Genesis 12: 1-9

New Resources

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Faith

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • Marias Full of Grace

    by Stephen Bouman
    ("In the movie Maria Full of Grace, Maria swallows some pellets filled with cocaine, aiming to transport them to the U.S. If the plastic breaks, the cocaine will kill her. She is fleeing Colombia, with its dead horizons and numbing poverty, and heading out to a land of promise. She reminds us of that other Mary, her baby and their migration to Egypt...")
  • Lent 2A (2017)

    by Doug Bratt
    In the chapter, “God and a Grateful Old Man,” in his book, My God and I: A Spiritual Memoir, Lewis Smedes writes about God’s blessings: ‘I remember how Doris and I, on three different trips to an adoption agency, came home with three very different children who now, after “many a conflict and many a doubt,” nurture a warm affection for the aging parents who made so many mistakes in bringing them up. With memories like these, gratitude comes as easily as my next breath...
  • Abram the Raccoon

    by Richard Bryant
    Abram was a raccoon who lived with his raccoon family near the corner of Back Road and Highway 12. Sarah, his wife, was originally from the lower end of the island, across the creek. Her family first came to Ocracoke when the raccoons and possums on Portsmouth Island started following the dumpsters across the sound. Abram’s people were long time residents of Ocracoke, referred to locally as “raccooners”. After they were married, Abram found a nice home in the small patch of woods across from the Pirate’s Chest. It was right in the middle of the island. They were close enough to visit her relatives on Lighthouse Road and see his cousins who occasionally took the ferry from Cape Hatteras. Life was good.
  • On Beyond

    by Stephen Cook
    "My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends," says that fellow teaching Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to spell. Through the rest of the book he takes him on an imaginative journey of new letters the young lad never knew existed. He carries him way beyond the boundaries of the 26-letter English alphabet. At one point the boundary-breaking teacher practically shouts, "So, on beyond Z! It's high time you were shown / That you really don't know all there is to be known."
  • Seeds of Blessing

    by Bob Cornwall
    To share in the blessings of God is to pass on the legacy of blessing from one generation to another. Yesterday, Susan shared with us a children’s story called The Blessing Cup. It’s the story of a young Russian Jewish girl and her family, who were forced to flee Russia during one of pogroms. The story centers around a beautiful china tea set, that was a family legacy. As the family was forced to flee their village, the father got sick, and the family ended up living with a kindly doctor, who sold a Persian rug to buy passage to America for the family. In response the family left behind the treasured tea set, keeping only one cup, the Blessing Cup, which was passed on from generation to generation. The family left a note with that tea set, which fits well with the story of Abram and God’s blessings.
  • Hobbits, Abram and Other Journeys

    by Margie Dahl
    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. What a wonderful first sentence to a book. It goes on. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. The owner of this hobbit-hole was Bilbo Baggins who came from a very respectable family, respectable because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected. Then one day the wizard Gandalf came to visit and Bilbo’s life was never the same. He set off with thirteen dwarves to take back the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the fearsome dragon, Smaug. The Hobbit is a story of a journey, a journey that took a respectable and comfortable hobbit to Rivendell where he met elves and across the Misty Mountains. He came across gigantic spiders, goblins and the pathetic creature, Gollum. He saved the day on several occasions and tried to bring about reconciliation between opposing sides. Bilbo never fitted into life in the shire again. His journey had changed him...
  • The Land to Which God Leads Us

    by Richard Donovan
    When the Nazis invaded Holland, Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid Jews in their home. A turncoat betrayed them. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbruck, a Nazi death camp. In Ravensbruck, Betsie awakened Corrie one night. Corrie pulled a coat over their heads so the guards would not hear them. Then Betsie whispered in a voice that was near death: "God showed me that after the war we must give to the Germans that which they now try to take away from us: our love for Jesus." Corrie was appalled. She said: "Oh, Betsie, you mean that if we live we will have to return to Germany?" Betsie said that, in her vision, God gave them a concentration camp—a death camp—which they would use to rebuild lives. Then they would travel the whole world, telling people about Jesus. Corrie protested: "To all the world? But that will take much money." Betsie responded: "Yes, but God will provide.… After all, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If we need money we will just ask the Father to sell a few cows." Can you imagine such a grand vision in such a grim place? It seemed fantastic. Three days later, Betsie died. The impossible dream was over. But Corrie survived Ravensbruck...
  • A Journey of Faith

    by Richard Fairchild
  • Follow That Dream!

    by Arthur Ferry Jr.
  • Abram!

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
    Abram! Abram! Yes you, Abram. Come out there from where you"re hiding. Don"t you know I can see you no matter how many bushes you find to cower behind?' 'Who's calling me,' you answer hesitatingly...
  • The Unfinished Journey (2003)

    by Peter Haynes
    The late Henri Nouwen wrote of his experience as a priest in a home for mentally handicapped people. Part of his work was to care for Adam, "a 25-year-old man who," as Henri once put it, "cannot speak, dress himself, walk or eat without help. His back is curved, and his arm and leg movements are spastic. He suffers from severe epilepsy, and even with heavy medication he has few days without grand mal seizures." Even so, Adam became a tremendous blessing for this priest, as Henri discovered how much Adam gave to that Nouwen later wrote this book about his dear friend, following Adam's death - not long before his own through his presence. "Adam is one of the most broken persons among us," he wrote, "but without any doubt (he is) our strongest bond. Because of Adam there is always someone home; because of Adam there is a quiet rhythm to the house; because of Adam there are moments of silence; because of Adam there are always words of affection and tenderness; because of Adam there is patience and endurance; because of Adam there are smiles and tears visible to all; because of Adam there is always time and space for forgiveness and healing. Yes, because of Adam there is peace among us."...
  • Lent 2A (2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    On December 12, 2013, a man walked into a Walmart store in central Florida and paid off more than $20,000 worth of layaway bills for people he didn’t know. His name was Greg Parady, a local financial planner. He had heard a lady out in one of the aisles talking about how she needed to pay off her layaway but she didn’t think she would be able to take care of it all this year. So Parady walked back to the offices, pulled out his credit cards, and paid off one bill after another. “I can’t believe his cards didn’t melt, he was running them so fast,” said assistant manager Deb Davis. He used his credit to take care of their debts. They got the credit without actually paying their debt. Many wept in gratitude at the action of that “layaway Santa.”...
  • Abram

    Narrative Sermon by Paul Larsen
  • Leaving Home

    by David Martyn
    Marcus Borg in “The Heart of Christianity” tells the story of a three-year-old girl who, when her newborn brother was brought home from the hospital, asked that she be allowed to be alone with him in a room with the door shut. The parents were uneasy about the request, but remembering the intercom in the room, agreed. They heard their daughter’s footsteps approach the crib, then heard her say to her three day old brother: “Tell me about God—I’ve almost forgotten.”...
  • Be a Blessing

    by James McCrea
    ("Bob was the perfect antithesis of anything that was considered cool and, in fact, long before anyone had created the stereotype of a nerd, Bob was living the Geek dream...")
  • The Landscape of Lent: Wind

    by David Russell
    ("Years ago, Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis would have a weekend travel special. On Friday, you could get their special for some insanely low price – for maybe $299 you would get two round-trip air tickets and two nights lodging at a good hotel. The catch was, you didn't know where you would be going. That was half the fun of it; it was an adventure. It wasn't like that for Abram and Sarai...")
  • A Future and a Hope

    by James Standiford
    ("When people looked at Anthony Jerome Webb, better known as "Spud" Webb, and heard he wanted to play professional basketball, they laughed. After all he was only five feet six inches tall..." and other illustrations)
  • Going Somewhere

    by Keith Wagner
  • The Great Escape

    by Keith Wagner
    Wendy Marston tells about the time she moved away from her home in Colorado to attend Columbia University in New York City. Her story is like thousands of other young people who have moved away from home in order to get an education. And, like many others, Ms. Marston didn't find the experience easy. She didn't seem to fit in with the insanity of New York City. Rowing crew seemed like a good idea but then the thought of getting up at 5:30 AM in the mornings didn't appeal to her. She dated an actor for awhile, only to have him dump her for someone else. She even tried throwing herself into her schoolwork, but that didn't seem to work either. Finally, she started waitressing at a local coffee shop and things began to turn around for her. There she met a new friend and the two of them worked on their schoolwork together. Inside the coffee shop there was a casual atmosphere and Wendy had the opportunity to interact with some of her college professors on a one-to-one basis. She made a close circle of friends and that led to the writing of stories...
  • How to Grow Spiritually

    by Keith Wagner
    Rick Palieri was returning home to Vermont from Bellingham, Washington. When he arrived at the airport he noticed there was a big problem. All the flights were delayed. People were stressed out, anxiously trying to find alternative flights. The ticket agent suggested that a bus could take the stranded travelers to Seattle, about an hour a half away where they could make connecting flights...
  • Places Along the Way: Second Beginnings

    by Lois Wolff
    In one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Calvin and his parents come home after a weekend out of town, only to discover that their house has been broken into. That night, the parents toss and turn, and at 2:00 am Calvin’s father rolls over. “It’s funny,” he says to his wife, “When I was a kid, I trusted my parents to take care of everything. It never occurred to me that they might not know how. I figured that once you grew up, you automatically knew what to do in any given scenario. I don’t think I’d have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I’d known the whole thing was going to be ad-libbed.”...

Other Resources from 2020

  • The Dance

    by Charles Lane Cowen
  • Exegesis (Genesis 12:1-4)

    by Richard Donovan
  • Exegesis (Genesis 12:1-9)

    by Richard Niell Donovan
  • Lent 2A (2020)

    by Terence Fretheim
  • Lent 2A (2020)

    by Michael Jackson
    I think of the movie Field of Dreams… Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is living a settled life with his family on a farm in Dyersville (Dubuque County) Iowa. Suddenly, a voice intrudes upon him in the middle of the night. He does not know who is speaking… he can barely make sense of the meaning of the “call.” “If you build it, he will come.” Most everyone thinks Ray is crazy for paying attention to the voice in the night… maybe he had a bad burrito for dinner is all. But Ray is captivated by the voice… and the rest is movie history. There is also an echo of this call in the movie “Moana.” In a moving scene, Moana’s Grandma has reminded her that the Ocean has chosen her to sail across the sea to rescue a world that is being overwhelmed with darkness and destruction (“restore the heart of Te Fiti”). Moana has never voyaged beyond her island’s reef, but the call is so powerful (and the promise of her dying Grandma’s continual presence so compelling), that Moana risks everything to answer that call. Both of these movies parallel two of the main ideas that lie at the heart of the call of Abram – 1) the call comes to them unexpectedly and outside of themselves… and 2) the call is not for them alone, but will be a means of blessing and “salvation” for many others...
  • Into the Dark

    by Anne Le Bas
  • Sermon Starters (Lent 2A)(2020)

    by Stan Mast
    Two famous poems by Robert Frost help me think about the words of Genesis 12. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Road Not Taken” begin with mention of “woods.” Remember? “Whose woods these are I think I know” and “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” In the first, Frost stops to watch the woods fill up with snow, but he moves on for a simple reason. “These woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” In the second, Frost ponders which of two roads he should take through the woods. One is less travelled and that’s the one he takes. The poem concludes: “I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence; two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” Throughout history, God has been faced with roads that diverge—to punish or to pardon, to end the human race or to continue its existence, to bless or to curse. Whereas anyone with a sense of justice might think God would choose the more travelled road of justice and punishment, God has always taken the less travelled road of grace and pardon and blessing. In spite of all those times when he threatened to give up on sinful humanity (think of the prophets), in the end God kept going down the road less traveled, because God has promises to keep. And that has made all the difference for the world.
  • Lent 2A (2020)

    by Lizette Merchán-Pinilla
    Scroll down the page for this resource.
  • Here There Be...

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Go, Abram is told. Pack up everything and everyone and set out. I'll let you know where to turn along the way. (Genesis 12:1-4, Lent 2A) Millions of people do this every day. People gather up suitcases or briefcases or totes or plastic bags and fill them with clothes or toys or papers or supplies. They go, not knowing exactly how they will get wherever "there" is but trusting that GPS will guide them, saying things like, "In 500 yards prepare to turn right." How different GPS is from antique maps...
  • The Promises of God

    by Eleonore Stump

Other Resources from 2018 and 2019

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  • Blessed to Be a Blessing

    by Kathy Donley
    In her picture book, The Blessing Cup, Patricia Polacco tells a wonderful family story. It is the story of Anna, a young Russian girl and her family The story centers on a beautiful china tea set that had been a wedding gift to Anna’s parents. The set had come with a note from Anna’s great aunt. The note said “This tea set is magic. Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God. They will never know a day of hunger. Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy and they will never be poor.” Every so often, Anna would ask her mother to tell the story about the tea set and the message in the note. And even though there was never enough money, they believed they were rich because they had each other. Before their evening meals, Anna’s mother would say “So that our lives would always have flavor.” In this way, the tea set and its message shaped their lives. Then one day, the family was forced to flee, because the czar ordered all the Jews to leave...
  • Lectionary Podcast (Narrative)(2018)

    with Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester and Kathryn Schifferdecker
  • Called to Decolonize

    by Marilyn Pagán-Banks
  • The Blessing of Abram

    by Gregory Rawn
  • Destination Unknown

    by David Russell
    There was an incident reported in the newspapers a while back about a bus driver in the Bronx. He simply drove away in his empty bus one day and kept going. He wasn’t going anywhere in particular, he was just going. No one knew where he or the bus were until he was picked up by police several days later in Florida. He told police that he was just sick and tired of driving the same old route, day after day, month after month, year after year, and he decided to drive a different route and go on a trip. As he was being brought back to New York, it was clear that the bus company was having a hard time knowing what to do. By the time he arrived back in the Bronx, he was a genuine celebrity and a crowd of people was on hand to welcome him. When the company announced it would forego legal action and give the man his job back if he promised not to pull a stunt like that again, cheers went out in the Bronx. Clearly, there were a lot of other bored and unhappy people around who would have loved to do what this man did...
  • Narrative Commentary (2018)

    by Kathryn Schifferdecker

Other Resources from 2017

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Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

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Other Resources from 2011 to 2013

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Other Resources from 2008 to 2010

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Children's Resources

The Classics

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