Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22

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!!]
  • A Child Is Born

    Illustration from the Archives
    I had just finished a service which included a baptism and was preparing to turn off the lights in our church when I noticed a woman sitting in the first pew. When I approached her, she said her name was Mildred Cory, and she commented on how lovely the baptism had been. After another long pause, she added, "My daughter, Tina, just had a baby, and, well, the baby ought to be baptized, shouldn't it?" I suggested that Tina and her husband call me and we would discuss it. Mildred hesitated again, and then, catching and holding my eyes for the first time, she said, "Tina's got no husband. She's just 18, and she was confirmed in this church four years ago." Now the whole story tumbled out: "Then she got pregnant and decided to keep the baby and she wants to have it baptized here in her own church, but she's nervous to come and talk to you, Reverend. She's named the baby James--Jimmy." I said that I would take the request to the church board for approval...
  • The Dream

    by Wesley Frensdorff
    (Appropriate for this week's Year of Faith theme of Church.) ("Let us dream of a church in which all members know surely and simply God's great love, and each is certain that in the divine heart we are all known by name. In which Jesus is very Word, our window into the Father's heart; the sign of God's hope and his design for all humankind. In which the Spirit is not a party symbol, but wind and fire in everyone...")
  • The Child of God Upon Whom I Have Put My Spirit

    by Sil Galvan
    A young husband has a crippling, terminal neurological disease. His wife is carrying a baby which this young man may never live to see. So he writes a letter to this unborn child to say something very important that is in his heart. "Your mother is very special," he writes. "Few men know what it is like to receive appreciation for taking their wives out to dinner when it entails what it does for us. It means that she has to dress me, shave me, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wheel me out of the house and down the steps, open the garage and put me in the car, take the pedals off the chair, stand me up, sit me in the seat of the car, twist me around so that I am comfortable, fold the wheelchair, put it in the car, go around to the other side of the car, start it up, back it out, get out of the car, pull the garage door down, get back into the car, drive off to the restaurant. And then, it starts all over again.
  • The Importance of a Name

    by Sil Galvan
    ("'Mommy, I have two sisters,' Colton said. I put down my pen. Sonja kept on working. Colton repeated himself. 'Mommy, I have two sisters.' Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. 'No, you have your sister, Cassie, and ... do you mean your cousin, Traci?' 'No. I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn't you?..." and another illustration)

    [You can view a video of this homily delivered on January 13, 2019 at St. James Episcopal Church in Waimea, Hawaii (with a few embellishments!!) at this link.]

  • Baptism of Jesus (C)

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • Exegetical Notes

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis with numerous quotes)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Baptism of Our Lord)(C)

    by Various Authors
    Some of you may have seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. This is a whimsical retelling of Homer's Odyssey set in 1930s Mississippi. Three hapless escaped convicts--Everett, Pete and Delmar--are hiding out in the woods, running from the law. There they encounter a procession of white-robed people going down to the lake to be baptized. As they move toward the water they sing, "Let's go down to the river and pray." As the baptism ceremony begins, Delmar is overwhelmed by the beauty and the mystery of this rite. He runs into the water and is baptized by the minister. As he returns to his companions, he declares that he is now saved and "neither God nor man's got nothing on me now." He explains that the minister has told him that all his sins have been washed away. Even, he says, when he stole the pig for which he'd been convicted. "But you said you were innocent of that," one of his fellow convicts exclaims. "I lied," he says, "and that's been washed away too!" Later the three convicts steal a hot pie from a window sill. The one who felt that his sins had been washed away returns and places a dollar bill on the window sill. Delmar wasn't made perfect by his baptism any more than any of the rest of us are made perfect by our baptism. But he was conscious that it was time for him to make a new beginning. That is why in understanding baptism we begin with the washing away of our sins.

    and many more

  • Sharing Frensdorff's Dream

    by Suzanne Watson
    (Appropriate for this week's Year of Faith theme of Church.) ("Our Baptismal Covenant calls us, among other things, to 'seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself' and to 'strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.' At its very heart, Frensdorff's ideas of total ministry push the limits of how we carry out our baptismal promise in the world, and how we 'do' church...")

Illustrated Resources from 2019 to 2020

  • Undercover Boss

    by Jim Chern
    The television program “Undercover boss” has become another reality show that has become an international hit. This one executive worked one day packing boxes in his company’s warehouse. At the end of the day, the 37 year old called his mother and said “Mom there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this again tomorrow.” The experience caused him to mandate that all his executives rotate into some of the call centers the company has on a regular basis, just so they will always keep their employees in mind and what they go through. The owner of White Castle was so moved by the stress and health concerns of his employees that there company created a place online where their workers could access health information from a Doctor or nurse directly and then took it a step further and re-evaluated the medical coverage his employees received which resulted in White Castle paying their employees some of their out of pocket co-payments...
  • The Next Chapter

    by Stephen Clyborne
    If you look up the word “prequel” in an older dictionary, you will not find the word. It is a relatively new word coined to identify the opposite of a sequel. If a sequel is the story after the story, the prequel is the story before the story. My older daughter, Rachel, is really into the Broadway musical, Wicked, and she stayed after me until I agreed to see it. She knew that, since childhood, I have always loved The Wizard of Oz. But Rachel kept trying to tell me that I can’t really understand The Wizard of Oz unless or until I see its prequel, Wicked. All these years, I thought I understood The Wizard of Oz. But apparently, I didn’t. As it turned out, things were not as they seemed in the wonderful Land of Oz. Now that I have seen the prequel, I will never look at The Wizard of Oz in the same way again. That is the way it is with your story and mine. Every Sunday, this Bible is open before us to symbolize our belief that there is a prequel that gives new and deeper meaning to our stories...
  • Swimming with Jellyfish

    by Sally Haynes
    It was the summer after my senior year of high school, and I was working with a Christian outreach ministry with other college students on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was my day off from my paid work of cleaning bathhouses, so I wandered over to the small sailboat franchise we also helped run. There wasn't a paying customer in sight, so the two guys working it decided it would be okay if we took a boat out onto the water. It might even drum up some business for someone to see our sail out on the waters of the Sound. And so there we were, the three of us. As the guys steered and managed the sail, I looked lazily into the water below. There were schools of jellyfish beneath us, and somehow seeing them below while we sailed across the surface seemed to magnify my sense of security and enjoyment of the beauty of this day in God's good creation. Until that moment when the wind changed suddenly. Our small boat capsized, dumping all three of us into the water. I heard the yelps of the guys immediately as they splashed into a school of jellyfish. But not me. As chance would have it, I had been flung into the sail. There I sat, in water but surrounded by the sail, as if I was in my own private wading pool. And there was not a jellyfish to be found in my private pool...
  • Baptism of Jesus (C)(2019)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In the Broadway play Copenhagen, playwright Michael Frayn presents four versions of a single event. The event is a 1941 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. At that time Heisenberg was in charge of Adolf Hitler’s nuclear program even as Bohr was a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Yet for some reason Heisenberg made a risky trip to meet with his old mentor. What did he want to talk about? No one is sure, so this new play presents four possible reasons (all a nice play on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, too!). Even the staging of the play makes viewers think about physics and atoms as the play is presented on an elliptical stage where the characters (only 3 in the whole play) represent protons and neutrons orbiting around an atom (a hydrogen atom perhaps).
  • What If John the Baptist Was a Blogger?

    by Terrance Klein
    Anyone can blog. But only those who create communities can summon us to baptism, to a sacramental immersion into life shared with other believers. In a modern, individualized spirituality you can stand apart from the sacraments, but then you have no part in the new Israel or its Messiah. The Messiah gathers. In Greek, he is called the Christ (Christós), the (sacramentally) anointed leader who summons the tribes. Christ has no meaning apart from community. Whatever your (often quite legitimate) issues with the real communities of those who follow him, if you stand apart from community, if sacraments have no part of your life, you have, as yet, no real life in Christ.
  • Beloved

    by Anne LeBas
    Straight after this story we’re told that he’s about thirty years old, and that is significant. Thirty was the age in the ancient world when men were regarded as fully grown, independent, mature, able to take on the responsibilities of governing and leading. It was the age when Roman men could stand for public elected office. It was the age when Jewish men from priestly families started their work in the Temple. Women, sadly, were never regarded as grown ups, able to run their own lives, but for men thirty was the magic number. Jesus is just beginning, says Luke. God doesn’t call him beloved because of what he has done, or what he will do. He calls him beloved simply for who he is, because he exists...
  • Baptism of Our Lord (C)(2019)

    by Evan McClanahan
    This week I heard of an attorney in California who walked over 700 miles to make a point: he was certain that at least a dozen people were currently imprisoned even though they were 100% innocent. This lawyer, and a team of other lawyers, interns and volunteers, had poured through hundreds of claims of false imprisonment and had settled on the best cases for wrongful conviction. Between junk science, woeful representation, and mistaken witnesses, these 12 people were not offered their constitutional protections and ended up in jail even though they were innocent. This man’s dedication is, at the very least, admirable. I am quite certain that I would not agree with this lawyer on much of anything else, politically speaking. But I appreciate solidarity when I see it...
  • Through the Waters (Luke)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    As artists have managed their images, perhaps we in Christ's church have managed baptism to the point that its waters no longer seem even dangerous enough to warrant our careful attention. We use a careful dribble of water or step down smooth-surfaced steps into a carefully filled pool. And we believe these tidy, manageable actions symbolize our being named as Christ's own and grafted into the body of Christ. Annie Dillard wrote about worship: “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” [Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.]
  • The Three B's

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    Barbara Brown Taylor tells a story about her grandmother Lucy. Lucy would often get strange looks from others. She had lost both her legs to diabetes and had wooden stumps where limbs should be. Her weak eyes demanded that she wear dark glasses and most of the time she dressed like a bomber pilot. But to her granddaughters, Lucy was wonderful. Whenever Barbara would visit her grandmother, grace would abound. In the closet would be wrapped packages - enough for a surprise each day of the visit. The meals were delicious - always with a favorite dessert. And then there were the shopping trips - to buy dresses and crinolines and new hair bows. But the best part of these visits were the baths. Each night Grandma Lucy would draw a hot bath filled with suds and with her big sponge she would polish Barbara's skin. Then, following the bath she would anoint her granddaughter's body with Jergens® lotion - all the way down to the soles of her feet. The perfect ending would be the Evening in Paris dusting powder - when Lucy would tickle Barbara's body with a pale blue powder puff. Barbara writes: "When grandma Lucy was done, I knew that I was precious. I was absolutely convinced that I was loved and nothing has happened since to shake that conviction."...
  • God, The Caregiver

    by Peter Thompson
    ‘The psychologist Mary Ainsworth famously studied the relationships between children and their caregivers through a procedure she called the strange situation. In the strange situation, children are monitored as they are separated from and then reunited with their caregivers. Do children cry when their caregivers leave? Are children soothed when their caregivers return? How children respond to the presence and absence of their caregivers tells researchers a lot about their attachment style, about the way in which they relate to and interact with those who are most important to them. Informed by the theories of her colleague John Bowlby, Ainsworth discovered three distinct attachment styles in the children she observed. The majority of children cried when their caregivers left the room and then were reassured when their caregivers returned. They seemed to feel comfortable in their caregivers’ presence and relied on their caregivers as “secure base” from which they could explore their surroundings. Ainsworth classified them as “securely” attached...
  • Claim Your Blessing

    by Carl Wilton
    There’s a story that illustrates this “identity” aspect of baptism. It was told by the preacher, Fred Craddock. It seems he and his wife were vacationing in the Smoky Mountains, when a distinguished older gentleman came to their table in the hotel dining room. He was, as it turned out, a celebrity: a former governor of Tennessee. When he discovered Craddock was a professor of preaching, the man pulled up a chair and said he had a story to tell him, about another preacher. It seems that, when the governor was born, his mother wasn’t married. He never knew his father. Now that may not seem so unusual today, but in the Southland of that era, it led to —shall we say — a difficult childhood. The other kids used to bully him. They asked him when his father was coming back. Whenever he was out with his mother in public, he was painfully aware that he had but one parent.One day, when the lad was about ten, he was in church. It was his usual practice, when the service was over, to make his way discreetly out the back door. That meant that he never had to talk to the minister, never had to share his name. On this particular occasion, though, the boy got swept up in the crowd — and before he knew it, there was the pastor, at the front door, his hand extended.“Well, son,” the preacher’s voice boomed out, “whose boy are you?” He could hardly have asked a more painful question. The boy flushed and started to stammer — but before he could say anything more, the preacher (still gripping his hand) said: “I know!.....You’re God's son!”He slapped him on the shoulder and said, “Boy, go claim your inheritance.”The boy never forgot the incident...

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2016 to 2018

  • Undercover Boss, Jesus Edition

    by Jim Chern
    "The television program Undercover Boss has become another reality show that has become an international hit. Millions of people tune in each week to see a high ranking executive or owner of a corporation taking an entry level position in their own company. They do this job for about a week to experience what their own employees experience and get a sense of how people feel about the company from an extremely unique vantage point..."
  • When Jesus Was Baptized

    by Bob Cornwall
    "In the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, three convicts break free from the chain gang and head off on a journey to the home of the threesome's leader. Everett, Pete, and Delmar have many interesting encounters and adventures along the way, just like Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. In one of these encounters, they come upon a group lining up to be baptized in the river. This gathering multitude sings Down to the River to Pray as they make their way toward the river and the preacher. Delmar seems to hear a call to go down to the river to be immersed..."
  • Water, Wind and Fire

    by Kathy Donley
    "Howard Thurman was a distinguished theologian and professor at Boston University, the first African-American person to hold a faculty position there. One time someone asked him how he had survived all the hostility and cruelty and discrimination he had experienced. He answered, 'My mother kept telling me I was a child of God and I believed her.'..." and other illustrations
  • Godparents for Life

    by Owen Griffiths
    Back in the day I used to hang with this girl named Julie. She was a musician and played the organ at our church. She and I often joked about getting married, and I certainly couldn't have asked for a better partner - she was pretty, wealthy, generous, funny, smart, talented, and Christian. But she was also gay, so that kind of put the marriage thing out of the question. But I'm thinking of dear Julie this week in connection to her godfather, Clyde..."
  • Baptism As Initiation: The Start of Something New

    by Janet Hunt
    "I don't know about you, but I've been through a number of 'initiations' in my life --- a number of 'ritual experiences' which were the start of something new. One 'initiation' which especially comes to mind today is my own experience of going away to college. As I recall it, from the very start, it was something for which I was groomed in every way and as my senior year in high school wound down, I could hardly wait to go...."
  • Recognizing the Sacred in and Beyond the Stories We Tell

    by Dawn Hutchings
    "He emerged from the Metro at the L'Enfant Plaza station and positioned himself against a wall. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour..."
  • Who Is That Masked Man?

    by Beth Johnston
    "Somewhere in the mists of time or legend a posse of six Texas Rangers was pursuing an outlaw gang led by Butch Cavendish. The Rangers, except for one, were massacred. A native American discovered the nearly dead ranger and nursed him back to health. The ranger then disguised himself with a mask and kept up the disguise even after he had tracked down the outlaw gang that killed the rest of his posse..."
  • A Substitute for Suicide

    by Terrance Klein
    "Eimar McBride's award winning, debut novel A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing was rejected by many publishers. It's a challenging work to read, because it is an inchoate stream of consciousness, much like what actually flows through our minds. It's the story of a young girl, born to a weary mother and an absent father. Her older brother suffers from a brain tumor. Although she abuses alcohol, drugs and sex, one can't say that Catholicism does not take with the young woman..."
  • God in the Queue

    by Anne Le Bas
    Christian faith proclaims that God showed up in the world, in a way he hadn't been seen before, in a particular man, in a particular place and time. It's something people have always struggled to get their heads around, though. Theologians call it the scandal of particularity. There is an old folktale that tells of a Jewish Rabbi and a Christian Abbot who were great friends and often talked together...
  • God Turns All Things to the Best (Isaiah and Luke)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    One night in 1525, German artist Albrecht Durer dreamed about water. When he woke from the dream he attempted to put down in writing and capture in paint the image that had so frightened him in his dream. In the painting, gigantic falls of water fill the sky. The landscape is dotted with trees and rises in the land. A towered city is in the distance. One plume of water has reached the earth, crashing into the horizon with deep blue color and creating an earth-bound cloud of water. Imagine the force of that water as it hits the earth..."
  • When Your Child Is Not Ready to Follow Jesus

    by Osheta Moore
    My oldest son Tyson and I were in the car when he broke the news to me. "Mom," he started, "what if I didn't get baptized on Sunday with Trinity and TJ?" The heavy techno beat of his playlist filled the minivan and gave my racing heart a rhythm to hold onto. "Well, ok" I stammered, I wasn't sure what to do? When I was his age, being a Christian was my ultimate rebellion and declaration of independence from my parents' way of being...
  • Baptism of Christ (C)

    by Bob Morrison
    "My wife and I were sitting in the second-from-the-front pew at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields in London, the parish church of the Royal Family and the Admiralty. In the row behind us there was a man who looked and smelled as though his last bath was at his infant baptism. He made loud unintelligible comments to the sermon by a recently-ordained woman priest. After he received Communion he turned in the nave and gave the finger to the priests..."
  • Baptism: Jesus and Us

    by Andrew Prior
    includes several quotes
  • Invitational: Baptism

    by Beth Quick
    "In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry, just before his 11th birthday, receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Well, sort of. In the world of Harry Potter, mail comes through Owl Post. Owls deliver letter and messages and news. But Harry's aunt and uncle, his guardians, are Muggles - non magical people. And they don't want Harry to have anything to do with the world of magic. So when a letter comes for Harry, delivered by an owl, his aunt and uncle refuse to give it to him..."
  • The Politics of Religious Naming

    by Carl Raschke
    Can be linked to the "naming" at baptism.
  • Learning to Swim in Holiness

    by Nancy Rockwell
    "In the movie Brooklyn, a young Irish teen, Ellis Lacey, takes the risk of leaving all the world she has ever known, a small town in Ireland, to come to the US, to Brooklyn. She has never travelled, never been at sea, never spoken to anyone from beyond her village, never encountered the strange and exotic, and scary, world that unfolds around her in Brooklyn. She has taken this tremendous risk because she has, in Brooklyn, more chances for life than Ireland can offer her. Economically. But also socially. And especially spiritually..."
  • 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....
  • The Missing Piece

    by Susan Sparks
    "The Ikea experience is not so different from life. Each of us is a unique creation with intricate gifts and abilities. While we were given those gifts at birth (shipped with all the parts so to speak), in the living and unpacking of life, we tend to drop a key piece. And as with Ikea furniture, without it we can never live as we were meant to..."
  • Thin Place, Deep Water

    by Debie Thomas
    "In Celtic Christianity, Epiphany stories are stories of 'thin places', places where the boundary between the mundane and the eternal becomes permeable. God parts the curtain, and we catch glimpses of his love, majesty, and power. Epiphany calls us to look beneath and beyond the ordinary surfaces of our world, and discover the extraordinary. To look deeply at Jesus, and see God..."
  • In Good Company

    by Carl Wilton
    "There's an old story about a woman who was living through the aching pain of bereavement. She kept coming to church during her time of grief, but she would just stand there with the hymnal in her hands, not singing. A good friend noticed this and said, 'I see you're not singing, and I also know how much you love to sing. Why don't you just try to join in? It'll make you feel better.' 'I'm sorry,' said the bereaved woman, 'but I just can't sing right now. I'm sure that I will, eventually. But for now, I know the church is singing the hymns for me, and that's a great source of comfort.'..."

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2010 to 2015

  • God Believes in You

    by Joanna Adams
    ("I remember a theater production in Atlanta of Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Gospel. In this production the excellent actor Tom Key played God. Not a bad role if you can get it. Tom stood on a ladder on the stage. The actor playing the recently immersed Jesus stood below him looking up..." and another illustration and quote)
  • Does Baptism Matter?

    by Michael Brown
    ("A family is riding home from church on Sunday noon. Their four-year-old son in the back seat of the car was baptized that morning. Suddenly, midway home, he bursts into tears. When his parents ask what on earth is wrong, he sniffles out the answer: 'The minister who baptized me said I would be brought up in a Christian home. But I want to stay with you guys!'..." and another illustration)
  • A Bridge to New Life

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("Mr Graham scared me when I was a junior at secondary school. As long as he was in charge of games his fearsome shout from the sidelines reduced me to a quivering wreck. I couldn't do a thing right. But when he left and was replaced by Mr. Spinney everything changed. Mr Spinney used to join in – teaching us by doing things alongside us...")
  • Baptized and Beloved

    by Sarah Buteux
    "Years ago, a woman named Fayette found her way to Hobson UMC in Nashville. Fayette lived with mental illness and lupus and without a home. She joined the new member class. The conversation about baptism—'this holy moment when we are named by God's grace with such power it won't come undone,' as Janet puts it—especially grabbed Fayette's imagination. Janet tells of how, during the class, Fayette would ask again and again, 'And when I'm baptized, I am'?" And 'The class,' Janet writes, 'learned to respond, 'Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.'..."
  • Baptism of Jesus

    by Brendan Byrne
    ("In Act IV of his play Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare pens the following lines: 'There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.' It's an interesting fact that of the four lines that make up this passage, by far the most famous are the first two...")
  • Baptism of the Lord (C)(2013)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "I once heard Desmond Tutu tell a story about his early days as a priest in South Africa. He gave a Bible test to a group of young teen-age boys. One of the questions was: "What did the voice from heaven say to Jesus after his baptism?" Most of them got it right but one boy got it wrong in a very creative way. He wrote, "The voice from heaven said 'You are the Son of God; now act like it!'..."
  • When Trite Is Also True

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("Over the Christmas break I started reading David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest. The novel explores numerous aspects of our culture's Zeitgeist — national character, information overload (which the book mimics), suicide, and addiction to drugs, entertainment, and pleasure. Many passages make you laugh out loud...")
  • The Power of a Father's Affirmation

    by Rick Fry
    ("Father, Son by Peter Gabriel gives a heartbreaking voice to the complex relationship between fathers and sons. The struggle for understanding, distance and love are hauntingly portrayed in this song. The pain that comes from a father's withdrawal leaves a deep hole in the heart. Yet, the power of a father's affirmation makes alive...")
  • An Act of God

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("On a cold winter's day the congregation gathered at the river for the baptism of a young man. The preacher began by reminding those gathered that with baptism comes adoption as God's child, the washing away of sin and the change that this brings to everyday life...")
  • Baptized to What

    by Robert Gorrell
    ("The particular piece that stopped me in my tracks was called The Dove. It brings to life that moment when Christ has just been baptized. A dove has descended and landed on the outstretched hand of the Savior. What is so compelling about the way the artist represents that moment in Christ's life? First, Christ's arms are outstretched in a manner that seems to be welcoming all....")
  • Affirmed by Love

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • The Waters of Baptism

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("one summer I was on a walking holiday in Cornwall with a friend. We happened on a footpath sign to what was enigmatically called a 'holy well' at a place called Madron, near Penzance. The footpath was very overgrown, but at the end of it we came to what was very evidently an ancient spring. Beside it stood a cloutie tree – a tree which people had tied strips of cloth to as wishes or prayers...")
  • The Light of New Hope

    by Jim McCrea
    ("Ian Victor tells the story of the time his mother drove into downtown Montreal from the suburbs in order to go to the Court House and fight a traffic ticket. Even though she lived in the French-speaking part of Canada, she really didn't speak the language very well, so she had a bit of difficulty finding her way through the Palais de Justice..." and another illustration)
  • Living Water

    by Fran Ota
    ("Far into the imaginary future of this universe, there is a desert planet called Dune. With the exception of giant desert sandworms, it is believed there is nothing else on Dune, except a handful of a small group of people who call themselves Fremen. It is believed there is no water on Dune. The only commodity on this planet is an addictive spice which is mined from the sand...")
  • Hallow Bones

    by Larry Patten
    ("But there was the dove. Every Gospel contained the avian analogy. Like a dove, God's spirit was upon Jesus. Ah . . . a dove! Like the dove Noah once sent forth from the ark to scout for dry land? In the mythic flood, the dove confirmed the water's retreat by returning with an olive leaf. The symbolic dove; dove as hope...")
  • Baptized and Beloved

    by Jan Richardson
    ("A few nights ago, I had a dream. In the dream, I was sitting by a lake. A woman came and sat down beside me. She looked like a woman on whom life had been especially hard. Turning to her, offering my hand, I told her my name and asked hers. 'My name," she said as she took my hand, "is Fayette.'...")
  • Living in the Holy Spirit

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("Imagine a man and a woman who are deeply, passionately, and completely in love. What will characterize their relationship? Constant giving and receiving, resulting in an ever deeper relationship and an ever intensifying gratitude...")
  • Pet Peeves and Pet Pleasures

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("The weather is always a good source for small talk. In these dark and dreary days of January, that 'small talk' is probably even smaller - meaner and more morose. Whether it's chatting at the check-out stand with a cashier, or making conversation in the cramped quarters of a slow moving elevator, this time of year 'weather talk' isn't likely to be upbeat...")
  • Water, Fire, Faith

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Some years ago the town fathers of Providence, Rhode Island were desperate to find a way to revitalize the city's downtown, and especially its dangerous waterfront. So what did they do? They hired an artist. The artist they chose was a multi-media public artist named Barnaby Evans, who is known for combining science and art, nature and the senses, especially soundcapes, to generate something magical....")
  • John Baptizes Jesus

    Narative Sermon by Pamela Tinnin
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Baptism

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Call

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

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

  • Flames of Fire Flash Forth

    by Bob Allred
    ("My uncle Winfred of Graysville, Alabama, used to tell the story about a hobo who stopped by the church one Saturday while the Men's Group was ready to eat breakfast. They invited the poor man in and the Preacher even asked him to say grace..." and another short humorous illustration)
  • Most Shocking

    by Phil Bloom
    ("As director of movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Mars Attacks, Tim Burton knows something about weirdness. However, he had an experience which topped anything he depicted in his films. 'You really can't prepare for it. It's the most natural thing in the world yet the most shocking, somehow,' said Burton...")
  • Baptism of the Lord

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("In the Broadway play Copenhagen playwright Michael Frayn presents four versions of a single event. The event is a 1941 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, between physicists: Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. At that time Heisenberg was in charge of Adolf Hitler's nuclear program even as Bohr was a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Denmark...")
  • Heaven Is Open

    by Daniel Chambers
    ("When in seminary I knew a fellow student who became deaf in his 20s. This seminarian taught Sunday school to deaf children. One day, when sharing what they thought heaven would be like, a child signed with an expression of sadness, 'I am sorry that when I get to heaven, I won't be able to hear God's voice.'..." and other good illustrations)
  • The View From Home

    by William Creevey
    ("Three things about the father's view of his son: The father's view was not contingent upon the boy's behavior; it was grounded in steadfast love. When the father saw him coming, the boy's failings were incidental; what mattered was reunion...")
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Dayton Edmonds
    ("Once, there was a poor man who had a dream. And his dream was his vision. And his vision was his dream. And his dream was of a heavenly city where everything was perfect. Growing very weary of his living, he decided to go in search of his heavenly city of his dreams. Gathering what few belongings he had, he started on his journey and he walked..." and another illustration)
  • Into the Jordan

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
  • Baptism of the Lord (2003)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time, Molly Whuppi and the girl's basketball team at Mother Mary High School had a home game against Christ the King High School. CK was always a push over for MM because their players were not very good, didn't have good coaches, and didn't take the game seriously...")
  • Baptism of Our Lord (C)(2004)

    by Walter Harms
    ("Eugene H. Peterson tells the story of hearing a talk by the distinguished novelist Chaim Potok. He wanted to be a writer from an early age, but when he went to college, his mother took him aside and said, 'Chaim, I know you want to be a writer, but I have a better idea. Why don't you be a brain surgeon?...")
  • Baptism of Our Lord

    by Roger Haugen
    ("In some Christian churches in India, Moslems are found to be attending. They are welcome by the Christians, as you might expect, and the practice is not a problem for other Moslems, which might surprise us. Worship is fine but the point at which they run into trouble, is if and when, they decide to be baptized. Should they be baptized, they put their lives in danger..." and another illustration)
  • Jesus' Family Values

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("Robert Frost, one of the great poets of the twentieth century, has written a poem called The Death of the Hired Man. Old Silas is the ne’er-do-well hired man, who works for a few days and then disappears. When he does work, it isn’t very good, he’s clumsy and shiftless. Mary tells Warren that Silas is back. 'Be kind,’ she said...")
  • The Secret Is Out

    by Beth Johnston
    ("Alex Haley, in his book Roots, tells us a profound and moving story. One night the slave Kunta Kinte drove his master to a ball at a large plantation house. He could hear the music from the plantation house, the music that the white folks danced to. He tied the horse and settled down to for a long night...")
  • You Are Beloved!

    by Beth Johnston
    ("There is an old joke about the elderly couple that were having a bit of a fight and the woman said to her husband, 'you know what it is that is really troubling me?' 'NO, what?', he replied. 'You never tell me that you love me', she responded..."
  • When Water Is Thicker than Blood

    by Fred Kane
    "There was another restaurant in town called The Woodsman. There were two entrances. One door led into a long narrow space lined with a lunch counter. The other door led into the only bar in Alsea. The Woodsman also had these louvered swinging doors that separated 'my side' from the 'dark side' and sometimes I would get down on my hands and knees and peek under the doors into the bar..."
  • Not Water Only

    by James Kegel
    ("There is a true story which may help us of a man named Yates. During the depression years, Mr. Yates owned a great deal of land in West Texas upon which he raised sheep. He lived in extreme poverty, struggling just to feed and clothe his family. His situation worsened until he was in danger of losing his property altogether...")
  • Precious in God's Sight

    by Linda Kraft
    "When my kids were small, one of their favorite books was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. In this story, a gnome-like creature with hair on his toes, named Bilbo Baggins, is convinced by the Wizard Gandalf to bravely travel outside his safe, comfortable, and some would say BORING known-world seeking adventure..."
  • Baptism of Jesus

    by Marion Latham
    ("Philip Yancey wrote in his book What's So Amazing About Grace that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. God loves us just because God loves us. That is what Christian baptism is about...")
  • Terms of Endearment

    by David Leininger
    ("In Charleton Heston's autobiography In the Arena, the actor describes making The Greatest Story Ever Told in November of 1963. Heston appeared as John the Baptist. Director George Stevens had chosen to film the baptism in Glen Canyon, Arizona, on the Colorado River. Heston points out that in November the water temperature was in the forties...")
  • Washed Clean

    by David Leininger
    ("Some of you may have seen the movie that came out several years ago called O Brother, Where Art Thou? the whimsical retelling of Homer's Odyssey set in Mississippi in 1937. Not a bad film, but not exactly Academy Award stuff either. The hero of the piece is a dapper, smooth-talking con man named Ulysses Everett McGill..." and another illustration)
  • What's in a Name?

    by David Leininger
    ("'What's in a name?' asks Shakespeare. Lots, as it turns out. Ask Essie Mae Washington-Williams. Or should we say Essie Mae Thurmond? We heard about her a couple of weeks ago as the story broke that the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who rose to national prominence on a platform of absolute racial segregation, had, as a young man, fathered an illegitimate child with a black maid employed by his parents..." and another quote)
  • Called by Name

    by Thomas G. Long
    ("The great historian Eric Hobsbawm remembers when his safe and secure world became a world of terror. He grew up as a Jewish orphan in Berlin. On a cold January day in 1933 when he was only 15 years old, he was walking his little sister home from school when he saw at a newsstand a headline bearing frightening news that would change his life..." and other illustrations - recommended!)
  • Baptism-Shaped Life

    by Barbara Lundblad
    ("Several years ago, I was asked to speak in Buenos Aires at a gathering of youth delegates preparing for the Lutheran World Federation meeting. The theme of the gathering was "Come, Holy Spirit;" and since that was the theme, that's what I was asked to talk about...")
  • Baptism: What Do We Teach?

    by Edward Markquart
    ("I love the story about a pastor who was at a downtown city mission on skid row. The preacher that night had memorized Kipling's poem Ifzz; 'If you can keep your heads when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you....")
  • I Have Called You By Name

    by David Martyn
    ("Harold Kushner, a relative of mine and yours, wrote a book with the title When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough. It happens at all sorts of times: graduation, mid-life, retirement. You have finally met your goal and you wonder 'Is this all there is?'..." and other illustrations)
  • Listening

    by David Martyn
    ("The first gym day of the New Year is usually filled with people eager to repent of all the excesses of the holidays and others who were there at the same time last year, who repented for a couple of weeks and then succumbed to their backsliding ways—but this year it was going to be different. None of those people were there..." and another illustration)
  • Unquenchable Fire

    by David Martyn
    ("A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard checks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken...")
  • Promises, Promises

    by Jim McCrea
    ("Ian Victor tells the story of the time his mother drove into downtown Montreal from the suburbs in order to go to the Court House and fight a traffic ticket. Even though she lived in the French-speaking part of Canada, she really didn't speak the language very well, so she had a bit of difficulty finding her way through the Palais de Justice..." and another illustration)
  • Recycling Center

    by Jim McCrea
    ("One of the best and most successful movies of the recent holiday season was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It's the third and final installment in a trilogy of stories based on a series of popular books by Christian author J. R. R. Tolkien. However, Tolkien didn't write just those three books about the place he called Middle Earth...." and other illustrations)
  • Come to the Water

    by Carol Mumford
    ("Memories! They are part of the very fabric of our lives. Memories shape us-mold us-into the beings that we are as we travel from moment to moment in our worldly existence. All that we have done, and all of which we have been a part in the past is with us now. Blessing or tragedy, the experiences of our lives are with us...")
  • The Life of the Beloved

    by Henri Nouwen
    ("I would like to tell you a little story about our community. There is one of my friends there who is quite handicapped but a wonderful, wonderful lady. She said to me, 'Henri, can you bless me?' I remember walking up to her and giving her a little cross on her forehead...")
  • Signs of God's Love

    by William Oldland
    ("I have had times m my life when I wanted to know if God was real and if God heard my prayers. One time I remember well was when I was in eighth grade. I was at summer camp and I had experienced a pretty bad day. Oh, nothing was really horribly wrong. I was just in one of those eighth grade, pitiful me, nothing is going right funks...")
  • Listening for Words of Love

    by John Pavelko
    ("According to legend, a young man arrived to at an office to apply for a job as a telegraph operator. He had spent months learning to decipher the dots and the dahs of Morse code. When he entered the office, he noticed that several other young men were had already arrived and were waiting for their interview...")
  • Muddy Children

    Peter Perry
    An illustrative story about baptism. (Submitted by Peter Perry)
  • Fear Not!

    by Michael Phillips
    (includes several quotes)
  • The Power of Baptism

    by David Prince
    ("In her book An American Childhood the writer Annie Dillard tells of reading Nietzsche as a young woman and concluding that Christianity was a sham. She traveled to her home church in Pittsburgh to have her name removed from the rolls there. An older associate pastor was in the office; he heard her request and assured her the session of that Presbyterian Church would comply..." and another illustration)
  • How Can We Know that Jesus Is the Son of God?

    by Ron Ritchie
    ("Jesus made the cover of Time magazine for the sixteenth time on August 15, 1988. The issue designed a cover which was composed of details from 17 images of Jesus from a variety of paintings and stained glass images created down through the centuries. On the cover was the question Who was Jesus? A Startling New Movie Raises an Age-Old Question...")
  • Baptism of Fire

    by John Ewing Roberts
    ("Farmers poured wheat from one container to another on a windy day, or tossed the wheat into the air with a fork or shovel so that the chaff would be blown away, leaving the grain clean. The chaff burned with explosive combustion...")
  • Born Again to Give Comfort

    by Paul Rooney
    ("Perhaps you will remember the incident about the big bowl of apples in the school cafeteria. At one end of the cafeteria line, where the apples were, there was a big sign that said, 'Take only one, God is watching!' At the other end of the cafeteria line, there was a big bowl of cookies...")
  • He Knows Our Name

    by Gary Roth
    ("When you love somebody, your eye lashes go up and down and little stars come out of you. When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth...")
  • Life Like a River

    by Byron Shafer
    ("One of the great flowerings of American literature took place between around 1920 and 1935, during what has become known as “the Harlem Renaissance.” And one of the great literary figures in that movement was Langston Hughes...")
  • If Jesus Is the Messiah, Then...

    by Martin Singley
    "My dear friend Richard came into my life early in my ministry. He was a rough and tumble sort of guy, not a very good husband or father, all caught up in himself and his life as a part of the organized crime scene in Providence, Rhode Island..."
  • Remember Your Baptism

    by Alex Thomas
    "A learned Rabbi asked a group of fellow Rabbis , 'Gentlemen, what do you think is the greatest verse in the Bible?' After a pause, Akiva arose : 'There is only one answer to this question. The greatest single verse in the whole of the Torah is: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"..."
  • Special Events

    by Alex Thomas
    ("Eldon Weishert wrote some lines about not having to be in church to hear God speak. He stated that what helps, though, is being in tune with the people around you, sensitive to their pain and their Joy. He called it Coffee at Howard Johnson's. I do not want to seem ungrateful Mr. Johnson....")
  • Knowing Your Name

    Narrative Sermon by Pamela Tinnin
  • Dove Power

    by Keith Wagner
    ("I have not seen the move Amistad yet, but I understand it is very passionate and powerful. The movie is about a group of Africans, who are brought to this country against their will. They revolt and eventually end up in Connecticut..." and another illustration)
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("a Lutheran pastor and a Baptist pastor were discussing baptism. After a long, beautiful dissertation on the subject by the Baptist pastor, the Lutheran pastor asked if a person was baptised if immersed in water up to their knees. 'No!' said the Baptist. The Lutheran then asked if a person was baptised if immersed in water up to their waist. Again the Baptist's answer was 'No!'...")
  • Who Knows?

    by Mark Whittaker
    ("Peter Cropper was honored by the Royal Academy in London by lending him a 258 year old Stradivarius. But a terrible thing happened while Cropper was performing in Finland. He tripped and fell on top of the Stradivarius and broke it. He was inconsolable...")
  • Your Ordination

    by William Willimon
    ("My colleague, John Westerhoff, used to say, 'If you are a pastor who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects outside the congregation, you are probably wasting your time. We need you in the congregation equipping the saints for their demanding ministry in the world.'...")
  • The Changing Life

    by Tim Zingale
    "In a stately church a noticeably untidy man visited the church for the first time. He was met by one of the smartly-dressed ushers who immediately ushered him to a back pew so that his unkept appearance and foul odor would not upset the decorum of the church..."
  • God Alive and Well

    by Timothy Zingale
    ("In a certain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He decided to build a church for a legacy. The completed plans for the church were kept secret. When the people gathered, they marveled at the church's beauty and completeness...")
  • Illustrations

    by Tim Zingale

Other Resources from 2019 to 2020

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

Other Resources from 2004 to 2006

Other Resources from 2001 to 2003

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable

  • A Costly Baptism

    by Glen Wilberg
  • Signs and Sounds

    by Lawrence Wood
    ("A medical doctor once told me how he had fought against the idea of a personal God who intervened in human life. He sought refuge instead in music; Bach particularly appealed to him because of the mathematical precision of the fugues. Meanwhile, his life was falling apart...")
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Ronald Curley
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Alex McAllister
  • Why Should I?

    by Harold McNabb
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Daniel Meynen
  • God Is with Us

    by Cory Driver
  • A Child Is Born

    Illustration from the Archives
    I had just finished a service which included a baptism and was preparing to turn off the lights in our church when I noticed a woman sitting in the first pew. When I approached her, she said her name was Mildred Cory, and she commented on how lovely the baptism had been. After another long pause, she added, "My daughter, Tina, just had a baby, and, well, the baby ought to be baptized, shouldn't it?" I suggested that Tina and her husband call me and we would discuss it. Mildred hesitated again, and then, catching and holding my eyes for the first time, she said, "Tina's got no husband. She's just 18, and she was confirmed in this church four years ago." Now the whole story tumbled out: "Then she got pregnant and decided to keep the baby and she wants to have it baptized here in her own church, but she's nervous to come and talk to you, Reverend. She's named the baby James--Jimmy." I said that I would take the request to the church board for approval...
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by T. Matthew Rowgh
    ("It was bedtime for six-year-old Maria. Her dad was in the den hard at work at the computer, finishing up a report that was due the next day. After a few minutes he realized Maria was standing next to him. 'Honey, what do you need?' He said. 'It’s bedtime, Daddy. I came to say good night.' Still keeping his one eye on the screen, he gave Maria a big hug and a kiss...")