot the Mom, in front of the child. Then, the dad shot himself. The little girl watched it all. So she was sent to a foster home. The foster mother was a Christian and took the child to church. On the first day of Sunday School, the foster mother told the teacher that the girl had never heard of Jesus, so she should have patience with her. During the class, the teacher held up a picture of Jesus and said, “Does anyone know who this is?” The little girl said, “I do, that’s the man who was holding me the night my parents died.”...
  • Who Do You Say That I Am?

    by David Russell
    Who are you? No, really – who are you? We can answer that question in all kinds of ways. Identity has always fascinated us, and the idea of a secret identity or hidden identity can capture people’s imagination. You’ve got Bruce Wayne who is actually Batman or Clark Kent who is actually Superman. There is a TV show called the Masked Singer – the basic premise is that celebrities are dressed up in these wild costumes, their identities hidden, as they compete in a singing competition. Or something like that – I have actually watched about 5 minutes of the show. So the Bee is actually former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the Peacock is Donny Osmond, and the Flower is Patti LaBelle. It may not be riveting television, exactly, but there are those times when we have all wondered about a person, maybe someone we know. “Who is he? Who is she - really?”...
  • Lose to Win

    by Mashaun Simon
    During the sermon, I highlighted the 2012 hit by Fantasia Barrino, Lose to Win from her fourth studio album The Side Effects of You. I talked about how the song was an instant hit, becoming an anthem for many fans of the 2004 American Idol winner. I talked about how she explained during an interview that the song, according to the Grammy award winner, was not just about the realities of a failed relationship – but also the realities of anyone who may experience setbacks in life, love and career. “When I say lose to win I don’t want people to think I’m only talking about love,” Barrino said in a 2013 interview. “There’s people out there who’ve lost homes and jobs…I want them to know sometimes you have to lose those things for God to put the right things in your life.”...

Illustrated Resources from Lent 2B (2018 to 2021)

[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.]
  • Shattering Expectations

    by Grazina Bielousova
    one of my favorite musicals is “The Book of Mormon.” Yes, yes, it is controversial and irreverent and offensive. But it is also witty and insightful in a way that helps me see my own frivolity and limitations when it comes to my expectations of God and God’s ways in the world. The story follows two young Mormon missionaries – a goody-two-shoes Elder Price, and an insecure but lovable Elder Cunningham – into a remote Ugandan village where poverty, AIDS, and the terror of a local warlord all reign. By the end of Act I, the audience finds the exemplary missionary Price crushed not just by the brutal reality of his assignment, but also, because God did not live up to his expectations. Even though Price had prayed and dreamt of being sent to Orlando ever since his childhood trip to Disneyland, he ended up in rural Uganda. In sharp contrast to Price’s trivial existential crisis, a young local girl, Nabulungi, fosters expectations of much-needed redemption of her own. Upon hearing the message preached by the missionaries, she creates her own vision of the earthly paradise promised by Americans: a land free of poverty and suffering...
  • To Lose Our Lives in Christ

    by Delmer Chilton
    You can read about Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Center, Texas, on their website. The pastor’s wife was struggling with the death of her mother and with the question, “Why is my life so empty?” She decided she was called to be like her mother in giving unconditional love to others. She and her husband took the state classes to be foster parents, and it wasn’t long before the idea spread throughout the congregation. Bennett Chapel is a tiny congregation, made up of working-class people making a living as loggers, or down at the chicken plant, or at the hardwood flooring company. They didn’t have much to start with. Taking in these children was a tremendous risk and a major economic burden. But they decided to use what they had to make a difference in the lives of hurt, abused and unwanted children. Between 1998 and 2003, the members of that tiny congregation adopted 73 children...
  • Divine Things and Human Things

    by Joe Evans
    Pixar is good at making movies, and Soul tells the story of two characters; one is trying to figure out how to get back to his life so he can fulfill his purpose. His name is Joe Gardner. And the other - not yet named, just numbered 22- is not sure if she's ready to start living because she doesn't know what her life's purpose should be. It's kind of a nebulous concept, this movie, but it gets to a feeling that a lot of people feel. We all ask: Who am I? What am I here for? And, sometimes, probably too often, we ask ourselves, Shouldn't I be doing something more?...
  • Sermon Starters (Lent 2B)(2021)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Throughout much of her life actress Helen Hayes was regularly hailed as “The First Lady of the American Theater.” Clearly this was a lofty, flattering title. Ms. Hayes must have felt honored each time she heard it. Or maybe not. Because as it turns out, Ms. Hayes is the one who came up with that title for herself! She cooked it up, stuck it into a press release, and forever after journalists made use of this sobriquet or nickname whenever they wrote articles about Hayes. But really the same thing happens all the time. In our age of media hype it is not at all unusual for actors, athletes, and yes, even preachers to come up with their own sobriquets or designations. But of course the sign of really having made it is not just having such a distinction attached to your name. No, the truly stratospheric are themselves the point of comparison. So now we often hear the claim that a certain person is “The Michael Jordan of . . .” as in the Olympics some years ago when Hermann Maier was called “The Michael Jordan of downhill skiing” and George Hackl “The Michael Jordan of luge!” And the list goes on...
  • Lent 2B (2018)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Throughout much of her life actress Helen Hayes was regularly hailed as 'The First Lady of the American Theater'. Clearly this was a lofty, flattering title. Ms. Hayes must have felt honored each time she heard it. Or maybe not. Because as it turns out, Ms. Hayes is the one who came up with that title for herself!...")
  • Picking Up Our Crosses: Dismantling Fear

    by Janet Hunt
    At the urging of a colleague, I am digging into a little book by Alexander Shmermann entitled For the Life of the World. Published in 1963, his wisdom seems all the more relevant today. In essence, his thesis is this: that we were, we are, created to be priests — mediators — between God’s good creation and God. This is how he articulates our role in this way: He (sic) stands at the center of the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from God and offering it to God — and by filling the world with this eucharist, he transforms his life, the one that he receives from the world into life in God, into communion with him...
  • A Hopeless Cause

    by Beth Johnston
    In 1940 Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Churchill had the gift to stir the emotions and instill loyalty. But in 1940 he would have been speaking to a nation at war for the second time in a generation. In his speeches he was careful not to promise an easy victory. He met with his Cabinet on May 13 he told them that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” History buffs know the well known phrases - “we will never surrender” and “this was their finest hour”. His speeches told people two things - ONE: winning the war would not be easy, and TWO they could do it because there was really no choice! The purpose of the speeches was to rally the people of the far-flung empire and do the impossible but necessary task of defeating the Nazis!...
  • The Impossible Quest

    by Beth Johnston
    We would all agree that no teenager should have to even think about a “bucket list” but Becca Schofield, a Riverview NB teen with brain cancer, had to consider it. Her list included fun things any teen would plan but it also included “promoting acts of kindness”. Of course, we’ve all been hearing about “random acts of kindness” or even “guerilla goodness” for some time now, but somehow, the fact that this was a dying wish of a TEENAGER who was thinking of others, struck a cord with people. The wish was simple: that people would do something nice and post it on social media with the hash tag #BeccaToldMeTo. Even though she was losing her life she wanted to reach out and make the world a better place...
  • A Jesus Precept: Take Up Your Cross

    by Steve Pankey
    "Wonder" tells the story of Augie Pullman, a fifth-grade boy who was born with a rare, genetic defect, known as Treacher Collins syndrome, that left his face disfigured. After twenty-seven surgeries and years of homeschooling, Auggie’s parents enrolled him in a mainstream prep school to begin junior high. The movie, and the novel, tell the story of that year. The movie organizes itself in a few different ways. It switches perspective among several of the major characters. It jumps across the high points of the calendar from summer vacation, through Halloween, Christmas, spring play season, and graduation. It also uses Auggie’s homeroom teacher, Mr. Browne, to carry time forward. Each month, Mr. Browne unveils a new precept for the class to consider. Precepts he explains, are rules about really important things. They are words to live by. For Mr. Browne’s students, each precept is a core value that defines their common life...
  • Take Up YOUR Cross

    by James Pitts
    Clarence Jordan viewed the empty cross of the resurrection as God’s refusal to stay on the other side of the grave. “He raised not just an invitation to us to come to heaven when we died, but as a declaration that He himself has now established permanent residence on earth,” Clarence said. “The resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave, here and now, in the midst of life. The Good News of the resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with him, but that he is risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner brothers with him”...
  • A Letter to America

    by Andrew Prior
    in 1959, Dwight Eisenhower said that Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron...
  • Can I Give It Back Now?

    by Andrew Prior
    Two of my friends went to the obligatory prenatal film… the one they show the newly expecting parents a video of a baby being born, so they have some idea of what it will be like having the baby. Linley told me the presenter said people often found it a very confronting movie, "So we leave the lights off for a couple of minutes after the end to give you a chance to get yourself together." It was confronting. The film finished, and everyone sat, very silent, in the darkness. Then a small voice said, "Can I give it back now?" There are two things we know. Once we're pregnant, we can't give the baby back. And once we are alive, we are going to die. There is no other way out...
  • How to Save Your Life Without Losing Your Soul

    by Melissa Bane Sevier
    Claire Hajaj, author of Ishmael’s Oranges, has a personal story that is exceedingly complex by anyone’s standards. She was raised in Kuwait, the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Palestinian father. When she was ready to tell that story, she did so in a novel, in order to examine all the influences without hurting individuals. She was able to see both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, which often made her unacceptable to people on both sides. In an online interview she talks about a recent clash between the two groups...
  • How Shall I Die?

    by Debie Thomas
    What does it mean to deny myself? Living, as I do, in a culture that doesn’t imprison, torture, or kill Christians for our faith, how shall I deny myself so that the gospel might thrive, here and now? How shall I save my life by losing it for Jesus’s sake in 21st century America? How shall I die? This week, I have asked myself these questions in light of the tragedy in Florida, and I’ve been struck hard by one realization: I live in such crippling fear of suffering and death that I use up a huge amount of my mental, spiritual, and physical energy each day trying to stave off both...
  • Following the Crucified One

    by Fritz Wendt
    In Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel “Silence” (Chinmoku), the young Portuguese Jesuit priest Sebastião Rodrigues travels to Japan to assist the local Church and investigate reports that his mentor, a Jesuit priest in Japan named Ferreira, has committed apostasy. The novel relates the trials of Christians in the time of Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion, and the increasing hardship suffered by Rodrigues. As he and his companion arrive in Japan in 1639, they find the local Christian population driven underground. To ferret out hidden Christians, security officials force suspected Christians to trample on a fumi-e, a carved image of Christ. Those who refuse are imprisoned and killed by anazuri, i.e. being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled...

Illustrated Resources from Ordinary 24B (2015 to 2017)

[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.]
  • God's Story, Our Story

    by Danáe M. Ashley
    on June 25, 2004, the movie adaptation of The Notebook came out. The story is about an elderly couple that is dealing with the wife's advancing Alzheimer's disease. She lives in an assisted care facility and her husband visits her regularly, always with a notebook in hand. What the story reveals, through a series of flashbacks to when they were young, is that the husband is reading, from his notebook, their love story over and over again, in hopes that his wife will remember some of it one day...
  • The Most Important Rule

    by Phil Bloom
    The Seattle Mariner, Mike Sweeney, gives a good example of making a spiritual decision and sticking with it. Here is what he said in an interview: 'It is difficult to attend Mass on the road in the midst of a long, arduous season, but I make the effort because Jesus did so much for me. After leaving the stadium on a Saturday evening at midnight, getting up at 7 am to attend 7:30 am Mass is not the most exciting thing to do on the way to the stadium — but there is not a better place to be on a Sunday morning than at Mass.'...
  • Will the Real Stephen Colbert Show Up?

    by Jim Chern
    When the Colbert Report was at it's best, he was able to poke fun by pointing out something unintentionally funny without it being mean. For example he had this bit called Difference Makers which looked like something you might see on any network nightly news - you know like a human interest story. He would interview everyday people who really believed they were taking some highly principled stand...
  • Closer to Home

    by Tom Cox
    Many years ago when Nikita Khrushchev was in power in the Soviet Union, he was speaking in front of the Supreme Soviet, with delegates there from all over the nation. In his speech, he was severely critical of Stalin. While he was speaking, a note was sent up from the audience to the platform. It read, 'What were you doing when Stalin committed all these atrocities?'...
  • Constance and Her Companions

    by Evan Garner
    Constance was the first Anglican nun to die of yellow fever in the 1878 outbreak. She and others with her accepted a dismal fate so that they might care for those everyone else had left behind. Although not cut down by machine guns or burned on a pyre, these women, who had already pledged their lives to the Lord, gave even their life for the Lord's work. Today, we remember their sacrifice and ask how God is calling us to do the same...
  • Proper 19B (2015)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Some while back I watched an episode of the classic TV show The Waltons in which the oldest son, John Boy, attends his first day of classes as a university student. John Boy was raised in a poor family that lived in a very rural area of Virginia....")
  • The American Dream: Vision or Illusion?

    by Terrance Klein
    Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He grew up a black boy in urban Baltimore, 'naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease'. His new book, Between the World and Me, is addressed to his son. It's not written for whites, though all of America should read it. As a black man, he writes that the American Dream is not a vision. It's an illusion...
  • Expectations

    by Nicholas Lang
    "I read an interesting article this week written by a woman who worked on a church staff for years. She wonders about a congregation's expectations. She questions how healthy or realistic it is for the church structure to be geared toward meeting every need, developing everyone spiritually and organizing all inward and outward ministry. When a faith community is church-centralized,' she writes 'the staff is expected to take full spiritual responsibility for people, which is well beyond their capacity..." and other quotes
  • Identity Crisis

    by Jim McCrea
    Adoniram Judson served as a Baptist missionary in Burma for 40 years in the first half of the 1800's. During the course of his work, he lost his wife and each of his children to illness arising from the harsh climate of that area. He himself underwent torture and imprisonment, but he refused to give up and ultimately earned a grudging form of respect for his gentle spirit. However, after years in the field, he still had only a single convert...
  • Not Far Enough Behind

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Luca Signorelli created a fresco cycle for the cathedral in Orvieto, Italy, that features a panel titled Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist. In front of a classical-style building the Antichrist preaches while horrors and supernatural events take place all around...
  • That Photo

    by Katie Munnik
    A small boy washed up on a beach, his knees bent beneath him like a child in bed. But he is only cold flesh now, left behind by the waves. When that photo appeared to the world this past week, the stories in the lectionary incongruously spoke of healing and hope. But that photo screamed out a story of drowned children, a lost mother and a father left with empty hands as the world watched...
  • Let It Go!

    by Steve Pankey
    While flying high above the earth, the engine malfunctioned and the plane was going down. The pilot came out of the cockpit with a parachute strapped to his back and said, 'Folks, there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that the plane is going to crash and there is nothing I can do about it. The good news is that there are several parachute packs on the wall back there. The other bad news is that there are only four of them and there are five of you. Good luck...
  • Will You Forget Who I Am?

    by Andrew Prior
    includes several quotes
  • A Wilderness of Names

    by Nancy Rockwell
    William Barnwell, an Episcopal priest who lives in New Orleans, runs a different kind of Bible study in Louisiana's infamous Angola maximum security prison, guiding the men in conversations about their own lives. Sessions run four hours long, and over time Barnwell says he has seen hardened haters, white men with swastika and KKK tattoos, and black men with tattoos of violent gangs, begin to call each other friends...
  • Revolutionary Danger

    by Timothy Ross
    Caesarea Philippi is a site of incomparable beauty and longstanding political turmoil. Known today as Banias, or Panias, this once Syrian, now Israeli-controlled site in the foothills of Mount Hermon is a major source of the Jordan River. Spring-fed streams tumble through the area, making it one of the most picturesque sites in all the Holy Land. Yet the marks of violent struggle are visible too. The hulls of blown out military vehicles lie frozen as memorials to Israeli soldiers from the Yom Kippur War. Sheep graze in pastures with warnings posted in three languages: 'Danger Mines!'...
  • Finding Our One Thing

    by Beth Scibienski
    I'm reminded of the quote from the missionary Jim Eliot, 'He is no fool who would choose to lose a thing he cannot keep to buy a thing he could never lose'. Twila Paris wrote a song inspired by that quote entitled He is no fool. In this song, she weaves the stories of the missionary Jim Elliot who was killed by the people to whom he felt called to bring the gospel and the story of Eric Liddell, the runner who refused to run on the Sabbath. Eric's story is recounted in the movie Chariots of Fire...
  • Right Answer, Wrong Conclusion

    by Leonard Sweet
    One of the most important frontiers being explored by today's scientists is that of artificial intelligence -- that is, teaching computers to think like humans. In fact, there are many reputable scientists who believe that by the middle of this century computers will be able to think more efficiently and effectively than human beings. At that point the sci-fi horror movies of robots taking over the planet will have some credibility...
  • How to Be First

    by Keith Wagner
    "Robert Roberts writes about a fourth grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called 'balloon stomp'. A balloon was tied to every child's leg, and the object of the game was to pop everyone else's balloon while protecting one's own. The last person with an intact balloon would win. The fourth graders in Roberts' story entered into the spirit of the game with vigor..." and other short illustrations

Illustrated Resources from Lent 2B (2015 to 2017)

[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 Enemy Within

    by L. Gregory Bloomquist
    A little over 5 years ago, my wife and I were at home enjoying a day off from our busy activities. Our girls were away and Jonathan was out playing on his new bike. The phone rang: the voice on the other end said: "there's been an accident; you'd better come over right away; Jonathan's been hurt". I got in my car and rushed to the friend's house where Jonathan had been playing. I saw Jonathan's bike lying in the lawn, next to the ramps that he and his friend had made to practice jumps. Jonathan was sitting on the ground being held by his friend's mom, his arm covered by a blanket. I ran over to him. He was shaking, his face a little white, tears streaked his cheeked. I asked him what had happened. He told me that they had been practicing jumps on their bikes when he lost control and l anded sideways. I said to him: "so you twisted your arm? It'll be OK." He said, with a weak voice: "No it won't, it hurts." I said: "well, when you twist something it always hurts, but it gets better." I was feeling relieved that all that had happened was that he had twisted his arm and nothing worse. But, Jonathan insisted: "no, I didn't just twist it, Dad, look" At that point he took off the blanket that still covered his arm. His arm was straight to his wrist, but then it took an unnatural 90 degree turn outwards, so that his hand was almost perpendicular to the rest of his arm...
  • Losing to Gain

    by Bob Chell
    ("He was 30 years old when he came into the prison where I am pastor. He will become eligible for parole when he is 65. He will complete his sentence when he is 100 years old. One could easily say he has 'lost his life.' Here is what he has told me about coming to prison. 'This is the best thing that ever happened to me.' 'Coming to prison saved my life.' 'I lost everything to gain everything.' If you are skeptical about this I don't blame you. I would be too if I didn't see his smile when he says these things...")
  • Turning the Soil

    by Grace Hackney
    ("C.S. Lewis has famously said that 'Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less'. He writes: 'Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, swarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intellectual chap who took a real interest in what you said to him...")
  • Picking Up My Cross: How Shall I Die?

    by Janet Hunt
    ("There has been this 'opportunity' floating around Face Book lately. If you follow the provided link and insert the your name and the year of your birth, you will be given a photograph of a gravestone with your name and cause of death. I've done it a couple of times and while the year is always the same, the cause of death differs. Indeed, last week, I heard my mother laughing from her chair. When I asked what was so funny, she said she had just done it, too...")
  • Radical Faith, Radical Question

    by Nicholas Lang
    ("On Friday, Malcolm Boyd, the Episcopal priest who in the 1960's took prayer out of church onto the city streets in a slangy vernacular not found in our Prayer Book, died in Los Angeles. He was 91. He wrote more than two dozen books but none of his prayers were as raw and urgent as those in the 1965 collection Are You Running With Me, Jesus?. One prayer begins with a walk through a Detroit slum. 'Look up at that window Lord, where the old guy is sitting,' Boyd wrote...") Whatever It Takes ("Last week my husband, Philip, was taking part in an orchestral rehearsal, as he does. The rehearsal was taking place in a school in London. It was a splendid building, and clearly the school was trying its hardest to inculcate in its students an ethos of hard work. To this end, they had decorated the school with inspirational slogans, painted on the walls. The one which confronted Philip as he rehearsed said, in large letters. 'Whatever it takes'. That was all, 'Whatever it takes'...")
  • Whatever It Takes

    by Anne Le Bas
    Last week my husband, Philip, was taking part in an orchestral rehearsal, as he does. The rehearsal was taking place in a school in London. It was a splendid building, and clearly the school was trying its hardest to inculcate in its students an ethos of hard work. To this end, they had decorated the school with inspirational slogans, painted on the walls. The one which confronted Philip as he rehearsed said, in large letters. 'Whatever it takes'. That was all, 'Whatever it takes'...
  • "X" Discipleship

    by Rick Miles
    My first assignment as a priest was at St. Columba’s in Big Bear, California. It’s a mission congregation located in a resort town at around 8,000 feet above Los Angeles. ABC Sports came one weekend there to televise the Winter “X” Games, so I decided to head for the lodge and watch the action. Now, just in case anyone is not familiar with the concept of X Games, the “X” stands for extreme. The more extreme and dangerous the sport, the better is the idea. Any sport, any activity, it seems, is better if taken to some new “extreme.” Snowboarding is great fun, as far as it goes; but air-boarding (riding your snowboard down to earth after jumping from an airplane) is extremely better...
  • The Verbs of Lent

    by Larry Patten
    ("Jesus, however, said the troubling verb, 'follow me'. Following is scrambling across the worst literal or figurative bridges in life, abandoning the safer side for no good reason other than faith. Following Jesus means looking foolish, having both cheeks slapped, handing your coat off to another, and even treating your worst enemy with respect.")
  • Who Are You?

    by Andrew Prior
    (includes several quotes)
  • Names

    by Nancy Rockwell
    ("In trust, then, that I, too, am being named, I offer from my own soul's journey, these names for Jesus: Rabbi, or Teacher, the name Magdalene called him by on Easter; Lover of My Soul, for all the times I have been comforted in my sorrows by a word of his; Friend, who bears me up and bears with me; Brother, whose spirit is as familiar to me as my own brother's, perhaps more so; Hope, for in his tales both clarity and hope have been revealed...")
  • *The Big "W"

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["Did you come to worship this morning as a 'scarf hound' or as a 'spoiled dog'? Are you here because your soul trusts in God's providence and presence, and hungers for the divine gift of being able to draw near to God? Or are you here because you are doing God a 'favor' by showing up?..."]
  • Images of Peter

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Images of the Crucifixion

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Redemption

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2012 to 2014

[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.]
  • Following Jesus Is for Losers

    by J. C. Austin
    ("I remember reading the biography of John Lewis, the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the American civil rights struggle, and he talked about what redemptive suffering is really like. Now before then, I'd felt like there was a hole in the philosophy of non-violent existence. What do you do when somebody else is being violently attacked?...")
  • Taking Up the Cross

    by Phil Bloom
    ("I think about C.S. Lewis. He was comfortable as an atheist. He didn't want God to exist. But he felt himself pursued. He tried to escape belief in God and in Jesus, but kept finding himself checked. Finally the moment arrived - checkmate. C.S. Lewis knelt in his room. He said that he was 'the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.'...")
  • Proper 19B (2012)

    by Brendan Byrne
    ("In his book Fundamentalism and Freedom, the Scottish minister Peter Cameron records a church meeting in which two ministers who were moving on to new placements were farewelled by their old congregations. The representative from the first congregation declared that their former minister had achieved membership growth of 25% and revenue growth of 50%, was adored by young and old alike...")
  • Following Jesus One Step at a Time

    by Kyle Childress
    ("Like so much of the work of ministry, it is rarely the big or grandiose that have much to do with God. It's in the small and mundane where God seems to start working. So start small and take it a step at a time. I remember the wisdom from major league catcher Rick Dempsey who said that good baseball players can't think about winning the World Series or winning 162 games...")
  • Proper 19B (2012)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "Cary Grant was walking down the street in New York one afternoon. He was spotted by someone who excitedly did the whole stop, stare, double-take, stare, stammer thing. 'You're, you're, you're . . . Rock Hudson. No, that's not right. You're, you're, you're uh, uh, Gary Cooper. No, that's not it..."

    Scroll down the page for this resource.

  • Crosses Half-Price

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Some time ago I volunteered to look after two of our granddaughters. We had a great time visiting all the toy shops we could find, having milkshakes and looking in shop windows. One of those shop windows was a jewellery shop which had lots of pretty things on display. A big red 'Sale' sign caught my attention and underneath another it another sign that read, 'Crosses half price'...")
  • Who Are You Jesus?

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • On Cross-Bearing

    by Janet Hunt
    ("Dick O'Keefe seems like a good name for a playground bully, don't you think? One day when Dick O'Keefe decided to go after a first grader, apparently my dad had had enough. So he stepped between the bully and the 6-year-old and told him to pick on someone his own size. And Dick O'Keefe went after him instead...")
  • Taking Up Our Crosses

    by Janet Hunt
    ("It was more than 15 years ago that I found myself caught up short. We were then still keeping vigil with my dad. The days had been long with one running into another and with each passing hour it became more and more apparent what the outcome would be. All that time while we tried to hang on to hope we knew ever more surely that it would need to be a larger hope which would carry us now...")
  • Jesus, You Are a Loser

    by Beth Johnston
    "Do you remember Newhart, the sitcom set in an inn, in a small town in Vermont? Dick Lauden's real job was as an author of 'how to books' and the inn was really a hobby! The show involved the conversations he and his wife had with many of the oddest locals one is ever likely to meet...
  • Are We Ashamed of Jesus?

    by James Kegel
    "Yet there are Christians who are being persecuted now. Time magazine just ran an article on the difficulties faced by Christians in the Middle East some of whom are facing exorbitant taxation, conversion to Islam or even death for their faith. At one time Christians numbered one quarter of the population and now it is only 5% and it is conceivable that the Christians may soon be gone from the homelands of the faith..."
  • Getting Behind Jesus - Again

    by Phyllis Kersten
    ("Two of Merlyn's daughters, members of our church, asked me to visit their mom as the end of her five-month battle with cancer drew near. Merlyn was 72, and her life had not been easy. She was widowed at 43 and raised her four children by herself. When I came to see her, she was alone, lying in bed by the window in the back room of the house....")
  • The Christology of 'The Hunger Games'

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Like the combatants in The Hunger Games, we're forced to hurt each other as a means of survival. Could there be a better illustration for the doctrine of Original Sin? No one of us created the snarl of sin, yet each of us finds ourselves suffering from its effects...")
  • Lost in the Moment

    by Jeffrey London
    ("I head the story recently of a youth group that traveled to a big city to work with the homeless. Upon their arrival, the youth group was glad to hand out gifts of candy and sweets to the homeless who had gathered to greet them. But one man looked approached one of the kids and said sternly, 'We don't need candy. What we need are socks'. The youth was stunned. He realized that candy and sweets were what the young people wanted. They'd been thinking more about themselves than about those whom they were called to serve...")
  • Ordinary 24B (2012)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("I once knew a professional athlete. She was a 100 meters runner. At the age of 28, she was coming towards the end of her 10-year career. To maintain her sport, she worked five days a week and trained seven evenings a week. Her only time off was going shopping on Saturday mornings and going to church on Sunday mornings. She ate nothing -- absolutely nothing - that was not on her diet sheet...")
  • Who Do You Say That I Am?

    by Beth Quick
    ("Jesus Christ Superstar makes me want to be part of the story. Watching and listening, I just want to be part of it. As a teenager, nothing drew me in to the gospel story quite like Superstar. Holy Week and Easter came alive for me in a totally new way through the musical. I wanted to know what made each character tick – what motivated them and what did they see in Jesus, I wondered?...")
  • For the Sake of the Gospel

    by Jan Richardson
    ("This blessing cannot help it; it's the way it was designed. Lay it down and it rises again. Release it and it returns. Give it away and it makes a path back to you. There is no explaining how it delights in reappearing when you have ceased to hold it, no hiding the sly smile it wears when it shows up at your door...")
  • *Do You Know Your Place?

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["The world of sled dog racing is famous for a truism: 'If you aren't the lead dog, the scenery never changes'. In other words, only the lead dog gets to see what is up ahead. Only the lead dog gets to sniff out new possibilities, gets to choose a new path. For the rest of the pack, there is nothing but a view of bushy backsides..."]
  • Good Gossip

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("The Voice is a talent show that keeps the judges in the dark, so to speak. It requires them to judge all the contestants only on the quality of their voices. The judges' backs are turned and they never see the performer. Power, poise, presence, emotion, erudition, excitement — it all has to be conveyed to the judges only by the sound of the voice — not by any see-me-showmanship...")

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2011

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Getting Busy Living by Getting Busy Dying

    by Luke Bouman
    ("A recent commercial on television proves my point. Former sports stars gather around former NFL player Emmitt Smith. Emmitt sits in a rocking chair in a badly imitated state of semi-senility, all because his beard has gone gray. But with the help of a coloring product, Emmitt's beard is transformed...")
  • *Monologue

    by Mark English
    ("The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are read by more than a few. But the one that is most read and commented on is the gospel according to you. You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, By the things that you do and the words that you say...")
  • The Way of the Messiah

    by Denis Hanly, MM
    This little boy, many years ago, he said to his father, the little boy said, he said, “Does God love Adolf Hitler? You know, the one who killed all those people.” And the father said, “Well, um.” The little boy said, “Will God forgive him for all the terrible things he did?” And then his father couldn’t answer him. So he said, “I think this is what happens. I think what happens is when Adolf Hitler dies, God is going to meet him at the gate. “And He’ll say, ‘Adolf, you’ve been a very terrible person and nobody will talk to you and nobody wants you. “‘But I’ll go in to the Jews that suffered the most under you — who are all happy in heaven now — and I’ll ask them will they forgive you.’” And, of course, God goes in and they’re in heaven and they say, “Of course. Everything is forgiven.” And that’s how Adolf Hitler gets to heaven, according to this eight-year-old, nine-year-old little boy...
  • Proper 9B (2009)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Jesus' words in Mark 8:38 about not being ashamed of him remind me of another famous passage from Romans 1 where the apostle Paul makes clear that he is NOT ashasmed of the gospel and so intends to keep on proclaiming it no matter what. Most of the time when someone takes pains to tell you how he is not ashamed about something, the reason is because a person could be ashamed of it....")
  • Life Lost and Found

    by Scott Kershner
    ("The title of David James Duncan's novel The Brothers K refers to Dostoyevsky but also to the 'K' of a baseball strikeout and, improbably, to the cross. Everett, one of the brothers, offers his own definition of 'K'...)
  • Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

    by Andy Lauer
    "Brennan Manning critiques: 'The more we let go of our concepts and images, which always limit God, the bigger God grows and the more we approach the mystery of his indefinability..."
  • The Heartbreaking Messiah

    by David Lose
    ("Have you ever heard the sound of a heart breaking? Do you remember what it sounds like? Maybe it was your son or daughter's heart breaking when they graduated from high school or college only to find the job market had disappeared, taking with it any chance for the future they'd dreamt about...")
  • Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

    by Glenn Mitchell
    ("I recently purchased the 1800's homestead where I've lived for the past five years, and I'm busy renovating the house and outbuildings. There are a few old apple trees on the three-and-a-half acre property, my favorite of which sends forth green every year from a trunk that appears 90 percent dead...")
  • Lent 2B (2009)

    by Kristin Ofstad
    ("In Ethiopia, Birtukan Mideksa has been sentenced to life in prison. She spends her days and nights in solitary confinement in a two-metre by two-metre cell. She cannot leave it to see daylight or even to receive visitors. Her crime: refusing to say sorry...")
  • In Which We Set Our Minds Somewhere

    by Jan Richardson
    ("Being part of the St. Brigid's community involves following the Rule of St. Benedict, the way of life that the founder of the Benedictine order laid out for his followers in sixth-century Italy. The Rule is elegant in the way that it seeks to order a community for the purpose of growing in its love of God...")
  • Was Peter Looking for a Bailout?

    by Debra Samuelson
    ("James Richard Lahman tells the story of a young woman he met by the name of Ann. Ann was a bright and articulate physician, 30 something, from Australia. She had grown up in a working-class Catholic family -- not poor but they certainly did not consider themselves rich, as her father had to work two jobs to put food on the table....")
  • *The Miracle Fruit

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["'Miraculin.' If you haven't heard of it before, you'll no doubt hear of it in the future. In fact, you will probably be invited to a 'miraculin' party someday. 'Miraculin' or 'miracle fruit' is a small berry that grows on a plant in West Africa that looks like a rhododendron..."]
  • *Putting God to Work in Your Life through Peas, Squash, Lettuce, Thyme

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["Day-laborers. You know where they are. You probably don't know who they are, but you know where you can find them. Every community has them. They gather on a street corner or parking lot before dawn. There they wait, watch, and hope that you will drive by and give them a day's work. Can you imagine what it must be life to live like this?..."]

Illustrated Resources from 2006 to 2008

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Losing Your You

    by Robert Allred
    ("He was called 'Mr. Super Volunteer', at his post every day as he commanded the community clothes closet like it was a company of cadets. Fellow volunteers and those with needs loved and admired Bill because of his contagious zeal, passion, and deep dynamic drive to fulfill their mission...")
  • The One Way to Happiness

    by Phil Bloom
    ("a Roman boy who lived back in the first century. Let's say that his name was Fidus. His father served as a soldier in Galilee and during that time, Fidus had the opportunity to visit Nazareth...")
  • Who Do YOU Say That I Am?

    by Luke Bouman
    ("Sam woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, his blankets, covers, and sheets kicked off, and with his pillow in a big jumble at the end of the bed. He sat bolt upright in bed, looked around, looked at his clock, and looked over at his wife sleeping next to him...")
  • When Jesus Spoke Plainly

    by Dan Clendenin
    ("In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning describes what he calls a myth that flourishes today in many of our churches, the suggestion that Christian discipleship consists of one rousing victory after another...)
  • *Closer to Home

    by Tom Cox
    ("In time of tragedy, you are the still centre of our being; In time of joy, you are the wine of abundance and rejoicing; In time of adversity, you are by my side...")
  • *It's Not Fair!

    by Frank Fisher
    ("'It's not fair!' There were some days, when those words seemed to be the only words I heard at our house They become so pervasive they even influenced our family's search for pets...")
  • Remember the Cross

    by James Fitzgerald
    "A while back I heard a story from a church in the deep South. Every Sunday morning they gathered to give God thanks for the grace that accomplished their salvation. Every Sunday morning they prayed that God would help them be a witness of holiness in their community..."
  • Andrew

    Narrative Sermon by Sarah Foulger
  • Are You a Christ-Follower?

    by David Gallimore
    "In all the tragic news this week, did you notice the story about the little girl who was abducted by her father and was finally found in Wyoming? The father had killed his estranged wife in Topeka, kidnapped his daughter, and fled..."
  • Ordinary 24B (2006)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a very bright young man who was the greatest speller in his school. He won all the spelling bees even when he was in sixth grade. Then he went into the bees with other schools, and finally in the whole city. He kept on winning, easily...")
  • Preaching Helps (Lent 2B)(2006)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Throughout much of her life actress Helen Hayes was regularly hailed as 'The First Lady of the American Theater'. Clearly this was a lofty, flattering title. Ms. Hayes must have felt honored each time she heard it. Or maybe not. Because as it turns out, Ms. Hayes is the one who came up with that title for herself!...
  • Proper 19B (2006)

    by Scott Hoezee
    The place reeked of politics. Everywhere you looked there were reminders of the powers that be. On one corner was a shrine to Caesar Augustus. Not far from there you could view statues dedicated to the Roman heroes of old. As you entered the city limits, you were greeted with the sign, 'Welcome to Philip's Caesarville!'...
  • A King Like No Other

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("The story is told of a man living in London during the Second World War. Every night German planes appeared overhead dropping countless bombs on the city below. Buildings burst into flames, sirens wailed incessantly, entire blocks were reduced to rubble. One day this Londoner was sitting in the wreckage of his home. The walls remained, but the roof was gone. The man himself was near despair. His home ruined, his city devastated, his country under attack. These thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door...")
  • *Identity Crisis

    by Don Hoffman
    ("Would you like to know the most reassuring fact about Mother Teresa? It isn't that she had thick calluses on her feet, or that she cared deeply about the poor, or that she was willing to touch people dying of AIDS...")
  • Lives That Matter

    by Beth Johnston
    "A few months ago I watched a TV movie about the first person of colour to become a Navy Diver in the US Navy. It seemed that he had to work harder than everyone else to pass the skill and endurance tests, but finally he did..." and another illustration
  • Gain and Loss

    by Nancy Jo Kemper
    ("The late Henri Nouwen, a teacher of Christian spirituality, wrote that 'the great paradox of life is that those who lose their lives will gain them' and that 'this paradox becomes visible in very ordinary situations....")
  • Proper 9B (2006)

    by Kirk Alan Kubicek
    "You have seen them everywhere: bracelets, key rings, and just about anything that can be marked with the logo, WWJD: 'What Would Jesus Do?' It’s daunting to wear one of those bracelets because in most situations, how would we be qualified to answer that question?..."
  • The Tongue of a Teacher

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("The one lesson that I do recall vividly, however, was the one in which she read us a problem from our textbooks – a problem she told us firmly that we would not be doing. 'A train,' she said, 'was travelling at such-and-such a speed when a man threw a rolled up newspaper out of the window at such and such an angle...")
  • Reality Show

    by Thomas Long
    ("Not far from where I live is a geological oddity. Stone Mountain is a bald and rounded mass of granite a mile and a half long and nearly a thousand feet high. Eons ago, molten rock pushed up from the earth's core to the surface, then bubbled out and hardened into a monolith..." and another illustration)
  • Brrr, the Water Is Cold

    by Edward Markquart
    ("A favorite novel of mine is a novel entitled THE FALL by Albert Camus. Camus is a French novelist, and his book is a classic of modern literature. Camus is often considered the father of a philosophy called Existentialism..." and other illustrations)
  • The Stumbling Block and the Way of the Cross

    by Edward Markquart
    ("In a book, the author by the name of C. M. Clowe makes the distinction between burdens, thorns and crosses. He wrote a book entitled THE CROSS IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE, and I find his book to be a helpful elaboration of the text for today..." and other illustrations)
  • Christ and Everything Else Thrown In

    by Peter Marty
    ("On a number of occasions, Elton Trueblood told the story of John Woolman, a successful Quaker merchant in the 18th century who lived a wonder life until God convicted him one day of the offense of holding slaves. After that, John Woolman gave up his prosperous business...")
  • Beyond Shame

    by David Martyn
    ("In the news this week, Sir Benjamin Slade is looking for an heir to his $13 million country estate, including 13th-century manor house, in bucolic Somerset. He is 59 years old, childless and none of the relatives want to inherit. It does after all require $140,000 annual upkeep; the driveway needs $70,000 for repair and the stables a million..." and another illustration)
  • Who Is Jesus?

    by David Martyn
    ("Anastasia DeSousa died last Wednesday from gunshot wounds in Montreal. Our news media has been filled with the story ever since. On that very same day police in Baghdad found the bodies of 65 men who had been tortured, shot and dumped. Car bombs killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens more...")
  • Lent 2B (2006)

    by Suzanne Metz
    ("In Yann Martel's wonderful novel Life of Pi, Pi decides to explore a number of different religions in his native India. He has a rather remarkable reflection on a conversation he had with a Roman Catholic priest, Father Martin, about the crucifixion...")
  • Gospel Reflection (Mark 8)

    by Thom Shuman
    "My 'cross' has never been one person, one situation, one condition, one unbearable thing or another. My cross/es are all those little markers I have dropped along the way to the Kingdom as I have struggled, and will continue to struggle..."
  • *A Pivotal Moment

    by Donald Simmonds
    ("during the week leading up to the Super Bowl one of the sportswriters of the Chicago Tribune shared some of the story of Seahawks linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski. Mike Downey began his article: “They had no heat. No TV. No phone. No electricity for months at a time. They ate thanks to food stamps or out of a church’s gift basket...")
  • Cross Eyed: Rebuke

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("There is an old story about two brothers. They were likable enough young men but they had a little bit of a wild streak. It got so wild that they became sheep thieves. They earned their money by stealing sheep from the local farmers. As happens to all thieves, one day they were caught...")
  • *Pick Up Your Cross

    by Pamela Tinnin
    ("One of those was a guy named Jerry, a short stocky man in his mid-twenties with a pleasant smile and an eager helpfulness. He’d been terribly wounded in the war—the helicopter taking him to Saigon to catch his 'ride home' was shot down. Seeing him, you’d never have guessed Jerrry had spent 3 months in a V.A. hospital...")
  • Take Up the Cross?

    by Keith Wagner
    ("In the movie Places in the Heart, there is a scene where Moze, an Afro-American man, is beaten and forced to leave town because of his care for Edna and her family. Sally Fields plays Edna, who is determined to harvest her cotton crop, thus saving her family and farm. Although it is a fictional story it clearly illustrates how one man put others before himself..." and other illustrations)
  • Who Do You Say That I Am?

    by Todd Weir
    ("Several weeks ago I was very excited about this series on Viktor Frankl and the meaning of suffering, but as challenges mount in my life, I feel less inclined to think about suffering at all...")
  • Faith and Works

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Charlie Brown and Linus come across Snoopy shivering in the snow. Charlie Brown says:'Snoopy looks kind of cold, doesn't he?' 'I'll say, replies Linus, 'maybe we'd better go over and comfort him.' They walk over to the dog, pat his head and say, 'Be of good cheer Snoopy.' Yes, be of good cheer'...")
  • Illustrations (Lent 2B)(2006)

    Compiled by Tim Zingale
  • Illustrations (Proper 19)(2006)

    Compiled by Tim Zingale
  • The Less Traveled Road

    by Tim Zingale
    "John Cheney is the basketball coach at Temple University, and he has been for many years. One of the things he requires of his team is 6:00 A. M. practice. If you don’t show up, you don’t play. Players come to play for him knowing that they have to get up before everyone else just to go practice..."

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

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Profit and Loss

    by Bob Allred
    ("The popular author and former monk, Thomas Moore, in his best seller Care of the Soul, sees soul as the element that connects us to God and to our inner selves. "The cure for materialism, then, would be to find concrete ways of getting soul back into our spiritual practices...")
  • Who Is Jesus?

    by Mickey Anders
    ("Kathleen Crane, a minister from New Jersey, tells the story about flying to Wisconsin to see her oldest son wrestle in a college tournament. She says, 'On my way back, two Sikhs, men from northern India, with their heads in turbans, sat down beside me. We had a pleasant conversation, but I didn't force my beliefs on them..." and other illustrations)
  • The Easy Way Out

    by Charles Barton
    ("In 1958 Thomas Merton wrote words which could have come out of the mouth of Abraham, or Peter, Martin Luther King, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, or any one of us: 'God we have no idea where we are going. We do not see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves......")
  • King's Authority

    from Biblical Studies
  • See! Know! Follow!

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("A university zoology exam was about to begin. Every student was tense as the examiner strode to the front of the examination room. 'This exam is about the identification of birds,' he announced. One student had spent the whole of his revision time memorising pictures of birds - surely he could have one hundred per cent success!...")
  • Take Up Your Cross

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("E. Stanley Jones, missionary to India, told of a Hindu offering a water buffalo to his god. 'The long knife falls toward the neck of the buffalo, but just as it is about to strike the executioner deftly turns it and it cuts of the tip of the ear instead. The sacrifice is finished and everyone is satisfied...")
  • The Enemy Within

    by L. Gregory Bloomquist
    A little over 5 years ago, my wife and I were at home enjoying a day off from our busy activities. Our girls were away and Jonathan was out playing on his new bike. The phone rang: the voice on the other end said: "there's been an accident; you'd better come over right away; Jonathan's been hurt". I got in my car and rushed to the friend's house where Jonathan had been playing. I saw Jonathan's bike lying in the lawn, next to the ramps that he and his friend had made to practice jumps. Jonathan was sitting on the ground being held by his friend's mom, his arm covered by a blanket. I ran over to him. He was shaking, his face a little white, tears streaked his cheeked. I asked him what had happened. He told me that they had been practicing jumps on their bikes when he lost control and l anded sideways. I said to him: "so you twisted your arm? It'll be OK." He said, with a weak voice: "No it won't, it hurts." I said: "well, when you twist something it always hurts, but it gets better." I was feeling relieved that all that had happened was that he had twisted his arm and nothing worse. But, Jonathan insisted: "no, I didn't just twist it, Dad, look" At that point he took off the blanket that still covered his arm. His arm was straight to his wrist, but then it took an unnatural 90 degree turn outwards, so that his hand was almost perpendicular to the rest of his arm...
  • *Come and Die

    by George Butterfield
    ("Perhaps you have heard the story William Willimon tells along this line. He is the minister for the church that meets on the Duke University campus. One Monday morning he received a call from a woman in the congregation who was really upset. It seems that there had been an outdoor play or some event on the campus which required the construction of some gallows...")
  • Lent 2B (2003)

    by Judith Carrick
    ("Joseph Girzone's books about a character called Joshua have enjoyed great popularity in recent years. In Joshua and the City, the main character, Joshua, a type of Jesus if you will, sets out to confront the many needs and injustices that face a large city, one that is given no name, but that could be any one of a number of cities right here in the United States...")
  • *Crosses, Wisdom, Risks and Covenant

    by Allison Cline
    ("I have crosses that my ex-spouse gave me as gifts which were brought out of a Muslim country at great risk because Christians are persecuted and sometimes killed for their beliefs. The Muslim shopkeepers from whom he bought them could be whipped, stoned, have their arms or legs cut off, or lose their shops and their homes if crosses were discovered in their stores...")
  • Living, Loving and Giving

    by Winifred Collin
    ("Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite writers, in Listening to Your Life, asks a series of questions designed to help us think about where we have been and where we are going. I have mulled these questions over, and I pass them on to you, hoping that one or more will spur your thinking..." and other illustrations)
  • Great Suffering

    by Patricia de Jong
    ("There is a spiritual exercise that I have done with a variety of groups over the years, ranging from women's spirituality groups to confirmation classes. We draw a life map and on the life map, participants are asked to identify key moments in their lives: events, occasions, and even personalities which have had a lasting and formative effect on our life journey of faith..." and another illustration)
  • Morning by Morning

    by Patricia de Jong
    ("There is a story told about the great psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. After giving an address in Melbourne, he was given a boomerang as a gift. He commented that the boomerang reminded him of our human existence. People assume that the function of the boomerang is to return to the thrower, he said..." and other illustrations)
  • Family Values

    by Rickey Del Edwards
    It is inevitable that in a political season the topics of conversation will eventually include “family values.” There is probably no more essential image in our common life. And yet, little time is spent on defining the words, “family” or “values.” The assumption is that our common life has given us a set of principles that only need to be applied in the present age. There already exists a blueprint, an image, a picture of the good life: the little girl in braids in the dentist’s chair; the little boy with a nickel in the candy store; or the winter landscapes of a small New England town — a Norman Rockwell portrait we idolize. In such a world, the cover of the old Saturday Evening Post would define family — middle class, of European descent, set in Vermont (or somewhere very much like it), living in the 1950’s. There would be a mom, a dad, one son, one daughter, a dog, a cat — a family. In such a world, the soft colors of Rockwell’s brush strokes define value. The warmth of softly-lit streets; the redness of a child’s nose and cheeks; the golden sunlight shining on daily life-these images value a simpler life, well ordered and devoid of pain and suffering. The virtues of prosperity, health, leisure, and comfort are in abundance. Long after the soft, warm covers of the old Saturday Evening Post have been replaced by the crass tabloid photos of the Star and the Inquirer, it is still Norman Rockwell’s “family values” that define a great many of our secular assumptions. Many people today are acknowledging a radical discontinuity between their own family lives and those idolized images of popular culture. The perpetual presence of pain and suffering has pressed them to seek another fount of common “family values”...
  • The Cost of Following Jesus

    by Adrian Dieleman
    ("A young man began a great career with one of this country's big corporations. He majored in business in college. He had a knack for it, they said. He was selected right out of college for the company's executive training program. That's where they train the bright young people to be the executive stars of tomorrow..." and other short illustrations)
  • Acting As If...

    by Richard Fairchild
    The author Ron Lee Dunn tells the story of two altar boys. One was born in 1892 in Eastern Europe. The other was born just three years later in a small town in Illinois. Though they lived very separate lives in very different parts of the world, these two altar boys had almost identical experiences...
  • If Anyone Would Follow Me

    by Richard Fairchild
    The student minister I quoted at the beginning of the sermon, as part of her work towards her degree meets with a study group that looks at the gospel passage for the coming Sunday. After telling them that she found today's gospel reading a hard passage because it talks about suffering rather than joy, the group discussed the passage...
  • The Wisdom of God

    by Richard Fairchild
    I am reading a novel by a Christian writer right now. It is called The List. It concerns a non-believer by the name of Renny and Christian woman he meets by the name of Jo. Near the beginning of their relationship Jo tells Renny "The panorama of the sky and the water is a much better sermon about freedom and the nature of God than you would hear in many churches...
  • The Ultimate Success Formula

    by Art Ferry, Jr.
    ("The University of Chicago did a 5-year study of leading artists, athletes, and scholars. Conducted by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, the research was based on anonymous interviews with the top 20 performers in various fields. These people included concert pianists, Olympic swimmers, tennis players, sculptors, mathematicians, and neurologists..." and other illustrations)
  • Lent 2B (2000)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Not so long ago one of the radicals of the nineteen sixties was arrested and brought to court on a charge of murder. She had been the lockout in a robbery carried on her friends in which a policeman was killed...")
  • Lent 2B (1997)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("To say that Tom was from a dysfunctional family would be an understatement. He father had died early, a victim of alcohol addiction, an addiction Tom's younger brother shared. His older sister was on her third husband...")
  • The Cost and Joy of Discipleship

    by J. Bennett Guess
    ("Clarence Jordan was just 12 years old in 1922 when he made his profession of faith during a Baptist tent revival in Sumter County, Georgia. At the evening service, Jordan took notice of a man in the church choir who was robustly singing one of his favorite hymns Love Lifted Me....")
  • Proper 19B (2003)

    by Roger Haugen
    ("I spent this past week at our study conference to consider 'The Call'. Specifically the call as pastor but also the call as Christian. We spent time discussing how responding to the call of God can be difficult. We shared stories of how responding to the call has enriched our lives, made life worth living, even if the cost was high...")
  • *Investing for Profit

    by Mark Haverland
    ("I saw the move The English Patient last week. It set me to thinking how many of the truly tragic events of life are caused by one person trying to control not only one’s own life but also the lives of others. Most of the movie’s tragedy was caused by the war, of course, but inside this story was the drama of impossible love...")
  • Proper 19B (2000)

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("The story is told of a man living in London during the Second World War. Every night German planes appeared overhead dropping countless bombs on the city below. Buildings burst into flames, sirens wailed incessantly, entire blocks were reduced to rubble. One day this Londoner was sitting in the wreckage of his home. The walls remained, but the roof was gone...")
  • *Cross Bearing Disciples

    by Don Hoffman
    ("In spite of a serious wound received during this first daring rescue, he again braved the unrelenting fury of the enemy fire to aid another companion lying wounded only 20 meters in front of the enemy trench line. As he reached the fallen marine, he received a mortal wound, but disregarding his own condition, he began to drag the marine toward his platoon's position...")
  • *Two Alexanders and One Albert

    by Don Hoffman
    ("He was a man in his sixties, and his name was also Alexander, but that was his last name, not his first. I called on him in the hospital. He threw back the sheet and showed me his foot. It was grayish-white and there was a black hole in the side, about an inch across...")
  • The Cost of Conviction

    by Beth Johnston
    I woke up very early Saturday morning and switched on the TV for a few minutes. There on the screen was the live coverage of the funeral of Mother Teresa. She left a life of privilege, for a career teaching in a well-off convent school, and then left that to work and live with the poorest of the poor in India. In addition to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience required of all persons who become part of a religious order in the Roman Catholic church, she also required a fourth vow - "to put one-self wholeheartedly and entirely at the service of the poor." She has received much criticism over her conservative religious views and her failure to even to attempt to address the reasons for poverty and homelessness in her country. She maintained that her focus was on the poor themselves and left those questions of 'why' for others to solve. She knew what she was about and she and her Sisters of Charity went and did those things...
  • Faithful Laughter

    by Beth Johnston
    One day over 25 years ago a new student began school. The student's name was Linus and he was the son of a certain Dr. Charlie Brown. The 6 year old entered the classroom dragging a blanket behind him. Of course, the teacher asked him why he was bringing the blanket to school...
  • It's What We Do 'Cause That's Who We Are

    by Beth Johnston
    Let's play Jeopardy! You know, the game show with Alex Trebek in which the question is actually an answer and the contestants receive points for the right answer, phrased always, as a question. Of course, our category of choice will be 'Christianity'! Question one: 'The mother of Jesus'. The answer: 'Who is Mary?'...
  • *The One Less Traveled By

    by Fred Kane
    ("I'm thinking about Amos Alonzo Stagg, who lived to be more than a hundred years old. He is enshrined in football's Hall of Fame as, 'a player, a coach, and the game's greatest teacher'. He's forgotten by most people these days. But, his career as a coach spanned more than seventy years from coast to coast...")
  • Who Do You Say I Am?

    by Fred Kane
    In the early years of the movies the most famous silent, black and white Jesus movie was Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, created in 1927. Jesus appears primarily as a healer. DeMille displayed the miracles of helping the blind to see, raising the dead and other healing miracles...
  • A Story Worth Sharing

    by David Leininger
    ("I am more deadly than the screaming shell of the cannon. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless...")
  • Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

    by Ben Manning
    ("When you read a book there will usually be a plot and a subplot. The plot is the engaging tale about what's happening on the surface. The subplot hints at something or several things beneath. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a good example...")
  • Bearing the Cross

    by David Martyn
    ("Dietrich Bonhoeffer claimed that cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. 'Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like chapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices...")
  • Re-Called

    by David Martyn
    Will Willimon tells the story of how a few years ago, they had a representative from "Teach America" visit their university campus. Teach America tries to recruit the nation’s most talented college graduates to go into some of the nation’s worst public schools. This is Teach America’s method of transforming our schools into something better. He writes "One woman stood up in front of a large group of Duke students, a larger group than I would suppose would come out to this sort of thing, and said to them: "I can tell by looking at you that I have probably come to the wrong place. Somebody told me this was a BMW campus and I can believe it looking at you. Just looking at you, I can tell that all of you are a success. Why would you all be on this campus if you were not successful, if you were not going on to successful careers on Madison Avenue or Wall Street?" "And yet here I stand, hoping to talk somebody into giving away your life in the toughest job you will ever have. I am looking for people to go into the hollows of West Virginia, into the ghettos of South Los Angeles and teach in some of the most difficult schools in the world. Last year, two of our teachers were killed while on the job. "And I can tell, just by looking at you, that none of you are interested in that. So go on to law school, or whatever successful thing you are planning on doing. "But if by chance, just some of you happen to be interested, I’ve got these brochures here for you to tell about Teach America. Meeting’s over." With that, the whole group stood up, pushed into the aisles, pushed each other aside, ran down to the front, and fought over those brochures...
  • A Wisdom Poll

    by David Martyn
    In September of 1942, a young doctor, his new bride, his mother, father, and brother, were arrested in Vienna and taken to a concentration camp in Bohemia. It was events that occurred there and at three other camps that led the young doctor—prisoner 119,104—to realize the significance of meaningfulness in life. One of the earliest events to drive home the point was the loss of a manuscript—his life’s work—during his transfer to Auschwitz...
  • *Matters of Life and Death

    by Jim McCrea
    ("Eric Folkerth tells of an incident that happened in the first church he ever served. When he was in seminary, his District Superintendent asked him to fill the pulpit for the summer at the Copeville United Methodist Church while the pastor was recovering from surgery. He was told that on his first Sunday morning, he would be met by a Mrs. Watson, who was the heart of that little church..." and another illustration)
  • *Who Do You Say That I Am?

    by Jim McCrea
    ("I'd like to share a poem with you by Ann Weems. It's called I No Longer Pray For Peace. 'On the edge of war, one foot already in, I no longer pray for peace: I pray for miracles...")
  • The Costs of Discipleship

    by Philip McLarty
    ("In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes it clear: While God's grace is always bestowed freely, it is never bestowed cheaply. Bonhoeffer says specifically, 'Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church...")
  • Following...and Other Children's Games

    by Steven Molin
    ("A number of years ago, when I was still doing youth ministry, I attended a conference at a Christian camp in North Carolina, with some of the top youth leaders in the country. It was a beautiful place, nestled in the Smokey Mountains and surrounded by trees. After dinner one evening, the people who were leading the program suggested that all of us youth leaders hike to the mountaintop overlooking the camp..." and other illustrations)
  • Learning to Follow Jesus

    by Stephen Nash
    ("I started wondering what might happen if God got with modern technology and installed voice-mail. I imagined something like this: 'Hello,' says an angelic voice. 'Thank you for calling heaven. We value your prayer and will make every effort to take care of your concerns promptly and efficiently...")
  • Power of Pride or Power of Humility?

    by Stephen Nash
    ("While on vacation at the beach early this summer, Diana and I took advantage of a particularly rainy day to go to the movies. We saw Bruce Almighty, in which Jim Carrey plays the role of Bruce Nolan, a TV news reporter in Buffalo, New York who has a knack for making people laugh..." and other illustrations)
  • Setting Our Minds on Divine Things

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    So where does evil and suffering come from? Why doesn’t God stop it? I’d like to suggest an answer today. And the best answer I’ve seen to that question did not come in some thick theology book, but in one of the Trailblazer series books that I read to my boys. It’s the story of one of those ugly times in the church’s history when it inflicted great suffering and death on people in the name of God. The church was persecuting one of the new Protestant groups in Europe, the followers of Menno Simons, the Mennonites. This book is the story of an adolescent boy, Adriaen, whose mother is being held in prison to be hanged simply for being a Mennonite. He has just visited his mother in a horrible dungeon, and he has this conversation with his friend Betty. The church was using who they thought God to be to bring suffering upon he and his mother. But listen to see if Adriaen doesn’t have his own way of blaming or using God: “I thought God was supposed to take care of us,” Adriaen grumbled. “What have I ever done to deserve losing my mother? It’s not fair.””Adriaen, don’t confuse God with life. Life may be unfair…God is not. It wasn’t God who put your mother in prison.”...
  • What Does it Mean to Deny One's Self and Pick up One's Cross?

    by William Oldland
    ("The time was February of 1976. The Roman Catholic priest was appointed to be the Archbishop of the country by the ruling class of fourteen families. He was not appointed because he was a great preacher. He was not appointed because he was great spiritual leader...")
  • Final Answer?

    by Ray Osborne
    ("A gentleman who obviously had a trite too much to drink stumbles along a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk down into the water and stand next to the Preacher. The minister turns and notices the ma and says, 'Mister, Are you ready to find Jesus?'...")
  • Proper 19B (2003)

    by Joseph Parrish
    One young Filipino woman I saw on 9/11 at Trauma One, St. Vincent’s Hospital, had apparently been hit by a piece of shrapnel from the collapse of Building Two at about the 14th floor of Building One as she was going down the emergency staircase from her office on the 62nd floor...
  • *Proper 19B (2000)

    by Joseph Parrish
    (includes several short illustrations)
  • A Journey of Faith

    by John Pavelko
    ("A few years ago, a representative from 'Teach America' visited Duke University to recruit the nation's most talented college students to go into some of the nation's worst public schools. This is Teach America's method of transforming our schools into something better...")
  • Rage Is Easy, Sacrifice Is Costly

    by John Pavelko
    During the dark days of World War II, throughout England men were leaving their jobs to enlist in the armed services. They not only wanted to defend their country but they also sought roles that would bring them greater social recognition. Soon England found that the labor force to work the mines was dangerously low. Something needed to be done or they would not have enough coal miners to extract the oar. Responded to the crises, Winston Churchill delivered a speech one day to thousands of coal miners. He concluded his speech by describing the grand parade that would take place when VE Day came. First, he said, would come the sailors of the British Navy, the ones who had upheld the grand tradition of Trafalgar and the defeat of the Armada. Next in the parade, he said, would come the pilots of the Royal Air Force. They were the ones who, more than any other, had saved England from the dreaded German Lufwaffa. Next in the parade would come the Army, the ones that had stood tall at the crises of Dunkirk. Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in minor's caps. And someone, he said, would cry from the crowd, "And where were you during the critical days of the struggle?" And then from ten thousand throats would come, "We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal."...
  • When Not On God's Side!

    by John Pavelko
    ("The doctor spared few words. 'Your baby is afflicted with Down's Syndrome. I had expected this, but things were too far along before I could say for sure.' 'Is the baby healthy?' she asked. 'That's what I wanted to discuss with you,' the doctor said. 'The baby is healthy -- except for the problem...")
  • About That Cross

    by John Ewing Roberts
    ("A group of college students were studying late for an exam. First we had gone out for pizza; now well after midnight we were settling down in the philosophy seminar library to prepare. A friend name Tony burst into the room, not to study but to ask with passionate intensity how a man dying 2,000 years ago on a Roman cross could possibly make any difference in his life..." and other good illustrations)
  • *Ordinary 24B (2003)

    by Benjamin Sim, SJ
    ("There is a movie entitled The Catholics in which Martin Sheen plays the role of an emissary sent from Rome to a monastery on a secluded island in Ireland to urge the conservative monks to follow the reforms of Vatican II...")
  • Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

    by Harvard Stephens
    ("In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer shows how his leadership was rooted in the conviction that to endure the cross is not a tragedy, it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident but a necessity...")
  • Read the Fine Print

    by Wiley Stephens
    ("Baxter Black, a veterinarian of large animals and a commentator on National Public Radio, told of an experience that occurred to his cousin Hank. Hank is a farmer who lives in a rural, central Minnesota village. One of his city relatives invited him to come for a visit in St. Paul the weekend of Thanksgiving, so Hank decided to ride the commuter train that passed by his community...")
  • Cross Road: Taking It Up

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("There was a young man who came to a pastor's office and said he wanted to be a Christian but he didn't know what being a Christian was all about. The pastor told the young man to read the Book of Acts as preparation, then come back and they would talk about what he had learned and how to apply it. A week went by and then another week and then another...")
  • The Rock in the Way

    by Alex Thomas
    ("A rock isn t the prettiest thing in creation or the fanciest or the smartest, and if it gets rolling in the wrong direction, watch out, but there s no nonsense about a rock, and once it settles down, it s pretty much there to stay...")
  • What Cross?

    by Alex Thomas
    ("At a recent conference on social justice, a Native American stood up, looked over the mostly white Christian audience and said, 'Regardless of what the New Testament says, most Christians are materialists with no experience of the spirit. Regardless of what the New Testament says, most Christians are individualistic with no real experience of Community...")
  • The Law of Diminishing Returns

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Now that the Olympics is upon us it reminds be of that famous program Wide World of Sports. Remember the film of the skier who is skiing down the ski jump and for no apparent reason loses it, tumbles head over heal, and lands off the course hitting the supporting structure? What we don’t know is that that skier actually made a conscious decision to fall rather than finish the jump...")
  • Life At the End of the Line

    by Keith Wagner
    ("An American businessman was at the pier of a small, coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while...")
  • Risky Business

    by Keith Wagner
    ("On a Sunday afternoon in l979, In Roanoke, Virginia, Florine Thornhill was walking in her neighborhood. She passed by a vacant empty lot that was overgrown with weeds. She noticed a woman lying in the weeds who was unconscious. She thought she was likely a drug addict and continued to walk by...")
  • When Losing Is Everything

    by Keith Wagner
    William Willimon tells the story about two women from Boston who were on one of the flights that crashed into the towers on 9/11. Both women, along with the daughter of one of them were scheduled on the first plane that hit the towers. They had planned a vacation to Los Angeles...
  • Ashamed of Jesus?

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("A decade or so ago, some of you may have watched the CBC Journal program on the Serbian lawyer, Mr. Cruel. Mr. Cruel was born in Yugoslavia and immigrated to Canada, settling into a Serbian community in Ontario and practicing law there. His fellow immigrant Serbs regarded him as a trustworthy and respectable member of their community...")
  • Costly Discipleship

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("Former bishop of the Christian church in South India, Lesslie Newbigin, somewhere once told the story of some new ‘converts’ to Christianity. When he visited these women in their village, they always welcomed him royally. But none of the men, all of whom were merchants, ever showed much interest in having the desire to become Christians...")
  • Lent 2B (1997)

    by LaDonna Wind
    David Jardine was born into poverty in Canada in 1843. As a teenager in Rochester, New York, he got into trouble and for a short time, served a prison sentence. As his journey continued, it led him into ordination as an Episcopal priest. He founded a thriving parish; St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri; an order of teaching nuns; a parochial school and was in the process of establishing an Episcopal college when he died under very mysterious circumstances. Throughout his journey, he gave all he earned to the health and care of others. His spirituality was centered in making the Eucharist central to the worship life of his flock, though it led to rejection by most parishioners, friends and colleagues. As a reminder to himself of his sinful nature, he wore about his waist a penitential chain. Though he consistently served others, most of his peers thought he should never have been ordained, based on their opinion that he was not a “gentleman” from genteel birth. David Jardine rose above the rejection; the misunderstanding of his spirituality; and his focused acknowledgement of being a disciple who followed Jesus. This man came into the world in poverty and died with no worldly goods, but with a profoundly deep faith, commitment to his Lord, and leaving a legacy of care for others. He was buried in a “priests lot” at Forest Hills Cemetery, much like a paupers grave. However, the parish, hospital, order of nuns and parochial school flourish to this day. David Jardine lived the Gospel imperative, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross.”...

Other Resources from Lent 2B (2021)

Other Resources from Ordinary 24B (2018 to 2020)

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Other Resources from Lent 2B (2018 to 2020)

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Other Resources from Ordinary 24B (2015 to 2017)

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Other Resources from Lent 2B (2015 to 2017)

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Other Resources from Ordinary 24B (2012 to 2014)

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Other Resources from Lent 2B (2012 to 2014)

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Other Resources from 2009 to 2011

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Other Resources from 2006 to 2008

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Other Resources from 2003 to 2005

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Other Resources from 2000 to 2002

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Resources from the Bookstore

Children's Resources and Dramas

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The Classics

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Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable