1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

New Resources

  • Sermon Starters (Lent 3B)(2021)

    by Doug Bratt
    Ronald Numbers’ biography of Seventh-Day Adventism’s founder, Ellen White is entitled Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White. In it he describes the deep disappointment many of White’s contemporaries felt when Jesus failed to return on the date predicted by William Miller. Numbers notes that a few of those people’s disappointment allegedly drove them to commit suicide. 32 others, the director of the New York Lunatic Asylum claimed, became insane because of their disappointment over Jesus’ failure to return on October 22, 1844. A link between mental illness and religion sounds old-fashioned and, dare we say, foolish to 21st century Christians. Yet it’s wise to remember that, as Numbers notes, 19th century American psychiatrists generally believed that excessive religious zeal often caused insanity in people already predisposed toward mental illness.
  • Foolishness

    by Frederick Buechner
  • Exegesis (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

    by Richard Niell Donovan
  • Lent 3B (2021)

    by Rob Fringer
  • Lent 3B (2021)

    by Adam Hearlson
  • Lent 3B (2021)

    by Phil Heinze
  • Lent 3B

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • Stumbling Block

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Scratched into a plaster wall in a building on the Palatine Hill in Rome is a crucifixion scene. The figure on the cross has a human(ish) body but the head of a donkey. Also scratched into the wall are the words ΑΛΕ ξΑΜΕΝΟϹ ϹΕΒΕΤΕ ϑΕΟΝ" loosely "Alexamenos worships his god." The Y in the upper right corner has been interpreted as both a cry of pain and a pitchfork. The image and tone seem to be ridiculing Alexamenos for worshipping one who has been (or is being) crucified. Stumbling block. Foolishness. Though there are some who believe the graffito shows worship of other deities. There is no definitive identification of the artist or the context. We don't know who Alexamenos is or who the "artist" is...
  • Foolish Wisdom

    by Michael Ruffin

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

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  • Sermon Starters (Epiphany 4A)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    Ronald Numbers’ biography of Seventh-Day Adventism’s founder, Ellen White is entitled Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White. In it he describes the deep disappointment many of White’s contemporaries felt when Jesus failed to return on the date predicted by William Miller. Thirty-two others, the director of the New York Lunatic Asylum claimed, became insane because of their disappointment over Jesus’ failure to return on October 22, 1844. A link between mental illness and religion sounds old-fashioned, and dare we say, foolish to 21st century Christians. Yet Numbers says 19th century American psychiatrists generally believed that excessive religious zeal often caused insanity in people predisposed toward mental illness.
  • Language of the Cross

    by Linda Chase
    There was a story on TV about the Larsen family who live in Ridgewood, NJ. After the school shooting in Parkland, FL, Mr. Larsen wanted to do something to help the students in Parkland raise the $2 million they wanted to raise for the families of those killed. He also wanted to teach his own four children how they could make a difference. He particularly wanted to do this because he had grown up in Parkland. The TV cameras showed the four Larsen children standing in the snow in front of their house selling lemonade. Yes, selling lemonade in the winter with snow on the ground. Foolish? Perhaps. However, the children learned what will probably be a life long lesson on helping others and they raised $360 through their efforts. They got nothing tangible in return. What they did probably brought awareness to the fund so that I expect a great many others gave to it as well...
  • Lent 3B (2018)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Our is a world of intelligence, wisdom, guts, and courage. Might makes right and nice guys finish last. It’s like some of the rapid-fire lines from George Carlin’s classic “Modern Man” routine: Push the envelope, manage risks, be a high flyer, get ahead of the curve. Don’t snooze or you’ll lose, keep the pedal to the metal, have a power lunch and take a power trip, wear a power tie and take a power nap. Or as even some popular preachers tell us, “Nobody plans to fail but some fail to plan. Tough times never last but tough people do. High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.”...
  • The Folly of the Cross

    Art and Theology by Victoria Jones
    In this recording from last year, Angie Sutherland sings “The Old Rugged Cross” with her father on their front porch in West Virginia, a favorite pastime. A few months later, on August 25, he died of cancer. The classic hymn reflects on the paradox of the cross that Paul teases out in this week’s epistle reading: it’s both ugly and beautiful, both shameful and glorious. George Bennard, the songwriter, describes it as “the emblem of suffering and shame,” “so despised by the world,” “reproach[ful]” (disgraceful, discrediting). And yet for the Christian it “has a wondrous attraction,” “a wondrous beauty,” rough and blood-stained though it is, because the sacrifice of Christ that took place there brings about the world’s salvation. And so we love it, cherish it, cling to it, as the greatest gift and our only hope, though the world may laugh...
  • Beware the Holy Banana Peel

    by Larry Patten
    In one of my favorite passages, good old Paul bluntly reminded the followers of Jesus in Corinth to embrace their inner and outer faithful “funny bone”: God’s foolishness was wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness was stronger than human strength. In other words, Paul’s theology of the cross was influenced by being a fool for Christ’s sake. God, through Christ, yanked the rug out from under our self-focused, self-indulgent steps. Beware the Holy banana peel. On my best days in ministry I challenged my congregations (and myself) to realize that serving God was a fool’s task. I think of my wife who teaches teachers how to instill a love of math in their student’s learning. How necessary and practical that is! I admire doctors that surgically mend broken bones. I am thankful for the plumbers or carpenters that repair my house. I’m in awe of the techie at my internet service provider that cured my computer’s wayward ways. People that teach, fix, construct in necessary and practical ways are all around me...

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

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

    by Mickey Anders
    ("Johanna S. Morrigan tells about foolish people she knows: 'This guy's always a day late and a dollar short. What does he have to be so cheerful about anyway? When God passed out common sense, this guy was obviously in the wrong line. His car's been rusting in his driveway all summer because when it broke down last spring...")
  • Epiphany 4A (1996)

    by William Bennett
    I am the eldest of three children. My sister is nine years younger than I. My brother was born only two and a half years after me. And I must confess that I experienced no little sibling rivalry with him. In my toddler's view of the world, he was a usurper who was pushing me out of my appointed place--that is to say, out of my mother's lap. Furthermore, he had big, beautiful blue eyes. There were huge and were surrounded by long eyelashes. Even as an infant he looked as if my mother had put mascara or false eyelashes on him. Well, these eyes of his would stop people in their tracks. One of my earliest memories (I must have been about 3-1/2 at the time) is of walking with my mother who was pushing my brother in a stroller. Strangers would stop us to comment on my brother's beautiful eyes. It seemed to me that he got all of the attention. It is no wonder that I developed a healthy case of sibling rivalry. The intense form of that rivalry continued for several years. When I was six, there occurred another incident that is seared in my memory. It involved my brother, of course, but it also marked the first time that I found out that what was in the Bible affected my own young life...
  • Repelling and Compelling

    from Biblical Studies
    ("The cross of Christ is both repelling and compelling. To the Oxford professor and philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer, the idea that Jesus died on a cross for our sins is 'intellectually contemptible and morally outrageous'.")
  • Saved by an "M"

    from Biblical Studies
    ("A noblewoman once told the great Methodist preacher John Wesley that she was saved by an 'm'. When Wesley asked for an explanation, she pointed him to 1 Corinthians 1:26, which in the King James Version reads, 'For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.'...")
  • God's Bypass of Elites

    by Gilbert Bowen
    My favorite Christmas story of the difference an extraordinary spirit can make, is a story told by an American who years ago was traveling in France with his wife and three young sons in a rented car, which broke down. The hotels were "tourist traps" in this particular town and the family was increasingly irritable. Finally, on Christmas Eve, the family checked into a dingy hotel in Nice, all the better hotels being filled. It was raining and cold when they went up the street to a drab little joint to have dinner. Only five of the tables were occupied, and the place had a depressing atmosphere, but the father was too tired and miserable to go any farther. His wife ordered the meal in French, and what came back was something she hadn't ordered and they didn't want. So he proceeded to needle her about her French. But the boys defended her and left him feeling rejected. A French couple with several children was sitting at the next table. The father slapped one child for some minor infraction, and the child wept. On the other side was a German couple engaged in a bitching contest. The only happy-seeming person in the restaurant was an American sailor at a table by himself. He was writing a letter as he ate his simple meal, and he had a half-smile on his face. The front door opened, letting in a gust of cold air, and through the door came an old woman selling flowers...
  • The Cross: Should a Symbol Betrayed Be Reclaimed?

    by Mary C. Boys
    ("[the cross], this central symbol of Christian life has a shadow side--a realization I owe initially to Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev. Asher Lev, member of a community of Ladover Hasidim and brilliant artist, seeks to find a form that might express his mother's suffering during her years of anxious waiting for his father to return from his travels on behalf of the Rebbe, as well as her anxieties about her son's journeys...")
  • The Foolishness of God

    by Mark Bringman
    ("This past week I reread a much loved book, Watership Down. I can say without any hesitation that it is the best novel I have ever read on the subject of rabbits. I was struck by the similarity in that story to the way that we hear of God working in 1st Corinthians. In that story, a rabbit has a dream about impending disaster...")
  • Things That Change and Things That Don't

    by Thomas Lane Butts
    ("Fred Craddock, tells about one of his schoolmates who spent many years ministering in China. He was under house arrest and the soldiers came one day and told him that he could return to America. The family was celebrating. The soldiers said, 'You can take 200 pounds with you.'...")
  • Selling God at a Discount

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("A young Nigerian priest wrote a small book entitled . The book is a sharp criticism of the so-called prosperity gospel which dominates much of the preaching in the new religious movements in Christianity. According to these modern-day preachers, immediate personal prosperity, good health and wealth, are signs of true faith...")
  • That Which God Has Chosen

    by Richard Fairchild
    "Martyn Lloyd-Jones says this: 'We Christians often quote 'not by might nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord,' and yet in practice we seem to rely upon the mighty dollar and the power of the press and advertising..."
  • Fools for Christ

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Remember Corrie Ten Boon – her sister, brothers and father were involved in helping Jews escape persecution by the Nazis in The Netherlands. It was considered crazy to get mixed up in a thing like this and defy the Nazi laws about sheltering such people...")
  • God's Foolishness

    by Vince Gerhardy
    Have you heard the report that was screened on TV quite some years ago, long before colour TV? It was a current affairs program on the BBC about the harvesting of Switzerland's spaghetti crop. There were shots of a happy bunch of spaghetti pickers stripping from the spaghetti bushes long strands of drooping spaghetti. The commentary described how years of cultivation of the spaghetti plant had produced strands of spaghetti that were all the same length. During the program an expert told that this is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti. There were interviews with the local farmers about harvest prospects and future plans for expansion and even of the export market to places like Italy. Even the natural enemies of spaghetti plants were discussed and what was being done to eradicate them. Of special interest was the spaghetti weevil and graphic pictures were shown of spaghetti covered with this dreaded insect. The BBC switch board was jammed with callers who wanted to know where they could buy their own spaghetti bush. Of course this program went to air on April the first...
  • Following Your Game Plan

    by Fred Kane
    ("Epiphany concludes next Sunday on the Feast of Bowls in the Season of the Playoffs. The Season of the Playoffs is a season of preparation and anticipation which reaches its end on the high holy day called 'Super Bowl Sunday'. Today we are in the 'off week' as the players and teams and fans rest. They all take a Sabbath week to prepare for the Feast of Bowls...")
  • Peace the World Cannot Give

    by Sarah Keyser
    ("The headstone of author Tennessee Williams contains a quote from the final words of Don Quixote, in Williams' play Camino Real: 'The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.' It's a reference to the strange idea that violets - fragile little flowers - by their roots growing down into the cracks in the rocks - might actually have the power, over time, to break apart the rocks...")
  • Epiphany 4A

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Lifelong Learning

    by John Manzo
    ("A full 80% of the American population believed the words 'God helps those who help themselves,' are in the Bible. The words are actually attributed to Ben Franklin. Franklin began the first public library in the United States. Franklin established the first volunteer fire department in the United States...")
  • The Cross: The Hidden Face of God

    by Edward Markquart
    ("My cousin, Lois, died of cancer. She was a young woman, about my age, and she died of bone cancer at the age of thirty-five. I will never forget my last visit with her. She was sitting in her living room, looking down on Lake Oswego in Oregon..." and other illustrations)
  • Division, Diversity, and Oneness in the Parish: A Conflict Drama

    by Edward Markquart
    ("It was about ten years ago that Pastor Paul-son arrived in Des Moines. Des Moines was a quiet town, located in Northwestern Washington. He stayed there a couple of years and established a congregation. Pastor Paul-son was a great teacher and brilliant theologian...")
  • Here Come the Clowns

    by Edward Markquart
    ("Here come the clowns. Almost all of us here today enjoy seeing and watching clowns and their crazy antics. We have images of clowns in our minds. Many of our clowns look like the classic clown by the name of Emmet Kelley...")
  • If I Were God

    by Edward Markquart
    ("In the children’s sermon for today, I will talk about unconditional love. I will select a little boy or girl and then create a story about them such as this. “Once upon a time there was a little boy by the name of Travis...")
  • Flower Power

    by Barbara Boyd Mayo
    ("On the edge of war, one foot already in, I no longer pray for peace: I pray for miracles. I pray that stone hearts will turn to tenderheartedness, and evil intentions will turn to mercifulness, and all the soldiers already deployed will be snatched out of harm's way, and the whole world will be astounded onto its knees...")
  • Why the Cross

    by Rick Miles
    the Cross was foolishness to the Greek. The word for foolishness is the same one from which we get the word moron. To the Greek the idea of the Cross was moronic. The Greeks believed that perfection was static. That is, if God was truly perfect, and he must be to be God, then he must be totally unchangeable by any outside influence. For perfection, if it can be changed by something, would no longer be perfection once it did change. Consequently, God had to be totally unable to feel. If God could feel joy or sorrow or anger or grief because of our prayers, for instance, then that would mean that, for at least that moment, we had power over God and had changed him. So, the Greek argued, it followed that God must be incapable of all feeling so that none might ever ruin his perfection. A God who suffered was, to the Greek mind, a contradiction in terms. It was moronic...
  • Wisdom and Foolishness and Blessings and Woes

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Russian artist Marc Chagall illustrates the collision of wisdom and foolishness in an illustration that is part of The Fables of La Fontaine. "The Madman Who Sold Wisdom" (Le Fou qui vent la Sagesse) tells the tale of a fool who announces that he has wisdom for sale. Soon enough people line up to buy wisdom, and what he gives them is a length of cord and a slap on the side of the head. Some were angry that they had paid for this; others simply walk away, believing they will look more foolish if they try to argue with a fool.
  • Lent 3B (2003)

    by Tod Mundo
    ("If Haydn's Creation deals with the sublime, the Grateful Dead's Truckin' deals with the mundane, but one stanza captures a sense of wonder, and even confusion, that everyone feels from time to time. In fact, if Jesus had been familiar with the lyrics, they might have been running through his mind as he stumbled along the Via Dolorosa carrying the cross...")
  • Wise Foolishness, Strong Weakness

    by Gregory Munro
    ("Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian philosopher. He recently wrote an excellent novel called Sophie's World. Sophie is a fifteen year old who is learning about philosophy and trying to work out a mystery. In Sophie's World Gaarder says the universe is the ultimate magic trick. It is as amazing as a rabbit being pulled out of a top hat by a skillful magician...")
  • The Power of the Cross

    by Raymond Osborne
    ("The Andy Griffith Show is probably my all time favorite show in the world. I will always remember one show where Mr. Weaver, a grouchy business owner was going to evict this lovely couple who had fallen on hard times. Andy and Barney had decided to fill up the jail house with yard sale type items and raise the rent for these people...")
  • Boasting Of Our Folly

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("Have you ever done something that everyone thought was foolish but in the end turned out great? We all have. History is filled with people who made fools of themselves but eventually were redeemed. Nearly everyone thought Edison was foolish for spending so many hours and days and months trying to make the first incandescent light bulb...")
  • Cross Road: God's Foolishness

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("Back in 1996, out in California a small boy accidentally fell into an abandoned mine shaft. His playmate ran for help. Rescue workers moved in by the dozens. Heavy machinery was brought in and tons of dirt was moved. Finally, after two days and nights of digging, the rescue operation was completed. The little boy was rescued and appeared to be in excellent condition..." and other illustrations)
  • Does God LikeTo Laugh?

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("There's an old story, you've probably heard it, about an area that suffered severe flooding. The owner of this particular home was lucky enough to crawl out on the roof of his two story house. Where he promptly began to pray, 'Lord, save me'. And in his heart he heard God say, 'Be not afraid. I'll save you My son'. That really bolstered his faith..." and other illustrations)
  • A Brand New Church Out of an Old Brand

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["Who says it's a 'brand' new world? I'll bet every one of you can fill in the best-known product that goes with each of the following brand names. Let's try it..."]
  • The Outlandishness of Lent

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["In the words of Lord Williams of Oystermouth, from a 2012 sermon in Rome at St. Paul's Within the Walls, 'Every Lent, we ought to be looking at the various ways in which we get involved in manufacturing the gods that suit us. Every Lent is a time to get that little bit further beyond the idolatry that constantly keeps us prisoner and draws us back to the old world..."]
  • A Topsy-Turvy Gospel

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("'Mushers' and people who travel by dog sled over snowy, frozen terrain. 'Mushers' have a saying: 'If you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes'. That 'Mushers' saying has become a centerpiece doctrine of the leadership literature that has been inundating the corporate and church worlds of the last thirty years. If you are not the 'top dog', your journey is just going to be a 'tale of tails'....")
  • Laugh It Off

    by Mark Trotter
    ("I have heard people talk about the power of laughter to heal. I came across it first in a book written by Norman Cousins some years ago called Anatomy of an Illness. It was a story of his own debilitating illness, and how he conquered it with laughter..." and other illustrations)
  • One Team, One Goal

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time, Jimmy Durante, the entertainer was asked to be a part of a show for World War II veterans. He told them his schedule was very busy and he could only afford a few minutes. But he agreed to do a short monologue. When Jimmy got on stage something interesting happened. He gave his short monologue but then stayed on stage...")
  • The Cross

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("According to Robert Beringer: 'There had to be a cross, because it was the logical outcome of our Lord's ministry. Someone once said of Jesus: "The principles he adopted for his life led inevitably to his death...")
  • Fools for Christ

    by William Willimon
    ("Tom Wright suggests that we honor St. Simeon Salos, a Palestinian monk of the sixth century who threw nuts at the candles during the sacred service and ate sausages publicly on Good Friday — in an attempt to relatives our attempts to take ourselves too seriously. Then there was St. Andrew the fool who strolled naked through Constantinople and lived as a beggar...")
  • Looking Like Fools

    by William Willimon
    ("Thornton Wilder's Heaven's My Destination is a comedy about a poor soul who attempts to put the Beatitudes into practice. The results of his piety are predictably disastrous. He causes a run on the bank by refusing to accept the interest on his savings account because he does not believe in usury...")
  • The Word of the Cross

    by William Willimon
    ("Her mother asked me to come over and talk to her. Her daughter had been in the grip of the 'Moonies' for the last six months, totally incommunicado. I rushed over to attempt to deprogram her. 'Carolyn,' I pled, 'how on earth could you have gotten mixed up with the sect, this cult?'...")
  • Bad Friday?

    by Carl Wilton
    You know the story, I expect, of how one of our greatest hymns, Amazing Grace, came to be written. Its author is an Englishman named John Newton. In the mid-1700s, Newton was captured by a press gang and forced into service in the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of midshipman. After he tried to escape, he was sentenced to eighty lashes and broken to the rank of ordinary seaman. His captain handed him over to the captain of a passing slave ship, who tried to make him part of his crew. That didn’t work out well. On the coast of Africa, the slave-ship captain turned him over to a slave trader, who treated him cruelly, making him a slave. If it weren’t for the fact that his father sent a ship captain to rescue him, that would have been the end of the story of John Newton.
  • Fellowship of the King

    by Carlos Wilton
    ("Three Rings for the Elven-Kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie...")
  • Blessed Are the Transformers

    by Tim Zingale
    ("I would like to describe two different groups of people and as you listen to them, think about whether they are successful people or loser, whether they are people you would like to associate with, or people YOU would want to stay away from. The first is a man about 35 years of age, he is strong with golden muscles, a large, tall man with a rough skin and an even rougher personality...")
  • Illustrations

    Compiled by Tim Zingale
    ("Sin is like a giant canyon, with man on one side and God on the other. A canyon can never be removed; it will always be there. And it is useless to try to fill up a canyon. But when a bridge is put across a canyon, a man can cross it as if no canyon ever existed there...")
  • The Weakness of God??

    by Tim Zingale
    ("In 1982 a story appeared in the Des Moines Register about a high school basketball player who hurt himself while weight lifting, and how he had broken and strained something in his back to a point where the doctors didn't know if he would walk again...")

Other Resources from 2017 to 2019

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Other Resources from 2015 and 2016

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Other Resources from 2012 to 2014

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Other Resources from 2002 to 2011

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Children's Resources

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The Classics

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Currently Unavailable

  • Foolish Preacher

    (Puppet Script by Louise Ferry)
  • God's Wisdom Is Not Ours

    by Ernie Lassman
  • What Foolishness!

    by Ann Smith
  • Lent 3B (2006)

    by Hubert Beck
  • Foolish Wisdom

    by Kathy Donley
    Last Sunday, I mentioned Hugh Thompson. He was the American helicopter pilot who stopped the massacre of unarmed Vietnamese civilians 50 years last week. He landed his helicopter between the American soldiers, who had already slaughtered 500 women, children and old men, and the few villagers who were still alive. He told the Americans that if they opened fire on the Vietnamese then his crew would stop them by shooting them. All shooting stopped and he evacuated the villagers to safety. The army covered up the atrocities and he was personally vilified for 30 years. But on the thirtieth anniversary of the massacre, Thompson went back to My Lai and met some of the people whose lives he had saved. "There were real good highs," he said, "and very low lows. One of the ladies that we had helped out that day came up to me and asked, 'Why didn't the people who committed these acts come back with you?' And I was just devastated. And then she finished her sentence: she said, “So we could forgive them.”...