James 1: 17-27

New Resources

  • Sermon Starters (Proper 17B)(2021)

    by Doug Bratt
    The book Lee Sparks and Kathryn Hayes Sparks edited entitled, Craddock on the Craft of Preaching, quotes the master preacher Fred Craddock as saying, “The Bible takes listening very seriously. The Bible term for ‘listening’ is translated most often as ‘obey’ [as if listening leads seamlessly to obedience, or even constitutes the first stage of it]. The Bible does not know the difference between ‘listen’ and ‘obey.’ “Listening is fundamental, but it is so hard to do. We have marvelous mechanisms for not listening. The Bible recognizes this. Recall that marvelous passage about the suffering servant in Isaiah 50:4b-5, ‘Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord opened my ear, and I was not rebellious.’ The wording is ‘God dug out my ear.’ You don’t just listen—it takes an act of God to really listen (my italics).”
  • Pure Religion

    by Bob Cornwall
  • Exegesis (James 1:17-27)

    by Richard Donovan
  • Proper 17B (2021)

    by Ryan Hansen
  • Looking in the Mirror

    by Anne Le Bas
    If you watched the news of the shootings in Plymouth a week or so ago, you may have seen the video which the killer, Jake Davison, made in the run up to the killings. It was terribly sad. He looked straight into the camera – another sort of mirror really – and he spoke about how much he hated himself and how hopeless he felt about his life. He was convinced that no one loved him and that no one ever would love him, and that seemed to have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hard to love people who don’t love themselves. He was convinced too that there was nothing he could do to change the situation. Eventually that feeling hardened into the bitterness which fuelled his slaughter of six innocent people. If only he’d known, really known, deep down, that you don’t have to have the face of a film star or the body of an athlete to be loveable and loved, maybe the outcome would have been very different, for him and for those whom he killed...
  • Proper 17B

    by Bill Loader
  • Pressing On

    by Michael Ruffin
  • The Anger Test

    by Dalton Rushing
  • Ordinary 22B (2021)

    by Austin Crenshaw Shelley
  • Proper 17B (2021)

    by Casey Thornburgh Sigmon
  • On Faithfulness

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    On Friday, March 29, 1984, Robert Cunningham ate a meal of linguine and clam sauce at his favourite restaurant, Sal’s pizzeria, where he had been a regular customer for seven years. His waitress, Phyllis Penza, had worked at Sal’s for nineteen years. After his meal Cunningham made a good-natured offer to Penza. He said she could either have a tip or split his winnings if his number was drawn in the upcoming New York lotto. Penza chose to take a chance on the lottery and she and Cunningham chose the numbers together. On Saturday night, Cunningham won. The jackpot was six million dollars. Then he faced the moment of truth. Would he keep his promise? Would he give the waitress a “tip” of three million dollars? Cunningham, a police sergeant, husband, father of four and grandfather of three, said, “I won’t back out. Besides, friendship means more than money.”...
  • Proper 17B (2021)

    by Nathan Williams

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Caregiving Economy: The Word at Work in the World

    by John Auer
    Our family saw the movie “Little Miss Sunshine” last night. The heroine is Olive, an 8 year-old contestant in a beauty pageant. She is daughter to a father obsessed with selling “winning” as a whole way of life. Olive naturally interprets that to mean her father hates all “losers” in life. As the moment of her performance arrives, her well-meaning family wants to spare her the humiliation and begs her not to go on. Olive studies herself in the dressing-room mirrors – looking herself up and down and deeply into her eyes. She realizes she cannot possibly win in the terms of these “pageants” of life that pit all our images of ourselves in desperate competition for each other’s approval and approbation. Olive’s only hope – like our only hope -- lies in being herself with such passion and power -- such faithfulness to her own identity as so plainly revealed in the mirror -- that her performance will expose and explode the very myth and illusion that life can be “won” as some pageant – or even as some war! Olive offers what can only be called a freak-loving dance (to the tune of Rick James’ music!) of earth-shaking resurrection. As other contestants’ families and the pageant’s producers react with revulsion to this undermining of their whole “way of life,” one by one Olive’s family of “losers” finds grace and courage to join in her dance!...
  • The Gift of an Ear

    by Gilbert Bowen
    Here is a letter Robert Raines passes on, written some years ago by a seventeen-year-old: "Dear Folks: Thank you for everything but I am going to Chicago and try and start some new kind of life. You asked me why...I gave you so much trouble, and the answer is easy for me to give you, but I am wondering if you will understand. "Remember when I was about six or seven and I used to want you just to listen to me? I remember all the nice things you gave me ... and I was really happy with the things - for about a week ... but the rest of the time ... I really didn't want presents. I just wanted all the time for you to listen to me like I was somebody who felt things too, because I remember even when I was young I felt things. But you said you were busy. Mom, you are a wonderful cook, and you had everything so clean and you were tired so much from doing all those things that made you busy; but you know something, Mom? I would have liked crackers and peanut butter just as well if you had only sat down with me awhile during the day and said to me: ‘Tell me all about it so I can maybe help you understand.' "And when Donna came I couldn't understand why everyone made so much fuss because I didn't think it was my fault that her hair is curly and her skin so white, and she doesn't have to wear glasses with such thick lenses. Her grades were better too, weren't they? If Donna ever has children, I hope you will tell her to just pay some attention to the one who doesn't smile very much because that one may really be crying inside...
  • The Gift of Listening

    by Gilbert Bowen
    Douglas Burton-Christie writes, "I noticed this recently in a conversation with a friend. We sat together in my office. He told me of his wife, who he married only three years ago, dying of cancer. I talked to him of my mother also very ill. They were there in our midst—his wife, my mother. So was our fear, our sadness, our bewilderment, and our compassion for each other. Compassion: "to suffer with." That is all we could do that day, suffer with each other, awkwardly, tenderly, amid halting speech and long silences. In a sense there was nothing either of us could say to the other, nothing that would make any real difference. Why then did it seem so important that we listen, not only to each other's words, but to the gestures and the silences. I do not know. But it did matter. Something important happened. Two human beings, caught in life's web of sadness and beauty, met and carried each other — if only for a moment. Nothing changed. And everything changed."...
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 17B)(2018)

    by Doug Bratt
    In the book Lee Sparks and Kathryn Hayes Sparks edited entitled, Craddock on the Craft of Preaching, they quote Fred Craddock as saying, “The Bible takes listening very seriously. The Bible term for ‘listening’ is translated most often as ‘obey’ [as if listening leads seamlessly to obedience, or maybe even constitutes the first stage of it]. The Bible doesn’t know the difference between ‘listen’ and ‘obey.’ “Listening is fundamental, but it is so hard to do. We have marvelous mechanisms for not listening. The Bible recognizes this. Recall that marvelous passage about the suffering servant in Isaiah 50:4b-5, ‘Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord opened my ear and I was not rebellious.’ The wording literally is ‘God dug out my ear.’ You don’t just listen—it takes an act of God to really listen.”
  • Faith: An Action Verb

    by Richard Donovan
    I read a newspaper clipping recently about Truett Cathy, the founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A. Cathy founded his company in 1964. It has grown to number three nationally in chicken fast-food sales. His corporate goal is highly non-traditional. It reads, "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us; and, to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." Cathy is a man of deep Christian faith, and that faith shapes his decisions...
  • Moving Beyond Reality TV

    by Peter Haynes
    ("It's a shame they didn't have television back in the days when Jesus walked with his disciples on earth. Imagine the possibilities! Think about how reality programming might have covered that eventful extended weekend when our Lord and his followers were really put to the test...")
  • Doers of the Word

    by James Kegel
    Helen Keller was born blind and deaf. After a long struggle, she comes to understand the power of words. It was the climax of the play and movie, The Miracle Worker, about the young Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Anne Sullivan records the moment in her memoirs: "This morning, while she was washing, she wanted to know the name for water…I spelled w-a-t-e-r and thought no more about it until after breakfast. Then it occurred to me that with the help of this new word I might succeed…We went into the pump house and I made Helen hold her mug under the pump while I pumped. As the cold water gushed forth filling the mug, I spelled w-a-t-e-r in Helen's free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face. She spelled ‘water' several times. Then she dropped to the ground and asked for its name and pointed to the pump and trellis and suddenly she asked for my name. I spelled ‘teacher'. Just then the nurse brought Helen's little sister into the pump house and Helen spelled ‘baby' and pointed to the nurse. All the way back to the house she was excited and learned the name of every object she touched, so that in a few hours, she had added thirty new words to her vocabulary." ...
  • Proper 17B (2009)

    by Steve Kelsey
    In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, there is a story of a stingy old woman who sought, from the misery of hell, the lake of fire where she found herself after she had died, to be raised to the comforts and joys of heaven. “I wasn’t all THAT bad!” she asserts to an angel passing by. “What about the time when the poor beggar came to my door and I gave him an onion?” The angel swoops down and hovers just above the old woman, as together they look back upon that scene from her life. The woman had resentfully come to the back door of her grand mansion to try to shoo the beggar away, complaining loudly about the filthiness of his hands and face. “You don’t even wash before you come to beg?” Nonetheless, the woman had reached down into the bottom of her larder and produced a rotting onion that she handed over to the beggar. “Well,” said the angel, “that should be enough to open the doors of heaven for you.” The angel lowers to her a rope with that very onion tied to its end. The woman grabs on, but as the rope is lifted, others in the lake of fire climb on, hoping to be pulled out as well. The old woman, alarmed by this, cries out, “Let go! Let go! It’s not you who are being pulled out! It’s me! It’s not your onion! It’s mine.” And just when she says, “It’s mine,” the onion snaps in two, falls out of the rope, and she falls back into the lake of fire. The angel weeps, as she flies away. If only the old woman had had it in her heart to say, “The onion is ours,” surely the onion would have been strong enough to have pulled all of them out together...
  • The Perfect Mirror

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("There's a story told of the people of the remote island of St. Kilda, in the Outer Hebrides. It may be true it may not. The last permanent residents were evacuated at their own request in 1930. But for many centuries a small community lived there, isolated from the mainland, living mostly on a diet of seabirds and their eggs. It was a tough life...")
  • Ordinary 22B (2015)

    by Tom Mannebach
    Entitled “The Monastery,” the show featured the Benedictine Monastery of Worth located in Sussex England. The premise of the program was especially appealing to viewers. Working with the television producers of the show, the twenty or so monks at Worth invited five men to experience the monastery over a six week period. Of the nearly 250 who applied, only five were eventually selected. Curiously, none the five was Roman Catholic, and most of them had little or no experience of organized religion of any kind. Entering the monastery on day one, the participants all had their presuppositions about what monks and monastic life would be like. They imagined meeting austere, dry and humorless men in black robes who disdained the modern world, preferring instead a medieval world of dark rooms, Latin chants, and silent prayer. When their six week period concluded, however, their perceptions changed...
  • Pure Spirituality

    by David Martyn
    Mary Pipher, in her book "The Shelter of Each Other," tells of a family that spent a year in a rain forest in Brazil. They lived in a Stone Age village of eighty people on the banks of a muddy river. The children quickly adapted to the culture. At home they were just like other kids¬easily bored, acquisitive and reluctant to work. At first they were the same in Brazil. But it wasn't long before they realized they were in a new place¬a place where adults slowly carved a papaya into a dozen pieces and shared it with everyone in the room, a place where families sat around fires far into the night telling stories about monkey kings and rabbits who jumped to the moon and a place where a person could grow up and marry before he or she ever rode in a motorized vehicle. The children soon knew everyone in the village. They worked with the villagers building huts, seining for small fish and gathering firewood and fruit. The working parties included people of all ages who sand and joked together as they worked. Protecting and teaching adults were nearby. No one was in a hurry...
  • Get a Habit

    by Rick Miles
    A young pastor was really struggling. He was confronted by opposition in his congregation, and the congregation was in conflict within itself. He was questioning his own purpose for being in ministry. In the midst of this turmoil, an elderly member of his church invited him to her home for lunch. He hesitated. It was a busy time and he was reluctant as he wondered if she was just going to preach at him. She could tell that he was hesitant and said, “Son, you need to come.” He finally agreed and met her in her home at the retirement community where she lived. They had lunch in the common room, and then rode the elevator to her apartment. Entering the apartment she said, “Now son, I don’t want you to sit down. I want to show you something.” She took him to where there was a picture hanging on the wall of Daniel in the lion’s den. She said, “I just want you to look at this picture and tell me what you see.” The pastor studied the picture and reported that he saw all the lions, all with their mouths closed, and some lying down. He saw Daniel standing with his hands bound behind him looking up at a red light coming into the prison. He reported everything he thought he could see. She put her arm on his and said, “Son, what I want you to see is, Daniel doesn’t have his eyes on the lions, but on Christ.”...
  • Authenticity

    by Michael Ruffin
    I don’t think this week’s lesson text is about respect. But as I read it with the song “Respect” playing in my mind, I’m drawn to these lyrics that Aretha sings to the man as she insists on his respect: I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone Ain’t gonna do you wrong cause I don’t wanna. Not only is she not going to do him wrong—she doesn’t even want to. She’s not going to do right by him because she has to—she’s going to do right by him because she wants to. Her outer actions come from her inner motivation. What you see is who she is. And who she is is what you get. It’s a matter of authenticity...
  • You Want Me to Consider What?

    by John Pavelko
    John Hicks by his own admission was an arrogant Bible student.He and his wife and decided to become missionaries to Germany. He wanted to study under a prominent German theologian. That dream was shattered when a postoperative blood clot stopped his wife's heart and she died. After much prayer and soul searching Hicks decided that he had set the wrong goal for his life. He came to affirm the words of Psalm 119:71: "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" (Psalm 119:71).But his affliction was not over. After remarrying, he and his new wife had a son who suffered from a terminal genetic condition called Mucopolysacchar idosis IIIA (Sanfilippo Syndrome A). One of the accompanying symptoms is loss of bladder control requiring him to wear diapers. One day Hicks watched as his son board the school bus. The older students mocked him as he stumbled down the aisle.Hicks spent the rest of the day in prayer. He wanted to lash out at those older kids, to heap some abuse of his own upon them.Instead he turned to lament. He poured out his heart to God. Somewhere in the middle of a complaint, he became aware that God heard him. He would write “In that moment God provided a comfort that I cannot yet explain but one that I still experience in my heart…Joy still abounds in our family, but it is a joy that lives alongside of lament, alongside of anger, sadness, and sometimes doubt. It is a joy mixed with tears and refined by suffering."...
  • Doers of the Word

    by Noel Schoonmaker
    One of the true geniuses of the twentieth century was a man named Albert Schweitzer. He was an exceptional organist, an outstanding physician, and a brilliant Bible scholar. He spent much of life studying the word of God and making important arguments about what it says. Schweitzer's arguments about the life of Jesus are still required reading at some theological schools. At one point in his career, Schweitzer surprisingly decided to leave his life of privilege and prestige in Germany in order to become a full-time missionary in the Belgian Congo. He went and did medical mission work at a hospital deep in the jungle. During a BBC interview, Schweitzer was asked why he left his amazing life in Germany to go the Congo. He replied, "I have decided to make my life my argument." May it be so with all of us who praise the Word of God.
  • Just Do It!

    by Keith Wagner
    ("In a supermarket, Kurtis, the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the intercom asking for a carry out at checkout register 4. Kurtis was almost finished with his stocking and wanted to get some fresh air, so he decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new checkout girl was beautiful. She was an older woman, 26 or 27 years old, and he fell in love..." and other short illustrations)

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

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Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

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Other Resources from 2012 to 2014

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Other Resources from 2009 to 2011

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Other 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 tab”. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

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