- ("A high school principal in Michigan, his wife and seven children used to drive to Florida every spring break to see her folks. It was an annual family journey. All nine of them would pile into the family van, along with blankets and pillows, groceries, and luggage in the carrier on top, an drive straight through, stopping only to refuel, to eat, and to change drivers..." and other illustrations)
- ("George Eliot's short novel, Silas Marner, explores the theme of redemption brought through a little child. When the novel opens, Silas Marner, a myopic and cataleptic weaver, is living alone on the edge of a small, rural village in England in the early nineteenth century. He shuns all company and cares for no one. He is feared and disliked by the villagers..." and other illustrations)
- ("perhaps it would be appropriate to mention one writer's humourous view of the ten commandments which should govern the relationship of a husband and wife in marriage. 1. Thou shalt not wrap thy husband's sandwiches in magazine articles about a man's responsibility to love his wife. 2. Thou shalt not leave Scripture verses about submission tied to thy wife's hair dryer..." and another illustration)
- A few years ago I revisited the places of my childhood. Sim and I piled the kids into the car and traveled to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where I was born, and then to Erie, Pennsylvania, where I lived from the age of five until the age of twelve. Together the four of us explored what Sim fondly called the Seven Sacred Susie Sightings: the house where I was born, the two elementary schools I attended, the park by the zoo where I flew up from Brownie Scouts to Girl Scouts, and the beach on Lake Erie where I spent hour after lazy hour floating in the warmth of summer. We also visited the two churches, in Erie and LaCrosse, where my father had served as pastor, and where I had lived, happily, for many, many years. I say "lived" purposely - for those two church buildings became, for me, like second homes. Not only did the pews feel as familiar as my living room sofa, the tunnels under the church building, the closet behind the balcony, the classrooms in the Sunday school assembly hall - all these spaces became familiar places to hide in and play in and grow in...
- ("I have to admit to you that, just sometimes as a preacher, I really hate it when children cry in Church and distract the congregation from the homily and other things that I think are really important during Mass. And this was one of those occasions. The reading had been from St Paul to the Corinthians...")
- ("A harried homemaker sprang to the phone when it rang and listened with relief to the kindly voice in her ear. 'How are you darling?' it said. 'What kind of day are you having?'...")
- ("Tom Ervin was attending a conference for music teachers in New York. While at the conference he purchased a talking metronome. A metronome is a device for counting the beats in a song. Before Tom and his son boarded their flight home, Tom hefted his carry-on bag onto the security-check conveyor belt. The security guard's eyes widened as he watched the monitor...")
- Early in my ministry I had a friend who was a single mother. She was incapable of raising her daughter alone so she gave her up for adoption. About 30 years later the child discovered her mother and they were reunited. They became pen pals at the very best but nevertheless established a relationship. I remember the renewed feelings of guilt my friend experienced since her daughter was raised by others. But, my friend was a very loving person, who frequently helped others when she barely had enough to take care of herself. I admired her for her courage to entrust her young daughter into the hands of strangers...
- I selected this lovely hymn this morning, "Once in Royal David's City," because of its reference to the childhood of Jesus. It is one of the few places where you will find any reference to the fact that he grew up the way we have too. The third verse reads, "Jesus is our childhood's pattern; day by day, like us he grew." The hymn was part of a fascinating project, one of a series of hymns written by Cecil Alexander, back in 1848, to teach children the meaning of the Apostles' Creed. "Once in Royal David's City" was written to explain that article, "Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary," which in theology is called, "The Incarnation." Alexander interprets "The Incarnation" to mean, "He was little, weak, and helpless, tears and smiles like us he knew." Then she explained in the hymn why it is important for us to know that Jesus was like us. "And he feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness."...
- ("In the movie Fiddler on the Roof, while everyone celebrates the wedding of Tevye's daughter, the Czar's troops ride through the wedding reception. Their horses knock over tables, the troops smash dishes. The scene shifts, shows a fiddler playing on the roof...")
- ("In a sermon entitled by Richard Johnson, he writes: 'I often think about a conversation I had some years ago with a local physician who, upon learning that I was a pastor, informed me that he was a member of a particular congregation here in Nevada County. 'I only go on Christmas,' he said..." and another illustration)
- ("I remember an up-and-down time in my own life when, I guess, I was eight or nine years old and my dad took me fishing, which was not particularly his favorite activity. Actually, the site was a small pond near our house, but to me it was like fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. At that time I kept a little diary - a school project - long since lost, and I remember after that day of fishing I had written, 'Great, wonderful day.'...")
- ("A few years ago a young Korean couple in my congregation invited me to attend their daughter's Doljanchi, or first birthday party. For Korean families, a first birthday is an auspicious occasion full of ritual, and cultural tradition. The food was wonderful, the dancing of a Korean dance troupe was exciting, and the gathering of friends and family was like a baptismal party or a wedding reception...")