John 21: 1-19

Illustrated New Resources

  • God's Vision

    by Christine Chakoian
    What will convince us that Christ’s calling is real, that God’s vision of peace is possible, not just for us but for all? “Without a vision, the people perish.” For professor Fred Craddock it happened just before a lecture he was about to give. The student who was offering the opening devotion carried her yellow legal pad to the podium and he noticed that it had a lot of writing on it. Fred thought, we’ll be here a long time. The student spoke softly, first in one foreign language, then another, and another - one sentence repeated over fifty times in different tongues. It was only when she got to German and Spanish and French that Fred began to understand what she was saying. She ended in English: “Mommy, I’m hungry.” And then she sat down. [John M. Buchanan, “Faith is something you do,” 9/7/03, citing Craddock’s “Cherry Log” sermons, in a sermon preached at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago.] In whatever language we can hear, Jesus is saying to us, right here, right now: “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.”...
  • Never Mind

    by Jim Eaton
    Some have said that just as there was a Last Supper, this is the First Breakfast. It must have seemed like all their fears, all their grief has just received in its turn a great Never Mind. But then, when they’ve all had breakfast, Jesus takes Peter aside and asks him this question: do you love me? What did Peter think? The musical Fiddler on the Roof has a scene where Tevye, the father, is discussing a daughter’s impending marriage with his wife Golde. He says, “She loves him,” and then he asks Golde, “Do you love me?” She rolls her eyes and says, For years, I’ve washed your clothes Cooked your meals, cleaned your house Given you children, milked your cow After years, why talk about love right now? But Tevye persists: do you love me? And Golde thinks, Do I love him? For years, I’ve lived with him Fought with him Starved with him For years, my bed is his If that’s not love, what is? At the end, she says she does love him—and that it doesn’t change a thing. “Do you love me?” It’s a question we all ask, one we all need answered. “Do you love me?” Jesus asks Peter...

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. FWIW!!]
  • Tevye and Golde Sing "Do You Love Me?"

    by D. Mark Davis
    (Includes lots of Greek exegesis!!)
  • Do You Love Me?

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("In 1981, in the midst of a distinguished career that included an Academy Award nomination for The Godfather, actor James Caan decided to take some time off. The best part of his six-year sabbatical, he says, was coaching Little League, T-ball, soccer...")
  • Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("In 1965, Jonathan Daniels was a 26-year-old-seminary student. Like many other clergy, religious and dedicated laymen and women, Daniels joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign against oppression in the South. He marched side-by-side with black men, women and children, including Ruby Sayles, a 16-year-old volunteer in the civil rights struggle that raged across the South that summer..." and several other illustrations)
  • Feed My Sheep

    by Sil Galvan
    ("In the movie Twilight Zone from some years back, there is the story of a Nazi war criminal who is being hunted by the leaders of the Jews and they are closing in on him. He goes to a local art museum where he sees a picture of a man fishing. He dreams of being in that picture and enjoying the peace and serenity, the freedom from cares, that this pastime provides..." and another illustration)
  • Love, Walmart Style

    by Terrance Klein
    ("My family is of Volga German stock. We migrated to the steppes of southern Russia, looking for the good times there, before we discovered how wonderful life could be on the high plains of Western Kansas, once your sod house has been built to hold out the winter wind. As a group, we Volga Germans do not tend to hold hands, embrace, or say, 'I love you' in public...")
  • Easter 3C

    by Bill Loader
  • Exegetical Notes

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (always excellent exegesis with numerous quotes)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Easter 3C)

    by Various Authors
    "Many of you know how taken I am with David James Duncan's novel The River Why. Interestingly enough, he has a sort of exegesis on John 21:11. This is, it seems to me, one of the most remarkable statistics ever computed. Consider the circumstances..."

    and several more!!

Illustrated Resources from 2019

  • Jesus Fills Our Emptiness

    by Klaus Adam
    One day Mother Teresa received a letter written by a man on the day of his intended suicide. He wrote that, on the preceding afternoon, he had worked out all the details for what seemed to him a perfectly “rational” suicide. And then, quite by accident, he came across Malcolm Muggeridge’s biography of Mother Teresa. Bored and with nothing else to do, he started to read it. As he read, he found that book, or rather that life, giving him a new interest in life, and, as he finished it, he moved back from the brink of suicide to begin life anew. The example of Mother Teresa, until then unknown to him, had given him hope...
  • Lessons from Fishing

    by Rian Adams
    I heard a story of an old man from south Alabama who loved to fish. He became a local legend in his small town. Every day, all day, the old man sat on his 5-gallon bucket and fished with his cane pole. Finally, some boys decided they wanted to ask him why he was there everyday the sun was shining. One boy finally asked the old man, “Why do you fish here every day, we never see you catch anything. There are no fish here. The old man said, “Nope, there ain’t.” “Then what’s the purpose of fishing here?” The old man said, “Son, the purpose of fishing here is to show my mean old wife that I don’t have time to fix her sink.”...
  • Are You Ready to Jump?

    by Jim Chern
    At the age of twenty-four, Mike Lewis explained while working at a prestigious corporation he eagerly wanted to leave the job and pursue his dream of becoming a professional squash player. (NOOO Judgment… One person’s dreams….) Recognizing this was quite a major shift, which might be difficult to explain on a resume moving forward, he was a bit hesitant. So he went about seeking other people’s experiences of determining the exact time of moving on from something that was comfortable and known to something they had only dreamed of doing. He interviewed others who had, as he put it, “jumped,” and the responses he got—from a banker who started a brewery, a publicist who ended up becoming a Bishop, a garbage collector who became a furniture designer, and so on—all culminated in his book (after he started playing Squash professionally) It was motivational to see people being reflective about where they were at – bravely confronting their unhappiness – taking that all important risk to move from doing something that was safe and that they knew to jumping into something radically different. And the authors and participants were sincerely honest. Some talked about hopping on from one thing to another and that next thing that they thought was “the thing” did not turn out the way they expected it to. Instead of viewing that as a failure though, they saw it as a step in a series of steps (or jumps) they needed to make to get to that one thing – whatever it was – that would really tap into their passions and lead them into a life of contentment... One specific interview really stood out was this young guy who said that for him, “The hardest part was accepting I had to start over. ”
  • Never Mind

    by Jim Eaton
    The musical Fiddler on the Roof has a scene where Tevye, the father, is discussing a daughter’s impending marriage with his wife Golde. He says, “She loves him,” and then he asks Golde, “Do you love me?” She rolls her eyes and says, For years, I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked your cow
After years, why talk about love right now? But Tevye persists: do you love me? And Golde thinks, Do I love him?
For years, I’ve lived with him
Fought with him
Starved with him
For years, my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is? At the end, she says she does love him—and that it doesn’t change a thing...
  • Peter's Tale

    Monologue by Bob Hartman
  • Sermon Starters (Easter 3C)(2019)

    by Scott Hoezee
    The ordinary nature of this scene reminds you of so many other scenes in the Bible and of so many other times when people bumped into God in the least likely of places. Jacob is in a bad place and has to use a stone for a pillow but wakes up to discover that he had bedded down in Bethel, the very “house of God.” Moses is tending his sheep on a mountainside when a bush bursts into flame and the next thing he knew, he was standing barefoot in the presence of the great “I Am.” The spies dispatched by Joshua to scout out Jericho make visiting a brothel the first thing they do in Jericho and though they didn’t exactly go there looking for God, they end up hearing an inspired sermon delivered to them by no less likely a candidate to preach a sermon than the establishment’s chief madam, Rahab. The travelers on that first Easter Sunday left Jerusalem quite literally “to get away from it all” and to escape the sadness they had come to associate with the big city. They end up at Emmaus only to discover Jesus after all...
  • Easter 3C (2019)

    by Lisa Jenkins
    I’m a Marvel Universe fan, and I’m very excited about the latest movie, Captain Marvel. The press has said that it doesn’t rank as high as previous Marvel movies. That’s fine with me; I always root for the underdog, anyway. And the way things are going in our country and in our world, we need a hero—even if it’s a woman in a red-and-blue uniform with a giant star on the chest. Between the comic books and the movie, the origin of her superpowers may have shifted, but Captain Marvel’s purpose is clear: to save humanity, by any means necessary...
  • What Christ in the Eucharist Teaches Us About Time and Eternity

    by Terrance Klein
    The risen Christ, still bearing his wounds, calls us to Eucharist. The meal he gave us the night before he died becomes food for the journey. It is the foretaste of resurrected fellowship. Christ doesn’t undo time, not even the crucifixion. Instead he shows himself to be the author of time. It is his. We are his. He calls us to him. He claims us, claims each moment of our lives, as his. He asks if we trust him, if we love him. And then he tells us, “Feed my sheep.”
  • Easter as Opening the Doors of Hell

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    The British historian, A N Wilson, in a biography of C S Lewis, describes how Lewis’ life as a teacher and writer was, during virtually all of his productive years, interrupted by the demands of his adopted mother who made him do all the shopping and housework and demanded hours of his time daily for domestic tasks. Lewis’ own brother, Warnie, who also lived in the household (and who generally refused to let his own agenda be so interrupted) laments this fact in his diaries and suggests that Lewis could have been much more prolific had he not had to spend countless hours doing domestic chores. Lewis himself, however, gives a different assessment. Far from being resentful about these interruptions, he’s grateful and suggests that it was precisely these domestic demands that kept him in touch with life in a way that other Oxford Dons (who never had to shop and do housework) were not. Wilson agrees and suggests that it was precisely because of these interruptions, which kept Lewis’ feet squarely on the ground, that Lewis was able to have such empathic insights into the everyday human condition. As these examples illustrate, what initially is experienced as an unwanted interruption can, in the end, be our real agenda...
  • Feed My Sheep

    by David Russell
    Jesus has a charcoal fire going, with fish and bread. It doesn’t just say there was a fire on the beach, it is very specific: a charcoal fire. There is exactly one other place in the New Testament where a charcoal fire is mentioned, in John chapter 18. We read this passage on Maundy Thursday. After Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. It is cold, and people are standing around a fire to keep warm. We are told that it is a charcoal fire. Peter is there, near the fire. And a woman asks Peter if he is one of Jesus’ disciples. And he denies it. Peter denies even knowing Jesus. He does this not once, not twice, but three different times. Now, Peter is at another charcoal fire. The charcoal fire is a kind of hyperlink between these two stories. And he is asked not once, not twice, but three times if he loves Jesus. Here Peter has the opportunity to undo the three denials. He is given another chance. Peter is forgiven; the slate is symbolically wiped clean. And in fact, all of the disciples are given another chance. They had worked all night with nothing to show for it, and Jesus says, “Try again.” They do, and with his help, they are wildly successful...
  • You Know Everything

    by Debie Thomas
    Here’s a composite memory: I am five, eight, twelve, sixteen years old. I’ve sassed my mother, or lied to my father. I’ve ruined a new dress, stayed out too late, misbehaved in church, or ignored my chores. I’ve failed in some way, trivial or terrible, and I’ve been caught. But the most painful part of the memory is not the discovery. It’s what happens after I’m caught, after I apologize, after I’m punished and sent to my room. The darkest part is the shame. I didn’t grow up in a home or culture that practiced restoration. Despite my family’s best intentions, we never found our way to a language of grace. We never said or heard, “I forgive you,” or, “It’s okay,” or “I still love you.” Instead, we abandoned the wrongdoer in our midst to a thick, damning silence. We withdrew affection to reestablish honor. We avoided eye contact, shut down authentic conversation, and rendered the offense and the offender invisible. Eventually, after hours, days, or weeks — depending on the severity of the sin — the ice thawed, and life returned to a bruised normal. But a wound still festered below the surface...
  • When Your Net Is Empty

    by Carl Wilton
    When Peter finally realizes itis Jesus, he does the strangest-sounding thing.It says in verse 7, “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea!” There’s something odd about that: who puts clothes onto go swimming?But that’s not really what’s going on here. The Greek is hard to translate into English. A literal translation, which is what we have here, sounds bizarre —but most biblical experts agree that, rather than saying Peter is out there fishing in the buff (something no observant Jew would ever do), what the Greek is really saying is that he’s stripped down to a loincloth. (Very practical garb for someone handling soaking-wet nets.)When Peter realizes it’s Jesus standing there along the beach, he grabs his tunic, wraps it around his waist a few times and jumps into the water. That’s what you’d do if you wanted to get to shore with your clothes, but had to keep your limbs free to swim.Now, Peter could have just jumped into the water, wearing only his loincloth, but the fact that he takes his tunic with him says something very important about his state of mind. What it says is this: Peter knows— now that he’s seen Jesus — he’s not going back to the fishing boat again! He’s done with that. He’s going to leave his old fisherman-self behind, completely, and throw in his lot with his Lord and master once again...
  • Easter 3C (2019)

    by David Zersen
    Now let me strike up the music for a moment and take you to a scene in “Fiddler on the Roof,” one of my favorite scenes. Tevye has just told his wife, Golde, that he gave permission to their daughter, Hodel, to marry, Perchik. “What,” shouts Golde, “he has nothing!” “I know,” Tevye says, “but it’s a new world. Love. Hodel likes him—she loves him.” And then, strike up the music, Tevye says, “Golde, do you love me?” Golde doesn’t get it. She talks about all the things that she does for Tevye, but he keeps pressing her: “Golde, do you love me.” Finally, she says, “I suppose so.” And Tevey responds, “Then I suppose I do to.” We love this scene because behind the cuteness and charm, there is great depth for all of us who often don’t say how much we love one another...

Illustrated Resources from 2016 to 2018

  • Life Changing Event

    by Bob Chell
    The young woman in this photo is Bethany Hamilton, shown shooting the curl eight years after her arm was bitten off in a shark attack when she was 13. What factors determine if life changing events are good, bad, or a mix of both? You can learn more about Bethany Hamilton from her book, Soul Surfer, which was also made into a film.
  • A Fire of Burning Coals

    by Dan Clendenin
    for the last eleven years of his life (1985–1996) Henri Nouwen served as the residential priest at Daybreak, a home for people with severe physical and mental disabilities. Living among the weak, and “suddenly faced with my naked self,” was the starting point for Nouwen to discover his “true identity” as a child loved by God: “These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self — the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things — and forced me to claim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.” That decisive break was provoked by John's gospel for this week, which in turn formed the basis of his small book In the Name of Jesus.
  • Never Mind

    by Jim Eaton
    The musical Fiddler on the Roof has a scene where Tevye, the father, is discussing a daughter’s impending marriage with his wife Golde. He says, “She loves him,” and then he asks Golde, “Do you love me?” She rolls her eyes and says, For years, I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked your cow
After years, why talk about love right now? But Tevye persists: do you love me? And Golde thinks, Do I love him?
For years, I’ve lived with him
Fought with him
Starved with him
For years, my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is? At the end, she says she does love him—and that it doesn’t change a thing...
  • A Boatload of Images

    by Owen Griffiths
    My pal Pastor Ben Krey reminds me that, in the Greek, there are two different words used for love in this passage. Jesus asks Peter in verses 15 and 16, “…do you love me?” The phrase in Greek is “agapas me?” This is translated in my Greek-English interlinear as “lovest thou me?” Jesus uses the word agape for “love.” This word means the highest form of love: sacrificial, unconditional love. It is, essentially, God’s kind of love.
  • Easter 3

    by Scott Hoezee
    The ordinary nature of this scene reminds you of so many other scenes in the Bible and of so many other times when people bumped into God in the least likely of places. Jacob is in a bad place and has to use a stone for a pillow but wakes up to discover that he had bedded down in Bethel, the very “house of God.” Moses is tending his sheep on a mountainside when a bush bursts into flame and the next thing he knew, he was standing barefoot in the presence of the great “I Am.”
  • Earth's Unfinished Loves

    by Terrance Klein
    Young Sullivan Ballou had already been elected a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, when he married Sarah Hart Shumway on Oct. 15, 1855. She had borne him two sons before this young Republican, and ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln, answered the call of his new president. After the attack on Fort Sumter, in April of 1861, President Lincoln needed 75,000 volunteers to preserve the Union.
  • The Charcoal Fires

    by Anne Le Bas
    But the breakfast on the beach, and the charcoal fire on which it is cooked, are only found in John’s Gospel. And John is very specific. It’s not just a fire, it is a charcoal fire. So what? Well, there’s another charcoal fire in the Gospel, just one, and it too is in John’s Gospel, only three chapters before this. It’s the charcoal fire that was burning in the courtyard of the High Priest where a hastily assembled court was meeting to try Jesus on trumped up charges. It’s the fire that Peter was warming himself by when some other bystanders asked him three times “Aren’t you one of his followers? Aren’t you from Galilee too?”. It’s the fire he was standing by when, three times, he denied even knowing Jesus.
  • When the Wars Are Done

    by Jim McCoy
    Whenever I’m prone to read the past with false simplicity; whenever I forget what forces converge in life after the death and resurrection of Jesus; whenever I start to doubt the wisdom, power, and long-term effects of “feeding my lambs” (i.e. the daily, repetitive, essential task of sustaining and nourishing the community of those who follow Jesus), I try to remember the witness of the Christians in Le Chambon in south-central France. The day after France surrendered to Nazi Germany, Pastor Andre Trocme spoke from his pulpit, “The responsibility of Christians is to resist the violence that will be brought to bear on their consciences through the weapons of the spirit.” Over the next four years the little congregation lived out a dramatic script.
  • Off the Hook (Updated)

    by Jim McCrea
    My brother Tom’s wife Mimi died 13 years ago after a lengthy struggle with M.S. that ultimately led to her being paralyzed from the neck down for at least the last five years of her life. When it seemed as if she wouldn’t have much longer to live, Tom asked me if I would do Mimi’s funeral. At that time, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do that emotionally and I told him so. But, after thinking about it for a month or so, I decided I could do it. So I called Tom to tell him that I’d changed my mind. Then, it wasn’t all that long afterward that Mimi actually died. She was only 42. At that point I had to see how well I could hold up under the pressure of leading a service while experiencing a deep personal grief.
  • Forgiveness

    by Linda McMillan
    As a member of my company’s internal investigations team, this is going back a few years, I used to encounter people who had made mistakes every day. These were big mistakes, humiliating, life-altering mistakes. My team was good at sussing out the who, what, when, where, and even the how of most incidents. What I never could figure out was why. Oh, sometimes the reason made a fleeting appearance. It could have been an addiction, gambling debt, or just the garden-variety arrogance which eventually has to put one over on whoever is a step higher on the ladder. But, mostly, I never knew why.
  • A Long Way from the Beach

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Some of the preceding elements are present in the painting by Guercino below. Peter's feet and hands are being tied to the beams of the cross, though he has not yet been raised/inverted. We know this is Peter by the keys than hang from his right hand. His blue tunic is being pulled from him, and he gazes upward, seemingly in resignation but seeking reassurance from on high.
  • Finding Easter: Called (Again)

    by Beth Quick
    How many of you have seen the Bill Murray 1993 movie Groundhog Day – gosh, did that really come out 20 years ago? The premise is this: Bill Murray’s character, Phil, isn’t really enjoying life. He’s a news reporter, and he has to report on Punxutawney Phil, and whether or not he sees his shadow on Groundhog Day. The day doesn’t go very well as a whole. He’s kind of a jerk all day long. He finally goes to sleep, wakes up in the morning – and instead of being the next day, it’s the same day all over again.
  • Feed My Sheep

    by David Russell
    There is exactly one other place in the New Testament where a charcoal fire is mentioned. In John chapter 18, after Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. It is cold, and people are standing around a fire to keep warm. We are told that it is a charcoal fire. Peter is there, near the fire. And a woman, actually a woman who was guarding the gate, which is interesting, asks Peter if he is one of Jesus’ disciples. And he denies it. Peter denies even knowing Jesus. He does this not once, not twice, but three times. Now, Peter is at another charcoal fire. The charcoal fire is a kind of hyperlink between these two stories. And he is asked not once, not twice, but three times if he loves Jesus. Peter is forgiven. Here he is undoing the three denials. He is given another chance. The slate is symbolically wiped clean...
  • Easter 3C (2016)

    by Jim Schmitmeyer
    How many of you remember the movie Friday Night Lights? I would think that that movie would be one of your favorites. After all, it’s about a Texas town and its football team. It showed what teamwork can do and what a town can achieve when it has a dream and dares to live that dream! So, they went and made a movie about the year that Odessa, Texas won the state championship. Right? Am I right? No, I’m wrong. It’s true that Odessa won the state title in 1989, but the movie wasn’t about the year the team won the title. It was about the year before they won state. It was about the year they almost won. Go rent the movie. You’ll see how it all comes down to the final seconds of the game. Odessa is lined up on the goal and needs to punch the ball in for a win. They hike the ball and run left. But the defense stands them up and knocks them back and the time runs out. The movie ends with the Odessa team walking off the field dazed… some with tears in their eyes...
  • When Your Net Is Empty

    by Carl Wilton
    What is it, in your life right now, that’s causing your nets to come back empty? Is it something to do with your work, your livelihood? Or is it maybe your retirement, that hasn’t turned out to be the “golden years” you imagined? Maybe you’re still young, and at school, and you just hate the situation you find yourself in: your place in the school pecking order you can’t seem to bust out of. Or maybe it’s a close family relationship — even a marriage — that’s grown cold over time, and you just don’t know how to breathe life back into it. Maybe it’s your Christian faith itself. It always seemed to bring you strength and comfort in the past. But now — you’re not so sure. The net comes back empty, no matter how many times you cast it.
  • Finding Light in the Dark: Hope Inside Desperate Discourse

    by Karyn Wiseman
    The phrase “dark night of the soul” comes from a poem written by Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century poet and mystic. In it he describes the journey of a soul and the unknowable nature of God as “the dark night of the soul.” My friend's son could not find a way out. He told his Mom that God was absent from him. He felt desperate, lost, and afraid. He found out through the suicide attempt and his hospitalization that he had serious depression. But for Saint John of the Cross – the dark night was not about God being absent. We often need to experience the dark night in order to truly see the light of the new day. The poem was about the joy we find in the journey to unite with God.
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Love

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2010 to 2015

  • Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

    by Scott Barton
    Some of you might remember this item from ancient history, a TV quiz show from the 50’s called “To Tell the Truth.” Four celebrity panelists questioned a team of three challengers, all claiming to be the same person with some unique gift or job. Only one was it, and was sworn to tell the truth, but the other two could lie through their teeth. And the panelists had to decide who wastelling the truth. So the challengers would each walk on, and each would say, "My name is …", and for the sake of argument let's say it was "Mary Williams." Number one walks on, "My name is Mary Williams." Two, "My name is Mary Williams." Three, "My name is Mary Williams." And they sit down. And after lots of questions from the panelists to each of the three, the panelists would vote. And then, the host, Bud Collyer, would say, "Will the real Mary Williams please stand up?" And one of them, for dramatic effect, might pretend to start to stand up, but it would then be another one, and the real Mary Williams would finally stand, and the audience would applaud, and the panelists would be surprised - or not - depending on who had guessed correctly, and best of all, we'd know if we had been right in our own guess at which one was the real Mary Williams....
  • Repairing Our Grief

    by Greg Carey
    When Uncle Norman was much older, he came close to death after gall bladder surgery. That night he experienced profound nightmares, the Lady Macbeth experience of bloody hands he could not cleanse. The next day, he told me a very different story than the ones I’d heard before. I believe I was the first to hear of the time when he called in the coordinates for an intersection across which a significant body of Germans was crossing. For 30 minutes, he said, he watched the effects of the barrage he had targeted. And now, 40 years later, his hands wouldn’t come clean.
  • Renunciation and Return: To Be Fully Known and Freely Loved

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("A few weeks ago I read the little book by Elie Wiesel called Rashi, about the life and work of Solomon ben Isaac, later known by the shortened Rashi. Rashi was born around 1040 in Troyes, France; he died in 1105...")
  • Jesus Take the Reel

    by John Henson
    ("I once heard a story about Randy White, massive linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys back in the glory days for the Dallas Cowboys. One day, after having one of the worst days of his football career, he disappeared. Coach Landry and his teammates couldn't find him anywhere and they became worried. They eventually discovered that he had gone fishing...")
  • The BBQ on the Beach

    by George Hermanson
    ("There was an article in the Citizen on Sunday. It was a look at Joshua Bell, one of the best musician on earth, as he played in the Washington subway. There he was, like some busker,with passion, playing some of the most moving music heard...")
  • Easter 3C (2016)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("The ordinary nature of this scene reminds you of so many other scenes in the Bible and of so many other times when people bumped into God in the least likely of places. Jacob is in a bad place and has to use a stone for a pillow but wakes up to discover that he had bedded down in Bethel, the very 'house of God'...")
  • Following Jesus Once More

    by Janet Hunt
    ("I had entered into a new and different kind of work, believing it would use my gifts well and that it would give me the opportunity to deepen those gifts and to develop some new ones. I began it thinking I could be a part of making a difference. It didn't work out that way. Before long I found my most deeply held values at war with one another...")
  • Fishing Banned on the Sea of Galilee

    by Nathan Jeffay
    ("It is the site where Jesus told his disciples: 'I will make you fishers of men'. As the Bible tells us, four of the Apostles - James, Andrew, John and Peter - worked as fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Were they to ply their trade now, however, the Apostles would find themselves in court...")
  • The God of Second Chances

    by Jim McCrea
    ("one of our favorite bands was Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. They performed at that concert and their leader, Mylon LeFevre, told a lurid story of his life in rock and roll. He has been raised in a Christian family, but quit having anything to do with Christianity from the time he was 17 until some 19 years later, when he ultimately dedicated his life to Christ...")
  • The Struggle to Love

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("After his wife died, Jacques Maritain published her journals. In the preface to that book, Raïssa's Journal, he talks about her death, brought on by a stroke, and then gives this commentary: 'But there is still something else, which is not easy to express and which, nevertheless, I want very much to add. This concerns God's mode of action...")
  • Feed My Sheep

    by David Russell
    ("There is only one other place in the New Testament where a charcoal fire is mentioned. In John chapter 18, after Jesus' arrest, Peter follows Jesus into the high priest's courtyard. It is cold, and people are standing around a fire to keep warm. We are told that it is a charcoal fire. Peter is there, near the fire. And a woman, actually a woman who was guarding the gate, asks Peter if he is one of Jesus' disciples. And he denies it...")
  • Love Me? Feed My Sheep.

    by Robert Stuhlmann
    ("Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist, observed Christians behaving badly in New Guinea. The various denominations came into the island and began competing with each other for the souls of the people. The natives of the Island observed that there was nothing attractive about the Jesus the churches claimed to follow. When Roman Catholic nuns arrived, they established a hospital and a school to teach the people. It seems to me the Sisters had the right idea...")
  • P.S., I Love You

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    "Every large city has a store in which there is nothing but lamps, hundreds and sometimes thousands of lamps. Some are antique, some are new. Some are plain, some are ornate. Some of them unplugged. Some of them are plugged in and showcasing their light. One day a little girl was asked by her mother which lamps she liked best. 'I like best the ones where the light shines out.'..."
  • Keep on Fishing

    Narrative Sermon by Pamela Tinnin
  • The Challenge to Follow

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One evening Ferris Robinson was stressed out and his son, Robby, sensed his frustration. He invited his father to go for a ride in their paddleboat so he could watch his son fish. Robby had taken an interest in fishing and had accumulated an impressive amount of tackle..." and another illustration)
  • In One Accord

    by Keith Wagner
    ("In a past issue of the Dayton Daily News, there was an article on the common cold. They now believe that those who have social contact with friends and family are less likely to catch a cold then those who live in seclusion. Dr. Ronald Glaser, a virologist at Ohio State, reported that a person's immune response increased with the strength of his or her social network. What Jesus did for the woman was expand her social network..." and another illustration)

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

(In 2007, this was the Sunday following the shooting of 32 students at West Virginia University.)
  • Come and Dine

    by Robert Allred
    ("I have been reading a biography of a preacher friend who died too young. He had risen out of a deep south Georgia farm to become the pastor of the largest local church in World Methodism where he followed the famous Dr. Charles Allen at First Church, Houston. Bill Hinson had become a leader of our denomination...")
  • Mixed Metaphors

    by Mickey Anders
    ("English professors love to catch the errors students make in their term papers, and they love nothing better than to catch mixed metaphors. The 'friends and survivors' of Calvin College English department collected this list of mixed metaphors and posted them on their web site: 'He swept the rug under the carpet.' 'She's burning the midnight oil at both ends.'...")
  • Extending the Family: Brother Fish and Sister Sheep?

    by John Auer
    In these solemn and shocking days of pain and loss over the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech University, I thank God for you and for the larger body of Christ that is praying for the families, friends, and campus community who have suffered such unspeakable loss in this week. The whole human family has been profoundly grieved and wounded . . . As disciples of Christ we must also pray for Sueng-Hui Cho and his family. The unfolding insight into his mental history and isolation from campus life that drove him to perpetrate such horror on other students and professors compels us to redouble our efforts and partnerships to address the unmet mental and spiritual needs that contribute to such acts of violence and contempt for human life. We must also stand close to our Korean brothers and sisters who share the deep pain of Seung-Hui’s rampaging and have already felt the backlash of racial profiling, shunning, and acts of bigotry. We live in troubled times in a troubled world but the witness of the Christian community is a powerful presence in the long road to restoration...
  • I Am Going Fishing

    by Phil Bloom
    ("Since Mother Teresa's death, people have been amazed to learn that she faced a long, cold night. A writer named David Scott put it this way: 'For nearly fifty years, Mother Teresa's prayer life was one of dark, pitiless silence. She lived her entire public life panicked that God had rejected her...")
  • More Than Conquerors

    by Gil Bowen
    ("Eugene Smith was a minister who never sang much because he didn't have much of a voice and couldn't read music. But one year his daughter persuaded him to sing along with the choir when it came to the 'Hallelujah Chorus'. And he really got caught up in the last part when they were singing all of those 'Hallelujah's' at the end..." and other quotes)
  • The Christ-Files

    by George Butterfield
    ("Millions of Americans spend every Sunday night glued to their television sets, watching a Fox Television series called The X-Files. It inspires a kind of devotion usually reserved for Sunday morning worship, and for many people the show is an hour of sacred viewing. This cult hit tells the story of two FBI agents who investigate X-Files - cases involving paranormal or unexplained phenomena...")
  • Easter 3C (2007)

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("In Frederick Buechner's novel The Final Beast there is a scene in which a member of a congregation is begging the pastor to declare forgiveness to a deeply disturbed woman in their church. The pastor replies that the woman already knows that he, the pastor, has forgiven her, to which this other member replies, 'But she doesn't know God forgives her...")
  • Where Do You Go When You've Blown It?

    by John Christianson
    ("I once had a phone call from a fellow who said he was an FBI agent. He said, 'Harland Wilson says he’s a member of your congregation. He’s vice president of such and such bank and we’ve discovered that he has been embezzling funds for over thirty years. We’ve taken him into custody at his apartment. His wife isn’t home yet....")
  • Peter and Paul: Before and After

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("But there were also many Christians in those days who failed the faith, in greater or lesser degree, for a whole range of reasons—weakness, fear, deception, stupidity, rationalization, cooperation, and self-preservation. They forced the church to address very practical questions that resonate down to today...")
  • Breakfast with Jesus

    by Tom Cox
    ("Firstly they are to bring something to the fire, not just fish. They brought their love for Christ, their fear of the future, and their love for each other. This is no Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's moment. This was a film exuding glamour but actually about the lonely and pathetic habit of a young woman...")
  • Yesterday Men?

    by Tom Cox
    ("It’s related that the great Leonardo da Vinci after mulling over a large canvas, outlining and putting foundation colours upon it, handed it over to one of his students for completion. The stunned novice artist protested that he was not able or worthy to complete what the great painter had begun. Da Vinci replied, 'Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?'...")
  • An Ordinary Experience

    by Richard Fairchild
    John Newton - the composer of the hymn Amazing Grace which is so well loved by the church around the world had the same kind of saving experience as Paul. Brought up in a rough circumstances, Newton became the captain of slave trading ship. He drank hard, he worked hard, and he hated with a passion all things Christian, all things he saw as weak, all things that would bridle his behaviour...
  • The Sacrament of the Ordinary

    by Richard Fairchild
    When I was living in Sambro - a fishing village on the East Coast I met a young woman who lived across the street from the church - she had recently come to believe in God and as a result she occasionally attended church. Mary's faith began with the birth of her first child...
  • Easter 3 (2007)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a great woman’s softball coach had to retire because her family was moving away. The young women on the team were terribly disappointed because she was such a good coach and so sympathetic to all their problems. However, they thought that maybe she agreed to the family move because she was so fed up the adolescent personalities on her team...")
  • Easter 3 (2001)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a man who counted carefully all his grudges. He remembered all the cruelties of the school yard, the taunts from his class when he did something well, the feather-brained irresponsibilities (as he saw them) of the young women he had dated, the dishonesty of his business associates, the insensitivity of his wife, the ingratitude of his children...")
  • Third Sunday of Easter (1999)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a college basketball player who was very good and very lazy. He felt he was so good that he didn't need to practice. Even without practice he was all conference and second team all American...")
  • Easter 3C (2004)

    by Roger Haugen
    ("A pastor writes: 'This past summer, a lifelong friend of mine hit bottom, spun out of control, headed the wrong way down the Interstate at 100 miles an hour. In other words, he fell from his prestigious perch as an attorney to the great depths of alcoholism. The good news is, he is on his way back, thanks to a loving wife, and the good work of Alcoholics Anonymous...")
  • Picking Up the Pieces (Part 2)

    by John Jewell
    ("History is filled with people who have dreamed big dreams like the dream of a poor black child, named Jackie Robinson in an all white world. 'I will play baseball with a professional team of white players.' The dream of George Washington Carver that began with the prayer, 'Lord, why did you make the peanut?'...")
  • Looking Death in the Eye

    by Scott Black Johnston
    ("Edward Bloom, the central character in the movie Big Fish, is a man who delights in telling stories. The stories that Bloom relates about his life and his adventures are fantastic. They are mythic. Each night sitting on the edge of his son's bed, Bloom describes his encounters with extraordinary creatures-giants and werewolves...")
  • Do You Enjoy Your Work?

    by James Kegel
    ("Donald Hagen told of a time when he was crossing the bay bridge and came up to the toll booth to pay his money. As he slowed down, he heard loud music from inside the booth and when he stopped to give his money he saw that the toll-taker was a young man dancing wildly inside his little booth. 'What's going on in there?' he asked. 'A party,' came the answer...")
  • Learning to Fish in a New Place

    by John Killinger
    ("And if we have gone stale and settled for less than the fireworks, then it is time we heard the Master calling from the edge of the lake, from the edge of our unconscious, and telling us to let the nets down in a new place. I think of some friends who have heard this word and acted on it...")
  • Tending Sheep in a Dangerous Time

    by Ryan Lambert
    (Scroll down for this sermon.) ("How are we called to answer the 'Do you love me?' question in an age when 33 people dying on the campus of Virginia Tech manages to dominate the news for days while bombs kill five times that many in Bagdad; while the violence of oppression and world-wide indifference allow thousands to die in the genocide in Darfur...")
  • Do You Love Me?

    by Edward Markquart
    ("Like many of you, I enjoyed the musical "Fiddler on the Roof". In that classic story, there is the old Jewish patriarch by the name of Tevye and the old Jewish matriarch by the name of Golde. They have been married for twenty-five long years. They have gone through so much together in Old Mother Russia at the turn of the century...)
  • Do You Love Me?

    by David Martyn
    ("Paul Tillich had this to say about it. 'Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged..." and other quotes)
  • Someone to Travel With

    by David Martyn
    ("Leslie writes: 'Washed in the blood of the lamb took on a special meaning to me in my second year of theological training. I was a student intern at an Anglican church in a small old Ontario town. The congregation was not entirely enthusiastic about having a female student, and certainly not about my assisting at the Eucharist. I responded by becoming huffy and distant..." and other short illustrations)
  • Off the Hook

    by Jim McCrea
    ("[It's] every man and woman's nightmare... certainly every married person's nightmare. Happened to me last week. I talk in my sleep.... Often intelligibly. Last Tuesday, I had a strange night's sleep... lots of dreams... and clearly, some talking was involved. In the morning, through a waking up haze, my loving wife asks me, 'Who's Audrey?'...")
  • Redeeming the Time

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    ("In Jonathan Swift's classic novel Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver first finds himself in the land of Lilliput, where he is a massive giant. But it is much more than just his size that is a mystery to the bewildered Lilliputians. Here is how they describe Gulliver's watch: Out of the right pocket hung a great silver chain, with a wonderful kind of engine at the bottom...")
  • Easter 3C

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    This is what is called an Irish penny-church. It's called that because it was built by very poor Irish immigrants who could only afford to pay for a small bit at a time. So, every time they had enough for one more pillar, or one more wall, it was a different builder who came to do it and he built it a slightly different way...
  • The Abundance of God's Grace

    by William Oldland
    My grandfather was a great one for building fishing tales. He took two doctors fishing one day on the shrimp boat. They were going to set some fishnets and wait for the tide. While they waited the two doctors were going to fish off the side of the boat. Right after they set the nets, some very large fish started tearing the nets to pieces. While the fish were tearing the nets they were still getting wrapped in the twine. They pulled the fish aboard and they turned out to be large tarpon. While they are plentiful in Florida they are rare in South Carolina. By the time they got back to the dock, my grandfather had worked out quite a tale with the doctors. The fish were not caught in nets but on hook and line. The doctor who landed the fish had fought it for hours. The lure used was made of chicken feathers he had picked up off the ground that morning in my grandfather's chicken yard and tied onto a hook on the way out to the fishing hole. This story was believed. In fact, there was an entire story written about the catch of this tarpon and printed in The News and Courier in Charleston. My mother has a copy of the article and a picture of the fish and the doctor to go with it...
  • Easter 3

    by Andy Oren
    ("One of my favorite books is Tuesdays with Morrie. It's the story of Morrie Schwartz, a Brandeis University professor who is diagnosed late in life with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, a disease which Schwartz knows will claim his life...")
  • When Faith and Life Converge

    by John Pavelko
    ("In the fifth book of CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy, the boy Shasta finally meets the great lion Aslan. The lion explains to the young lad why several events take place and Aslan's part in them. At that point Shasta asks Aslan to explain the meaning of some of the experiences of his traveling companion, Aravis....")
  • A Guided Meditation: Forgiveness

    by Michael Phillips
    ("Begin to reflect for a moment on what the word 'forgiveness' might mean. What is forgiveness? What might it mean to bring forgiveness into one’s life, into one’s mind and heart – into the very center of who you are?...")
  • Do You Love Me?

    by Beth Quick
    ("A few weeks ago I went to see my cousin perform in her high-school’s musical, Fiddler on the Roof. I’ve always loved Fiddler – I had the chance to be in it too when I was in high-school, and watching the show, I found myself sort of singing along in my seat – not so loud to distract those near me of course!...")
  • What A Difference A Humble Spirit Makes!

    by Ron Ritchie
    ("It was about 6:30 pm on a Wednesday evening in 1952 when I arrived at the main office of the orphanage where I had lived and worked for the past eight years. Two men who were in charge of the home met me in the main office and promptly informed me I was to leave the home that evening and not come back....")
  • Gone Fishin'

    by Gary Roth
    ("Thinking of a million things he'd rather be doing, the dutiful son picks up the suitcases and heads toward the car. The bags aren't nearly as heavy as his schedule, and he hopes he won't get too far behind in his work. Catch-up was never his favorite sport. For the life of him, he can't quite understand how he let himself get talked into making the trip...")
  • Becoming a Christ-Community

    by Martin Singley
    ("Life is a lot like the game of Monopoly. I don’t remember how old I was when the kids in our neighborhood first started playing the game, but it was a big hit with us. We were drawn to the allure of fame and fortune. And it was fun devising strategies to win. Everyone knew, of course, that whoever managed to own Park Place and Boardwalk together would eventually rake in all the dough...")
  • Counting Sheep

    by Martin Singley
    ("If you have ever suffered with insomnia, I’m sure you’ve tried all kinds of techniques to get yourself to fall asleep – drinking warm milk, or herbal tea, or reading a boring book, or coming to church and listening to Marty preach. Maybe you’ve even tried the time-tested method of counting sheep!...")
  • From Mere Belief to Radical Change

    by Martin Singley
    "After a series of terrorist attacks near Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities decided to retaliate by bulldozing homes in Hebron. Seven homes were selected, and warnings given that the bulldozers would arrive in an hour. The Palestinian homeowners – who had no connection to the violence except for the fact that they are Palestinians – were distraught..." and another illustration
  • The Grace of Another Day

    by Wiley Stephens
    ("William Wilson was a drunk. In the middle of the depression in the '30s, he found himself in a hospital in New York drying out. He cried out, 'If there is a God, let him show himself. I'm ready to do anything, anything!' This man was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous...")
  • Fresh Grilled Forgiveness

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("When Levi was 14 he ran away from home. He stuck his thumb out and hitchhiked to another community. He was picked up by a trucker who took him to El Paso. There he got a day job picking cotton. After one day in the field picking cotton he realized he didn't want to do that for the rest of his life. So, he collected his pay and stuck out his thumb again...")
  • The Smell of Smoke Still Lingers

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("An old Reader's Digest story tells about a family who moved to Seattle from Texas. The whole family was missing Texas, especially when Christmas was just around the corner and the whole place was covered in snow. We like it snow on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve, just as long as it's all gone by the time we get on the road to go to visit our families, right?...")
  • Are You the Big One That Got Away?

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Grandpa Braley, a Methodist minister, took his grandson, Robert, fishing at Edinboro Lake. He told him about the biggest and meanest fish in the lake, named Hezekiah. Grandpa once had him almost in the boat but he got away. In the process his fin sliced the back of his hand..." and other illustrations)
  • Making a Difference

    by Keith Wagner
    ("A recent popular television program is called Joan of Arcadia. It's about a young woman who is constantly challenged by God to do things she wouldn't ordinarily do. Reluctantly she proceeds and in the process someone is always helped. The show is unique since God appears to her through a variety of personalities...")
  • Following Jesus in Redemptive Suffering

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("The following modern-day story as told by Russian writer and Christian, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reminds us of how when we are called upon to suffer that our suffering can be redemptive not only for ourselves, but for others as well and can draw us closer to Christ. He writes: 'Following an operation I am lying in the surgical ward of a camp hospital. I cannot move......")
  • How to Be a Disciple

    by Dallas Willard
    ("As Christ's apprentices, we are personally interacting with him as we do our job, and he is with us, as he promised, to teach us how to do it best. Few have illustrated this better than Kirby Puckett, for 13 years center fielder for the Minnesota Twins baseball team. He had a career batting average of .318, made the All-Star lineup ten years in a row, and won six Golden Gloves for defensive play...")
  • A Cookout Brings Faith

    by Tim Zingale
    ("A shrewd worldly agnostic and a Christian clergyman, dressed in modest clerical suit, sat at the same table in the Pullman dining car. They were waiting for the first course at the dinner, a delicious Hudson River shad. Eying his companion coldly for a moment, the agnostic remarked: 'I judge you are a clergyman, sir!'...")
  • Illustrations

    by Tim Zingale
    ("There's an old saying among fishermen, which is repeated to help the anglers determine the best conditions for success. 'Wind from the west, fish bite best. Wind from the east, fish bite least'. Although we wouldn't stake our lives on the truthfulness of this saying, many feel the maxim has proven out on numerous occasions..." and several others)

Other Resources from 2019

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

Other Resources from 2007 to 2009

(In 2007, this was the Sunday following the shooting of 32 students at West Virginia University.)

Other Resources from 2004 to 2006

Other Resources from 2001 to 2003

Other Resources from the Archives

Resources from the Bookstore

  • The Question

    by William J. Bausch, from Storytelling the Word
    ("About 17 years ago, a woman named Velma Barfield became the first woman in the United States to be executed in 22 years. She had murdered four people, had admitted her guilt. But the Velma Barfield who was executed was very different from the Velma Barfield who was jailed in 1978...")
  • Risen Christ, Risen Christian

    by Walter J. Burghardt, SJ, from Still Proclaiming Your Wonders
  • The Treasure

    from More Stories For the Heart
    (Compiled by Alice Gray) ("The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. 'Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!' Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face...")

Children's Resources

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable