Luke 3: 1-6

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!!]
  • Illustrations on Advent

    from the Archives
  • Illustrations on Justice

    from the Archives
  • Repentance and Sin

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • *John the Baptist

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("He caused quite a stir among the shoppers. Many dismissed him as an annoying nut; some found him an eccentric 'hoot'. He was dressed in a tattered flannel shirt and jeans. No one knew where he spent the night, but he was seen rummaging around the dumpsters for scraps of food from Orange Julius and MacDonald's..." and other illustrations: recommended!!)
  • Prepare the Way of the Lord

    by Sil Galvan
    "There is a story which came out of the incidents in 1985, when some Americans were captured and held hostage in Lebanon, which dramatically illustrates the meaning of 'repentance'. Perhaps the best-known of the hostages was Terry Anderson, the Associated Press journalist..." and other illustrations
  • Advent 2C

    by William Loader
    always good insights!
  • People Get Ready

    Appropriate Song by Curtis Mayfield
    See performance here.
  • Advent: Preparing for the Sublime

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("In essence, this expresses the meaning of Advent: For something to be sublime there must first be sublimation; fasting is the necessary prelude to feasting; greatness of soul is contingent on first nobly carrying tension; great joy is not experienced if one is not first properly prepared...")
  • Land of Hope and Dreams

    Song by Bruce Springsteen
    See performance here.
  • Exegetical Notes

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • *Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Advent 2C)

    by Various Authors
    ("With all the logic of the hopeless loser, I thought if I bought a ticket for the recent EuroMillions £120m lottery rollover, I would win. In fact, just to sure, I bought 10 tickets. Because I'm writing this, and not having a foot massage while aboard my 400ft yacht moored off the Maldives, you'll realise that It Wasn't Me...")

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

  • Testify to Love: Under Construction

    by Kathy Donley
    The Rev. Traci Blackmon is now the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ. In 1985, she was a registered nurse in Birmingham, Alabama. Arriving for the evening shift, she was told that there was an “AIDS patient” on the unit. The staff said that he was mean and belligerent. He was spitting at nurses and trying to infect them. They said he was so mean that not even his family had visited him. This was in the early days of HIV/AIDS when not much was understood about the disease. The staff was afraid of it and of this patient whose name was James Bell. Like her staff, Traci was afraid, but she was the charge nurse. So, at the start of shift, she went to James’ room to introduce herself. There was full isolation wear outside his room, but even though she was afraid, she said “the spirit told me not to gown on my initial rounds.” She opened the door to his room and could not believe her eyes. There were disposable trays of food stacked up on various surfaces. The trash cans were overflowing. It was obvious his room had not been tended to in at least a couple of days. She called for cleaning but no one would come...
  • Preacher's Helps (Advent 2C)(2018)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Picture, if you will, what it might have looked like on a given day around 30 A.D. had there been at that time some equivalent of the CNN.com website. Along the top banner of the page would be the “Breaking News” of the moment. Perhaps on one particular day it would read “Jewish Zealots Attack Roman Forces: Troops Obliterate Zealots.” Below that would be a picture of King Herod the Tetrarch receiving a delegation from the Caesar in his regal throne room. Off to the right side would be a list of the day’s “Hot Topics,” that might have included news bulletins from Rome, from Asia Minor, and other such globally vital areas. Then would come the “Top Stories” for the day that might have included some political intrigue involving Pontius Pilate, a story involving a new retail market that was selling that year’s must-have toy, and a report on the doings of some of the more famous and beautiful people of the Roman Empire...
  • Keep Watch: John the Baptist, Like Christ, Has Many Disguises!

    by Dawn Hutchings
    There was a young woman who lived in an apartment, in a very rough neighbourhood. It was the east end of a very large city. Many of the people who lived in this neighbourhood got by on welfare, others earned their living any way they could. The young woman moved into the apartment because it was close to the office where she worked, the rent was cheap and quite frankly she was young and foolish. She ignored all the warnings of her family and friends and moved into the apartment convinced that she could handle anything that came her way. Her neighbourhood contained the most unsavoury of characters. The office where she worked was just down the street from her apartment and every morning as she walked to work she would meet some of her neighbours returning home from an evening of plying their trade on the streets and in the alleys. Each morning, she would be met at the entrance to her office by an old man named Ed...
  • Know Thyself

    by Dawn Hutchings
    The first herald I can remember didn’t drape himself in camel’s hair or consume locusts and wild honey, but he did wear leather pants and I’m pretty sure that he consumed more than his share of magic mushrooms. My grade nine English teacher let’s call him Mr. Ripple, just in case he’s still teaching, and because I’m sure he’d rather I didn’t use his real name; Mr. Ripple wasn’t like any teacher I’d ever met before. In addition to the black leather pants and tie-dye t-shirts which he wore despite the fact that all the other male teachers wore boring old suits, Mr. Ripple had a long unkempt mustache which made him look a little like a cartoon bandit. I remember the very first class I had with Mr. Ripple shocked me into believing that he might just be some sort of joke the principal was trying to play on us and that Mr. Ripple wasn’t actually a teacher at all but an imposter who just needed to hide out for a while. My suspicions were only heightened when Mr. Ripple insisted that we call him by his first name. This John went on and on about pushing beyond the barriers imposed upon us by the system. John insisted that we needed to… get to really know who we are because in his view self knowledge was crucial to living a life that was worth anything at all...
  • From the Wilderness

    by Beth Johnston
    In high school I learned a poem called “Ozymandias” (by Percy B Shelley) and was quite taken by it. I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”...
  • What Then Should We Do?

    by Jim McCrea
    One of the saddest stories in the history of the state of New York is that of the Wendel family. John G Wendel I, was a very successful furrier who married a woman in the Astor family in the early 1800’s. By the year 1900, the family fortune was estimated to be $50 million. That’s roughly equivalent to $1.3 billion dollars today. In spite of that vast wealth, John G Wendel II managed to prevent five of his six sisters from marrying, presumably because he wanted to keep the family fortune intact. Here they were, blessed with vast wealth that could have greatly enriched their own lives as well as the lives of many, many others. However, they chose to spend almost none of their fortune. They lived in the same house in Manhattan for more than 50 years — a house that had been built in 1854. Bathrooms were added, but that was the only concession to modern amenities. They had no electricity and no telephone. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. That’s roughly $1.57 billion in modern terms. Yet her only dress was one she had made for herself and then proceeded to wear for the next 25 years. The truth is that the Wendel family had such a powerful compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they chose to live like paupers...One of the saddest stories in the history of the state of New York is that of the Wendel family. John G Wendel I, was a very successful furrier who married a woman in the Astor family in the early 1800’s. By the year 1900, the family fortune was estimated to be $50 million. That’s roughly equivalent to $1.3 billion dollars today. In spite of that vast wealth, John G Wendel II managed to prevent five of his six sisters from marrying, presumably because he wanted to keep the family fortune intact. Here they were, blessed with vast wealth that could have greatly enriched their own lives as well as the lives of many, many others. However, they chose to spend almost none of their fortune. They lived in the same house in Manhattan for more than 50 years — a house that had been built in 1854. Bathrooms were added, but that was the only concession to modern amenities. They had no electricity and no telephone. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. That’s roughly $1.57 billion in modern terms. Yet her only dress was one she had made for herself and then proceeded to wear for the next 25 years. The truth is that the Wendel family had such a powerful compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they chose to live like paupers...
  • Advent: Preparing for the Sublime

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    Some years ago, Robert Waller published a book that became a runaway bestseller and an immensely popular movie. Entitled, The Bridges of Madison County, it stirred the romantic imagination in a way that few other stories have in recent times, especially as it was played out in its film version by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. The story runs this way: A photographer for National Geographic magazine is sent out to photograph a series of old bridges in Madison county. Lost, he stops at a farmhouse to ask for directions. As chance would have it, the man of the house has just left for a cattle show. His wife is home alone and she and the photographer instantly sense a deep connection and fall violently in love. Karma, soul-mates, mysticism, whatever, they experience a rare and powerful affinity. Within hours they are in bed with each other, triggering a love-affair that leaves them both sacramentally scarred for the rest of their lives...
  • Beloved Child of God

    by Dave Russell
    For Jesus, baptism was about identity, and it is for us as well. Identity is something that can be slippery and something we may struggle with at times. And identity can be constantly changing. "I began life as the new Marshall baby my brothers’ little sister until my sister was born. Then I became one of the look-alike name-alike Marshall girls. Few could tell which was which. In high school I was one of the country kids. At a Kansas college I could at last be ME in class, in choir, on the news staff— except when I was Mary’s roommate or one of the Iowa kids....
  • So You Want To Go To Bethlehem, Do You?

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    Not too long ago, our family made a journey. It was a long journey, and it took the better part of a day to get there and the better part of another day to get back. It was a tiring journey, but it was well worth everything we had to endure to get there. "There" was home, and "there" was a place where we were surrounded by the love of family members, some of whom we had not seen in more years than we care to count. And when we came back, we were not the same people we were before the journey. We felt refreshed and renewed, reassured that, even though "home" has changed a lot since we were growing up there, the love we expected to find was still there in abundance. Each year, during the season of Advent, the church sets off on a journey. We begin to prepare our hearts and our minds for the coming of the Christ-child, so that this time he will have a proper place to be born...
  • Desert Talks

    by David Zersen
    Many Christian traditions have taken this preparation more seriously than others. In the history of Protestantism, there have been numerous reformers that have called believers to qualities of life, to holy living, even to attempts at perfection. One of these movements touched the Welsh in the early 1900s bringing about conversions and a striving for sanctity that has been unique in modern Christianity. A hymn, known in Welsh as Calon Lȃn, spells out the intent of the movement in a powerful way. “I do not ask for a luxurious life,” the hymn begins, “but only for a pure heart.” In four-part harmony the Welsh still sing this today-- coal miners on the way home from work (e.g., in the well-known film “How Green Was my Valley”), young teens on the TV program “Britain’s Got Talent” and, most astonishing of all, entire stadiums at all national soccer events in Wales! John the Baptist would have loved it! People striving to be renewed, to have a full and whole life, centered in God’s love, as the attraction of the world’s superficial promises are set aside...

Illustrated Resources from 2015 to 2017

  • The Last One Anyone Would Pick

    by Jim Chern
    It was fourth grade. I was in Gym class and we were playing baseball. Our teacher, Mr. Hanson, picked two kids – Frankie and John, both of whom were Little League All Stars – to be the ‘coaches’ and asked them to pick, from the rest of the class, the members of their teams (I’m sure this scenario isn’t unique just to those of us that went to Frank K. Hehnly Elementary School); and, so, you can imagine, the drama began. Of all the people that were ‘chosen’ to make up teams, the real drama was for those who were picked first – and for those who were picked last. For the ‘coach’, this selection process is important – does he go with friendship and pick his closest, best friends? Or will his competitive nature win out, with him picking one of the best, fastest or all-around top athletes, regardless of friendship or loyalty? In the cut-throat world of elementary sports, those two moguls of the sports world went with the best...
  • Good News in the Wilderness?

    by Dave Delaney
    "For most of 2015, however, visitors to First Fridays have had an additional experience while browsing at the corner of 19th and Eye Streets in the form of a 23-year old street preacher named Nathaniel Runels. His preaching consists of standing on top of a small crate painted with the words 'Jesus Saves' and preaching against the evils of moral sin. He tends to center his attacks on traditional forms of sexual immorality and he delivers his messages at the top of his lungs as people pass..."
  • The Steps of San Clemente

    by Terrance Klein
    "Christianity burst into the Greco-Roman world on the same ground as the mystery religions: the personal quest for meaning. One was baptized into its mysteries as a way of self-fulfillment. That's what originally made Christianity such a threat to the empire. The faith was about the search for individual meaning, not civic duty. Its adherents also gathered in secret, pursuing rites meant to inculcate a sense of personal dignity, individual destiny...."
  • Build a Road

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    "A part of the backbreaking process of 19th-century road construction is captured by Gustave Courbet in his work The Stonebreakers. Courbet, a French artist, established Realism as an anti-academic approach to art in the middle of the 19th century. The picture, treated harshly by many contemporary critics, shows two figures engaged in clearing stones from roadbeds and then breaking them into smaller pieces..."
  • Finding Balance

    by Joseph Pagano
    "With the invention of the light bulb, balance became a myth. Now human beings could extend the day and deny the night. Now human beings could break the natural rhythm of work and rest and sleep. Now human beings could begin to destroy the framework of life and turn it into one eternal day, with, ironically, no time for family, no time for reading, no time for prayer, no time for privacy, no time for silence, no time for time..."
  • Making Clear the Path: Welcome the Shalom In!

    by Anna Shirey
    "The Profit is a TV show in which a millionaire business expert partners with companies which are struggling. As he is first introduced to a company, the man examines the product, the people, and the process and – more often than not – he sees an opportunity for partnership. He looks at the business, beyond the obvious struggles, and is able to envision the likelihood of success..."
  • Boy, Have I Got Good News for You!

    by Alex Thomas
    "Years ago a group of us studied a program developed by the Alban Institute entitled Linking Faith and Daily Life. During our sharing time we discussed a piece called Compassion is the Most Vital Tool of my Trade by Maxine Dennis. It showed how one person made a difference in her work as a cashier in a supermarket. Here it is in part. 'Cashiering in a supermarket may not seem like a very rewarding position to most. But to me it is..."
  • Prepare the Way

    by Keith Wagner
    "A man was traveling with his family on vacation. He was following Mapquest which didn't include construction zones. He should have paid attention to the sign which read, 'Proceed at Your Own Risk - Construction Ahead'. But the sign gave no information about how long the stretch of construction was. Just past the turn-off, the surface was paved, but there were no markings, just blacktop. After a few miles, the asphalt gave way to gravel and a thin layer of tar..." and another illustration
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Judgment

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2014

  • Outside the Inn-Siders

    by Kyle Childress
    ("Thomas Merton has a classic essay from 1966 called The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room in which he says that we must understand the severity of our present time. We need to understand that we are in a world inhospitable to God Incarnate, the Prince of Peace. The Inn was too crowded and there was no room for Jesus...")
  • *See For Yourself: Peace

    by James Eaton
    ("In 1993, two ethnic groups in the African nation of Burundi erupted into a genocidal madness. The Hutu majority set on the Tutsi minority with machetes, guns, knives and even their bare hands. It was neighbors killing neighbors, a cataclysm of violence engendered by decades of mutual wrong doing and its terror was precisely that the killers were people you knew...")
  • Make Ready

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • In the Wilderness with John

    by Janet Hunt
    ("I don't know how we got there, but my colleague from across town offered, 'I think the most vulnerable time for a pastor is when we get called into a crisis.' I was glad I thought to ask why for his answer was good and true: 'I can only speak for myself,' he said, 'but I feel vulnerable because I know I can't fix it...")
  • The Always-to-Be-Expected Presentness of Creativity G-O-D

    by Rex Hunt
    From Mother Teresa’s ‘Longing for God’: ‘We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him at this very moment. ‘But being happy with Him now means Loving as He loves, Helping as He helps, Giving as He gives, Serving as He serves, Rescuing as He rescues, Being with Him twenty-four hours, Touching Him in his distressing disguise’...
  • Advent 2

    by Greg Kandra
    ("Last week, the music world lost a giant: jazz legend Dave Brubeck. He died Wednesday, the day before his 92nd birthday. He was the first jazz artist to sell a million records; he was only the second one, after Louis Armstrong, to make the cover of TIME magazine. He was also a man of faith. In 1980, Dave Brubeck was baptized into the Catholic Church. He didn't like to call himself a convert")
  • Remembering Dave Brubeck

    by Greg Kandra
    ("To Hope! A Celebration was Brubeck's first encounter with the Roman Catholic Mass, written at a time when he belonged to no denomination or faith community. It was commissioned by Our Sunday Visitor editor Ed Murray, who wanted a serious piece on the revised Roman ritual, not a pop or jazz Mass, but one that reflected the American Catholic experience. The writing was to have a profound effect on Brubeck's life...")
  • Stalking Joy

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Joy for Flannery O'Connor was something to be gained in the choices one made. 'Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is'. What comes through in her fiction and her letters is that the enemies of joy have entrenched themselves in our society, and in our hearts. As she once put it, the subject of her fiction was 'the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil'....")
  • *Repent

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("This coming week sees one of the most important international meetings of our age, the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen. I know that there are many different opinions on Climate Change, and that the science is hard for lay people to understand and to evaluate...")
  • *Becoming a Bethlehem

    by James McCrea
  • *The Eloquence of Silence

    by James McCrea
    (includes several quotes)
  • Who Can Endure Christmas?

    by Nathan Nettleton
    There is a scene in the final Narnia book, The Last Battle, which flashed before my mind’s eye as I was reflecting on today’s scripture readings. The people of Narnia are being cruelly oppressed, and one of the lies that is told to them to keep them from rebelling is that the demonic god Tash and the true God Aslan are actually one and the same and are giving the orders that result in the present oppressive conditions. In the course of maintaining this lie, the captain of the ruling militia makes a great display of publicly calling on Tash and Aslan, although he secretly doesn’t believe in either of them. Then in the course of a great crisis, strange things begin to happen and in a series of jolting surprises, he becomes aware that there are great and dangerous forces at work that he doesn’t understand and is powerless to control. And at one of those moments, observing the flash of shock and terror that has come across the captain’s face, Farsight the Eagle says, “Ahh, there is the face of a man who has called upon gods in whom he has not believed.”...
  • *Advent 2

    by Robert Morrison
    ("Finally we reached St Patrick's Cathedral. We went in. It too was packed. The priest came to the sanctuary steps and began to talk about the people who'd been chatting with him at the end of the week. 'Why isn't the Cathedral doing something for Christmas? Saks' is all dolled-up. The tree is to be lit on Wednesday. Everyone is into Christmas already!'...")
  • *Is God Speaking to Us?

    by Joseph Parrish
    ("J. Clemens quotes Theresa of Avila: 'God's messengers come through the conversations of good people, or from sermons, or through the reading of good books; and there are many other ways . . . in which God calls. Or [God's messengers] come through sicknesses and trials...")
  • Expectations

    by Larry Patten
    ("On my most memorable birthday, I so desperately wanted a party. I'd been to the birthdays of fellow classmates and Cub Scout buddies. They all had kids galore, endless cake and ice cream and scores of presents. One brave family even handed out water pistols and told everyone to have fun: indoors, outdoors, everywhere!...")
  • Why in Such a Hurry?

    by Larry Patten
    ("Many years ago, unsettled because my practices of prayer were off-kilter, I sought help from a friend, a colleague in ministry. God felt distant, I said. Worse, I felt distant in my relationship with the Holy. My friend listened, asked questions and listened for a while longer...")
  • Would You Be Ready?

    by John Pavelko
    Repentance is never an easy process but when given serious attention it can have stunning results as seen in the life of Nelson Mandela. In 1964 Mandela was convicted of plotting acts of sabotage against the apartheid government of South Africa. He never denied his crimes of treason. At the time of his conviction he did not offer a public apology. He concluded that the only way to end white supremacy in South Africa was through violent means. Mandela spent the next 27 years in prison. For the next three years he sought to end the racist regime through negotiations. At times he would become impatient and pull out of the process. After the assassination of a key black leader and the looming threat of nation-wide violence erupting, Mandela concluded that peaceful negotiations were the only way forward. While some violence followed, the peace process resumed and a final agreement was reached. On the one year anniversary of Chris Hani's assassination, open democratic elections were held in South Africa. Two years later Mandela encouraged black South Africans to support the previously hated national rugby team the Springboks. After the Springboks won an epic final over New Zealand, Mandela presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaner, wearing a Springbok shirt with Pienaar's own number 6 on the back. Mandela could have let hatred of his white oppressors fester in his soul. He could have refused to offer forgiveness. He could have continued his campaign of violence as a tactic of revenge for 27 years of imprisonment but he did not. He choose to repent and change and by his actions he united a nation that had suffered centuries of racial hatred and bigotry...
  • Uncluttering

    by Wiley Stephens
    ("Almost a century ago, Dr. Roland Walker, a faculty member at Ohio Wesleyan University at that time, wrote these words: 'To the Governing General of the Universe, Dear Sir: "I hereby resign my self-appointed position as directing superintendent of my own life and the world...")
  • Worst Dressed Parish and Liberation History

    by Robert Stuhlmann
    ("In November of 1989 I arrived in Prague. The old city had always managed to avoid the physical ravages of war. Its old town squares and buildings, churches, palaces and bridges remained standing over a thousand years. The human toll was less evident. There had been many signs from outside Czechoslovakia that the fervor for liberation was building but the first hint of the uprising that assaulted my awareness was the music of Bob Dylan...")
  • *The Whole Family Survival Kit

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("How many of you remember or have every played the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' game? In the mid-90s this silly party game challenged players to find a way to link the actor Kevin Bacon with any other actor using no more than six connections. For instance, Val Kilmer was in Top Gun with Tom Cruise who was in A Few Good Men, which also featured Kevin Bacon....")
  • *Your Life as a Provenance of the Jesus Story

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("If you've ever driven across the U.S. using I-90 (the northern route), you have seen signs for 'Wall Drug'. Located in Wall, South Dakota, Wall Drug is a totally smarmy, schmaltzy, middle-of-nowhere 'tourist trap'. And it is THE place to stop. Why? Because around 1936 the family running Wall Drug figured out that they were still on the road to somewhere....")
  • Make the Lord's Path Straight

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("A man was repainting the outside of the church one Saturday to get it nice and spiffy for the service on Sunday. He had two sides of the church done, when he realized that he didn't have enough paint left to finish the job...")

Illustrated Resources from 2006 to 2008

  • Repentance to Peace

    by Gwen Drake
    ("Will Willimon, who is now a United Methodist bishop, used to be at Duke and had a wonderful ministry there. He tells the story of meeting a medical student working on his M.D. and his PhD at the same time. Willimon was quite impressed with this student's depth of self-awareness. So he asked the student about what helped him the most in practicing his profession in medicine...")
  • John the Baptist

    Humorous Illustration
    ("A young boy had just gotten his driver's permit and inquired of his father, an evangelist, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said, 'I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut and we'll talk about the car.'...")
  • Skipping Christmas

    by Mickey Anders
    ("Popular novelist John Grisham published a book in 2001 entitled , in which he turns a satirical eye to the overblown ritual of the holiday season. His story revolves around a typical middle-aged American couple, Luther and Nora Krank. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, they put their daughter on plane headed for Peru where she will work for the Peace Corps..." and other illustrations)
  • *Advent 2

    by Clyde Bonar
    ("In days of old, when knights were bold, Arthur was King of England. From his youth, everyone knew, one day Arthur would be king. While all the knights tried, only Arthur could draw Excalibur, the magic sword, out of its stone sheath. As King, Arthur sat his knights at the roundtable. A great military brotherhood led by a great king. Chivalry, the code...")
  • Advent 2

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("The First Sunday in Advent begins with apocalyptic images that, in the popular imagination, are as non-Christmasy as can be imagined. Now in the Christian tradition the Second Sunday in Advent confronts the church (and the world) with John the Baptist, whom the church has also long insisted is an absolutely necessary character in the Advent drama...")
  • *Smoothing the Rough Ways

    by Karen Christensen
    ("'In the sixth year of the presidency of George W. Bush, when John Baldacci was governor of Maine, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe the Senators of that region…' Myrtle Pedersen was playing with these words in her head as she made her way slowly back to her room in the Narragansett Nursing Home....")
  • John the Baptist: Divine Wisdom from the Lunatic Fringe

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("In the movie Life or Something Like It, every day at the corner of Fourth and Sanders in downtown Seattle, Prophet Jack scrambled onto his crate, dramatically thrust his arms into the air, arched his back, threw back his head, gazed into the sky, and then prophesied: 'I see and I say,' intoned Jack...")
  • *Advent 2

    by Robert Cole
    ("There's a story told about a priest who was sent to a parish in a mining town in West Virginia. There he met a coal miner who had only recently joined the Church. Up until a few months before that, his life had been in total disarray. He had pawned his furniture to buy liquor, beat his wife and neglected his children. Then he met Christ ...")
  • Repentance to Peace

    by Gwen Drake
    "Will Willimon, who is now a United Methodist bishop, used to be at Duke and had a wonderful ministry there. He tells the story of meeting a medical student working on his M.D. and his PhD at the same time. Willimon was quite impressed with this student's depth of self-awareness. So he asked the student about what helped him the most in practicing his profession in medicine..."
  • *Signs of the Times

    by Daniel Ebbens
    ("One day Natalie came back from working at John Deere in the Quad Cities and said the company was sending her and a few others to a four day conference in sunny California while I slaved away in the snowy tundra called Iowa. I was happily married and loving every minute of my time with Natalie, but I was feeling sorry for myself for not going...")
  • *Who's Who?

    by Robert Elder
    ("I remember once reading a now-misplaced article by Robert Coles, the renowned and very readable child psychiatrist. Probably his best-known works are the five volume series called The Inner Life of Children, and the subsequent three-volume Children of Crisis. In that article he recalled 'a particular couple my wife and I had come to know well. They lived in a small Georgia town...")
  • A Climate of Forgiveness

    by Steve Goodier
    ("In his tape Living Faith, President Jimmy Carter shares that forgiveness is fundamental to his life. He says that without the knowledge that he can be forgiven, it would be impossible for him to face his own shortcomings. This even includes forgiveness of himself...")
  • Advent 2

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a group of young people were playing basketball on the parish courts. An bald African American man, with a large diamond in his ear, strolled up and watched them. He looked kind of familiar but the boys knew it couldn’t be. He asked if he might play...")
  • *Best Christmas Ever

    by Don Hoffman
    ("Melody and I recently bought a DVD movie Elf starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human orphan raised up by elves. Raised WAY up, because he towers over Bob Newhart, his adoptive dad. He goes to New York by 'pass[ing] through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then [walking] through the Lincoln Tunnel...")
  • *Road Picture

    by Don Hoffman
    ("Once there was a seeker who lived in a broad, broad valley. In the valley there were many towns and cities. This seeker was good and kind, only wanting to serve God and to help others. But all around in the cities and towns of the valley there was fighting and jealousy, greed and unkindness. People were always trying to have things their own way ...")
  • What Would You Do?

    by Beth Johnston
    "Once there was a seeker who lived in a broad, broad valley. In the valley there were many towns and cities. This seeker was good and kind, only wanting to serve God and to help others. But all around in the cities and towns of the valley there was fighting and jealousy, greed and unkindness. People were always trying to have things their own way ..."
  • *The Star of Peace and John the Baptizer

    by Fred Kane
    ("Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German theologian, who joined the resistance against Hitler, established an underground seminary during those days. Out of that experience he wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship..." and another illustration)
  • *Highways and Bypasses

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("Next year we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. It seems obvious to us now that slavery is abhorrent- we wouldn’t dream of trying to defend it. But Wilberforce and the other anti-slavery campaigners had a long and exhausting struggle to convince people that it should be abolished...")
  • The Speed Bump on the Road to Bethlehem

    by David Leininger
    ["In the movie Life or Something Like It, everyday at the corner of Fourth and Sanders in downtown Seattle, homeless Prophet Jack (played perfectly by Tony Shaloub) would scramble onto his crate, thrust his arms into the air, arch his back, throw back his head, gaze into the sky, and then prophesy: 'I see and I say'..." and other illustrations]
  • *Advent 2

    by Cesar Marin, SJ
    ("Carrie was a coed gifted with 'photographic memory'. She was sent from Manila by the Marxist militants to monitor the Jesuits and their school, Ateneo de Zamboanga. Out of curiosity she joined a retreat in the school during the Christmas holidays. I only discovered her mission, when she lost her ball pen...")
  • Cleanse Me from My Sin

    by Edward Markquart
    ("As we all know Ebenezer Scrooge was the most miserly, penny-pinching, money-loving tightwad who ever lived. The total preoccupation of his life was his work and his money. Nothing else mattered to him....including Bob Crotchet who worked in his office and the sadness of his crippled son, including Tiny Tim and the poverty of that family..." and other illustrations)
  • A Parable: The City and the Wilderness

    by Edward Markquart
    ("To help us understand the mood of this desert prophet, we need the help of the rock opera GODSPELL. I love the rock opera GODSPELL, and especially the role of John, the Baptist. I would like to recreate the opening scene of GODSPELL for you and the role of John the Baptist...")
  • Without Fear

    by David Martyn
    "the word of the Lord came to a prophet in the downtown east side. What would he say…imagine…listen…dream. 'The street is cold tonight, this unloved place for the unloved. Those people—they stink of the city. I can only scrub them so much. They tell me their hard-luck stories—how they have been defaced, debased, dishonoured..."
  • A Highway Fit for a King

    by Philip McLarty
    Are you familiar with the little fable called, The King’s Highway? It has to do with an elderly king who had no heir. So, one night he sent his servants out to place a pile of rubble on the road leading to his castle. The next day he sent word that he was in search for a successor to the throne, and that whoever best traveled his road would be the next king. Wannabe kings came from far and near. When they got to the pile of rubble, they grumbled and complained, but somehow they managed to get around it. All the while, the king watched from the castle. Now, it just so happened that there was a young shepherd boy named Michael who also aspired to be king. His friends just scoffed when he told them. “The king will never pick you,” they said, “Why, you’re nothing but a peasant.” But Michael would not be discouraged and so, he headed out to see the king. But when he got to the pile of rubble he stopped to clear the stones out of the way. To his surprise, when he got to the bottom of the pile, there was a beautiful gold ring with the king’s royal crest. Michael stuck it in his pocket and rushed to the castle...
  • *Advent 2

    by Robert Morrison
    ("Tommy Johnson was late that day. Everyone else was already there and waiting for him, waiting for him not only to be there, but to have everything ready. Because Tommy Johnson had to start everything off. Without him, nothing else could go on; it wouldn’t make sense. WITH him, however, with his particular contribution, the scene would be set perfectly...")
  • The Wilderness Way

    by Nathan Nettleton
  • Prophesying Our Feet into the Way of Peace

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    Do you remember the Andy Griffith episode in which Andy has been elected chairman of the “needy children” charity drive? (2) They were taking up money at the schools for this charity as well as all over town. Word gets back to Andy that Opie has given only a penny at school even though he had a ton of money in his piggy bank. Andy is mightily perturbed. He’s not only the highly regarded sheriff of Mayberry, but he’s the chairman of the charity drive. And his own boy gave only a penny! So, on several occasions, Andy tries to explain to Opie why he should give more than a penny to this most worthy charity for needy children. But every time Opie would tell him that he couldn’t give more because he was saving that money. Andy, of course, thought Opie was saving his money to spend it on some foolishness, so his vexation increased. Even Aunt Bee thought Andy should ease up on the boy. Long story short: One night, Andy calls Opie for supper and tells him they would just forget about the incident. If he wanted to skip out on this charity this one time so he could buy something he wanted, that was okay. It was only then that Opie told his father why he was saving his money. It seems there was a little girl in his class who needed a coat, and he was saving his money so that he would have enough to buy it before winter...
  • *Advent 2

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("A little while ago, I was reading a very heavy and serious theology journal called The Way. And in it there was a story about a man called Mark who had worked for the election of Robert Kennedy as President of the United States. He had been a young man with rather little religion, spirituality or much else in his life beyond a firm desire to make as much money as he could...")
  • The Cry of the Prophet

    by William Oldland
    ("The opening song of Michael Card's album The Word is entitled The Prophet. The words of the refrain are: 'I am the prophet and I smolder and burn; I scream and cry and wonder why you never seemed to learn To hear with your own ears with your own eyes to see I am the prophet, won't you listen to me. I am the prophet, won't you listen to me...")
  • Advent 2

    by Katherine Pershey
    ("Anne Lamott writes that 'Christianity is about water. "Everyone who thirsteth, come ye to the waters". It's about baptism… It's about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under...")
  • Love in Light of Christmas

    by David Prince
    ("I remember one December when my daughter was in the church high school youth group, she was cast as Mary in the Christmas Eve pageant at one of the Christmas Eve services. The young man she was dating attended the service and sat toward the front. He listened intently as the story of Jesus' birth was read and presented in a series of tableaux..." and another quote)
  • The Promise: Preparing

    by Beth Quick
    ("Last week I went to see a movie called Stranger Than Fiction – you may have seen it too or seen previews. If you've seen the previews, you've seen the basic premise: Will Farrell plays a straight-laced IRS agent who finds that his life is being narrated by some voice, and the voice says his death is just around the corner...")
  • Advent Town

    by James Schmitmeyer
    ("Let’s focus on St. John’s commandment a minute. and think about a road that he’s talking about. Let’s imagine that road. And let’s give that road a name. Let’s call that road US Route 22. Picture a road named Route 22 as it curves through the blue hills of Kentucky on down to a county seat called . And let’s you and me go for a Sunday drive on Route 22...")
  • God Will Be Present

    by James Standiford
    "Blaise Pascal was an influential scientist who lived in the 1600’s. He was something of a genius. For example, at the age of twelve, even before he had received any formal training in geometry, Pascal independently discovered and demonstrated Euclid’s thirty-two propositions. He was also a Christian. When he died in 1662 his servant found a small piece of parchment sewn into his coat..."
  • Illustrations

    by Timothy Zingale
    ("Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing. This was demonstrated recently by a clergy friend who spoke of an encounter he had with a parishioner. This parishioner was angry that God wasn't working more rapidly in his life in the midst of a variety of crises and upheaval. The priest and the parishioner talked together at great length..." and others)
  • No John, No Jesus

    by Timothy Zingale
    ("Many years ago C.S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape was an assistant devil writing to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape was telling his nephew how to make the 'patient' leave the camp of the arch enemy, the Prince of Peace, and dwell in the camp of the real boss, the prince of darkness...")

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

  • A Political Season

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("Let me then bring in a lawyer to plead my case. Not an attorney from the city, county, state, or federal system. The attorney who pleads this case is an old Harlem street lawyer, a social activist, a theologian, and even an Episcopalian, though more radical and biblically based than many of us may find comfortable...")
  • One Shock After Another

    by David Leininger
    ("Yes, there ARE boring, blah times in our lives - those may even make up the major portion of our lives - but what define us are those times that are anything BUT boring. The SHOCKS! And they happen to all of us. They might come on a global scale - September 11th or December 7th...")
  • Under Construction

    by Joanna Adams
    Perhaps you remember the story that was told about Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, a man who spent his life amassing a fortune in the manufacture and sale of weapons. One day he woke to read his own obituary in the newspaper. A French reporter had made a mistake, and though it was Alfred’s brother who had died, it was Alfred’s obituary that appeared in the paper. The headline was “The Dynamite King.” The entire obituary spoke of him as a merchant of death. Nothing else he had done in his life was mentioned. Reading the characterization with horror, Alfred Nobel resolved to change his life, to make clear to the world what his true meaning and purpose were. He decided his last will and testament would be an expression of his life’s ideals. The result was, of course, the most valued of international prizes: the Nobel prizes, one of which is given to those who work for peace in the world...
  • A Matter of Direction

    by Richard Fairchild
    "When Charlene and I are driving somewhere and she notes that I make five right-hand turns in succession she may ask: 'Are you lost?' Being the humble soul that I am I respond 'no, I'm not lost.' She notes that I make three more right hand turns and then says something that no loving spouse should say to another: 'Why don't you ask for directions.'..." and another illustration
  • This Is My Prayer

    by Richard Fairchild
    "Pamela Bondy, writing in the religion section of the London Free Press a few years ago about why people do not come to church as they used to, seems to ignore that we need to live by the laws of peace when she states that the reason people do not attend church like they used to is because most people within our society are unresponsive to God's call..." and another illustration
  • Get Ready for the Lord

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("An elderly parishioner was suffering from poor eyesight. She couldn’t see anything clearly anymore so she had surgery to remove cataracts. I picked her up from the hospital and took her home. As she walked into her kitchen a look of horror came over her face. The kitchen, that she thought had been left clean and tidy, had flour on the floor, spider webs in the corners, and a dried up puddle of milk on the table...")
  • Tough Words

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Max Lucado tells the story of a man who had been a slob most of his life. He just couldn't comprehend the logic of neatness. Why make up a bed if you're going to sleep in it again tonight? Why put the lid on the toothpaste tube if you're going to take it off again in the morning? He admitted to being compulsive about being messy...")
  • Advent 2

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time it was announced that the Pope was coming to town and indeed to a certain parish in the town. This was a surprise to everyone, not least of all to the pastor and the bishop. Well, clearly the parish had to be spiffed up for his holiness...")
  • A Political Season

    by Charles Hoffacker
    "Let me then bring in a lawyer to plead my case. Not an attorney from the city, county, state, or federal system. The attorney who pleads this case is an old Harlem street lawyer, a social activist, a theologian, and even an Episcopalian, though more radical and biblically based than many of us may find comfortable..."
  • A Date with Destiny

    by David Leininger
    ("December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, the 'date which will live in infamy' according to President Roosevelt. . December 7, 1941 was, for what is called 'the Greatest Generation', the day that changed their world, just as September 11th is the day that changed the world for the generation of today...")
  • One Shock After Another

    by David Leininger
    "Yes, there ARE boring, blah times in our lives - those may even make up the major portion of our lives - but what define us are those times that are anything BUT boring. The SHOCKS! And they happen to all of us. They might come on a global scale - September 11th or December 7th..."
  • Preparing the Way

    by David Martyn
    ("Once upon a time a small Jewish boy went to his rabbi and said he didn’t know how to love God. 'How can I love God since I’ve never seen him?' explained the boy. 'I think I understand how to love my mother, my father, my brother, my little sister, and even the people in our neighbourhood, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to love God.'...")
  • Opening Out

    by Herbert O'Driscoll
    ("We might recall the passion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he first came to the West from the Soviet Union. As had John the Baptist, Solzhenitsyn was formed in harsh and solitary places...")
  • The Cry of the Prophet

    by William Oldland
    ("The opening song of Michael Card's album The Word is entitled The Prophet. The words of the refrain are: 'I am the prophet and I smolder and burn; I scream and cry and wonder why you never seemed to learn To hear with your own ears with your own eyes to see I am the prophet, won't you listen to me. I am the prophet, won't you listen to me...")
  • Be Prepared

    by Beth Quick
    ("The Boy Scouts teach boys to be ready in any and every situation, ready to face whatever the future - or the present - might hold. I also thought of the dark and foreboding song from the movie The Lion King. Do you remember it? There's a scene where the 'bad lion', fallen from glory, teams up with the hyenas, the other bad guys...")
  • Are You Ready for Christmas?

    by Keith Wagner
    ("In the book The Grip of Grace by Max Lucado, there is a story about a man who changed. This particular man was a true slob. He didn't believe in being neat. He saw no need to make his bed since he would sleep in it the next night. He saw no need to put the lid back on the tube of toothpaste. He even admitted to being compulsive about being messy...")

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

Other Resources from 2012 to 2014

Other Resources from 2009 to 2011

Other Resources from 2006 to 2008

Other Resources from 2003 to 2005

Other Resources from 2000 to 2002

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources

The Classics

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Currently Unavailable