Matthew 18: 15-20

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 Power of Reconciliation

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis!!)
  • Stories of Forgiveness

    from the Forgiveness Project
    Dozens of stories of forgiveness. Recommended!! (Click on any picture for their story.)
  • Fraternal Correction

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("A young rabbi was facing a serious problem in his new congregation. During the Friday evening Sabbath services, half the congregation stood for the prayers, while the other half remained seated. Each side shouted at the other, insisting that their was the true tradition..." and other illustrations)
  • Talk It Over With Your Brother

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Storyteller Bill Harley tells a simple story about a children's T-ball game he witnessed a few years ago. On one of the T-ball teams was a young girl named Tracy. Tracy ran with a limp. She couldn't hit the ball to save her life. But everyone cheered for her anyway. Finally, in her team's last game, Tracy did the unthinkable. She hit the ball..." and other illustrations)
  • The Community of Believers

    by Sil Galvan
    A teacher once gave his continuing education class of adults the assignment to "go to someone you love, and tell them that you love them." At the beginning of the next class, one of the students began by saying, "I was angry with you last week when you gave us this assignment. I didn't feel I had anyone to say those words to. But as I began driving home my conscience started talking. Then I knew exactly who I needed to say 'I love you' to. Five years ago, my father and I had a vicious disagreement and never really resolved it. We avoided seeing each other unless we absolutely had to at family gatherings. We hardly spoke. So by the time I got home, I had convinced myself I was going to tell my father I loved him. Just making that decision seemed to lift a heavy load off my chest. At 5:30 the following day, I was at my parents' house ringing the doorbell. When my father answered the door, I didn't waste any time. I took one step in the door and said, 'Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love you.'
  • The Power of Community Prayer

    by Sil Galvan
    I used what little battery was left on my cell phone to call Terri, my secretary, who would in turn activate the prayer chain at church. This was not a ritual call. I was desperate for prayer, desperate that other believers would bang on the gates of heaven and beg for the life of our son. Pastors are supposed to be unshakable pillars of faith, right? But at that moment, my faith was hanging by a tattered thread and fraying fast. I thought of the times where the Scripture says that God answered the prayers, not of the sick or dying, but of the friends of the sick or dying—the paralytic, for example. It was when Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends that he told the paralytic “Get up, take your mat and go home”. At that moment, I needed to borrow the strength and faith of some other believers. After I hung up with Terri, Sonja and I sat together and prayed, afraid to hope and afraid not to.
  • The Strength of Faith

    by Sil Galvan
    "I don't think we're going to get out of this thing. I'm going to have to go out on faith." It was the voice of Todd Beamer who said "Let's roll" as he led the charge against the terrorists who had hijacked United Flight 93. Anyone who has read anything about this flight knows how brave Beamer and his fellow passengers were on September 11th. But in December we learned more fully what buttressed that bravery: faith in Jesus Christ. In an article entitled "The Real Story of Flight 93," Newsweek revealed gripping new details from the actual transcripts of the now-recovered cockpit voice recorder. "Todd had been afraid," Newsweek related. "More than once, he cried out for his Savior." After passengers were herded to the back of the jet, Beamer called the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois. He told supervisor Lisa Jefferson about the hijacking. The passengers were planning to jump the terrorists, he said. And then he asked her to pray with him.
  • Proper 18A

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • I Am Always Right

    by Larry Patten
    ("Before knowing my father had dementia, I blamed his vexing behaviors on other things. Dad was elderly and tired. His hearing was awful (and had been for years). He'd become human cement, set in his ways. He resented, as his body weakened, his loss of independence. So when he lashed out at me during a visit to Mom and Dad's home, with his eyes ablaze and jaw clenched and his voice sounding more animal growl than human grumble, I knew where to point my finger: at those 'other things'...")
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 18:15-20)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • The Tie That Binds

    by Jeremy Troxler
    ("My mother recently had to have a conversation with my grandmother about how the time has come for her to hand over her car keys and stop driving. Not an easy conversation to have, especially when you consider that my grandmother is a stubborn woman who once chased a thief through the grocery store parking lot after she saw him trying to steal her No. 43 Richard Petty license plate..." and other illustrations)

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2020

  • Amazing Forgiveness, Amazing Love

    by Jim Chern
    A few years ago, a young woman in her thirties named Carys Cragg wrote an amazing book… vulnerably recounting one of the most horrific things that could have happened to her years earlier as an 11 year old. Back in 1992, she and her family were sound asleep when a man broke into her home, high on drugs, looking for something to steal. As the burglar stumbled around the kitchen, he found a carving knife, grabbed it as he began to search the house, until he eventually encountered Cary’s father who was woken up at the sound of the commotion. The would-be burglar stabbed Dr Geoffrey Craig, killing him in his own home while his family were only a few rooms away. Their lives were devastated by the horrific act of this man. Carys wrote the next memory she has after this brutality was sitting “in the corner of her neighbors bathroom, knees tucked up to her chest, shivering and wondering ‘what just happened to my world?’” This heart-wrenching story is the prelude to her book entitled Dead Reckoning: How I came to meet the man who murdered my father. She describes how close to 20 years later after these fateful events, she found herself in this program where she would be able to contact the offender...
  • Why Confront When Complaining Is Easier?

    by Jim Chern
    A week ago, the freshmen arrived at Montclair State University, the campus I’m blessed to serve at as their Chaplain. Seeing the students arriving at the dorms on Sunday, it was hard for me to believe that it was 26 years ago I first left my home in Clark NJ to drive out to DeSales University. Watching all of them, wading through the terrible rain and traffic I couldn’t help but think of all the nerve-wracking, challenging things I faced moving away from home and leaving the safety of my loving parents. The scariest part for me was meeting my roommate. And part of the whole thing about living away, I was told, was learning how to deal with someone elses quirks... For example, Chris liked to go to bed early. By early I mean 10 PM lights out...
  • Who's In and Who's Out?

    by Chris Clow
    But Dorothy Day saw it differently – she strove to see human dignity present in all people, no matter how insufferable they turned out to be. And believe me, some of the people who stayed at her Catholic Worker houses were insufferable. This piece from the Atlantic puts it well: Dorothy Day lived with the forgotten man, and he was a huge pain in the ass. His name was Mr. Breen, and during his residency at the Catholic Worker house on Mott Street he was a vituperative racist and a fire hazard. His name was also Mr. O’Connell, who stayed for 11 ill-natured years at Maryfarm, the Catholic Worker farming commune in Easton, Pennsylvania, slandering the other workers without mercy, hoarding the tools, and generally making himself “a terror” (in Day’s words). Even so, Day still recognized that they were human beings too, created in the image and likeness of God, and nothing, neither the hardships they had endured nor the ones they put on others, could get rid of that: “The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”...
  • Love All, Don't Shun Some

    by Delmer Chilton
    My father had a favorite story about the local holiness church in the community where I grew up. According to him, every spring, when the farmers in the church planted tobacco, the “preacher” would go and see them and read them the section in the church Book of Discipline forbidding involvement in “the tobacco trade,” followed by a recitation of Matthew 18. Then he would inform them that in obedience to Scripture and the discipline he was warning them to cease their sinful behavior. A few weeks later he would bring two elders with him and do it again. And some time before Memorial Day, the women and children of the congregation would gather in solemn assembly to excommunicate their fathers and husbands and brothers, etc. Then everyone would go home to a nice Sunday dinner. Sometime in October, after everyone had harvested their crop and sold their tobacco, the women and children would gather again and vote their menfolk back in, just in time, my father would add with a wink, for the church to collect a tithe on the proceeds of the tobacco sale.
  • Conflict Resolution God's Way

    by Craig Condon
    Corrie ten Boom worked to save several Jews from the Nazis in Holland during World War II. She was arrested and taken to the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp. She later wrote of her experiences in the famous book, “The Hiding Place”. She often thought back over the horrors of the Ravensbruck concentration camp. How could she ever forgive the former Nazis who had been her jailers? Where were love, acceptance, and forgiveness in a horror camp where more than 95,000 women died? How could she ever forget the horrible cruelty of the guards and the smoke constantly coming from the chimney of the crematorium? Then in 1947 Corrie was speaking in a church in Munich, and when the meeting was over she saw one of the cruelest male guards of Ravensbruck coming forward to speak to her. He had his hand outstretched. “I have become a Christian,” he explained. “I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you forgive me?” A conflict raged in Corrie’s heart. The Spirit of God urged her to forgive. The spirit of bitterness and coldness urged her to turn away. “Jesus, help me,” she prayed. Then she knew what she must do. “I can lift my hand,” she thought to herself. “I can do that much.” As their hands met it was as if warmth and healing broke forth with tears and joy. “I forgive you, brother, with all my heart,” she said. Later Corrie testified that “it was the power of the Holy Spirit” who had poured the love of God into her heart that day..
  • Come See Jesus

    by Jim Eaton
    Nelson Mandela was a young lawyer leading a revolution in South Africa when he was arrested in 1962. Beaten, imprisoned, he might easily have become hardened and bitter. Instead, he let the love of God bloom in his heart. He learned to forgive. In 1990, after 27 years, he was finally freed. Desmond Tutu, a bishop in South Africa said this: "Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC’s military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge...
  • When Someone Causes Trouble

    by Owen Griffiths
    Once upon a time there was a tiny Lutheran church with a small praise ensemble. One of the musicians (let’s call him “Bob”) was a very well-meaning but stubborn man. God had given Bob tremendous musical talent. Unfortunately, Bob also had an enormous ego and wanted everything his own way. This caused friction within the praise team and much consternation for the church’s worship committee, the Praise Director (let’s call him “Joe”), and the congregation in general. Many of the Lutherans grumbled about Bob. Some of them complained to the pastor, but none of them confronted him directly about his behavior. One day, after a particularly acrimonious verbal run-in with Joe, Bob came to see the pastor. The pastor was a very timid man who was uncomfortable with inter-personal conflict, but he invited Bob to his office to hear him out. Bob sat down in a chair and in his very self-important stentorian voice declared, “Pastor, the trouble with Joe is he just doesn’t listen!”...
  • Family in the Time of Cyborgs

    by Owen Griffiths
    As a rule, funerals are pretty solemn affairs. I know. I do a ton of them. I’m something of the Barry Bonds of neighborhood funerals. But the one I did this past week was actually kind of fun—if a funeral could ever be called fun. It was for a sixty-seven year-old guy named Jody who played the bass in an oldies cover band. What struck me about this service was the vibe from the folks who came to see Jody off. Even though they loved him and would certainly miss the guy, they had this really funky energy. It was like they were at a big family reunion, and everyone was tickled to giggles about being together.
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 18A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Some years back the Templeton Foundation funded a major nationwide study on people’s attitudes toward forgiveness. Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the National Institute for Mental Health, the study found that 75% of Americans are “very confident” that they have been forgiven by God for their past offenses. The lead researcher, Dr. Loren Toussaint, expressed great surprise at such high confidence, especially since many of these same people are not regular church attenders. Still, three-quarters of the people surveyed had few doubts about God’s penchant to let bygones be bygones. The picture was less bright, however, when it came to interpersonal relations. Only about half of the people surveyed claimed that they were certain that they had forgiven others. Most people admitted that whereas God may be a galaxy-class forgiver, ordinary folks struggle. It’s difficult to forgive other people with whom you are angry. It’s even difficult to forgive yourself sometimes. But where forgiveness does take place, the study found a link between forgiveness and better health. The more prone a person is to grant forgiveness, the less likely he or she will suffer from any stress-related illnesses.
  • Go and Point Out the Fault When the Two of You Are Alone

    by Janet Hunt
    I was a young pastor, still, and sometimes I let my fear mostly born of inexperience have the better of me. This was certainly so when I heard that someone in our midst had a son in crisis and did not follow-up. It is hard from this great distance to understand why I did not, for while I might yet fail at this today, it would not be out of fear, but out of thoughtlessness, or forgetfulness, or just plain too much busy-ness. And yet, that is how I remember it. I shirked my responsibility to this family out of fear — of the unknown perhaps — or perhaps because I simply did not know what to say or do and avoiding it seemed easier than facing my own inexperienced fear of the unknown. Whatever my paltry excuse, my lack of response wounded and the mother who was so wounded struck back.
  • Peaceful Tomorrows

    by Dawn Hutchings
    Brothers Barry and Craig grew up in Iowa and were alike in many ways. They were both interested in art and in drawing. They loved music and both of them worked as DJ’s during college and they shared a wry sense of humor. After college the brothers were both married. Barry and his wife moved to San Francisco and started their own computer company. Craig and his wife wanted to start a family and so Craig opted for a more safe and secure job, with health benefits and a guarantee of a pension. Every morning for two years Craig drove to work in a car with a bumper sticker that read: “visualize world peace”. Some people thought that Craig’s bumper sticker was a little odd considering the fact that Craig was in the military. But Craig believed his role in the Army could further the cause of peace throughout the world. Craig’s “Visualize world peace” bumper sticker was proudly displayed on his car, the morning he reported for work at the Pentagon on September 11th 2001. Craig wasn’t able to drive his car home. Like thousands of others, Craig was murdered by evil men who sought the destruction of life as we know it.
  • It's About the Future!

    by Beth Johnston
    I was talking with a colleague the other day about Terry Fox. He was running when I was in High School. I can remember the song that played on the TV when the ads came on. I can remember how the whole country seemed to be with him as he ran and how we hoped he would make it to the Pacific Ocean. It was as if we were running with him. When his run finished just outside of Thunder Bay we hoped he would get back at it soon. We all shed a tear when we heard that he had died...
  • Gathering to Resolve Hate

    by Robert W. Lee IV (descendant of Robert E. Lee)
    I never fully understood Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s term cheap grace until these past weeks. You see I bear the name Robert Lee, and I am a descendant of the Confederate General who led the army against this nation for state’s rights to own slaves. I had the opportunity to speak up and speak out after recent riots surrounding the preservation of a memorial to General Lee in Charlottesville, VA. On August 27, 2017, I appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards with the mother of the late Heather Healey, a young woman who was killed when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protestors. The hate I have received has been surreal and pernicious. The threats I have received inconceivable. But it all reminded me that Christians are easily tempted cheap grace.
  • Forgiveness: Hard, Healing Work

    by Amy Martinell
    For months Margot Van Sluytman traded emails with Glen Flett. It was not your ordinary email exchange. In 1978 when Margot was only 16, Flett killed her father while he attempted to rob the convenience store at which her father worked. After being released from prison, Flett attended an event aiming at bringing victims and perpetrators together where he received help connecting with Margot and they begin to email...
  • Teeth (SS)

    by C. David McKirachan
    Confrontation is one of my least favorite things. Because of that I have a staff, about six feet of cedar, knarled by age and elements leaning in a corner of my study. It’s to remind me that as a shepherd, I’ve got to remember that not all the people who come through the door are sheep. Some of them have sharp teeth. I believe that some people like to fight, they’re conflict oriented. Unless there’s a good bangaroo going on, they’re not comfortable. The church is a good place for people like that...
  • But He's a Ghost! (Matthew)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Wherever two or three are gathered together, I am there among them. That's the final verse in the gospel reading for Proper 18(23)A/Pentecost 14A (Matthew 18:15-20). The concept is familiar and comforting. Jesus is with his followers, even when they are in small groups. But, apparently, Jesus is always ghostly, see-through, transparent when he is with his followers.
  • Rescuing Houston: America’s Dunkirk?

    by Nancy Rockwell
    In the midst of devastation, as water welled over much of Houston and several other towns, as all preparations for flooding gave way before torrential rains, an awesome act occurred – people came together to rescue one another. At the height of the rains, there were 14,000 national guardsmen working on rescuing people. And, there were 10,000 volunteers working on the same task. They’ve been called the Cajun Navy. They’ve been called heroes. Angels. The merciful. Most of them reject those terms, saying they are just able bodied folks who could not stand by when they knew they could do something. And what they did was a civilian miracle.
  • Dare to Forgive

    by David Sellery
    Pope John XXIII had some very good advice for implementing this gospel. He counseled: “See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.” We are to act sparingly and lovingly and only when we are directly involved. We should not act out of pride or pique, but only from compassionate Christian love. No dramatics. No gotchas.
  • Getting Forgiveness

    by Amy Ziettlow
    Angie called in a panic. “Can you come to the hospital? The nurse says dad doesn’t have long. He wants to see you.” Angie’s parents were lifelong members of the Lutheran congregation I serve as pastor. Betty had died six months earlier, and through that crucible of care and mourning I had become well acquainted with Angie and her father, Earl. I arrived at the hospital. Angie hugged me at the door of Earl’s room and then stepped into the hallway to give us privacy. Earl sat propped up in the hospital bed, his eyes glassy but relatively alert. He nodded to me in recognition as I pulled a chair to his bedside. I got right to the point. “Hi, Earl. Angie said you wanted to see me.” His eyes welled with tears as he confessed, “I need forgiveness, but I can’t get it.”

Illustrated Resources from 2014 to 2016

  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("'Emilia Fox, part of the Fox theatrical dynasty, wants to find out just how far back the family's acting roots go.' So runs the blurb for an episode of the popular family history show, Who do you think you are? It continued, 'Emilia also discovers, in an extraordinary tale of rags to riches, that her great great grandfather, Samson Fox, made one of the most important inventions of the 19th century. Born into an impoverished family, Samson started work in a Leeds textile mill when he was just eight years old, but ended up becoming one of the richest men in Victorian Britain...")
  • Proper 18A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("In the 60s and 70s, Merv Griffin was a popular syndicated talk show. One time Merv had a body builder on as the guest. The interview went something like this: Merv said, 'Why do you develop those particular muscles?' The body builder looked puzzled, then stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded. Again Merv asked, 'What do you use all those muscles for?' After an awkward moment, the muscular specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions...")
  • The Journey of Healing

    by Tom Cox
    ("The story is told of a man who was rescued from a deserted island after many years there. His rescuers looked around and saw three huts. They questioned him as to their purpose. He replied, 'this is where I live', pointing to the first, 'and this is where I go to church', pointing to the second. What is the third one they asked? 'Oh, that is where I used to go to church!'...")
  • Go and Point Out the Fault When the Two of You Are Alone

    by Janet Hunt
    ("I was walking to the rest room with a friend and we were complaining about another member of the gathering. I must have spoken her name out loud. I don't remember what I said, but I can still taste my frustration. Restroom stalls, of course, have doors on them. In my thoughtlessness and yes, my unintended cruelty, I did not check to be sure we were alone. We were not. My unkind words were overheard by the very one of whom I spoke...")
  • On Prudence in Correction

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Most famous people have a least one or two lines they should hope that history forgets. For the evangelist Frank Buchman, one of those has to be, 'I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler.' It's not that the evangelist, who had done such effective work with the YMCA, thought that Hitler was a good man. He didn't, but Buchman did admire the Fascist style of leadership. He thought that, if only Hitler would embrace Jesus Christ as his personal savior, all might be well....")
  • Where Two or Three Are Gathered

    by Anne Le Bas
    (" I read a wonderful post on an Christian blog this week, and I'd like to read you the first part of it. It might make you scratch your heads a bit, but don't worry, because when I read you the second part of it later on, it will fall into place. 'There is no doubt that going to Church is a waste of time. After all, you could be on Twitter. You could be in B&Q or digging the garden or in bed. Or watching Great British Bake-Off on BBC iPlayer...")
  • The Hunt

    Film Review by Ed McNulty
    ("Lucas is a middle-aged schoolteacher frequently battling over his cell phone with his divorced wife about the custody of their teenaged son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom). Unhappy with his mother, the boy badly wants to live with Lucas. Although the messy divorce cost him his teaching position, Lucas has been able to find work at the local kindergarten where the children adore him...")
  • Getting Righted

    by Rick Miles
    Consider our own Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa. He has been a driving force behind that country's healing. As the Afrikaner regime handed power over to leaders elected by all the people, there arose a need for special tribunals to heal the wounds caused by decades of racial hatred. Tutu has confessed his astonishment at the ability of South Africans to achieve reconciliation, even after terrible crimes. Here is what he has said about it. "I have found breathtaking and, in fact, exhilarating, the magnanimity of people, the incredible nobility of spirit of people who have suffered as much as they have suffered. So many of them are ready to forgive, which sometimes makes you feel as though you should take your shoes off because you are stepping on holy ground."
  • I Am Always Right

    by Larry Patten
    ("Before knowing my father had dementia, I blamed his vexing behaviors on other things. Dad was elderly and tired. His hearing was awful (and had been for years). He'd become human cement, set in his ways. He resented, as his body weakened, his loss of independence. So when he lashed out at me during a visit to Mom and Dad's home, with his eyes ablaze and jaw clenched and his voice sounding more animal growl than human grumble, I knew where to point my finger: at those 'other things'...")
  • The Power of Words

    by Nancy Rockwell
    "Ann Lamott , in her book Bird by Bird, talks about drive-by shootings of the mouth, words by which, in the course of an ordinary day, we take one another down. Friends, strangers, family members, we are all survivors of these, and we are, when we least expect it, shooters. Relating, reacting, refuting, reporting, rehearsing, redefining: these are the uses of words; and these are the spiritual exercises we daily practice...."
  • Us vs. Us

    by Carl Wilton
    ("I'd like to begin today with the words of a great theologian. His name is Dr. Seuss: 'On the last day of summer, ten hours before fall… …my grandfather took me out to the Wall. For a while he stood silent. Then finally he said, with a very sad shake of his very old head, "As you know…on this side of the Wall we are Yooks. On the far side of this Wall live the Zooks." Then my grandfather said, "It's high time that you knew of the terribly horrible thing that Zooks do. In every Zook house and in every Zook town every Zook eats his bread with the butter side down!...")

Illustrated Resources from 2008 to 2013

  • To Build a Community of Grace

    by Richard Aguilar
    ("Some thirty years ago, the first in a series of movies was released. It is entitled The Gods Must Be Crazy. It is a clever comedy yet with profound messages. One of the stories in the film is about an African tribe that lives in the Kalahari Desert in the southern part of the continent. This tribe is a community in collaboration and cooperation with one another...")
  • Proper 18A (2008)

    by Chris Ayers
    ("One of Jerry Clower's most famous stories is, in fact, titled The Coon Hunt in which he takes Southern humor to its pinnacle in describing how the dogs treed a "coon", rushing out to the biggest sweet gum tree in all of Amit River swamps. It was huge. Jerry didn't think that John Eubanks could climb that tree and it made John mad....")
  • Proper 18A (2011)

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("My father once told me that every spring, when the farmers in his congregation planted their tobacco, the Preacher would go and see them and read them the section in the Pentecostal Holiness Discipline forbidding involvement in "the tobacco trade" and the scripture we read from Matthew. A few weeks later he brought two elders with him and did it again...")
  • Three Strikes?

    by Kathy Donley
    In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes hell as a huge, grey city. It is a city that is only inhabited at its outer edges with rows and rows of empty houses in the middle. They are empty because the people who used to live in them fought with the neighbors and moved, and fought with the new neighbors and moved again, leaving empty streets full of empty houses behind them. Lewis says that that is how hell got so large, because everyone in it chose to move away instead of staying to confront each other and work things out...
  • Ordinary 23A (2008)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a very, very conservative Catholic came to complain to his pastor. The new Pope has let us down, he protested. He's a great disappointment...")
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 18A)(2011)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Some years back the Templeton Foundation funded a major nationwide study on people's attitudes toward forgiveness. Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the National Institute for Mental Health, the study found that 75% of Americans are 'very confident' that they have been forgiven by God for their past offenses...")
  • The Chore of Church

    by Peter Lockhart
    ("There is an episode of the Simpsons which begins with the family going to church. When they arrive home, as soon as the front door opened, Homer, and the two older children, Lisa and Bart, raced inside stripping their clothes off as they went...")
  • The Hunt

    Film Review by Ed McNulty
    "Lucas is a middle-aged schoolteacher frequently battling over his cell phone with his divorced wife about the custody of their teenaged son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom). Unhappy with his mother, the boy badly wants to live with Lucas. Although the messy divorce cost him his teaching position, Lucas has been able to find work at the local kindergarten where the children adore him..."
  • Community Embraces Football Season

    by Ivan Meisel
    (Tuscaloosa, Alabama, tries to recover from a devastating tornado in April in which 250 people lost their lives. See also the story of Carson Tinker. Emphasizes the importance of community.)
  • Do We Know What We've Got?

    by Rick Miles
    I’m reminded of a rather apocryphal story of a pastor in a drought-stricken part of the Country. He implored his people to begin praying for rain. In fact he asked each member to join in a prayer vigil that would continue day and night until God granted their request. Never had there been such a great sense of urgency in that church. At any hour one might pass that small rural church and find the lights on and someone at the altar praying. Finally, late one evening, some dark clouds began to roll in. Soon rain began falling in buckets. For four straight days it rained without ceasing. The creeks began overflowing their banks. It became necessary to evacuate people from their homes. Still the waters kept rising. The entire community was now underwater...
  • Ordinary 23A (2011)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("One of my greatest heroes in life was a man was a man called Andy Morrison of the Society of Jesus. The reason is that he gave his entire working life to bringing peace and justice in his country. And but for him and a few others like him, his country would not now be a democracy. It was not just to me that he was a hero; he was a hero to the whole country....")
  • Before I Begin...

    by Andrew Prior
    ("In his commentary this week, Brian Stoffregen quotes some classic lines from Scott Peck's People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. 'It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it...")
  • For What Binds Us

    by Jan Richardson
    ("Dealing with the sources of conflict in the church requires such profound humility on our part. We find this kind of humility in this story of Abba Moses, a desert father who spent much of his earlier life as a robber...")
  • Not Good If Detached

    by Alex Thomas
    ("But you know if you never face the things that are tearing you apart they just get worse. I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe, I told it not, my wrath did grow...")
  • Resisting Darkness

    by John van de Laar
    "A few years ago I was tasked with planning and facilitating the worship at a large national gathering of my denomination. I worked with a diverse team to ensure that our worship was as inclusive and representative as possible. One of the team members was a colleague and friend with whom I had worked in such situations before..."
  • How to Get Along

    by Todd Weir
    ("I spent the summer of 1985 with a traveling Mime Ministry that started in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and went all the way to New York City and back, much of the time with me behind the wheel of our van. As the driver, I also felt responsible to be the time-keeper and make sure we got to our appointments and performances on time. Getting a group of mimes together was much harder to do than the driving...")
  • Forgiveness in the Church

    by Sue Whitt
    ["Thinking about forgiveness and the congregatingness (congregatability?) of the congregation, I read Kathleen Norris' typically wonderful poem, Mrs. Schneider in Church:"...]
  • The Office of the Keys

    by Timothy Zingale
    As its says in Free to Be, a Handbook to Luther's Small Catechism, on page 197: 'The key to the kingdom is forgiveness--Christ's barrier-breaking, future-opening gift. Just as a key opens a door that has been locked shut, Christ's gift of forgiveness breaks down all the barriers the old Adam raises in us, including the old Adam, himself.'...

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Love and Do What You Like

    by Phil Bloom
    ("C.S. Lewis said, 'God whispers to us in our pleasures, he speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world.'...")
  • The Way of Forgiveness

    by Patrick Brennan
    Thirteen years ago, a policeman in New York City, Steven McDonald, tried to stop a robbery that was taking place in Central Park. He was shot by a fifteen-year-old teenager, Shavad Jones. From that day, thirteen years ago, Steven McDonald has not moved anything below his neck. He breathes through a breathing tube and spends much of his day in a wheelchair...
  • Seeking the Lost Christian

    by George Butterfield
    ("The Johnson and Williams families had one thing in common: they each had sons who became addicted to drugs. They shared another common response: each family was slow in recognizing this fact. Eventually, though, both families knew that their boys were using cocaine...")
  • Proper 18A (2002)

    by Craig Canfield
    ("Some of you might have seen the film Signs this summer. Behind the scary, horror movie surface of its narrative is the very human story of a priest whose wife has recently been killed in a car accident. As a result, the priest finds he is losing his faith in God...")
  • Ordinary 23A (2002)

    by Frank Cordaro
    ("Many years ago, early in my Catholic Worker/Resistance career, I remember driving down a hill on Indianola Road on the south side of Des Moines heading towards downtown. From the top of the hill, you can see the whole Des Moines skyline. A vision of a nuclear bomb destroying the city came into my mind's eye. It was scary...")
  • Desperately Seeking – Forgiveness

    by Tom Cox
    ("The nurse doing her final rounds found the patient in Room 712 stable, his pulse strong and regular. Little indication of his earlier heart attack that January morning. He looked up with tear-filled eyes: 'Nurse, would you….could you phone my daughter? Tell her I’ve had a slight heart attack.'...")
  • Testing Your Forgiveness

    by Tom Cox
    ("Well, give yourself a short forgiveness test. There are six signs you have genuinely forgiven someone. They are: You do not tell anybody what they did to you....")
  • Proper 18A (2002)

    by Elizabeth Eddy
    "Let me give you a handy example: me, and my attitude toward my neighbor. Yes, a real person. He lives downstairs from me. The two of us share one stairwell. He smokes – cigars – apparently all day, every day. He doesn't open his windows, or use the air conditioner..."
  • Reaching Out to the Erring

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("A young woman, Lydia, strayed from the church as a teenager. After nine years of experimenting with atheism, spiritism, and new age, she found her way back again to the church, by the grace of God...")
  • Mending Fences

    by Richard Fairchild
    ("William Blake - in his poem A Poison Tree wrote these words: 'I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe, I told it not, my wrath did grow.'...")
  • Our Continuing Debt

    by Richard Fairchild
    ("In the Calgary Sun a few months ago this question or comment concerning marriage counselling was directed at James Dobson. The reader wrote: 'If you were a counsellor who was helping someone manage a crisis situation, your recommendations to exercise tough love could potentially kill the marriage...")
  • Proper 18A (2005)

    by Grant Gallup
    ("In 1985, on my first pilgrimage to the holy land of Nicaragua, our Witness for Peace delegation had a meeting with Comandante Tomas Borge, then Minister of the Interior, at his home. During the time of 'the Monster', as the last Somoza of the dynasty was called, Borge was tortured in prison, while his wife was tortured, raped and murdered...")
  • Unshackled

    by Ken Gehrels
    ("A friend of mine - he must be close to 80 now - has walked around since I first knew him with a back brace. Due to a work injury, I was told. A few years ago he came forward for prayer at a church meeting, and while there was able to begin to deal with some long-standing resentments he held against his sister and other family members..." and other illustrations)
  • Forgiving One Another

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Eighty-nine relatives of Simon Wiesenthal had been murdered by the Nazis. He became a Nazi hunter after the war and wrote a book that began with a true experience he had while he himself was a concentration camp prisoner. One day he was yanked out of a work detail and taken up a back stairway to a dark hospital room...")
  • Mending Broken Relationships

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("A father tells this story about his holiday. 'Last September school holidays, my family decided to take a trip to central Australia. It seemed like such a good idea at the time! I imagined us all singing songs together as we travelled the long outback roads visiting places we had only seen on postcards and in books. But everything didn’t quite work out as we had planned...")
  • Bumping into God: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places

    by Dominic Grassi
    My mother recently reached her ninetieth birthday. Thank God, she is in good health and wonderful spirits, but because of some changes in her health insurance, she had to leave the doctor she had been going to for twenty years, her primary physician...
  • Ordinary 23A (2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a certain parish Council decided to redecorate the parish hall which, was to tell you the truth, a terrible mess. The hall served both the parish school and the parish teen club...")
  • Ordinary 23A (2002)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a divorced woman and her two pre-teen children moved into a community. This woman was a celebrity so everyone knew about her situation. They also knew that she was 'seeing' a well known political figure in the City...")
  • Ordinary 23A (1996)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a poker club, four men that gathered together on the first Tuesday of each month to play penny ante. Not much money every changed hands and all had a good time...")
  • Proper 18A (2002)

    by Roger Haugen
    ("In my final year of university at Camrose Lutheran College, I was in charge of one of the dorms. There was one guy determined to get my goat. He was always at the centre of disturbances, always living just over the edge of the dorm rules. There was a lot of tension between the two of us all year..." and other illustrations)
  • Love Always Trumps

    by Mark Haverland
    ("A married couple I know recently divorced. There were about my age. The man fell in love with a woman twenty-five years younger and left his middle age wife for a newer model. I hate this, by the way, but I try not to get too involved in what is none of my business and where I know too little about the original marriage. But Faith said an interesting thing...")
  • Gentiles and Tax Collectors

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("I want to leave you with one more image: a woman being interviewed yesterday on the streets of New Orleans. 'This is a time to have faith,' she said. 'This is a time to have compassion. This is a time to have compassion even on the people who didn't have compassion for us.'...")
  • Two or Three

    by Randy Hyde
    (" In his book The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis draws a stark picture of hell. Hell is like a great, vast city, Lewis says, a city inhabited only at its outer edges, with rows and rows of empty houses in the middle. These houses in the middle are empty because everyone who once lived there has quarreled with the neighbors and moved. Then, they quarreled with the new neighbors and moved again, leaving the streets and the houses of their old neighborhoods empty and barren...")
  • The Hot Potato of Church Discipline

    by John Jewell
    ("A friend and colleague told this absolutely horrifying story. The police raided the home of a man in the small city where he was a pastor. The man was charged with possession of child pornography materials and was suspected of producing videotape of child pornography. Boxes of obscene materials were taken as evidence. All of this was front page headlines...")
  • Binding and Loosing

    by John Manzo
    ("Michael G. Clark is a Lutheran Minister in Wichita, Kansas. A few weeks ago I saw him on television and my heart went out to him. While no group of people can ever be totally lumped together or said to be all the same, most clergy have several tendencies. A lot of us tend to be a bit on the neurotic side...")
  • Church Discipline

    by David Martyn
    ln his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" (1994), Nelson Mandela describes his long years of imprisonment on Robben Island. He tells how one day he was called to the main office. General Steyn was visiting the island and wanted to know from Mandela if the prisoners had any complaints. Badenhorst the officer in command on the island, was also present. Now Badenhorst was feared and hated by the prisoners. In a calm, but forceful and truthful manner, Mandela informed the visitor about the chief complaints of the prisoners. But he did so without bitterness or recriminations. The general duly took note of what he had to say, which amounted to a damning indictment of Badenhorst’s regime. The following day Badenhorst went to Mandela and said, ‘I’m leaving theisland. I just want to wish you people good luck.’ The remark left Mandela dumbfounded. Later he said, ‘I was amazed. He spoke these words like a human being, and showed a side of himself we had never seen before. I thanked him for his good wishes, and wished him luck in his own endeavours...
  • Quo Vadis

    by Michael McCoy
    One of Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz' novels depicts the persecution of the early church as the Roman Caesar inflicted a reign of terror and horrible torture upon those who confessed and followed Christ. The 1896 novel includes a scene where the Apostle Peter is leaving Rome because he would be martyred by Nero if he remained. On his way out of the city with his young companion Nazarius, Peter meets Jesus Who is journeying into the city of Rome. Sienkewicz continues his fictional account. Suddenly he [Peter] threw himself on his knees, his arms lifted upward and stretched to the light, and his lips cried out: "Christ! O Christ!" His head beat against the dust as if he were kissing the feet of someone only he could see. Then there was silence. "Quo vadis, Domine?" his voice asked at last, punctured by his sobbing. "Where are you going, Lord?" Nazarius heard no answer. But a voice of ineffable sweetness and abundant sorrow rang in Peter's ears. "When you abandon my people," he heard, "I must go to Rome to be crucified once more."
  • Ordinary 23A (2002)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("Does anyone here remember Jonestown? According to the journalists, Jonestown was the biggest newspaper story there has ever been - bigger than the assassination of President Kennedy; bigger than the fall of the Berlin wall; bigger than the first man on the moon...")
  • The Forgiving Community of God

    by William Oldland
    ("There is a story about another church. In this church the new minister had only been present a few months. He noticed the town, the community and the little church had trouble with forgiveness. He preached on the topic regularly but he noticed the message was not being received...")
  • Nobodies In Charge

    by Juan M. C. Oliver
    ("Several years ago, thirty members of the Council of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission held their annual meeting in Cuernavaca, Mexico. On a hot April afternoon they were led across the tracks to a slum of unimaginable squalor. A sea of cardboard huts put together with billboards and paper scraps steamed in the heat, its dirt streets lined with open sewers....")
  • Look! They're Moving!!

    by Ray Osborne
    ("A confirmed bachelor and a married man were talking to each other about the pros and cons of family life. At one point in the conversation, the married man asked: 'Do you know what it means for a dad to come home to three adorable well-mannered, respectful children who are thrilled at the sight of your coming home?...")
  • Confrontation That Restores

    by John Pavelko
    ("The planning had begun for the annual mission fund raising. Alice drafted the leadership list. She decided that the time had come for a shift in leadership. The church needed new people to step forward so she left Anne off the list. Anne had served in nearly every leadership position and on almost every committee and board...")
  • Truth Telling

    by Michael Phillips
    ("A woman has twins. Unfortunately due to her financial circumstances she gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named ‘Amal’. The other goes to a family in Spain and they name him ‘Juan’. Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother")
  • What's a Shepherd to Do?

    by Ramona Soto Rank
    ("Let me tell you a story. This happened more than one time in the range wars of the western United States in the late 1800s. There was a shot and then another one and then another one. With each shot the man tied to the tree wept and cried out...")
  • Tell It Like It Is

    by Elton Richards
    ("I recall a fine teenage girl who destroyed her life doing drugs. I asked her peers if they were aware of her problem. Yes, they knew ~ they even knew the pusher who was her supplier; but they never confronted her or communicated her problem to anyone else...")
  • In His Name

    by Rick Roberts
    ("A wealthy man felt compassion on an old beggar he saw roaming the streets each day. He took out his checkbook and presented the beggar with a check for one million dollars. The beggar went into the bank and presented the check to the teller...")
  • Ordinary 23A (1999)

    by Charles Shelby
    there is a great comedy routine from a collection called You Don't Have to Be Jewish, which is entitled "The reading of the will." This is not the exact routine, but it goes something like this: To my dear wife Goldie, faithful for over 50 years, patient, always getting everything she asked for: all my investments and my bank accounts (which she controlled anyway); to my son, my first-born, Joseph: the vacation home in the mountains; to my daughter, my little girl, the light of my life, Rachel: the house in the city; ...
  • Christ in Community

    by Alex Thomas
    ("I can remember a number of years ago inviting one of the members of the parish in which I ministered to play the Cello during the church service on a Sunday morning. My expectations were not that great but as he began to play, and his hands worked over the frets and the bow, the most soul felt music that I think that I have ever heard engulfed the church..." and other illustrations)
  • Saved by Unfairness

    by Kari Jo Verhulst
    ("For example, if you give a 4-year-old two small pieces of cake, and a 10-year-old one big piece of cake that amounts to the exact same amount, the 4-year-old will surely protest...")
  • The Golden Years

    by Keith Wagner
    (Scroll down the page for this sermon.)
  • Proper 18A (2002)

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("In a small church, the custodian was found to be dishonest. He had managed to steal several thousand dollars from the congregation by submitting fraudulent bills. Rather than confronting the crime, the church council chose to be 'merciful'...")
  • Altered Hearts

    by Samuel Zumwalt
    ("William Willimon tells about team-teaching an ethics class (probably with his good friend Stanley Hauerwas) at Duke University, when Willimon was Dean of the Chapel there. He says that each student presented a case study of some ethical dilemma in which they were involved and how they responded...")

Other Resources from 2020 to 2022

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Other Resources from 2005 to 2007

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable