Matthew 13: 24-43

Illustrated New Resources

  • Sermon Starters (Proper 11A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In my neck of the Reformed woods, an English professor named Stanley Wiersma used to delight folks with his Garrison Keillor-like musings on life in Iowa and in the churches of Iowa in particular, all written under the nom de plume of Sietze Bunning. In one of his more indelible portraits in the book Purpaleanie and other Permutations, we meet a man named “Benny” in a poem titled “Excommunication.” Benny Ploegster is an alcoholic who regularly attended church. For three years Benny had been under discipline: first a silent censure, then a more public censure that initially left his name out of the matter. Later it was announced publicly that it was indeed Benny who was under scrutiny. Three years is a long time to work with someone, and so finally Benny’s persistent struggle with the bottle led the church (and God, too, apparently) to run out of patience. So a deadline was set, and when Benny was unable to meet that deadline by cleaning up his act and repenting of his wicked, boozy ways, a date was set for the public excommunication. Benny attended his excommunication. He even stood in the midst of the congregation while the pastor solemnly read the standard form that designated Benny a “Gentile and a publican” with whom the church was to have no further association...
  • Sorting the Wheat from the Weeds: Now or Later?

    by Janet Hunt
    It was late June when I was in college. I was working pea pack at Del Monte in Rochelle, even as I had the previous summers. My job was better than most afforded young people (and certanly migrant workers) at the time. I was in charge of taking a sample off each truck load of peas and running it through a series of tests. The numbers I recorded helped determine the worth of the peas which would then be washed and sorted, blanched and canned and labeled for sale. Mine was not hard work, and I was grateful that it was also not mind-numbing. Indeed, one of my tasks was to pour the bucket of peas through a large shaker with each level having different size holes, which would sort them by size. I would then weigh each tray size and record those numbers, along with the amount of waste (see weeds here) which was present in the bucket. It was early on one of those hot summer nights...
  • A Gospel Reading for Those Who Feel Rejected by a Broken World

    by Terrance Klein
    Here is Claude McKay, a bright young black man who has just survived a bloody riot, explaining his decision to leave Chicago for college. “Chicago doesn’t want us!” I yelled. I stood and started for the doorway. I stopped and turned around before I walked out of the kitchen. “They’re closing schools,” I said. “They’re closing businesses. Obama isn’t going to do anything. He can’t do anything. No one can do anything. Tell me: Is South Shore any better off now than it was ten years ago? Twenty years ago. Nothing is ever going to change. There’s no way to change it. And the rest of the world isn’t like this. We think the world is just like Chicago and it isn’t. Civilization has moved on. The rest of the world isn’t still corrupt, broken, wild, and dangerous. I could get shot any day for doing nothing. Just like that. Killed. Bang—walking down the street. The rest of the world isn’t like this. We’re trapped in the toxic bubble and we can’t breathe and we think that’s okay. What’s wrong with us?” I sat on the floor. “Are you done?” Grandma said. “Yes,” I said. “You’re wrong,” Grandma said. “What?” I asked. “The entire universe is ruined,” Grandma said. “And no one wants us anywhere.” Most of us feel at some time, in some place—maybe most places, maybe most of the time—that we do not belong...
  • The Written-Out Slaves

    by Raj Bharat Patta
    Here is Annamma, my grandmother, a first-generation Dalit Christian woman, whose family worked as agricultural labourers narrating this parable from her perspective: For many generations, we as a family have been working under a dominant caste landlord as agricultural labourers. One fine day, we are commanded by our master to sow the seeds in the field. We worked day in and day out in getting the field ready, and as is our practice, with song and dance we collectively worked in sowing the seeds. We guarded the field day and night from the pests and took extra care of the field. One night when we were all asleep, the rival group of our landlord, who were from another dominant caste, came, attacked us and sowed weeds in our field. We resisted them but could not stop it. In that fight one of our uncles died. As the plants grew, we noticed weeds growing along with grain. At that moment I garnered all the strength in the world, stood up and repeated the words of Ambedkar, “It could be your interest to be our master, how could it be ours to be your slaves?” We told our master should we gather the weeds and the enemies? He did not encourage us to do it. Finally, when the crop came to harvest, we first cut the weeds and bundled it and then reaped the harvest of the grain, gathering it in our master’s barn. When the harvest has come, our master called us all as a family, confessed for keeping us as slaves for several centuries, and for sacrificing our lives for the cause of land. In response to his repentance, he offered retributive justice by distributing the grain equally among us all, and made us to own equal proportion of land along with him. From then on, we all lived in equality, dignity, and justice, sharing and caring for one another without any discrimination...
  • Being Born from Above

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    One day a man was driving his aged mother to a funeral. She had been already at many funerals, having had to bury her own husband, a brother, and most of her friends. She also found herself without much money, in failing health, and on the edges of a serious depression—not exactly one of the "Golden Girls" on the top of her game, spinning off laughs by the minute. As they drove along, she talked about her own funeral and was giving instructions on how she wanted it done. Then, quite unexpectedly, she said: “I'm giving up on fear. Everybody dies. Nothing is left.” Her son protested, telling her that giving up on fear isn't easy to do, even as he realized at that very instant how much his whole life was bound up precisely by fear—fear of sickness, fear of death, and fear of losing his job, his good name, his good looks, his status, his friends. He gazed at his mother and saw that she was beaming. He knew she meant exactly what she had just said. They never had that conversation again, but from that moment on he noticed his mother began to change...
  • The Waiting

    by Michael Ruffin
    The chorus of the late Tom Petty’s 1981 song “The Waiting” says, The waiting is the hardest part Every day you see one more card You take it on faith, you take it to the heart The waiting is the hardest part. Petty was singing about the development of a romantic relationship. I’d like to apply his words to our waiting for God to establish God’s complete reign and to make all things as they are supposed to be. The waiting is the hardest part. In the parable found in this week’s lesson text, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who sowed good seed in a field, only to have an enemy sow weeds in the same field. He and his workers realize what has happened when both the grain and weeds start coming up. When his workers ask if they should dig up the weeds, he tells them to wait until harvest time, because otherwise they’ll damage the wheat...
  • The Gospel According to the Compost Pile

    by Chrissy Tatum Williamson
    Neither of us is fully weed or wheat. We are both. A similar conclusion is found in a book called The Gospel of Solentiname. Solentiname is a remote peasant village in Lake Nicaragua. Each week in the 1960's and 70's, the priest would come through and the people would gather and in lieu of a sermon on the Gospel reading for the day, there would be discussions. The people together would reflect on the reading. The author of the book, Ernesto Cardinal, was their priest and he recorded their conversations because, for him, their discussions were often more profound than those of many theologians that he's read, but they reflected the simplicity of the gospel readings themselves. "That is not surprising," he writes. "The gospel, or the good news, meaning good news to the poor, was written for them, by people like them." [Ernesto Cardinal, xi] Peasants of Solentiname discuss today's reading from Matthew 13 and they echo the notion of two inclinations from our Jewish sisters and brothers saying that the weeds and the wheat represent justice and injustice in our world...

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. Hopefully, members will have the ability to rate all of the resources on a 5-point system soon!! FWIW!!]
  • The Grace of Doing Nothing

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis!!)
  • The End Crowns the Work

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("A man named Tom Stonehill was speeding through a small town one night looking for a public restroom. Finally, he came to a funeral home. Tom used the facilities, then paid his respects to the deceased. The funeral director, spotting Tom, insisted that he sign the guest register..." and several other illustrations)
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    by Sil Galvan
    When my son, Mark, was in the third grade he saved all his allowance for over two months to buy holiday presents for those he loved. He had saved twenty dollars. The third Saturday in December Mark announced that he had made his list and had his money in his pocket. I drove him to a local drug store, the modern version of what we used to call the "Five and Dime." Mark picked up a hand basket and went off on his own while I waited patiently reading a book at the front of the store. It took Mark over 45 minutes to pick out his presents. The smile on his face as he approached the checkout counter was truly joyful. The clerk rang up his purchases as I politely looked the other way. Mark kept within his budget and reached into his pocket for his money. It was not there. There was a hole in his pocket, but no money. Mark stood in the middle of the store holding his basket, tears rolling down his cheeks. His whole body was shaking with his sobs. Then an amazing thing happened.
  • Yeast

    by Steve Kelsey
    One day, a friend of mine named Judy decided to bake bread. She took out the recipe and carefully gathered all the ingredients it called for; then she began to follow the recipe. Except that Judy made one little mistake. Instead of adding one cake of yeast to the mix as required, she added one whole box-several cakes of yeast. You can imagine what happened. The dough began to grow and grow and grow. She added more flour-and it kept growing and growing. She added more water, and it kept growing. More salt, more wheat germ, more oil-and it just kept growing and growing. She tried cutting the mound of dough in half, pounding it, caressing it, covering it, pleading with it-and it kept growing and growing and growing. Finally, in desperation, Judy went out and buried the huge lump of dough in her front yard, came back inside, and sat down in the living room to watch TV. Within an hour, her father came bursting through the front door screaming: "THERE'S SOMETHING GROWING IN OUR FRONT YARD!!!" You know what happened. The heat of the sun on that summer day beat down on that ill-fated mound of dough, that unbaked loaf, even though it was buried in the ground and brought the yeast back to life-and it had started growing again and BURST out of the ground! Even its grave couldn't contain it, so irresistible was the life of that yeast which Judy had hidden in her bread dough.
  • Proper 11A

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 13.24-30,36-43)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

  • Leave the Separation to God

    by Phil Bloom
    A certain man had a terrible temper. His outbursts of rage were destroying his family. He went to a priest for help. The priest pointed out that his tendency to anger had a good side. The man was surprised because he did not see anything good in his temper, which often went out of control. But the priest explained that God gave him the energy of anger and wants him to use that energy to protect and defend his family. When the man went home, he talked with his wife and children. He asked forgiveness for the outbursts, but also said he wanted to form a strong family - a family that would withstand the attacks against it. The man got out one of those Christian picture books. It had symbols for virtues like courage, justice and temperance. He focused on the virtue of temperance whose symbol is a compact fire. If a fire gets too big, it burns down the house, but if it's too small it simply dies out. Temperance keeps anger in the right balance.
  • Looking Past the Weeds

    by Jim Chern
    In college, I took a class called the Philosophy of God. One of the most interesting debates we had in that class was over Why do people decide not to have any religious affiliation? Probably not very surprising - the major reason that those who fell into that group cited was: they felt people who go to Church are just like everybody else (actually, the way they put it - "people who go to Church are as lousy as everyone else") They said Christians were hypocrites, they knew "church goers" who were liars, gossips, cheats, etc. just like everywhere else in society.
  • The Bad Runs Through Us

    by Delmer Chilton
    My late father-in-law liked to tell the story of a man who owned a parrot. Every day at 5 p.m. the man took the parrot out of his cage and walked down the street to the corner bar where he had a few drinks and talked with his friends. He had taught the parrot to order for him, yelling out “Gimme a beer! Gimme a beer!” every time he came into the room. Every Sunday the man and his wife went to church, locking the bird in its cage before they left the house. One Sunday the door on the cage did not latch well and the bird got out. It flew out an open window and found its way to the church. It flew in and lit on its master’s shoulder, crying out at the top of its lungs, “Gimme a beer! Gimme a beer!” The man was embarrassed and told the bird to hush, “Shut up. This ain’t the bar; it’s the church.” The bird looked around and said, “AWWK! Same old crowd! Same old crowd!”
  • Gosh! I'm Not God!

    from Claretians
    The Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in Gulag Archipelago, Vol II has rich insights to offer on this matter of the struggle of good and evil within us. I learned two great lessons from being in prison camps. I learned how a person becomes evil and how he becomes good. When I was young I thought I was infallible, and I was cruel to those under me. I was madly in love with power and, in exercising it, I was a murderer and an oppressor. Yet in my most evil moments I thought I was doing good, and I had plenty of arguments with which to justify my deeds.
  • To Weed or Not to Weed

    by Susannah Davis
    My friend, Sharon, has lived in and around the community of Kirkwood for the past 12-15 years. I got to know her at the coffee shop in town. Over the past ten years we have become good friends. Sometimes Sharon has a place to live, sometimes she doesn't. One time Sharon lived in a tent behind our storefront church for almost a year as we tried to find permanent housing. Eventually she did find a place, it was dry and fairly safe and she created her home there. But these past couple of months have been tough for her.
  • The Wheat and the Weeds

    by Owen Griffiths
    If you’ve been watching the news in the greater Philadelphia area these past few weeks you’ll certainly have heard of the disappearance and murder of four young men in their teens and early twenties. The victims were all white and from the Philly suburbs of Bucks County. I was asked earlier this week to preside at the funeral of one of the victims, a nineteen-year-old named Dean. Not everything I learned about young Dean was good. He wasn’t exactly a Boy Scout. He’d been in trouble with the law. He was also lured to his death on the pretext that he’d be buying a certain quantity of marijuana. The kid had to know that this was illegal. Still, everyone who spoke to the press about Dean remembers him as a nice young guy.
  • Bad Seeds and the Grace of God

    by Janet Hunt
    On may way to work last Monday I kept a long scheduled appointment to give blood. Now this is one of those places which offers rewards for taking the time to give a pint of blood. In fact, every time you do so you accumulate points which can be ‘cashed in’ for prizes: gift cards and the like. On my last visit, one of the staff there went on line and cashed in some of my points on my behalf. Now this was almost two months ago and truthfully, I had long forgotten about it by the time those gift cards arrived last week. Even so, I tucked them in my wallet, knowing they would get used quickly. The next day as I was checking out, I handed the clerk those two $10 gift cards. One went through just fine. The other one? It only had 3 cents on it.
  • Proper 11A (2017)

    by Richard Johnson
    Lady Nancy Astor was the first woman elected to Parliament. Known for her scathing wit, she traded some particularly sharp barbs with Sir Winston Churchill. One story has it that Lady Astor was seated next to Churchill at a dinner party when they were having a particularly sharp difference of political opinion. “If you were my husband,” Lady Astor declared, “I’d put poison in your tea.” To which Churchill replied, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”...
  • The Toilet Seat

    by Nicholas Lang
    Adam Roberts believes that the salvation of the world might be found on a toilet seat. Roberts is an English microbiologist and the founder of an initiative called “Swab and Send.” “Swab and Send” seeks to address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance by asking members of the public to gather samples of bacteria in the dirtiest and most germ-ridden places they can find, from toilet seats to subway station handrails to rotten food in the refrigerator. Roberts believes that the weapons to combat harmful bacteria are most likely to show up in the same disgusting, gross locations where such bacteria are already flourishing potently. Though there have been extensive efforts over the years to construct antibiotics in laboratories, these efforts have not produced sufficient results for a changing health landscape. To provide the medical tools necessary to defeat resistant bacteria, scientists like Roberts now hope to rely on bacteria colonies that naturally arise in the world around us.
  • Wheat’s Evil Twin Has Been Intoxicating Humans For Centuries

    by Sarah Laskow
    For many centuries, perhaps for as long as humans have cultivated cereal grains, wheat’s evil twin has insinuated itself into our crops. In a big enough dose, this grass, darnel, can kill a person, and farmers would have to take care to separate it out from their true harvest—unless they were planning to add darnel to beer or bread on purpose, in order to get high.
  • Wheat and Tares Together

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    The problem is that the wheat and the weeds look alike. What the Bible calls tares is also known as darnel or darnel wheat (Latin name, Lolium temulentem). The two plants are shown below. Imagine trying to tell the difference between the two when they are even less mature than the plants in the images here.
  • Thinking Small

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    A year ago, I was at a religious education conference which had as its keynote speaker Maya Angelou, a black woman of considerable talent and remarkable graciousness. Among the many things she shared was this story: “When I was six years old,” she said, “one summer day on the playground a little boy called me a nigger. Fall came that year, winter came that year, spring came that year and brought with it all kinds of flowers, and summer came in all its splendour and beauty—but, in all that richness, the only thing I can remember from that whole year is being called a nigger!”
  • The Surprising Kingdom

    by David Russell
    Chris Brundage, a pastor in Michigan, performed a funeral for a man named Vic, who was 96. Vic had no children. Chris said that he’d known Vic only the last few years of his life. He knew that Vic’s wife had died several years earlier, and that some friends had taken him in and cared for him in his final years. He also knew that, as a young man, Vic had had a promising baseball career. Among the memorabilia on display at his funeral was his Detroit Tigers uniform. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues, as they say, but alcohol ended whatever career he might have had, along with a lot of other things in his life. Ordinarily, at 96 and with no children, there would have been just a handful of people at the funeral. But 200 showed up. The funeral home had to pull out extra chairs. People came from neighboring states. Why did so many come to Vic’s funeral? The man was a legend in Alcoholics Anonymous. He had not only remained sober for 55 years, but his gentle testimony had influenced thousands of people. His funeral became an impromptu AA meeting, with many people coming forward to tell what this man had meant to him...
  • In the Weeds

    by David Sellery
    In the old-time Westerns it didn’t take very much insight to tell the good guys from the bad guys, the white hats from the black hats. But real life is a lot more complicated and a lot less predictable. Great literature reflects that reality. Shakespeare’s bloodiest villains… Iago, Richard III, Macbeth… all cultivated virtuous, friendly, easy going manners to disarm their victims. While he looted their life savings, Bernie Madoff’s victims felt blessed that such a brilliant investor was kind enough to share his expertise with them.
  • The Weeds in Our Hearts

    by Brian Volck
    Yet my own experience of good and evil reminds me of an insight from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
  • Leavening the World

    by Carl Wilton
    ("So, why does Jesus choose this metaphor of yeast for teaching about the kingdom of God? Several reasons… First of all, yeast is invisible. That little lump of dough from yesterday's baking you throw into today's batch doesn't look any different from the fresh dough — but if you forget to fold it in, your bread will never rise. Matthew passes on to us a very interesting word, a word Jesus himself probably used. The word is enkrypto, to hide away...")
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Judgment

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2014 to 2016

  • Tangled Humanity

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("Oskar Schindler was certainly no saint. In fact, he was riddled with contradictions. Unfaithful to his wife, he certainly knew how to enjoy the so-called good life—cigars, drink, women. He was a Roman Catholic, but only in name. He was also a member of the Nazi party, and his avowed aim was to end the war with two trunks full of money. He exploited the Jews as a source of cheap labour. But there was another and better side to him...)
  • Proper 11A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    Scroll down the page for this resource.

    "Tara Edelschick was raised in a secular household, with no exposure to religion except occasional stories from her parents about growing up Jewish and Lutheran. She grew up, went to college, got married, got pregnant – all the while having no connection with any faith or faith community, Then, in a fatal two week period, her husband died from complications during a routine surgery and her baby was delivered stillborn. She spun out into both depression and a search for meaning..." and several other quotes

  • Wheat and Weeds and Birthday Calls

    by Janet Hunt
    ("for the last couple of years, every day I am in the office, I have made birthday calls. Sometimes I'm calling a day or two early. Sometimes I'm up to a week late. Often I'm leaving messages. Occasionally I'm finding the number we have is no longer in service. I just make the calls. Only there is this. The list we have includes everyone. It includes active members and those we haven't seen in years...")
  • Calling God, Inc.

    by Terrance Klein
    ("'d had it! I'd just celebrated yet another wedding without the smallest little envelope, one thanking me in the nicest possible way, with a little cash or check. What was it with this town? Weddings, funerals, baptisms! Nothing. Or Nada, as many of our folk would say. So I did like prophets of old. I got on the line and called God...")
  • People, Not Plants

    by John Martens
    ("After my family bought an old house over 10 years ago, we moved in the spring, and I noticed that there was rhubarb growing in the garden. As the rhubarb grew into summer, I realized that my plant no longer looked like rhubarb. It was something else; it was burdock, arctium lappa. It has long white roots, over a meter long when fully grown, and I found that I could not eradicate it...")
  • Non-Discriminating Embrace That Still Speaks Its Truth

    by Ron Rohlheiser, OMI
    ("If God loves us equally when we are bad and when we are good, then why be good? This is an interesting question, though not a deep one. Love, understood properly, is never a reward for being good. Instead goodness is always a consequence of having been loved. We aren't loved because we are good, but hopefully we become good because we experience love...")
  • What to Do About Weeds

    by David Russell
    ("Chris Brundage, a pastor in Michigan, performed a funeral for a man named Vic, who was 96. Vic had no children. Chris said that he'd known Vic only the last few years of his life. At his request, Chris had baptized him. He knew Vic's wife Connie had died several years earlier, and that some friends had taken him in and cared for him in his final years. Ordinarily, at 96 and with no children, there would have been just a handful of people at the funeral. But 200 showed up...")
  • The Weeds of Life

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time a woman named Erica Sanders, worked as a volunteer at an elementary school. In the school yard she made a garden. A boy in a red baseball cap walked by and asked, 'What's this for, anyway?' She replied, 'It's to grow things'. Very few children took interest in the garden. They were more interested in playing. There was, however one boy, Scott Johnson, who was curious. He sat on a bench in the school yard, always alone. He didn't seem to have any friends..." and another illustration)

Illustrated Resources from 2008 to 2013

  • Allow Them to Grow Together

    by Phil Bloom
    ("A certain man had a terrible temper. His outbursts of rage were destroying his family. He went to a priest for help. The priest pointed out that his tendency to anger had a good side...")
  • Himself the Kingdom

    by Phil Bloom
    ("Summer is a time when a young man's fancy often turns to love. I heard about a young man who said to his girl friend, 'I love you so much". She said, 'Well, you can have me for a song'. Apprehensively, the young man asked, 'Which song?' She replied, 'The Wedding March'...)
  • The Danger in Clearing out Deadwood

    by John Christianson
    ("Have you ever heard the folksong The Housewife's Lament? I think it's a classic. It goes like this...")
  • Don't Pull Out the Weeds

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("A couple of untidy looking young lads were walking up the street and I said to my wife, 'I bet they come in here for a handout'. Sure enough they turned into our gate. You can see I had already formed an opinion about these two guys. They spun a story about being Lutherans travelling from South Australia through Queensland. They had lost their wallet. Could I give them some money?...")
  • Ordinary 16A (2008)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a crowd of young people (in this day and age folks under thirty five) poured out of the five o'clock Saturday afternoon mass and promptly engaged in a fierce argument, the kind that one hears sometimes between Cubs fans and Sox fans...")
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 11A)(2011)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("In my neck of the Reformed woods, an English professor named Stanley Wiersma used to delight folks with his Garrison Keillor-like musings on life in Iowa and in the churches of Iowa in particular and written under the nom de plume of Sietze Bunning. In one of his more indelible portraits in the book Purpaleanie and other Permutations, we meet a man named 'Benny' in a poem titled Excommunication...")
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 11A)(2008)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("an English professor named Stanley Wiersma used to delight folks with his Garrison Keillor-like musings on life in Iowa and in the churches of Iowa in particular and written under the nom de plume of Sietze Bunning...")
  • Wheat and Weeds Together

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several good quotes)
  • Surely God Is in This Place

    by Michael Phillips
    ("One hot day in the middle of summer a lion and a boar went to a spring to drink. 'Step aside,' the boar said, 'I was here first.'...")
  • Feeding on Thistles

    by Andrew Prior
    ("When I was a young teenager the largest paddock on the farm was overrun with thistles. They grew thick as a crop, about 2 foot 6 tall, after a summer rain. You could not walk through them without being shred round the shins and thighs. I thought we were very lucky this had happened after the harvest. I was beginning to understand the problem of weeds and, very clearly, we had a problem...")
  • Wait!

    by Alex Ruth
    ("A week ago, the Thrift Store just off the square was destroyed by fire. The flames that raged for hours completely engulfed the building and ruined everything that was inside. But, unlike the farmer in the story, the manager, Doris, didn't blame the fire on some mysterious enemy. Instead, while the smoke was still billowing from the building, she was making plans to re-open in a new location...")
  • Are We There Yet?

    by James Standiford
    ("the first African-American baseball player in the American League was a rookie by the name of Larry Doby. He played for the Cleveland Indians in 1947, starting just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in the National League..." and other illustrations)
  • The Tincture of Time

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("The new summer hit Hancock features actor Will Smith as a bad-good guy. He is a classic Gen-X 'super hero': a 'super-hero' who is so bad tempered, destructive, and unconcerned with the damage he does while supposedly saving others that the whole city hates him...")
  • Weeds in Our Lives

    by Alex Thomas
    "There is a prayer by Rex Chapman in a book entitled A Kind of Praying that gives us some insight into our own struggles: It is well-nigh impossible to see what goes on inside a man, Lord. It is harder than spotting darnel (weedy grass) among wheat. What I see may be as through a glass darkly. What I see may be influenced by my prejudices..."

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Why Can't We Pull Up the Weeds?

    by Joanna Adams
    ("I close with something that happened in Georgia a few years ago. A state representative made a speech before the legislature imploring his colleagues to pass a bill that would impose extra penalties for hate crimes committed against racial minorities and gay people...")
  • An Enemy Came...

    by Robert Allred
    ("is name was Butch and he was the class bully. In particular he seemed to dislike the preacher's kid. What was worse was that we rode the same school bus. There and back, every school day, he would kick and pinch and grind my scalp with his knuckles...")
  • Good News and Bad News

    by Larry Brickner
    ("Early one summer, when I was about nine, I decided to completely rebuild an abandoned bike that I had found somewhere. I had learned that everything had to be absolutely clean and oiled before you put it back together. The simplest way to do that, I figured, was to take the bike completely apart and throw all the parts in a bucket with some cleaning fluid...")
  • Growing Up Out in the Fields

    by Sarah Buteux
    ("According to Philip Yancey in his book Soul Survivor, John Perkins, a black minister in the South 'lived through the worst nightmares of the civil rights movement''. He started a church, then a Bible Instate, a radio program, followed by a health clinic, a co-op, a vocational training center, a recreational center for youth...")
  • Problems Beyond Our Power to Fix

    by Thomas Butts, Jr.
    ("When Dr. Harold Bosley was pastor of Christ Church in New York City, he preached a sermon entitled Shall We Be Patient with Evil? He pointed out how during the Civil War everything was crystal clear on both sides, if you could judge by what was being said...")
  • Hardest to Bear, Easiest to Forget: The Course of Human History

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("Writing in the wake of the appalling carnage of World War I in which 37 million people died, the Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats of Ireland articulated a grim notion of human history in his poem The Second Coming. Even those who are unfamiliar with his poem will recognize some of its famously evocative lines...")
  • Together until Harvest

    by Tom Cox
    ("We like to label and differentiate. Whether the tags are politically, racially or morally motivated, we like to feel different from 'them' or 'those people'...")
  • Reaping Weeds

    by Justin K. Fisher
    ("Did you hear about the woman who dreamed one night that she walked into a brand new shop? Much to her surprise, she found God working behind the counter. She asked God, 'What do you sell here?' 'Everything your heart desires,' God replied...")
  • Jesus Says "Love One Another"

    by Keith Gatling
    ("On a Prairie Home Companion radio show last year, Garrison Keillor talked about how difficult it was to form a choir in the Church of the Sanctified Brethren, the mythical denomination in which he grew up...")
  • Forgiving Weeds

    by Patricia Gillespie
    ("Our oldest daughter Miranda learned and grew quickly. When she was two years old she already talked clearly and swam well; and she was growing so fast she got the nickname 'Weed'. -- You know: 'growing like a weed'...")
  • Ordinary 16A (2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a battered parish priest approached his bishop. I want to retire, he said. You’re not old enough to retire...")
  • Ordinary 16A (2002)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was an eighth grade football team that inherited a tradition of losing almost all the games of a season...")
  • Ordinary 16A (1999)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a football coach had what he thought was a good idea. He lived in an uncivilized place where the winters were cold and bitter ...")
  • Let Them Both Grow

    by Mark Haverland
    ("I read an amazing book earlier this spring. It's called Guns, Germs and Steel. The book tries to explain why it is that certain people have evolved a civilized, highly technological society while in some parts of the world people continued to live in the stone age...")
  • Let Both Grow Together

    by Charles Hoffacker
    As we have looked carefully at the weeds, so we must now look carefully at a word. The word is the one which, in this translation, is rendered as "Let" as in "Let both grow together until the harvest." The original Greek word here is one with a wide range of meanings. One major meaning appears in our translation: "let," in the sense of allow or permit. Another major meaning is "pardon" or "forgive." It is with this meaning that the word appears in the Lord's Prayer in that line where we say, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Robert Farrar Capon builds his interpretation of this parable on these two meanings of the same word. ["The Parables of the Kingdom" (Eerdmans, 1985), chapter 8, especially pages 105-108.] "Let both grow together until the harvest" carries in the original language a sense of forgiveness toward the malicious enemy. If so, then this parable invites us to costly discipleship. The very real evil that others do is not to be answered by pulling out the weeds, by attacking and destroying the people responsible. Doing so only adds to the harm. Instead, our response is to be forgiveness, and a willingness to trust in the purposes of God. In this view, God the landowner practices forgiveness and patience...
  • Don't Weed! Make Space to Deal Inclusively.

    by Rex Hunt
    David Ranson is an Australian Catholic priest. In a recent article in the publication Eremos, on reconciliation, Ranson records a comment by the Buddhist Dalai Lama. When asked did he hate the Chinese, the Dalai Lama replied ‘no’. ‘He remarked that the Chinese were indeed dominant and that he had no possibility of overthrowing them by might. Were he to hate them therefore no change would occur in the Chinese. But change would certainly occur within him. His own heart would become more tense, bitter and rigid. The only way forward then was to let go of the hateful feelings that might arise. In the space that ensued perhaps there was a greater possibility for peace’.
  • A Parable (Of Sorts)

    by Miles Kington
    ("This is an extract from The Very, Very New English Bible: And Jesus said to them, 'What is it that you want me to do?' And they said, 'Tell us a story.' So Jesus told them a story...")
  • The Summer Harvest

    by Craig Kocher
    ("one of my jobs while I was on retreat was to weed the little wheat field on the monastery grounds. Each morning I'd spend a couple of hours down on my hands and knees doing my best to pull out the weeds without bringing the wheat with it. I discovered this was far harder than it looked ...")
  • Good and Evil

    by Paul Larsen
    ("Leith Anderson, the Senior Pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, tells of calling ChemLawn to take care of his weed-infested lawn, only to have them reject his lawn as client because it was so bad. One member of his church volunteered to totally remove his old lawn and start a new one..." and other illustrations)
  • Ya' Just Never Know!

    by Paul Larsen
    ("Barbara Brown Taylor has created a wonderful retelling of this parable that offers some insights into its message. She writes: 'One afternoon in the middle of the growing season, a bunch of farmhands decided to surprise their boss and weed his favorite wheat field..." and other illustrations)
  • Uprooting Evil

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("It’s been a tough week for Britain. The London bombings have shaken us in ways that go beyond the physical damage they caused. This week people responded with horror to the realization that the bombers weren’t foreign terrorists, but home-grown...")
  • Wheat, Weeds and Barnaby Jones

    by Bill LeMosy
    ("Way back in the 70's Bing Crosby starred in a Barnaby Jones episode. Bing played a small town doctor … much loved, respected in the community with his usual mellow voice and personality...")
  • Bad Farming

    by Barbara Lundblad
    ("It's already the middle of the summer and if I were back on the Iowa farm where I grew up, I'd probably be "walking the beans" for the second or third time. Now that phrase may sound odd to you if you've never lived on a farm. Walking the beans is not like walking the dog because, of course, beans don't walk...")
  • Weeds and Wheat

    by Edward Markquart
    ("Here in my hand are the two gold necklaces that I used for the children’s sermon; one is fourteen carat gold; the other is fake gold. The children couldn’t tell the difference and neither could you from a distance...")
  • Love That Can't Be Evaded

    by Jim McCrea
    ("Last September, Weavings magazine ran an article entitled Seeing God in the Valley. That article presented the story of Jeanne Guyon, a Catholic mystic, who lived from the mid-1600's to the early 1700's. Her life was an unbelievable series of hardships. When she was fifteen, she was forced to marry an invalid more than twice her age...")
  • Mom, Where Do Weeds Come From?

    by Steven Molin
    Several years ago, a pastor by the name of Frank Harrington of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta Georgia posed that assignment to a number of young children in the Second Grade Sunday School Class, and these are the responses he received: • Dear God, is it true that my father won’t get to heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house? • Dear God, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that, or was it an accident? • Dear God, I read the bible. What does “begat” mean? Nobody will tell me. • Dear God, I went to a wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? • Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I asked for was a puppy...
  • Christian Faith: A Response to Evil

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    The movie Simon Birch is about two twelve year-old boys, Joe and Simon, best friends, growing up in a small New England town in 1964. It begins with Joe all grown up, standing before the grave of his friend Simon, as he tells us the story of his friend Simon Birch. Talks about faith from beginning to end, and it very much shows us Faith as the Christian way of of responding to evil. Joe tells us that if it weren’t for Simon’s faith, he wouldn’t have any. Simon and Joe both face a lot of evil in their lives: Simon was born a midget, with lots of other physical problems, like an undersized and weak heart. His parents don’t know what to do and basically try to ignore him, try to forget he happened to them. Joe’s mother is the only one who really loves him as a son. In 1964, He is constantly taunted and teased for his size and physical handicaps. He is also ridiculed for his faith. He is convinced that someday Joe also faces a lot of evil. His mother had him out of wedlock and never married, so he is ridiculed as the town bastard. Then, in that fateful year of 1964, both Joe and Simon lose Joe’s mother in an accident, without her ever having even told Joe who his father is. Yet Simon continues to have faith that God will use him as an instrument to help other people...
  • The Wheat and the Tares

    by Michael Phillips
    ("One hot day in the middle of summer a lion and a boar went to a spring to drink. ‘Step aside,’ the boar said, ‘I was here first.’ ‘I showed you where to find the spring,’ the lion replied angrily. ‘I will be the first to drink'...")
  • A Warning Against Premature Weeding

    by George Randle
    ("One time a man, wife and two small children, appeared at the church, out of money on their way to California. It had been a particularly frigid winter in Watertown, New York, blizzard after blizzard practically paralyzing the city. The man told of losing his job there, being evicted from his rented house and having called a relative in Southern California...")
  • Spiritual Space Suits

    by Paul Rooney
    ("I wonder how many people here know what an "e-myoo" is; an E - M - U. No, I do not have in mind that 3-toed Australian bird that looks like an ostrich, like the one I saw at Henry Doorly Zoo a few days ago....")
  • Cultivating the Weedpatch

    by Gary Roth
    ("I had the privilege of meeting Joni Erickson Tada during the Billy Graham Crusade in Baltimore. She shared, very candidly, some of her experiences as the result of her accident. She said that, as she lay in her hospital bed, she often pictured God and Satan waging war in her body for control...")
  • Of Wheat and Goldenrod, Machetes and Lemonade

    by Byron Shafer
    ("One afternoon in the middle of the growing season, a bunch of farmhands decided to surprise their boss and weed his favorite wheat field. No sooner had they begun to work, however, than they began to argue—first about which of the wheat-looking things were weeds and then about the rest of the weeds...")
  • A World Full of Weeds

    by James Somerville
    ("Back in 1979 some people in the Southern Baptist Convention worried that the denomination was becoming too liberal, and they thought that the way to deal with a problem like that was to purge the denomination of its liberal influences. So they did. They adopted a policy of weed pulling...")
  • Weeds in Gospel-Land

    by Alex Thomas
    (includes several illustrations)
  • Side by Side

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Just up the road from my home is a field with two horses in it. From a distance each looks like every other horse. But if one stops the car, or is walking by, one will notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him...")
  • Weed Whacking Our Faith

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One type of weed we have to live with is people. Those pesky, bothersome, challenging personalities that aggravate us and cause us to lose sleep at night. We all have people we simply don’t like...")
  • The Ohio Two-Car Collision Theory

    by Eugene Winkler
    ("In junior high school and early high school, I suffered under one of the meanest football coaches in the history of American sports. Raymond Ray, both as a physical education specialist and a coach, had learned his classroom and team control in the Genghis Khan School of Discipline...")
  • Are You a Weed?

    by Tim Zingale
    ("I would like to tell you a story about how a little girl helped the neighbor bully change his ways. The bully's name was Todd, his parents were divorced and he was left to fend for himself...")
  • I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows

    by Tim Zingale
    ("A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked for his qualifications, he said, "I can sleep when the wind blows." This puzzled the farmer. But he liked the young man, and hired him..." and other illustrations)

Other Resources from 2017 to 2019

Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

Other Resources from 2011 to 2013

Other Resources from 2005 to 2007

Other Resources from the Archives

Resources from the Bookstore

  • Responding To Evil

    by William J. Bausch, from Telling Stories, Compelling Stories
    ("a pastor received a letter marked, 'Please give to Harry the Usher'. It was handed over to Harry and this is what it said: 'Dear Harry. I'm sorry I don't know your last name, but then you don't know mine. I'm Gert, Gert at the 10 o'clock Mass every Sunday. I'm writing to ask a favor. I don't know the priests too well, but somehow I feel close to you..." and several other illustrations)
  • The Wheat and the Tares

    by Martin Bell, from The Way of the Wolf
  • Wait Until Harvest

    by Mark Link, SJ, from Illustrated Sunday Homilies
    ("Years ago a magazine carried a moving story. It concerned a retired lay missionary and his wife. They spent their final days on a tiny farm outside a town. The couple worked hard growing vegetables and chickens. They couldn't eat all they grew, so they sold their surplus to the townspeople. After a while the townspeople began to gossip about how miserly the retired missionary and his wife were...")

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