Philippians 3: 1-14

New Resources

  • A True Romance

    by Julie Boone
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 22A)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    In her book, Nothing but the Best: The Struggle for Perfection at the Juilliard School, Judith Kogan writes: “Singers look and act different from instrumentalists because (some say) they are vulnerable in a way that instrumentalists are not. The singer is his instrument. “The singer is judged not only on what he does with his instrument but on the quality of the instrument itself… the voice faculty that rejects a candidate seems to say there is a structural defect. Singers are more touchy, more flamboyant, more exuberant than instrumentalists because, in a way, there seems to be more at stake.”
  • Press On

    by Frederick Buechner
  • Proper Confidence

    by Bob Cornwall
  • Who's There?

    by Jim Eaton
    Fred Craddock talks about his first church, a little church in a rural area. When a highway was built nearby, a trailer park sprung up for the workers and their families. He was a young minister and I guess he didn’t understand about tribes because he suggested to his deacons that they should do something to invite those people. After he pushed on the issue, the church met to discuss it. They voted on it, they voted to require that anyone own property in the county before they became a member of the church. Craddock moved on. Many years later, after he retired, he was in the area and he went looking for that church. He found it and the parking lot was full, there was a neon sign and a crowd of people. The church had closed long before; it was a barbecue restaurant...
  • Proper 22A (2020)

    by Brad Everett
  • Ordinary 27A (2020)

    by Phil Heinze
  • Determined

    Art and Theology by Victoria Jones
    SONG: “I’m Determined to Run This Race” by Rev. James Cleveland, 1953 | Performed by the Meditation Singers, 1962
  • Proper 23A

    by Bill Loader
  • Proper 22A (2020)

    by Stephanie Lobdell
  • Questions for Reflection (Proper 22A)(2020)

    by Kate Matthews
    Scroll down the page for this resource.
  • Proper 22A (2020)

    by Ekaputra Tupamahu

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2019

  • Sermon Starters (Lent 5C)(2019)

    by Doug Bratt
    Editors Tom Long and Neal Plantinga include Paul Tillich’s sermon, “You Are Accepted” in their book of sermons entitled, A Chorus of Witnesses. They introduce it by noting that Tillich states eloquently the nature of grace even though, as is often the case with him, he “generalizes up from a Christian particularity to an existential generality.” At the key point where we would expect to read the name of God, Tillich gives us, instead, “that which is greater than you.” As a result, Christian preachers will have to Christianize Tillich’s passage. But it’s still eloquent, and is what Long and Plantinga call “one of the most famous passages in all of Tillich’s work.”...
  • Unfinished Relationships

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    A colleague of mine, a clinical therapist, shares this story: A woman came to him in considerable distress. Her husband had recently died of a heart attack. His death had been sudden and at a most inept time. They’d been happily married for thirty years and, during all those years, had never had a major crisis in their relationship. On the day her husband died, they had gotten into an argument about something very insignificant and it had escalated to where they began to hurl some mean and cutting words at each other. At a point, agitated and angry, her husband stomped out of the room, told her he was going shopping, then died of a heart attack before he got to the car. Understandably, the woman was devastated, by the sudden death of her spouse but also by that last exchange. “All these years,” she lamented, “we had this loving relationship and then we have this useless argument over nothing and it ends up being our last conversation!”...
  • Let It Go!

    by Carl Wilton
    In that year — 2013 — a movie came out that had a huge impact on kids across the country: especially young girls. It was the Disney animated film, “Frozen.” I still remember giving a children’s sermon, in my former church, on the Sunday closest to Halloween. On that Sunday we encouraged kids to wear their Halloween costumes to church. More than half the girls were wearing the powder-blue gown of Princess Elsa, hero of that film.No surprise, there. Elsa’s an appealing character: strong, principled, possessing magical powers. For young girls, just coming into their own, what’s not to like?Elsa has some difficulties handling those magical powers at first. They pop out at awkward moments, causing a certain amount of mayhem. It’s only when the Princess — now a Queen — leaves home, on a journey of self-discovery, that she comes to understand who she is and what she’s been placed on this earth to do...

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

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  • Dying to Live: Losing in Order to Win

    by Guy Ames
    Mildred always dressed like a rainbow. Not a particularly attractive woman, she wore designer clothes, pounds of makeup, and offered her faith to everyone she met. She had come to call on the new preacher’s family. In the course of the visit, she told story after story of answered prayer. She capped it off by telling us she had heard of Dad through a parishioner from my father’s previous appointment, and she prayed that God would send us there. As she left I asked incredulously, “That wasn’t true, was it, Dad?”...
  • Illustrations (Philippians)

    from Biblical Studies
  • Trust No Matter What (Week 2)

    by Phil Bloom
    (" When he was seven, Bede's parents sent him to a monastery. For the next seven years he did chores, studied and joined in the hours of community prayer. In 686 a plague swept through that part of England. It killed everyone in the monastery except Bede and the monk Ceolfrith. The boy realized he had been spared - but for what?...")
  • Try Again

    by Bart Dalton
    Once there was a man named Milton, who was born in Derry Church, Pennsylvania to two very proud parents in Philadelphia in the mid 1800’s. His father was an energetic entrepreneur, who always had his eye on the next big opportunity, but who did not seem to have a strong enough work ethic to stick with anything very long. His mother finally grew tired of her husband’s failed attempts and separated from him, taking their son, Milton, and leaving to be with her family...
  • Proper 22A (2011)

    by Susan Eastman
    ("In an intense little book called Beginning to Pray, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom tells about a time during the Nazi occupation of Paris when he very nearly was caught by the Gestapo: 'During the German occupation of France I was in the resistance movement and, coming down into the Underground, I was caught by the police...")
  • Proper 22A (2005)

    by Mark English
  • Gaining by Loss

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
  • Trivial Pursuit

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("About 600 years ago England's graveyards were filling up so it was decided to reuse the graves. As they dug up the old coffins they discovered scratch marks on the inside of the coffin lid. Since medical science was very primitive it was decided that some people had been buried alive. To remedy this, a string was tied to the wrist of the deceased...")
  • Ordinary 27A (1996)

    by Andrew Greeley
  • Distractions

    by Vince Gerhardy
    Grandma Schultz sets out to hang the washing on the line. She goes to the laundry to fetch the pegs, notices a mouse, and runs inside to find a trap. She sees a grimy spot on the kitchen floor, rummages through the cupboard for a cleaning rag, and comes across an old letter from cousin Hilda who lives in the Barossa Valley. She reads it and finds Hilda’s recipe for streusel kuchen. She goes to the kitchen and seeing the jam boiling over on the stove, opens the window and sees Grandpa in the garden. She remembers that she needs some tomatoes for lunch and goes out to the garden. She sees the dog and says, “Oh my, you need a bath” and heads for the laundry...
  • Proper 22A (2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Fred Craddock used to tell the story of a missionary family in China who was forced to leave the country sometime after the communists took over. One day a band of soldiers knocked on the door and told this missionary, his wife, and children that they had two hours to pack up before these troops would escort them to the train station. They would be permitted to take with them only two hundred pounds of stuff. Thus began two hours of family wrangling and bickering–what should they take? What about this vase? It’s a family heirloom, so we’ve got to take the vase. Well, maybe so, but this typewriter is brand new and we’re not about to leave that behind. What about some books? Got to take a few of them along. On and on it went, putting stuff on the bathroom scale and taking it off until finally they had a pile of possessions that totaled two hundred pounds on the dot. At the appointed hour the soldiers returned. “Are you ready?” they asked. “Yes.” “Did you weigh your stuff?” “Yes, we did.” “Two hundred pounds?” “Yes, two hundred pounds on the dot.” “Did you weigh the kids?” “Um, . . . no.” “Weigh the kids!” And in an instant the vase, the typewriter, and the books all became trash. Trash! None of it meant anything compared to the surpassing value of the children...
  • The Subtext of Our Lives

    by Charles Hoffacker
    In the study of literature, the term "subtext" sometimes appears. For example, the subtext of a play is made up of the unspoken thoughts and motives of the characters, what they think and believe in the contrast to what they say. It is possible to take this literary term and apply it to ordinary life. If the characters in a play can contribute to a subtext, so too can you and I and the people we know. Indeed, the drama of each real life can have its own subtext. The possibilities are manifold. Here are a few subtexts of this sort. They may fit people you know or people you can imagine. "Work hard to be normal." "Nobody's going to push me around!" "I'll be a better parent than my parents were." And one more, "I've got to be a success or else." A play can have a subtext. Real people can have their personal ones. Let's take this a step further. Can a society have a subtext, maybe several?...
  • Can You Hear the Call?

    by Donald Hoffman
  • The Prize

    by James Kegel
    Julian Huxley, the British scientist was in Dublin for a meeting of the Irish Association. He arrived late at the station, threw himself into a taxicab and called out to the driver, "Drive fast." Away the cab went over the cobblestone streets of Dublin until at last Huxley called up to the driver, "Do you know where you are going?" "No," the driver replied, "but I'm driving fast."...
  • Faster, Higher, Stronger!

    by David Leininger
    Britain's Derek Redmond had dreamed all his life of winning a gold medal in the 400-meter race, and his dream was in sight as the gun sounded in the semifinals. He was running the race of his life and could see the finish line as he rounded the turn into the backstretch. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain go up the back of his leg. He fell, face first, on to the track with a torn right hamstring. As the medical attendants were approaching, Redmond fought to his feet. He set out hopping, in a crazed attempt to finish the race. When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came charging out of the stands, hurled aside a security guard and ran to Redmond, embracing him. It was Jim Redmond, Derek's dad. "You don't have to do this," he told his son. "Yes, I do," said Derek as the tears streamed down his face. "Well, then," said Jim, "we're going to finish this together." And they did. Fighting off security men, the son's head sometimes buried in his father's shoulder, they stayed in Derek's lane all the way to the end, as the crowd watched, then rose and roared and wept. Derek did not win the gold, but he walked away with an incredible memory of a father who, when he saw his son in pain, came to him to help him finish the race...
  • Grace for the Gap

    by James McCrea
  • I Want to Know Christ

    by James McCrea
  • Go Forward

    by Rick Miles
    Maxine Waters is a member of Congress from Watts, in Los Angeles. I taught school for a short time in her district. Maxine once shared that one of the first people to make a difference in her life was her fifth﷓grade math teacher. The teacher’s name was Louise Carter. Water’s said, "Beyond her skill at teaching math, Ms. Carter was a very loving woman." Waters recalls one Saturday morning in particular. Ms. Carter had planned a class picnic; a rare special treat for kids in her economic strata. However, Waters' mother had not been able to get little Maxine ready in time to go. Waters had 12 brothers and sisters. It was quite a chore for her mother to get them all prepared, especially the girls, because it required that she spend time getting their hair all braided. Her mother was so busy trying to do everything, she just hadn't gotten to little Maxine yet. Waters was crushed knowing that she would be left behind. "Then Ms. Carter came," says the Congresswoman. "She would not leave without me. She took me to her own home and washed and braided my hair herself and got my clothes together so I could go on the picnic. And it stayed with me forever that she would do that. I wasn’t her best student, or even all that noticeable. But, if you think that a teacher really cares about you, then you want to live up to their expectations. You want to please them, and make them happy. Ms. Carter had high expectations for me, and, especially after that picnic, I tried my best to live up to them."...
  • Paul Says "Not This" (Philippians)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    It's a truth that saying 'yes' to one thing means saying 'no' to other things. If we say 'yes' to Paul's example, then (I regret to say) we must say no to emulating one in the pantheon of Roman gods. Paul's focus on the goal that is ahead renders us unable to follow the model of Janus, the two-faced god who looks forward and backward. While there are often equivalents in the Greek and Roman pantheons, the Greeks had no parallel for Janus. Usually shown with two faces - with one he looks forward and with the other he looks back - Janus is the god of transitions and beginnings. January has a linguistic root with Janus, though the question of whether the month is named for the god has not been definitively answered. Nevertheless, January, the first month of our year is at a moment of transition...
  • A Gift Far Too Small

    by Alison Sampson
    A friend of ours had been sick for a long, long time. He had multiple health problems; he had dementia; and he had been in a slow decline for years. After many dips and rallyings and further crises, it looked like the end. His wife called some very dear friends to let them know. They lived on the other side of the country, but they jumped on a plane and flew over to see him one last time. When they arrived, it was time to eat. Nobody felt like cooking, so they ordered Chinese takeaway. When the meal came, his wife remembered that there was a bottle of Grange Hermitage—an extremely expensive wine—under the house. They had been given it many years ago, but had never found the right time to drink it. This, she decided, must be the time. Her husband was dying, their close friends were there to say goodbye. And so she crawled under the house and found the bottle, and brushed off the cobwebs and the dust. Then she fetched the hand blown Venetian wine glasses they had bought on their travels together. She carefully opened the bottle, and poured out the wine. The friends sat around the sickbed, and drank to our friend’s life. His wife propped up his head, and offered him some wine, and he drank, too. And then those who could, ate together, and told stories and laughed and cried, while he drifted in and out of sleep...
  • Digging Deeper

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • Press On

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • Abysmal Heights

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Author Dan Brown has made a fortune remaking and 'revealing' secret 'gnosis' that allegedly drove factions within the Catholic Church and the Brotherhood of Freemasons....")
  • The Blessing Complex

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Do you remember The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)? In this award-winning children's classic there is the kingdom of the Mathmagician where the residents only eat when they are full, dining on 'subtraction stew'....")
  • Moving On

    by Carl Wilton

Other Resources from 2016 to 2019

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Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

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Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

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Other Resources from 2001 to 2009

Other Resources from the Archives

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Children's Resources

Currently Unavailable