Mark 9: 30-37

Illustrated New Resources

  • Happiness Is

    by Jim Chern
    But what makes Charlie Brown so endearing, is that you never really hear a jealous word out of his mouth. The most frustration he utters is an AAUGH or Good Grief (see, he even is able to see something good in grief!). One of his most-often quoted sayings is a litany of things that start with “Happiness is…” as he lists all the small things like “finding a pencil” or a “warm puppy” – seemingly little ordinary things that he finds brings joy into his life. Charlie Brown is a hope-filled character, who even though 10,000 times Lucy will pull the football away from him, that 10,001st time he still wants to believe it will be different – or maybe, just maybe one day the Little Red Haired Girl might notice him… Charles Schulz who was a devout Christian embodied his comic strip and characters with faith, hope and love, showing how even in the midst of a sometimes mean world when so many others would give into despair or depression – happiness can be found, grief could be good, and those virtues will radiate in the midst of imperfection...
  • The First Will be Last, and the Last Will Be First

    by Craig Condon
    I read a story a few years ago about a couple of school kids. One had gotten into some trouble and was going to have to walk a few laps at recess and wasn’t taking the news very well. Another student who wasn’t even a close friend stepped in to offer encouragement. She informed her peer that she wouldn’t have to walk alone. She’d stay by her side, cheering her on the entire time. When the teacher remarked what a wonderful thing she had just done, the student shrugged and replied, “It’s no big deal. It’s what we’re supposed to do.”...
  • The Pecking Order

    by Sil Galvan
    It boggles my mind to think that there was a time, not too long ago, when the gospel passage that we just heard was preached shamelessly in churches where wealthy parishioners had private padded pews, sheltered from drafts, while the poor were banished to bare back benches and others were excluded entirely. It’s a sad reminder that there’s a persistent, primitive urge in most social animals to establish a fixed order of dominance and submission. First studied in chickens, the phenomenon was labeled “the pecking order”. Further study revealed that what was true for chickens also applied to chimps, wolves, hyenas, horses, lions and on and on in the animal kingdom...
  • Of Pablum and Passion

    by Dennis Hamm, SJ
    One small jar of Gerber's baby food, one spoon, and a pair of four-month-old twin boys harnessed in their dual highchair—these were the ingredients that set the stage for a little epiphany regarding human nature. I was visiting old friends, a couple who were enjoying their fourth month of parenting twin boys, David and Paul. Thinking their celibate visitor might enjoy feeding the youngsters, they supplied me with spoon and pablum and challenged me to the task...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 20B)(2021)

    by Chelsey Harmon
    Centering people, as Jesus did with the child, is more than having a ministry that serves them—though that’s a great start. “Welcoming” is much broader than that. Though it is not enough, my denomination, the CRCNA in Canada has three Urban Indigenous Ministry Centres “where Indigenous people can feel safe, valued, and respected to use their gifts and to grow.” To work through our fears in order to serve those who have no status is truly a difficult one. This article talks about one church’s attempt to welcome members into their church from the Living Water Ministry Network (a ministry that helps men paroling from prison reintegrate into the community):
  • What Is Christian Faith without Christian Practice?

    by Terrance Klein
    Consider for example, Madame Stahl, a minor character in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: Some said that she had made a social position for herself as a virtuous, highly religious woman, while others said that she was at heart that same highly moral being she made herself out to be, living only for the good of others. No one knew what religion she adhered to—Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant—but one thing was certain: she was in friendly relations with the highest persons of all Churches and confessions. Madame Stahl encourages her new acquaintance Kitty to read the Gospel. Under her influence, her niece Aline seeks out unfortunate people, helps them as much as possible and reads the Gospel to the sick and dying...
  • Disownment and the Discourse of Death

    by Jeff Liou
    While on Ignatian retreat recently, I ran across Henri Nouwen’s 1998 reflections on activism against the nuclear threat. Nouwen sees what I’m calling “disownment and the discourse of death” at work in human activities that so many of us consider ordinary. Nouwen articulates the small, formative ways in which contemptuous othering leads to larger, deadly consequences. In Peacework: Prayer and Resistance and Community, Nouwen observes this othering even among activists about whom he wrote: Many peacemakers, overwhelmed by the great threats of our time, have lost their joy and have become prophets of doom. Yet anyone who grimly announces the end of the world and then hopes to move people to peace work is not a peacemaker. Peace and joy are like brother and sister; they belong together. I cannot remember a moment of peace in my life that wasn’t also very joyful. In the Gospels, joy and peace are always found together . . . The Gospel of peace is also a Gospel of joy. Thus, peace work is joyful work...
  • Through a Child's Eyes

    by Jim McCrea
    Howard Thurman was an influential African-American preacher and author in the mid-20th Century. In the late 1930's, he served as Dean of the Chapel at Howard University in Washington, D.C. One time he decided to take his family on a trip back to his hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida. While there, he took a walk with his two young daughters, Anne and Olive. On that walk, they happened to pass a playground. As soon as the girls saw the swings, they became excited and said, “Look, Daddy, let’s go over and swing!” However, this was the Jim Crow south and that was a whites-only playground. It was a moment that African-American parents still have to face today — finding a way explain the hash realities of racism in terms that a child may be able to accept, even if they rightly don’t understand. So Thurman simply said, “You can’t swing in those swings.” As you might expect, his girls asked, “Why, Daddy?” Thurman answered, “When we get home and have some cold lemonade I will tell you.” Naturally, as the girls drank their lemonade back home, Anne pressed her father for his answer. She said, “We’re home now, Daddy. Tell us.” Thurman said, “It is against the law for us to use those swings, even though it is a public school. Only white children can play there. “But it takes the state legislature, the courts, the sheriffs and policemen, the white churches, the mayors, the banks and businesses, and the majority of white people in the state of Florida — it takes all these to keep two little black girls from swinging in those swings. That is how important you are! Never forget, the estimate of your own importance and self-worth can be judged by how much power people are willing to use to keep you in the place they have assigned to you. You are two very important little girls. Your presence can threaten the entire state of Florida.”...
  • The Power of Powerlessness

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    Christ, as Annie Dillard says, is always found in our lives just as he was originally found, as a helpless baby in the straw who must be picked up and nurtured into maturity. But we are forever wanting something else, namely, a God who would come and clean up the world and satisfy our thirst for justice by showing some raw muscle power and banging some heads here and now. We are impatient with quiet, moral power that demands infinite patience and a long-term perspective. We want a hero, someone with the blazing guns of a Hollywood superhero but the heart of a Mother Theresa. The guns of the world, which are blasting away evil, that's what we want from our God, not the power of a baby lying mute and helpless against the cruel powers of our time...

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 Children

    from the Archives
  • God's Will

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • Illustrations on Service

    from the Archives
  • Edgy Conversations of a Vulnerable Christ

    by D. Mark Davis
    includes lots of Greek exegesis!
  • *Become Like a Child

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Jay Leno's prized possession as a teenager was his old Ford pickup. Bought with his own money, every day after school, Leno would sand and paint and buff that old truck. 'As a present,' says Leno, 'my parents got me brand-new naugahyde upholstery for the seats.'..." and other illustrations)
  • I Say "Yes", My Lord

    by Sil Galvan
    To the God who cannot die, I say "Yes", my Lord. (All: I say "Yes", my Lord.) To the One who hears me cry, I say "Yes", my Lord. (All: I say "Yes", my Lord.) To the God of the oppressed, I say "Yes", my Lord. (All: I say "Yes", my Lord.) To the God of all justice, I say "Yes", my Lord. (All: I say "Yes", my Lord.) Chorus: I say "Yes", my Lord, in all the good times, through all the bad times. I say "Yes", my Lord, to ev'ry word you speak...
  • Salman Rushdie and Memento Mori

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Afterward, when the world was exploding around him, he felt annoyed with himself for having forgotten the name of the BBC reporter who told him that his old life was over and a new, darker existence was about to begin. She called him at home, on his private line, without explaining how she got the number. 'How does it feel,' she asked him, 'to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?'...")
  • Proper 20B

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • The Pecking Order

    by David Sellery
    "there's a persistent, primitive urge in most social animals to establish a fixed order of dominance and submission. First studied in chickens, the phenomenon was labelled "the pecking order." Further study revealed that what was true for chickens also applied to chimps, wolves, hyenas, horses, lions and on and on. In this morning's gospel, we see it also applies to apostles and it applies to us, too..."
  • Exegetical Notes (Mark 9:30-37)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (recommended exegesis)

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

  • Drum Major Instinct

    by Gordon Bannon
    One of my favourite sermons of Martin Luther-King Jr is his 'Drum Major instinct sermon. it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If you can, look up the whole text of the sermon, and even better listen to the mp3. Here is an excerpt. "...I want you to see what Jesus was really saying. What was the answer that Jesus gave these men? It's very interesting. One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned them. One would have thought that Jesus would have said, "You are out of your place. You are selfish. Why would you raise such a question?" But that isn't what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, "Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you're going to be my disciple, you must be." But he reordered priorities...
  • Pursuing Greatness

    by Jim Chern
    In a day and age though, where award shows are in decline, and that people opt to be outrageous in order to be noticed, Chris Pratt went a different way. He started simply and humbly expressing his thanks and appreciation to the presenters; and his love for his friends, colleagues and family. Then he very tongue in cheek explained that being a Generation Award recipient, meant he had a responsibility as the elder to speak to the next generation. So he came up with “Chris Pratt’s 9 simple rules for life.” But the ones that stood out to me, peppered throughout his list were these amazingly beautiful and devout insights like: – You have a soul, be careful with it. – God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do. – Learn to pray. It’s easy and it’s good for your soul to the final “religious” one which was also his last rule: – Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift...
  • The Great Reversal

    by Delmer Chilton
    Across from Tennessee State University in Nashville, there is a congregation that has the longest name I’ve ever seen on a church sign: The House of the Lord, Which is the Church of the Living God, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Without Controversy, Incorporated. Without controversy! Whoever heard of a church without controversy? A church sign I saw in Decatur, Ga., seems more accurate to me. This church said it was “Free For All Baptist Church” When I saw that sign, I imagined elderly deacons in their Sunday suits engaged in an ecclesiastical version of a bar fight, throwing down their Bibles and wrestling each other to the floor in front of the communion table...
  • Ordinary 25B (2018)

    by Bruce Epperly
    According to legend, Francis of Assisi, raised in wealth and privilege, felt revulsion at the sight of lepers. One day he en­countered a leper on the road and experienced his usual discomfort. This time, however, he remembered that the man with leprosy was one of God’s beloved children. He dismounted from his horse and gave the leper a coin and a kiss. The leper returned the favor. From then on, people with leprosy became a particular object of Francis’s ministry. No longer disfigured in his eyes, they were now, in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, “Christ in all his distressing disguises.” Francis learned that spiritual stature involves care for the least of these. Centuries later, Pope Francis stopped the popemobile to embrace and kiss another man suffering from a disfiguring disease. The world was moved by the authentic greatness revealed in welcoming the vulnerable...
  • Greatness Jesus' Way

    by Vince Gerhardy
    Maybe you’ve listened into chatter between kids and heard something like this (I can remember being involved in something like this when I was a kid). “My dad is stronger than your dad.” “Is that so, my dad is richer than your dad”. “Well, my dad is even more richer because he is smarter than your dad, so there!” “I don’t care about that. My dad’s got more hair than your dad, beat that!” And so the argument goes on. There is no end to it. From an early age we learn how to be competitive; we learn how to be one-up on the next person, how to be better, more important, more whatever, even if we aren’t – but we like to let people think we are...
  • Who Is the Greatest?

    by Janet Hunt
    Perhaps it is in your community as well: The Children’s Community Theater Penguin Project. I try to make it a priority to go every year, whether I know someone in the production or not. For this is how it works. Children and young people with disabilities are the stars of the show. They are accompanied by same-age mentors who, for the most part, fade into the background on the stage, but as needed will prompt a forgotten line, guide a young woman who is blind, push the wheel chair of another, and through it all support the show with their voices raised in song. It is simply beautiful. And it is not something that happens overnight. Rather, for months these children work together under the direction of dedicated and talented adults to bring the community a production which will make you laugh and leave you in tears. Here is what stays with me now: unlike what we experience in most of the world, this is not about competition, except to help one another do a little better. And everyone, actor, mentor, and audience member alike leaves sensing they have been part of something that matters: something that could well change the world...
  • Greatness in the Kingdom

    by Steve Pankey
    It is the story of a small jet with five passengers. While flying at thirty-thousand feet, the engine malfunctioned and the plane started to descend toward earth. The pilot came running out of the cockpit with a parachute strapped to his back and said, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The bad news is that the plane is going to crash and there is nothing I can do about it. The good news is that there are several parachutes on the wall back there. The other bad news is that there are only four of them left and there are five of you. Good luck. Thank you for choosing our airline, and we hope that you have a good evening, where ever your final destination may be.” With that, he gave the stunned passengers a thumbs up, opened the door, and jumped for safety. Immediately, a man jumped out of his seat and said, “I am the greatest brain surgeon in the world. My patients depend on me and the world is a better place because of my breakthroughs.” He grabbed a pack, strapped it to his back, and jumped...
  • Ambition

    by Carl Schenck
    ("In a wonderful Chinese folktale, a woman loses her only child in death. She goes to the holy man and asks him to bring her child back to life. He replies, 'Search for the home that has never known sorrow, and, in that home, find the magic mustard seed and bring it to me. Then we will have the power to bring your child back.'..." and another quote from Henri Nouwen)
  • Create in Me a Clean Heart

    by Robert Stuhlmann
    Mister Sears sang in the choir of our small church in Dedham, Mass. I noticed that oil and grease and dirt had found almost every pour and crevice of his hands. He owned a crowded lawn mower and small engine repair shop near the church. As a youth and football player I had worked hard to clean hands and nails for the early service. But the hands of Mister Sears and my Dad who was a printer were almost impossible to clean. The shape and color of work was oil and grease and printer’s ink. And yet they were kind hands, powerful, like spades that dug deep into the earth. How I loved those hands. What matters is a pure heart, not whether or not your hands are clean.
  • The Secret of Success

    by Peter Thompson
    Jeffery Skilling was a man convinced of his own superiority. When he applied to Harvard Business School, his interviewer asked him if he was smart. His reply can’t be quoted in full from the pulpit, but suffice it to say that he let the interviewer know that he didn’t just think he was smart—he thought he was really smart. Bolstered by his fantastically sturdy ego, Skilling pushed past the competition to rise to the top of corporate America, graduating from the top 5 percent of his class at Harvard, excelling at the landmark consulting firm McKinsey and Company, and finally landing at a place repeatedly named one of America’s “best companies to work for” and “America’s most innovative company” by Fortune magazine: a little company called Enron...
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 20B)(2018)

    by Leonard Vander Zee
    Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel, The Road is the story of a father and son constantly on the move through a post-apocalyptic landscape. They face constant hunger, menacing, dangerous people, and a survival mentality in others that will stop at nothing, even cannibalism, for self-preservation. The Father is constantly teaching the boy that they must not sink to that level of existence, no matter what. One of the principle themes throughout the novel is that the father keeps telling his son to keep carrying the fire. It becomes clear that the fire is not actual fire, so they can cook their food. It is the fire of love which the boy must keep alive in his heart so that even in this severely diminished existence he can maintain his humanity...
  • Receiving the Kingdom as a Little Child

    by Fritz Wendt
    In the “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy’s baby brother Linus asks his sister, “Why are you always so eager to criticize me?” Lucy, being very self-assured, responds, “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.” Linus then asks Lucy, “What about your own faults?” Lucy responds with confidence, “I have a knack for overlooking them.”...
  • Welcome the Child

    by Carl Wilton
    A family was seated in a restaurant. The server took the order from the adults, then turned to their young son. “What will you have, young man?”, she asked. “I want a hot dog.” “No hot dog,” the mother interrupted. “Give him the boneless chicken fillet, the mashed potatoes, some vegetables...” Ignoring her, the server turned to the boy. “Ketchup or mustard?,” she asked. “Ketchup,” he replied, a happy smile on his face. “Comin’ right up,” the server said, and headed off for the kitchen. Among the adults at the table, there was stunned silence. After a few moments, the boy turned to his parents. “Know what?” he said. “She thinks I’m real.”...

Illustrated Resources from 2015 to 2017

  • Like Little Children

    by Dan Clendenin
    "Similarly, to become or imitate children is to see our own selves in the same way. Instead of searching for significance in titles, honors, or professional successes, we simply enjoy the knowledge that we are ordinary people loved by an extraordinary God..."
  • The Circle of Inclusion

    by Charles Hoffacker
    Elizabeth Kubler-Ross became known throughout the world for promoting new and better attitudes about death and people facing death. In the course of her work at a hospital, Kubler-Ross noticed that one woman seemed to have a special way with patients who were dying. This woman was not anyone with direct responsibility for patients– her work was to clean rooms and make beds and empty bedpans. Yet dying patients always seemed more peaceful when she was around. Kubler-Ross asked the woman what her secret was. This is what the woman said: “Well, I’ve been up the mountain and down the mountain. I’ve lived in many valleys. The worst was when I went to a public clinic with my three year-old daughter in my arms, and before we could see a doctor, she died of pneumonia.” “I could have become cynical and angry, but instead I decided to use my pain to help others. I’m no stranger to death, and that’s why I’m not afraid to talk and touch those who are dying. I try to give them hope.”...
  • Syrian Refugee Crisis: Our Chance to See God

    by Cari Jackson
    "Welcome is not merely receiving others; it is receiving others with gladness or delight, especially in response to a need. The reception extended to Syrian and other refugees has been varied. "Years of violence in Iraq and Syria have stretched the capacities of neighboring countries to accommodate the displaced..."
  • The Path of Discipleship

    by Marshall Jolly
    "A few weeks ago, Episcopalians from around the world gathered near Hayneville, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jonathan Daniels who was killed during the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1965. Daniels' death came as a result of his pushing an African-American teenager named Ruby Sales out of harm's way when the two walked into a corner store to buy a soft drink, only to be met by an irate man pointing a loaded shotgun at them. The cost of discipleship was, for Jonathan Daniels, his very life..."
  • Reclaiming the Child

    by Terrance Klein
    "Lisa O'Donnell's new novel records that awkward year in which Michael Murray, an eleven year-old Scottish boy, discovers the existence, if not the meaning, of sex. That should have happened in its own, bumptious manner at school. Instead, his mother is raped. The novel takes it name, Closed Doors, from the attempt of his family to shield Michael from an ugly world..."
  • Ordinary 25B (2015)

    by Alex McAllister
    "In Vienna in Austria there is a church in which the former ruling family in Austria, the Hapsburgs, are buried. When royal funerals used to arrive the mourners knocked at the door of the church to be allowed in. A priest inside would ask 'Who is it that desires admission here?' A guard would call out, 'His apostolic majesty, the emperor'..."
  • Jesus and Children, Generally and Specifically (Mark)

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    "In contemporary illustrations, often Jesus is simply with a group of children in a landscape. No other adults are present. The children sit on his lap, stand at his knee, occasionally sit on his shoulder. Jesus is often smiling or reaching out his hand to touch and bless them. In at least one image Jesus kicks a soccer ball with a group of children. Because there are no adults present, these compositions may be projecting the result of Jesus' comments to the disciples..."
  • Child-Like

    by Nancy Rockwell
    "'Are you listening?' It was my mother's frequent outcry. And of course we weren't. We were following the devices and desires of our own hearts, as the prayer book says. We were children, after all, and we had imaginations to grow and visions to seek, and our own hearts to explore. We were not born to obedience. We were not robots to be programmed. Our normalcy as young humans is why are you listening? is normal in the mouths of mothers everywhere...."
  • Pride in Subtle Forms

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    "One of the wonderful features of young children is their emotional honesty. They don't hide their feeling or wants. They have no subtlety. When they want something they simply demand it. They holler. They cry. They snatch things from each other. And they aren't ashamed of any of this. They offer no apologies for selfishness, no disguises. As we grow-up we become emotionally more-disciplined and leave most of this behind. But we also become much less emotionally honest..."
  • Ordinary 25B (2015)

    by P. Del Staigers
    In her book, Dogspell: A Dogmatic Theology of the Abounding Love of God, Mary Ellen Ashcroft explores the love of God using the image of a dog. She humorously notes in her Introduction that everyone has heard about the agnostic dyslexic who wondered, “Is there a dog?” Ashcroft states “I’m here to testify that, yes, there a dog, who is alive and well and eager to greet you.” (13) In writing about the love of God, rooted in Justice, she states: “The church has tried desperately to domesticate the Spirit. “Sit.” “You can’t do it that way. No, you have to be converted first and then receive the Spirit.” “Stay.” “The Sprit’s role is to convict you of sin.” “Roll over.” "The Spirit was necessary before the canon of Scripture was complete.” “Heel.”
  • The Way Up Is Down!

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    "There once was a palace servant who longed for more than anything else in life to be a knight. He yearned to represent his king and vowed within himself that if he ever had a chance to be a knight he would serve his king as the noblest knight who ever lived. His dream came true. His great day came. At his knighthood ceremony, the former servant, now a knight, made a special oath within himself. He vowed that from that day forward he would bow his knees and lift his arms in homage to no one but his king..."
  • All Are Welcome?

    by Keith Wagner
    "Some years ago St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City was seeking a new president. Over one hundred candidates applied for the position. The search committee narrowed the list to five eminently qualified persons. Then somebody came up with a brilliant idea: "let's send a person to the institutions where each of the five finalists is currently employed, and let's interview the janitor at each place, asking him what he thinks of the man seeking to be our president..." and other short illustrations
  • Images of Jesus and the Children

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Welcoming Children

    by David Zersen
    in the movie, Rain Man, Charlie, a self-centered Pharisee, portrayed by Tom Cruise, hopes to inherit $3 million at his father's death, but discovers that instead the money goes to an institutionalized, autistic brother, Raymond, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, whose existence was previously unknown to him. Using a ploy, Charlie gets the institution to release Raymond to his care along with half of the inheritance...

Illustrated Resources from 2012 to 2014

  • Proper 20B (2012)

    by David Brooks
    "Having lived in North Carolina for many years, and having attended one of the three universities that anchor our Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, I'll be honest and get my bias out in the open: I'm not particularly a fan of Michael Jordan. My problem is that Mr. Jordan was forever playing for the wrong team, first for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, and then with the NBA's Chicago Bulls..."
  • Life Lessons from Charlie Brown

    by Jim Chern
    ("I'm still not quite sure what it was that made me such a fan of Peanuts growing up. I mean compared with the comic-book characters that my friends liked, Charlie Brown is this LOSER. A lovable loser, but, seriously: -the kid never gets to kick the football, - never receives a Valentine or a Christmas Card...")
  • Saying Yes to Women and Children

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("Wendell Berry's poem Look Out urges us to 'say no' to the deathly wisdom of the world in all its many forms. We do this by 'looking out' on the world, and then, despite all that we see, 'going out' into the world and 'saying yes' to all that is good and true. 'Come to the window, look out, and see the valley turning green in remembrance of all springs past and to come...")
  • Proper 20B (2012)

    by Brian Donst
    ("I read a story this week about Karl Barth - one of the most famous and influential Christian theologians of the last century. His work - both written and lived-out, was widely known. His voice - with its distinctive German-Swiss accent and a bit of slur to it, was easily recognizable. His face - by the end of his life that of a craggy but good-natured old man, was familiar to many...." and other illustrations)
  • It’s the Little Things

    by Rob Elder
    A few years ago a story appeared in the Houston Chronicle about a judge in that city whose signature summons required a two year-old child to appear for jury duty. It was one of those wonderful computer errors made, no doubt, by a sleepy public records clerk on the night shift, who probably added a digit in front of the child’s actual age, or entered “89” instead of “99” in the space for the child’s birth year. The child’s parents called, of course, to tell the court clerk that the person by that name was a two year-old. But no one believed them! After all, it was in the computer! It clearly indicated that he was an adult and eligible for jury duty. They would be required to bring the child to the court, or a bench warrant would be issued. Exasperated, the parents took the child to the courthouse. Faced with this farcical turn of events, the judge decided to use the situation to make a point. Though it must have seemed ridiculous for a two-year old to appear for jury duty, he held up the child and said to those gathered in the courtroom, “A child is the jury before which our civilization must stand. The way we treat our children, and what we pass on to our children, speaks volumes about who we are as a people.”...
  • Receiving Such a One as This

    by Emmanuel Katongole
    ("Since 1999, John Baptist Odama has been the archbishop of Gulu, in northern Uganda, where for over 23 years a group calling themselves the Lord's Resistance Army has not only waged war against the Ugandan government; it has terrorized the civilian population, burning villages, killing and maiming civilians, and abducting children as a means of recruitment into their fighting ranks...")
  • The Life That Really Is Life (vs. 17-19)

    by Jim McCrea
    ("includes several quotes)
  • Proper 20B (2012)

    by Mark Smith
    ("The Greeks had a story of a Spartan called Paedaretos. 300 men were to be chosen to govern Sparta and Paedaretos was a candidate. When the list of the successful was announced, his name was not on it. 'I'm sorry,' said one of his friends, 'that you were not elected...")

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2011

  • It’s the Little Things

    by Rob Elder
    A few years ago a story appeared in the Houston Chronicle about a judge in that city whose signature summons required a two year-old child to appear for jury duty. It was one of those wonderful computer errors made, no doubt, by a sleepy public records clerk on the night shift, who probably added a digit in front of the child’s actual age, or entered “89” instead of “99” in the space for the child’s birth year. The child’s parents called, of course, to tell the court clerk that the person by that name was a two year-old. But no one believed them! After all, it was in the computer! It clearly indicated that he was an adult and eligible for jury duty. They would be required to bring the child to the court, or a bench warrant would be issued. Exasperated, the parents took the child to the courthouse. Faced with this farcical turn of events, the judge decided to use the situation to make a point. Though it must have seemed ridiculous for a two-year old to appear for jury duty, he held up the child and said to those gathered in the courtroom, “A child is the jury before which our civilization must stand. The way we treat our children, and what we pass on to our children, speaks volumes about who we are as a people.”...
  • The Servant of All

    by Denis Hanly, MM
    Perhaps some of you have seen the little ad bit on television about a race that took place in the United States. And, of course, they had a special race for the handicapped, and so, after the other kids who were hail and healthy finished, they had the race for the handicapped. There were seven runners in the race for the handicapped. And they all started out. And they began kind of moving as fast as they could, depending on their handicaps. And they were going along. And they got about a third or a half of the way and one of them fell down. And they ran on ahead a little bit. And the boy who fell down was banging his head on the ground, he was probably so ashamed. And, all of a sudden, almost as one, they turned around and they ran back to the little boy and picked him up and shouldered him, one under each shoulder, and got him to his feet. And all seven began to go to the finish line and each waited for the other and they all crossed the finish line at the same time...
  • Proper 20B (2009)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("All of us prefer winning over losing. All the world loves a winner. "There is no prize for second place" an old adage assures us. And most of us believe that without question. Once in a while, though, the world embraces a loser. Seldom in recent memory did this happen more dramatically than at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.....")
  • First in Caring

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • Whose Are We?

    by Beth Johnston
    I love watching the medical shows, ER and Grey's Anatomy. A common thread in the show ER is a person arriving in pain and looking for narcotics. Knowing the quick fix effect of these drugs can become addictive and then ineffective, doctors are careful not to prescribe them in this context..."
  • LLJD (Live Like Jesus Did)

    by Andy Lauer
    "In his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard challenges the popular WWJD slogan. WWJD (What would Jesus do?) intends to remind us to stop and reflect on how Jesus might respond if He found himself in a situation similar to one we might be facing..."
  • What's Left Is Right

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ["Party games. Just the phrase gives me the shivers. Whether played at a child's birthday or an after-hours office shindig, party games are designed to make us look ridiculous and act silly..."]
  • *Oh To Be Young Again

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Some years ago St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City was seeking a new president. Over one hundred candidates applied for the position. The search committee narrowed the list to five eminently qualified persons. Then somebody came up with a brilliant idea: "let's send a person to the institutions where each of the five finalists is currently employed...")

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

  • Death and Denial

    by Mickey Anders
    ("When Professor Morrie Schwartz was dying from ALS disease, a former student named Mitch Albom, now a sports writer, returned every Tuesday to visit with his old professor. Albom wrote his best-selling book, Tuesday's with Morrie, about the things he learned from his old professor in the weeks leading up to his death..." and another illustration)
  • The Desire for Wealth

    by Phil Bloom
    ("For three decades Sister Leonella Sgorbati served the poor in East Africa. A week ago, around midnight, she was finishing her turn at the children’s hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. Two gunmen hid behind an empty kiosk and as Sr. Leonella came out of the hospital, they shot her in the leg...")
  • Why Are You Lazy?

    by Amy Butler
    ("As many of you know, the Pastor's Sunday School class has been holding a series of discussions centered around various episodes of the TV show, The Simpsons. You may be skeptical, but I have to say, there's more spiritual depth to the Simpsons than I'd thought prior to preparation for this class...")
  • Proper 20B (2006)

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("A few years ago on the front page of the newspaper there were three photos. One picture was the very emblem of joy whereas the other two were pathetic portraits of sorrow. The occasion was the International Olympic Committee's announcement that Vancouver would be the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics....")
  • First Place

    by Dan Chambers
    ("There is a story about a Zen master named Seisetsu who was the abbot of an important monastery in Japan. He and Jesus both came from the school of challenging sayings. Because Seisetsu was an excellent teacher widely revered, the monastery hall was always overcrowded. The decision was made that a more commodious hall...")
  • *A Role Model for Christians

    by John Christianson
    ("Every time another athlete or public figure disgraces himself people mourn that we don’t have any role models left. In that 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman was looking for a single adult worthy of respect and it was a hopeless search. In the sound track, that’s what Simon and Garfunkel were singing about...")
  • The Path to Greatness

    by Andrew Drake
    ("In her book, Words to Love By, Mother Teresa related how she put this truth into practice: 'I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one...")
  • The Greatest Among Us

    by Richard Fairchild
    Children were loved in the time of Jesus - as they are now - but they were not as important as they are today. More than half of them did not live to be adults. Many children were killed at birth (particularly girl children). Others were simply put out in the field to starve to death. In times of shortages of food, children were fed last. None of this was intended to be cruel. These were rather things people did because they felt they had to do them to survive. Moreover children had no rights. Parents could do to them whatever they thought necessary to make the children obedient or to force them to work for the family...
  • A New Way of Seeing

    by Richard Fairchild
    "Frank Laubach, who was a missionary to Africa, likes to tell the story of how he was shown a huge hydro electric dam there which provided power for a Firestone Plant. Inside the plant was this massive pipe leading into four huge turbines. Below the turbines the pipe continued out to the foot of the dam. All was quiet inside the power house..." and another poem
  • *Survivor

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
  • Shangaied

    by David Galloway
    ("His given name was Abel Head Pierce, but everyone knew him as Shanghai, Shanghai Pierce. He was born June 29, 1834, in New Hampshire, of all places. At age 17 he decided to stow away on a ship headed for Galveston, Texas, to seek, as it were, his fame and fortune...")
  • Proper 20B (2003)

    by Grant Gallup
    (includes several quotes)
  • Ordinary 25B (2006)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a CEO of a large and important corporation promoted two of his brightest young executives for rapid promotion because they were so creative and so intelligent and so hard working. Everyone knew, including the executives whom he had passed over, that one or the other of these men would be the next CEO...")
  • Ordinary 25 (2006)

    by Bruce Green
    ("Children need adults and what adults do matters. A persistent judgment leveled against parents today is this: they gladly provide their children with every resource: Leaders, coaches, teachers, tutors, and youth workers. Certainly children should be happy and well-adjusted. They have everything money can buy..." and special olympics illustration)
  • Adding Flavor to a Tasteless World

    by Peter Haynes
    Tony Campolo tells the story of a trip he once made to Hawaii. Because of jet lag his inner clock was confused, leaving him restless at night. Instead of tossing and turning, he made his way to an all-night diner, which also happened to be a gathering place for the people of the night, particularly those women who walk the street. Minding his own business, he overheard a conversation between two prostitutes. "Y'know," one said to the other, "tomorrow's my birthday." "So what!," the other replied. "Y'know," the first went on, "I never had a birthday party, or a cake." "So what!," came the response, and the conversation went on. After the women left, Tony talked to the waitress & the cook, and discovered the woman's name. It bothered him that this person never had a birthday party. So, he decided to give her one. Him, a stranger in a strange city. The more he talked it over with some of the others in that restaurant, the more excited they got. And so the plans were laid to surprise this woman on her birthday. They decorated the place, bought a cake with candles, and gathered the folks of the night into that diner to wish her well...
  • The Kid from Capernaum

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("Lately I have been reading a book entitled Deep Change. The author is Robert E. Quinn, a professor of organizational behavior and human resource development at the University of Michigan's Graduate School of Business. The subtitle of this book is Discovering the Leader Within...")
  • Proper 20B (2006)

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("An interesting book entitled Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within was written by Robert E. Quinn, who teaches organizational behavior and human resource development at the University of Michigan's Graduate School of Business. In it, Quinn describes three kinds of people: the individual contributor, the manager, and the leader...")
  • I'm an Addict! I Need Help!

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("My name is Don, and I'm an addict. I'm addicted to Stuff. I'm addicted to Power. I'm addicted to Prestige, and I always will be. I will always want more than half the bed...")
  • Ordinary 25B (2003)

    from Homilies Alive
    ("One evening, the whole family went out to dinner at a local restaurant. Everyone got a menu, even the youngest, Molly, who was 8 years old. Since the conversation was an 'adult' one, Molly sat there ignored. When the waiter took their orders, he came to Molly last...")
  • It's a Dog-Eat-Dog World of Power...Or Is It?

    by Rex Hunt
    A colleague of mine reminded me of an incident in the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was apparently walking one day past a construction site, on a temporary footpath, the width of only one person. A white man appeared at the other end, recognised Tutu and said: "I don't give way to gorillas". At which Tutu stepped aside, made a deep sweeping gesture, and said, "Ah yes, but I do". And can't you see the twinkle in the Tutu's eyes as he did that?
  • An Incident on the Capernaum Road

    by John Jewell
    "It happened several years ago, but the picture remains firmly etched in the minds of many. A Christian denomination's annual meeting made the evening news of the major networks. It was not a pretty sight. Almost 2000 people had gathered for a national meeting where a doctrinal issue had created much controversy..." and another illustration
  • Stop!

    by Beth Johnston
    "One of the most fascinating seminars I have ever attended made reference to a book with a title something like The History of the Child. It argued that childhood was a relatively modern invention. At first that sounds absurd because, after all, society has always had children!..."
  • Proper 20B (2006)

    by Linda Kraft
    ("Some years ago St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City was seeking a new president. Over one hundred candidates applied for the position. The search committee narrowed the list to five eminently qualified persons. Then somebody came up with a brilliant idea...")
  • If Anyone Wants to Be First

    by Tommy Lane
    ("There are treasures that money cannot buy and when we serve others we receive something money can never buy and Mother Teresa gives an example of this: 'One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: "You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse...")
  • *Welcoming the Child

    by Anne Le Bas
    ("I read recently of a woman whose husband was serving in Iraq. Then one morning she saw the commanding officer and the chaplain coming up the path to her house. She knew what that meant ...")
  • Welcoming Jesus

    by David Leininger
    ("A sportswriter once asked him, 'When you say, "I am the greatest," do you mean the greatest fighter or the greatest human being?' Ali replied quickly, 'I mean that I am the greatest boxer. I will go down as the greatest boxer of all time.' The writer pressed him further. 'But do you think that 50 years from now people will say that you were the greatest?'..." and other illustrations)
  • My Daddy is Stronger than Your Daddy!

    by Ben Manning
    ("Morris West, in his novel The Clowns of God, suggests that when Christ returns at the end of history it will be something like this scene. He will be carrying a little child with him, then he'll sit down, place that child on his lap. Only the child will be a Down's Syndrome child. He will say to us, I gave this child a gift of eternal innocence...")
  • Counting Diamonds

    by Joel Marcus
    ("In the ancient world, however, abandonment of infants was a normal practice, a postnatal method of birth control, and no particular stigma was attached to it. Oedipus is perhaps the most famous example..." a recommended read!!)
  • Beyond Stereotypes

    by David Martyn
    ("One of our members was going to have chemotherapy this past week for the very first time. If you can imagine what it is like to know that a poisonous chemical is going to be pumped into your body in a couple of days—extreme anxiety doesn’t quite name it. But two of our members, who had already been through all of that, went over and simply sat with her, listened and shared their own stories..." and another illustration)
  • Real Power

    by David Martyn
    ("It was the philosopher Michael Foucault who pointed out that we cannot be free from power. Power is both pervasive and invasive. Resistance to power is participation in power. Because of the marginal status of early Christianity, power took on a different formulation that Foucault referred to as pastoral power...")
  • True Lovers

    by David Martyn
    ("There is a scene in Tennessee William's play A Streetcar Named Desire when Blanche, an unlovely person desperately seeking love, meets Mitch, a man who is grossly overweight, who is embarrassed that he perspires profusely, and who, like Blanche, is frantically lonely. It is not their strength, but their mutual weakness, which brings them together...")
  • Forward Into Wisdom

    by Jim McCrea
    ("One of the oddest news stories I've seen in a while was published yesterday in the online version of the Edmonton Sun newspaper. It seems that a barber from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, lost his African parrot and he's concerned not just because he loves his pet, but also because he's trained the parrot to preach the Bible..." and another illustration)
  • The Greatest of All

    by Jim McCrea
    ("I believe that our modern understanding of today's gospel lesson has been forever altered by the work of a young scholar named Theodore Cleaver. You know who I mean. He's the one they called 'The Beaver' on the old TV show Leave It to Beaver..." and other quotes)
  • The Greatest of the Kingdom

    by Philip McLarty
    If the Lord asked me to nominate just one individual to be considered as the greatest in the kingdom, I think I’d nominate John Danhoff. John was a graduate student in seminary when I first met him. He stood out because he’d had polio as a child and walked on two crutches, half dragging his legs behind him. His body was crippled and distorted, but not his spirit. He always had a big smile on his face and a hearty laugh and a razor-sharp mind that would never compromise the integrity of God’s grace and love. His footprints were everywhere. He was the Bible teacher at the Women’s Conference at Mo Ranch. Years ago, he served a church in Midland. The folks out there still talk about his sermons, his witness, his style. He touched the lives of no telling how many young Christians and left an indelible impression, not because he had a lot of money, or because he was tall, dark and handsome, or because he was politically astute; but because he was a child of God who relied on God to lead the way and give him the ability to succeed. His weakness was his strength; his humility, a lasting virtue...
  • Servant's Entrance

    by Jay Mitchell
    "Bill Hybels in his book, Descending Into Greatness, describes the formation of pecking orders. He writes: 'Take 10 chickens. Any ten. Put them in a pen together, and spread a little chicken feed.... in a matter of minutes, the chickens who were previously strangers will establish a pecking order..." and another illustration
  • Proper 20B (2006)

    by Robert Morrison
    ("Even in medieval times, Mediterranean cultures put a low value on children; the theologian and philosopher `Thomas Aquinas taught that in a raging fire a husband was obliged to save his father first, then his mother, next his wife, and last of all his young child'...")
  • Proper 20B (2000)

    by William C. Noble
    ("Before Rep was even a month old, at the beginning of each feeding, Margaret would gently pinch his cheek and say, 'Now make a big mouth for mama'. And he would. He would stretch his mouth - wider than his face it seemed - wrap his thin, little lips around the red brown-aureole of her breast ..." and another quote)
  • Ordinary 25B (2003)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("One day a man who had been homeless for about 30 years came into one of our hostels. He was about 55 and had been abusing alcohol and other drugs for about forty years. And, when he came in, he must have been one of the dirtiest people I have ever seen...")
  • The Mark of Greatness

    by John Pavelko
    ("Someone once offered these definitions of a child. 'A child is someone who can wash his hands without getting the soap wet. A child is someone who is either being a lump in your throat, or a pain in your neck..." and other quotes)
  • The Powerful Weakness

    by Gerry Pierse, CSsR
    ("The chubby Fr. Browne was the unlikely detective who solved the mysteries in many of G.K. Chesterton's stories. One such story was about a much loved and wealthy philanthropist. He was very popular because of his unfailing good humor and generosity. When people felt depressed they went to him...")
  • To the Child In Each of Us

    by Stephen Portner
    "The movie Hook which came out some years ago emphasized the need of the abandoned child. Robin Williams portrayed the grown-up version of Peter Pan, although he had forgotten his identity as leader of the 'Lost Boys' until much later in the movie. He was so wrapped up in his job with the stock market that he was not taking any time for his children..." and another illustration
  • Welcome to the World!

    by Beth Quick
    ("Another favorite author of mine to listen to is Fannie Flagg, and the first book of hers that I listened to was titled Welcome to the world, baby girl. This book followed the story of a young women on a journey of discovering her past, and laying out her future. As the women learned about her past, she uncovered troubling secrets and scandals...")
  • Wisdom

    by Lyn Reith
    ("Most of you have probably heard the story of an incident that happened at the Special Olympics, a sporting event where disabled youngsters participate in many races that stretch their physical capacities. It seems that one of them fell running the 100 meter dash and the others all stopped..." and another illustration)
  • Seeing Things

    by Mary Hinkle Shore
    ("In one of Sue Grafton's mysteries, the murderer turns out to be a 60-year-old woman who is 30 pounds overweight. After the mystery is solved, the detective reflects that the woman nearly got away with murder simply because no one would remember seeing someone like her...")
  • Are You on the Way?

    by Martin Singley
    "I'll always remember the day in church – not this one - when some visitor came in and somehow sat down in George's pew. In fact, not just in George's pew, but in George's actual SEAT in George's pew. Well, there was a mumbling and a stirring and all sorts of consternation among the natives..."
  • The Worldwide Christian

    by Martin Singley
    "When I went off to Springfield College in the Autumn of 1967, there was a tradition there of a competition between the sophomores and the freshmen. One of the events was a tug-o-war that took place down on Watershops Pond. The sophomores were placed on an island just offshore and we freshmen occupied the shoreline by the campus. Whoever lost the rope pull would end up in the water..."
  • Open Minds: the Playbook

    by Jim Standiford
    ("Early in his ministry Buzz Stevens was appointed to a Ministry of Presence in the skid row area of Los Angeles. He used to frequent a particular diner, and thus got to know some of the regulars from that area. One that he met was a prostitute...")
  • The Child In Our Midst

    by Ray C. Stedman
    ("I remember a number of years ago reading a short story by O. Henry, in which he told of a little girl whose mother had died. When the father would come home from work, he would fix their meal, then he would sit down with his paper and pipe, put his feet up on the mantle, and read. The little girl would come and say, 'Father, would you play with me?'...")
  • We're #1

    by Alex Stevenson
    "Once upon a time there was a Squire who longed to be a knight. He wanted to serve his king and be the most honorable and noble knight who ever lived. At his knighting he was so overcome by dedication that he made a special oath. He vowed to bow his knees and lift his arms in homage to his king and him alone..."
  • The Child In Our Midst

    by Alex Thomas
    ("On one trip across the room, a boy suddenly stopped, walked over to his father, and pushing the paper aside, climbed up in Dad's lap. Dad grinned and looked down at his son, and asked, 'And what do you want?' The little boy curled up with his head on Dad's chest, and with a sigh said, 'I rest here a minute. OK, Daddy?'...")
  • Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven

    by J. Barry Vaughn
    ("I remember the Christmas of 1978. I had graduated from Harvard the previous June and still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. My mother was the principal of a rural elementary school, and she asked if I would play the piano for the Christmas program..." and other illustrations)
  • Last But Not Least

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Jamie Winship tells the story about the time she listened to a speaker who was speaking on business opportunities in Southeast Asia. He said, 'Remember that nothing carries more potential for change than individual acts of human kindness.' He was an executive, dressed in an expensive suit, lecturing at a five-star hotel. She thought to herself, 'What would he know about acts of human kindness?'...")
  • Last But Not Least

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Jamie Winship tells the story about the time she listened to a speaker who was speaking on business opportunities in Southeast Asia. He said, 'Remember that nothing carries more potential for change than individual acts of human kindness.' He was an executive, dressed in an expensive suit, lecturing at a five-star hotel. She thought to herself, 'What would he know about acts of human kindness?'...")
  • Welcoming Children

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("Henry was the seventh of the eight children of a miner. He lived in Castleford, Yorkshire, and like most children in those days he went to Sunday School. One Sunday afternoon, the superintendent at the school told the children a story about Michelangelo. He told it so well and with such enthusiasm that it seized the imagination of young Henry......")
  • Are You Salt?

    by Tim Zingale
  • Illustrations (Proper 20B)(2006)

    Compiled by Tim Zingale

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

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  • Jesus' Response to Muhammad Ali

    by Fred Anderson
    ("I can still see him in my mind's eye, bouncing about the ring, arms raised in the air in victory, shouting 'I'm the greatest!' It was one of two mantras by which Muhammad Ali was known. Do you remember the other? 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.' 'I'm the greatest!'--and to the boxing world he was...")
  • No One Is The Greatest

    by Richard Bryant
  • The Child in Our Midst

    by Alex Thomas
    "The principal of Beachy Cove elementary school in Portugal Cove-St Philips Newfoundland, Aubrey Dawe. says 'I've been noticing here in our schools, and the other schools I have taught in, children with anxiety - and severe anxiety, and the numbers of those have been increasing,' After a long day at work one day last fall, Dawe couldn't help thinking about one of the children at the school; the sixth grader was suffering from anxiety. Then it occurred to him that this wasn't the only child he had dealt with that day. 'Then there was one in Grade 4 that I helped out, and then there was also that one in Grade 5, and Grade 2, and kindergarten - and then it hit me like a ton of bricks..."
  • Valued

    by David Martyn
    ("In one corner of a doctor's crowded waiting room there was an old woman who looked very sad—and worried. She started crying quietly. A few tears ran down her cheeks. Some of the people near her moved their chairs away a bit. The woman began to cry harder with loud sobbing sounds....")