Matthew 1: 18-25

Illustrated New Resources

  • I Believe in Love: Daring Right Relationship

    by Kathy Donley
    It was a game of college softball. The Central Washington Wildcats and the Western Oregon Wolves were in the last game before their division playoffs. Sara Tucholsky stepped up to bat and she hit it out of the park. She was a senior and had never hit a home run before. The two runners on base ran across home plate and Sara should have been right behind them. But Sara’s knee buckled as she pivoted towards first base. Her ACL was torn. She was in great pain, lying on the ground, unable to stand. The rules are that she had to round the bases, touching each one on the way, or her run would not count. Her teammates were not allowed to help. It looked like her first home run was not going to count. But then, Mallory Holtmann asked a question. Mallory played for the other team. Mallory knew that Sara’s teammates could not help her, but Mallory asked the umpires if there was a penalty for assistance from her opponents. There was not. So Mallory and her teammate Liz Wallace picked Sara up and carried her around the bases, lowering her to touch each base. Sara crossed home plate and was credited with her 3-run home run, the last and only one of her career...

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!!]
  • Christ in a Stranger's Guise

    by Marla Bernard
    In the late 1990's, a woman from the Midwest won an all-expenses paid trip for two to the Big Apple from her employer that included first-class air fare, tickets to see Phantom of the Opera, dinner at Tavern on the Green and two nights at the Plaza Hotel for herself and her teenage daughter. They took the trip during her daughter’s spring break. After spending the first night at the hotel, she continues her story: "The next morning, after a hearty and pricey breakfast (I’d never paid $35 a plate for French toast before!), we bundled up with purses fastened securely under our coats and pockets filled with assorted one-dollar bills and coins for the homeless panhandling on what seemed to be every street corner. Off we headed on our parade down Fifth Avenue...
  • Call Him Jesus. No, Emmanuel. Oh, Okay, Jesus.

    by D. Mark Davis
    (lots of Greek exegesis)
  • Joseph Takes Mary as His Wife

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Allison McGovern knew the feeling. It was once again that time of year she had come to hate. The stores were busy, parties abounded, couples and families got together to celebrate. The children were so often the focus -- even to see a Santa Claus on the street, or hear one more Christmas carol on the car radio, could touch off depths of anger and resentment within her..." and other illustrations)
  • Saint Joseph

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("A truck driver had a habit of writing postcards to people in nursing homes all around the country. He had a big book of addresses of such nursing homes and whenever he stopped in some part of the country, he would send postcards to his senior friends in the nursing homes. He became quite well known and the seniors in the nursing homes wanted to meet him. But he felt his effect lay in his anonymity..." and another illustration)
  • Entertaining Angels

    by Sil Galvan
    Our family was driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Christmas Day. That year Christmas came on Sunday and we needed to be in Los Angeles on Monday morning, having spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my husband's parents. We stopped for lunch at a diner in King City. I was enjoying a review of the happiness and meanings of the day when my reverie was interrupted. I heard Erik, our one-year-old son, scream with glee in his high chair. "Hi there." (Two words he thought were one.) He pounded his fat baby hands - whack, whack - on the metal tray of the high chair. His face was alive with excitement, eyes wide, gums bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and chirped and giggled, and then I saw the source of his merriment.
  • Steel Magnolias

    by Sil Galvan
    Believe it or not, one of my favorite movies is Steel Magnolias. Yeah, I know it's very much a so-called "chick flick" (i.e., one that's aimed at primarily a female audience) but I have found much fodder for homilies in it. One could easily point out the sacrifice of Shelby in bearing a son despite the health risks, the deep loss felt by Shelby's mother (played by Sally Field, one member of an illustrious cast) at the death of her daughter, etc. But the point that seems most appropriate here are the roles, or rather lack thereof, played by the men in this movie.
  • Advent 4A

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • The Gospel of Matthew

    by Bill Loader
  • Joseph, Praise

    by Nancy Rockwell
    ("What has passed by our notice for so, so long, is the way in which Matthew shows us Joseph reversing the roles of husband and wife, from the harrumphingly dominant pattern of the wife as a servant to her husband's needs, to this new arrangement, in which Joseph is the servant of his wife. Her needs and her child's needs will dictate their lives, their locations. Through thick and thin he manages..." very insightful!!)
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 1:18-25)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Resources (Advent 4A)

    by Various Authors
    ("G. K. Chesterton, the noted British poet and theologian, was a brilliant man who could think deep thoughts and express them well. However, he was also extremely absent-minded and over the years he became rather notorious for getting lost. He would just absolutely forget where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing..." and many more)

Narrative Sermons from the Archives

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Joseph: Making the Best Out of a Bad Situation

    Narrative Sermon by Grant Dillenbeck & Marilyn Richardson
    ("I'm glad you're home. I wanted to drop off this stool that I have made for you. I have been working on it for a while, and I wanted to get it to you before I leave town next week. It turned out quite well, don't you think? Actually the stool is really just an excuse for me to come and see you because I really need someone to talk to - my life has been in utter turmoil for the past few months...")
  • Do Not Be Afraid

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
    ("Something is very wrong around here. Things feel haywire. People look at me strangely. Everything seems to be conspiring to make my carefully ordered life fall apart! And yes, I do know I can get paranoid at times. But just because I'm paranoid it doesn't mean everyone and everything isn't plotting against me. You know how much I like order. Every tool in my carpentry shop is always set carefully in its place...")
  • Joseph's Story

    Narrative Sermon by Vince Gerhardy
    ("Imagine Joseph has sent us a Christmas card and letter to tell us about the first Christmas. It might go something like this: Dear worshippers, As it is the time of year again when you will celebrate the events that took place long ago when Jesus was born, I thought I would jot down a few lines to give you an idea of what happened...")
  • A Letter From Joseph

    Narrative Sermon by Vince Gerhardy
    ("As it is the time of year again when you will celebrate the events that took place long ago when Jesus was born, I thought I would jot down a few lines to give you an idea of what happened from my point of view. Firstly, I should introduce myself. As you know, my name is Joseph...")
  • Joseph's Story

    by Bruce Goettsche
    ("You know my name but there is a lot more to my story than you ever realized. To me was given the greatest privilege in the world: to witness the entry of God into the world in human form. Mary and I had known each other for years. Our families traveled from Judea to Galilee when we were both young...")
  • The Creche without Joseph

    Narrative Sermon by Nicholas Lang
    ("Let me introduce myself. My name is Joseph. I've been hanging around your celebration of Christmas for quite a while but I suspect you don't know me too well. I feel sort of like the father of the bride at a wedding. Nobody pays much attention to him but he gets to pay the bills")
  • It Happened Like This

    Narrative Sermon by David Martyn
    ("I had a dream. Now it was not much different than other young people of my time. My parents arranged the marriage, it happened long before I can remember–probably when I took my first steps. That was the way we did things, marriage was not about love at first...")
  • Speaking of Pregnant Virgins, Did You Hear the One...

    Narrative Sermon by Nathan Nettleton
    ("G'day. Joe's the name. Joseph Davidson on my birth certificate, but no one other than my mum's called me Joseph for years, so just stick with Joe and we'll get on fine. Mum's always been in to names and stuff. Family trees that sort of thing. She reckons we're descended from King David himself, which would explain the family name I guess...")
  • Husband, Father, Friend, Lover, Dreamer

    by Larry Patten
    ("I was there when Jesus was born. I will never forget that. And I remember all my children in their first moments, for what man doesn’t want to be a father? What man doesn’t want sons to grow and prosper? What man doesn’t want to give daughters away to good men who’ll care for their families?...")
  • The Unexpected Path

    by Patricia Raube
    ("This is not where I thought I would be. I don't mean the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem-of course I knew I would be traveling to fulfill the obligations of the census. No, I mean I never dreamed this path I would be traveling. I, Joseph, son of the law, the righteous man, the just man. I never imagined the path I would be on just now with my wife")
  • Joseph

    Story Sermon by Richard Wagner
    ("On clear, cold nights the stars pierce you clean through to the other side of your soul. And you stand there with a gaping hole and the wind blows through and through -- an empty, hollow sound. It is your Advent Wound. In it you are reminded that children wail and fathers weep...")

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2019

  • St. Joseph: A Father of Hope

    by Jim Chern
    About 15 years ago, there was a magazine article that caught my attention. It was of a 16 month old boy being lifted in the air by his father, who has become a father later in life. The headline read “A Letter to My Son”. It was written by a well-known American author named Tim O’Brien. In in this open letter, the author bares his heart and soul about how his son has changed him. He writes Dear Timmy – a little more than a year ago, June 20, 2003, you dropped into the world, my son, my first and only child – a surprise, a gift, a miracle, an eater of electrical cords, a fertilizer factory, a joy, a pain… a thrill in the heart, all the platitudes with a big red cherry on top. Here’s the truth: Boy oh boy do I love you. He continues on telling Timmy that because he is already older than the traditional age of a father, that when Timmy grows up, he will know him as an “old man” and that he wants his son to know who he was – or as he puts it And by that I mean not just the graying old coot you may vaguely remember, but the guy who shares your name and your blood and your DNA, the human essence, the Tim who himself was once a Timmy...
  • What God Places on Your Heart

    by Jim Chern
    I think it was September of 1997… I had been praying, discerning and studying for the priesthood in the seminary for over 2 years – and as part of our preparations, we were expected to help out at our parishes on the weekend. My pastor, Fr. Marcone who I had known since high school said to me one Sunday afternoon “what are you doing this afternoon?” In typical fashion, before I even answered he said “whatever you’re doing this afternoon, cancel it. You have to take a ride with me to a convent in North Plainfield.” As a seminarian I knew the only response was “Yes Father.” It wasn’t until we were driving there that he finally decided to explain – “we’re going to meet Mother Teresa.” Wait – What??? It turned out that Fr Marcone had been going to Mother Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity on a weekly basis as an instructor in Church History. Mother Teresa would make it a point – even then at her advanced age and with increasing fragility – to visit her sisters all around the world on a regular basis...
  • Righteous Mess

    by Owen Griffiths
    Danielle[i] was the single mother of three. She was also an opioid addict. She fought bravely with her disease, but the authorities removed all three children from her custody shortly after she gave birth to her third. Because the children’s father is in prison, Marc and Sue, a compassionate couple, took in the children and conscientiously included their birth mother in their lives. Danielle was able to visit with the kids and maintain a relationship while she fought to get her life back on track. But her life never got back on track. She died of an overdose a few weeks ago. She was 33 years old...
  • Sermon Starters (Advent 4A)(2019)

    by Scott Hoezee
    It’s a strange business when it comes to our names and how we identify with them. It probably tells us that names are important but also that we come to identify with our own names. We get caught up in them. We like it when people associate good things with our names and feel chagrined in case for whatever the reason the opposite happens. We like it when someone recognizes our name (“Say, are you the person who wrote that nice article in the newspaper a while back . . .?”) and feel oddly diminished when someone who should know full well who we are glances at our name but with nary a hint of recognition or recollection...
  • Dreams Inspired by Joseph the Dreamer

    by Dawn Hutchings
    Let me tell you another story about a baby. You can see a photograph of this baby on the cover of your bulletins. His name is Constantin, Constantin Mutu. He was born about 18 months ago in Romania. His parents were Roma people, his father’s name is Vasile and his mother’s name is Florintina. The Roma people, sometimes called Romany, are an oppressed people. You may know them by the common pejorative, “Gypsy”. In Romania the Roma were enslaved for more than 500 years. Violent attacks against them persist throughout Europe. They are excluded from schools, jobs and social services. Like generations of oppressed people before them, Vasile and Florintina Mutu dreamed of escaping poverty by moving to the promised land. Roma families in Romania usually have their babies at home so that the authorities are not able to carry out their policies of forced sterilization of Roma women – their way of controlling the numbers of Roma people...
  • Joseph and the Shady Ladies: The Revealing Story of Emmanuel

    by Dawn Hutchings
    Once upon a time, a rabbi asked his students how they could tell when night had ended and day was beginning. “Could it be,” asked one of his brightest students, “When you can see an animal in the distance and you are able to tell it is a sheep or a dog?” “No,” answered the rabbi. “Could it be,” another student asked, “when you can look at a tree and tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?” “No,” said the rabbi. “Well, then, when is it that we can tell when the long night of darkness has ended?” the students demanded. The rabbi smiled and answered, “You will know that the long night of darkness has ended when you can look into the face of any woman or man and see that they are your sister or your brother. Because if you cannot do this, no matter what time it is, it is still night.”...
  • Mary, Motherhood and the Meaning of Vulnerability

    by Terrance Klein
    Men can certainly learn a lot from Claire Lombardo’s acclaimed debut novel, The Most Fun We’ve Ever Had (2019). Here is a single paragraph about the travails of a second pregnancy and what it means to Violet. As an unwed, much younger mother, she had given up her first child to adoption. With Wyatt, these same things happened—the soreness, the swelling, the hemorrhoids and stitches and ghastly emissions of blood—but they were secondary, perhaps even tertiary to their cause, this tiny perfect person she’d borne, this person who slept in fits and over whom insatiable hunger descended in seconds, this person for whose existence she was exclusively responsible. And the end-all love she felt for him—of course she loved him! God, how intensely she loved him—raised the stakes even higher, caused her to focus on him with such sleepless intensity that once she forgot to change her pad and bled onto the couch while feeding him, a woman who no longer had control over her most basic bodily functions. She endured these days with no medicinal aids, without so much as a single cup of coffee, because he deserved it, didn’t he, her son; but also, convolutedly, though the other baby was ignorant of her goings-on, because she wanted to redeem herself, to be fully present for this intentional child in the way she hadn’t been for the first baby. She had the luxury of a do-over, and she’d be damned if she took it for granted. She felt it was her comeuppance, the price she had to pay for cavalierly abandoning her first child, for thinking that she could just go on like everything was normal. Consider again the motherhood of Mary...
  • Joseph's Song

    by R. Dale McAbee
    “There was a priest in the Philippines who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no sense of God’s forgiveness. In his church was a woman who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest however was skeptical. To test her he said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in Bible College.” The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, he did”, she replied. “And did you ask him what sin I committed in bible college?” “Yes” “Well what did he say?” “He said, ‘I don’t remember.’”
  • A Vision of Peace

    by David Russell
    In World War I, trench warfare lasting months and months meant that soldiers from opposing sides were often in close proximity to one another. This kind of war was horrific. The British lost so many troops in World War I that Winston Churchill said afterwards that theirs was a victory “scarcely distinguishable from defeat.” But on Christmas Eve 1914, the proximity of the trenches led to something very different. British soldier Captain Robert Patrick Miles wrote about it: We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front… The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man’s land between the lines. British, German, French, and other troops sang Christmas carols, shared Chocolate, champagne, and brandy, and shared photos of loved ones. They even played soccer. For a time, at least, they reveled in their shared humanity. This of course made their superiors furious, not just because the troops were disobeying orders, but because it is much harder to harm someone with whom you have formed some sort of relationship. Getting to know people, especially people who are different from you, is a way to build peace...
  • Joe's Story

    by Melissa Bane Sevier
    It’s been almost a year since Joe met Mary. Almost a year since his whole world changed, because he loves her. And because she brought Eddie into his life. Eddie is now 8. Joe never expected to have kids. Never even wanted to have kids. Kids cost money and Joe’s very frugal. Kids take too much time and they are always in your space. He’d been single a long time. Then married. Then divorced. He’d dated some. A single guy in his 40's with a good job is much in demand on the singles market, which is why he chose NOT to be on any online dating sites...
  • Afraid to Love

    by Carl Wilton
    One of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time is“The Gift of the Magi,” written by the American short-story writer, O. Henry. You may remember the details. It used to be on the reading list of every junior-high English class. I hope it still is today.It’s a story about a young couple, Jim and Della, preparing to celebrate Christmas in old New York, about a hundred years ago. Each one’s determined tofind the one, perfect gift that will make the other happy. The only problem is, this couple has very little money...

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

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Everybody Loves...Joseph

    by Jim Chern
    The episode (of Everybody Loves Raymond) that I stumbled upon has Ray, the Italian-American, sarcastic, sportswriter being awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma matter. After the initial excitement and pride from his wife Debra; the family dynamics quickly turn this notable achievement into a source of controversy. His NYPD cop brother Robert is jealous of "Doctor" Barone. His father Frank tries to feign some pride... His overbearing mother beams with excitement... and as the big day approaches where he is to receive the award, he gets more and more worried about the speech he has to make - to the point that he almost turns down the award because he’s so worried about speaking in public. But Debra keeps encouraging him - and the big day arrives, and the whole family goes - and he gets the diploma (which he gives to his mother since he figures she would want it for bragging rights more than he would) - and in his speech he mentions his family, talks about his father Frank, and brother Robert and thanks his mother Marie. And... forgets Debra...
  • The Son of Adam

    by Dan Clendenin
    Dennis Covington calls his new memoir Revelation (2016) "a search for faith in a violent religious world." Revelation connects Covington's journey in and out of faith with his family history, current events of today, his travels around the world, and the witnesses to faith that he sees in the people he meets — which is to say that he does what each one of us must do in our own search for authentic faith in our violent world. He travels to places of extremity and discovers faith not so much despite suffering and violence, but precisely in and because of that apparent absence of the presence of God. He quotes Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker who was abducted and then murdered by ISIS in 2015: "Some people find God in church, some people find God in nature, some people find God in love, I find God in suffering."
  • Joseph's Dream

    by Janet Hunt
    I have had dreams where I have sensed the presence of loved ones — once in a cool early October breeze waking me in the night. I have had dreams where it is clear my worries and anxieties are working themselves out as I sleep: for one too long stretch of time as a 6 year old night after night I would wake with a start having fallen once again out my second floor window in a nightmare which would not let go. And yes, I can recall finally calling it a night when I was in college, only to wake the next morning with the words of a term paper suddenly in place in my mind and ready to be written down. Oh, it is so, it seems to me, that as we dream we work out what challenges us when we are awake. This must have been the case with Joseph so long ago.
  • Nothing to Dread

    by Christoph Keller III
    I think of Marilynne Robinson, the novelist who reads Calvin and Karl Barth for pleasure. Non-anxiously, questions and doubts are woven through her stories. At the time I saw Captain Fantastic, I was also reading Robinson's novel Lila. Lila had been an abused child in a loveless home until rescued by a cleaning woman, Doll. Literally, Doll was Lila's savior. Doll had secrets; she had not been baptized, did not believe, and had nothing but contempt for Christians. Now grown up, Lila had married Ames, a faithful pastor, more or less by accident. She was surrounded by Christians. One night at dinner, there was some banter about heaven, judgment, who was saved and who was not. Doll, it seemed, was not. Not Doll, or anybody Lila knew before her accidental marriage.
  • Additional Reflections (Advent 4A)

    by Kate Matthews
    includes several quotes
  • Faithful Response

    by Kate Matthews
    includes several quotes
  • Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Both of the paintings above treat the subject of the marriage/betrothal of Mary and Joseph. Each is fabricated by the artist. Renaissance artist Raphael paints the holy couple standing in front of a central plan building reminiscent of Bramante's Tempietto in Rome, which was built in 1502. the building would have still been quite new when the painting was done in 1504.
  • On Not Burying Joseph

    by Dave Russell
    Many years ago - in fact, it was back in the last millennium – I served as a Campus Minister at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. I worked with a very interesting and diverse student group there. One of the students was named Beth. She was Roman Catholic, and she lived near Peoria. Her dad had accepted a new job in a different part of the state, and she was telling me about moving. She said that they were trying to sell the house, so they had buried Joseph in the back yard. I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about. Beth told me that the tradition was that if you bury a statue of Joseph upside-down in your yard, facing the house, the house will sell. And then when you move, you give Joseph a place of prominence in the new house. She added that she didn’t think anybody believed that this actually makes the house sell, but it couldn’t hurt. As it turns out, there are statues made just for such a purpose.
  • Joseph's Story

    Story by Melissa Bane Sevier
    It’s been almost a year since Joe met Mary. Almost a year since his whole world changed, because he loves her. And because she brought Eddie into his life. Eddie is now 8. Joe never expected to have kids. Never even wanted to have kids. Kids cost money and Joe’s very frugal. Kids take too much time and they are always in your space. He’d been single a long time. Then married. Then divorced. He’d dated some. A single guy in his 40s with a good job is much in demand on the singles market, which is why he chose NOT to be on any online dating sites.
  • A Man of God

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    It was the day after Christmas. Dad was trying to take a nap, but his young son kept finding ways to interrupt his siesta. Finally the father lost his patience and said sternly, "Go to my room, and go now!" Hearing this, the boy's mother asked, "Why did you tell him to go to your room and not his?" The father replied: "Are you kidding? Did you see all those Christmas presents the kid received? In his room he has a TV, an iPod, an iPad, an Xbox and 3 new electronic games. If we want to punish him, we have to send him to our room."
  • Remembering God's Promise

    by Chana Tetzlaff
    In his book, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes that “we all experience sadness, we all come at times to despair, and we all lose hope that the suffering in our lives and in the world will ever end” but, he continues, …there is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine....
  • Awaken to Wonder

    by Carl Wilton
    The young clergyman and his wife do all the things you do on Christmas Eve. They string the lights and hang the ornaments. They supervise the hanging of the stockings. They tuck in the children. They lug the presents down out of hiding and pile them under the tree. Just as they’re about to fall exhausted into bed, the husband remembers his neighbor’s sheep. The man asked him to feed them for him while he was away, and in the press of other matters that night he forgot all about them. So down the hill he goes through knee-deep snow. He gets two bales of hay from the barn and carries them out to the shed. There’s a forty-watt bulb hanging by its cord from the low roof, and he lights it. The sheep huddle in a corner watching as he snaps the baling twine, shakes the squares of hay apart and starts scattering it. Then they come bumbling and shoving to get at it with their foolish, mild faces, the puffs of their breath showing in the air. He is reaching to turn off the bulb and leave when suddenly he realizes where he is. The winter darkness. The glimmer of light. The smell of the hay and the sound of the animals eating. Where he is, of course, is the manger.

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2013 to 2015

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Advent 4A (2013)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "Back in the early 90s there was a popular TV show called Evening Shade. You might remember it – Burt Reynolds starred as a football coach in small-town Arkansas, but the stories were mainly about the daily doings in his personal life, with his wife and kids and friends. One night, at the end of the show, his two elementary school-aged children were ready for bed and were looking out the bedroom windows over the porch and chatting..."
  • Betting on Salvation

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("So, whose birth, in the words of this ancient inscription, is 'the gospel for the whole world?'. I place my bet with the renegade priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan, who repudiates our alternate gospels of pseudo-salvation in his poem Credo. 'I can only tell you what I believe; I believe: I cannot be saved by foreign policies. I cannot be saved by the sexual revolution. I cannot be saved by the gross national product...")
  • Joseph: The Man in the Middle

    by Tom Cox
    ("I remember one lady telling me when she knew her boyfriend was 'the one'. She knew his past, but she also knew he changed and saw his gentleness and spirit of faith and one day saw him being kind to a hurt child. She knew instinctively then that he was 'the one' who would help teach, raise, care and show any child they may have, to do what is right. As she said 'when you have somebody like that, it is already Christmas'....")
  • Preserve This, Our City

    by Steve Godfrey
    ["I was fascinated to learn this week about Duccio's Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekial (pictured above). It's a story that spans from the National Gallery of Art in present day Washington, D.C. all the way back to 14th century Tuscany, Italy, and the city state of Siena. Duccio di Buoninsegna received a commission from the government of Siena to create a magnificent altarpiece called the Maesta..."]
  • Just What a Dad Does

    by Janet Hunt
    ("Sixteen year old Nathan and his friend had gone to the mall. They had taken a shortcut they had taken with their parents dozens of times before, but the paved road turned to gravel before they remembered and the car rolled. Nathan's friend walked away from the accident with no more than a broken leg, but Nathan was in intensive care with a brain injury..." and another personal illustration)
  • Getting to the Front of the Stable

    by Fran Ota
    ("A Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts were handed out, a boy he didn't like was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn-keeper instead. He was pretty upset about this but he didn't say anything to the director...")
  • It Will Be Done

    by Andrew Prior
    ("Matthew's Christmas story takes the whole two chapters at the beginning of his gospel, not just today's short reading. The problem is that Matthew includes women in the genealogy of Jesus! That just wasn't done! But these women are different; all four of them...")
  • Keep Watching, Keep Warning, Keep Chasing

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("When you turn sixteen, what's the most important thing in the world? Any 16-year-olds here? Anyone want to take on that question? That's right. Getting your driver's license. In most states, if you are under the age of eighteen, you now need to take 'Driver's Ed' before you can qualify for a driver's license. That means students have already had to learn all the "rules of the road"'...")
  • Good News for Those Who Fear

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time there was a rancher named Lexy, in Montana, who was having trouble with Coyotes killing her sheep. She used electric fences, odor sprays and even tried placing battery-operated radios near them. She tried corralling them at night and herding them by day. Nothing worked and in one year she lost over fifty of her sheep. Finally Lexy purchased some llamas...")
  • Images of St. Joseph

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2010 to 2012

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • *Epiphany Rap

    by Christina Berry
    ("Three magi looked up and saw a big ol' star They followed its light and they went pretty far 'I want to see that baby,' the king there said But the wise men knew the king wanted Jesus dead!...")
  • Why Honor Mary?

    by Phil Bloom
    ("the singer Johnny Cash once sang a Christmas song honoring Mary: 'Merry Christmas, Mary. Thank you for the child. Thank you for Lord Jesus, thank you for the child. Merry Christmas, Mary. Too often we forget to thank you for the greatest Christmas present yet...")
  • Dreams of a Christmas Credo

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("The renegade priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan repudiates our many false gods in his poem Credo. 'I can only tell you what I believe; I believe: I cannot be saved by foreign policies. I cannot be saved by the sexual revolution. I cannot be saved by the gross national product. I cannot be saved by nuclear deterrents...")
  • Two Special Christmases

    by Denis Hanly, MM
    the Great Depression came the year my father arrived in the United States. He was a rich man’s son who became almost immediately poor. But everybody was poor then because the Great Depression came and it was very, very severe. And along came Christmas, and my father wanted to give us the Christmas that he always had when he was a rich man’s son, but he just couldn’t do it. In fact, it got so bad that there was going to be not enough money to buy any gifts, maybe to put in a tree but that was it. Anyhow he felt terrible because my father was a Christmas addict in a way. Christmas was everything for him because it helped him to remember his days in Ireland, growing up there. Anyhow, he came to us, lined us up, my big sister, my little sister and I, and said, “Santa Claus just phoned and he is very sick so he’s not coming this Christmas.” And we all thought this was a great loss, because Christmas meant Santa Claus and Santa Claus meant gifts, and that was kind of the end of a little dream that we had. But we were very stoic and we understood and we said to my father, “Will you say to Santa we hope he gets better, but it’s okay to skip one Christmas.” About a week before Christmas came, my father was coming home on the train and the train ended up in a wreck...
  • Advent 4A (2010)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("As Frederick Buechner once mused, what is it about our names and how we identify with them? With a last name like mine - Hoezee - I more-or-less expect it to be mispronounced as often as not by restaurant maitre'd's and telemarketers and even sometimes by the person introducing me when I am a guest preacher or speaker somewhere....")
  • Messages of Hope

    by Linda Kraft
    ("In Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation, a story is told of Mary Wilson. You'd never know by looking at this modest woman that she was the recipient of the Silver Star and she bore the nickname The Angel of Anzio. You might know that when the Allies got bogged down in the boot of Italy during World War II, they attempted a daring breakout by launching an amphibious landing on the Anzio Beach...")
  • A Morning of Advent Songs and Readings

    by Jim McCrea
    "The story has been told for centuries now — how Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar brought gifts to the newborn king. Ah, you say, everyone knows. They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. So it has been told. But the story is incomplete. Listen to the rest. You shall learn the secret of the gifts..."
  • Advent 4A (2010)

    by Robert Morrison
    ("'The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered', Edwards wrote on her Facebook page. 'We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world...")
  • Christmas Present

    by Fran Ota
    ("Poor Scrooge. He was exhausted after trying to shut out the light of the Spirit which shone on his past. Finally, aware of being back in his own bedroom, he fell into a deep sleep. For some reason he wakened early and pulled back all the bed curtains to have a good view of the whole room. - and waited...the bell tolled one...")
  • All I Want for Christmas Is Peace

    by David Russell
    ("When we experience God’s shalom in our own lives and live in the light of God’s peace, it changes things – one situation at a time, one person at a time. One such example is that of Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee. A year and a half ago, Heartsong’s pastor, Steve Stone, learned that the Memphis Islamic Center had purchased land adjacent to his church. Rather than protest the plans, he put up a large sign that said: 'Heartsong Church Welcomes the Memphis Islamic Center to the Neighborhood.'...")
  • Have a Jolly Imperfect Christmas This Year!

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Some Christmas's stay forever in our hearts and minds because they were so beautiful, so magical, so perfect. You got your Red Ryder BB gun or Malibu Barbie. The time the Christmas pageant went off without a hitch. The year when everyone got to come home. A blanket of snow on Christmas Eve draped everything in white and wonder...")
  • God Is With Us

    by Keith Wagner
    According to an old legend, two monks named Tanzan and Ekido, were traveling together down a muddy road. Heavy monsoon rains had saturated the area, and they were grateful for a few moments of sunshine. Before long, they came around a bend and encountered a lovely girl in a silk kimono. She looked extremely forlorn as she stared at the muddy road before her. At once, Tanzan responded to her plight. “Come here, girl,” he said. He then lifted her in his arms, and carried her over the slippery ooze to the other side of the road. As they went on their way, Tanzan noticed that Ekido was uncharacteristically silent. It was apparent that something was troubling him. That night, after they had reached their destination, Ekido could no longer retain his anger at Tanzan. “We monks don’t go near females,” he said to Tanzan. “We especially don’t go near young or lovely maidens. It is dangerous and against our code. Why did you do that? Tanzan then replied, “I left that girl back there on the road, but you are still carrying her.”...

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2007 to 2009

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Joseph the Righteous

    by Marnie Barrell
    (good discussion of Joseph's role)
  • Believe in the Dreams of the Person You Love

    by Samuel Candler
    ("It was a few days before Christmas. A woman woke up one morning and told her husband, 'I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?' 'Oh,' her husband replied, 'you'll know the day after tomorrow.'...")
  • Who Wants to Wait?

    by Lindsey Crittenden
    ("When I was six years old, we moved from a small house on a street full of children and bicycles to a bigger house up the hill. Our new neighbors consisted of retired navy Admirals and old ladies who wore faded housecoats to check their mail every afternoon. This was supposed to be a move up?!? And then I met Karen. Karen was my age and she lived only four houses away. We bonded instantly...")
  • Names Come First

    by Rob Elder
    A pastor friend of mine recently reflected on the fact that even with the power of modern technology, there are moments when the Spirit has a difficult time getting through to us. Early on a Sunday morning, he was madly rushing about his church building preparing for worship, setting up for a class he was to teach, and so on. As he made a pass by the fax machine, it began to ring. If the machine at his church is anything like ours, the only thing that comes across it on a Sunday morning will be something like an automated fax ad from some company trying to sell vacation packages to the Bahamas — a particularly cruel sort of thing to fax into a minister’s office on a dark, wintry Sunday morning. Of course, it is often simply a wrong number. Rather than let it ring, my friend picked up the receiver on the fax machine and said, “You’ve got a wrong number,” and hung up. As he went about his busy business, it rang again, and he didn’t have time to get to it. As he passed it by on his way to his class, he discovered that, in fact, there was a fax waiting there, and it was a message from a long-time friend in California asking him to pray for a mutual friend who had been stricken with a life-threatening illness. My friend stopped in his tracks as he realized how often his own busy-ness becomes an excuse for not paying attention, not looking for God’s movement toward us. There just could be times when a wrong number is really a right number, when what at first seemed like an interruption to our pre-arranged plans is really the work of the Spirit, moving toward us to save us...
  • A Wondrous Mystery

    by Steve Goodier
    ("Stan Sieczkowski heard in church about a Denver family facing a rather bleak Christmas holiday. Medical bills robbed them of any extras; they would not even have a tree. So Stan and his son Jay determined to get them that tree. They headed up into the Colorado Rockies in the family pickup. However, the truck skidded off the icy road and hit a boulder that shattered the windshield,..")
  • Advent 4A (2007)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a little girl named Jeanne Marie who was afraid of the dark. She wouldn't go to sleep at night unless all the lights in her room were on. You couldn’t never tell, she argued, who’d sneak into her room at night if it were dark. She absolutely refused to go into her closet because, like the boy in comics several years ago, she thought monsters might lurk in the closet...")
  • A New Thing

    by Anne Le Bas
    (good comparison of Ahaz and Joseph)
  • Stories and Illustrations for Advent 4

    Compiled by Jack Lohr
    ("A worried mother phoned the church office on the afternoon before the annual Christmas pageant to say that her small son, who was to play the role of Joseph in the Christmas play, had a cold and had gone to bed on doctor's orders. 'It's too late now to get another Joseph,' the director of the play said. 'We'll just have to write him out of the script'..." and several others)
  • Liberating the Real Joseph

    by Charles Love
    ("William Willimon tells a story that pretty much gets it right in terms of the significance that we most often ascribe to Joseph the 'stand-in' father of Jesus. Willimon says: 'Last year at our congregation's annual Christmas pageant, we had quite a dilemma. On the night of the big event, the director came running down the hall to burst into my office. 'We have no Joseph!' he shouted all panicky...'")
  • Long-Range Plans

    by Jack McKinney
    "Joy has recently written a powerful book that takes an honest and uncompromising look at what life was like raising a child with special needs. In reflecting on Stross' fifth birthday, she wrote these words: 'As I've learned through the balance of each year, my most intense periods of learning are not reserved for birthdays alone..."
  • Do You Remember Where the Baby Jesus Is?

    by Roger Nichols
    ("I was doing a bit of shopping with Emily this past week. At one point, she suddenly asks me: 'Do you remember where the baby Jesus is?' Huh? I was a little confused by the question at first, seeing as how we were driving down a side street at that particular moment. But, then I realized, Oh, she really wanted to know if I -- me -- remembered where the baby Jesus was...")
  • The Other Person in the Story

    by Fran Ota
    ("William Willimon, former Dean of Duke University Chapel, now a bishop in Alabama, tells of an incident which happened while preparing for the Christmas pageant at Duke Chapel. The director of the pageant had just received a phone call from the mother of the young man who was to play Joseph..." and other illustrations)
  • Finding the Way Home

    by Stephen Schuette
    ("Shenandoah is another great movie of Jimmy Stewart's. It takes place in the Civil War. And as much as Jimmy Stewart tries to stay out of it, to remain neutral, he and his family are dragged into the circumstances of war....")
  • Illustrations (Advent 4A)

    by Tim Zingale
    ("In the Beetle Bailey comic strip, Zero almost never gets things right. In one sequence, he approaches Sarge and says, 'When we build that new barracks, is it okay to build the inside first?' Sarge gives him a disbelieving look. Zero persists: 'And can we build the roof before we build the walls and floor?'..." and several others)
  • Joseph, A Man of Faithfulness

    by Tim Zingale
    ("A father was telling his small son the story about the lost sheep who left the other 99. He explained, how the little sheep crawled through the hold in the fence -- running and skipping and playing in the sunshine. Out of the woods came a wolf, that was about to attack the-lamb. But in the nick of time, the shepherd, who had been searching for the lost sheep, appeared..." and other illustrations)

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

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Poem for Joseph

    Author Unknown
  • God Has Promised to Redeem Us

    by Mark Adams
    ("Ron Mehl writes of an incomplete bridge span across the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. When the bridge was built back in the mid-1960's, it was designed to accommodate an east-running freeway which was to be known as The Mount Hood Freeway...") ("In his book In The Grip of Grace, Max Lucado recalls the days when credit cards were imprinted by hand. I don't know about you but I remember those days. I worked at Holiday Inn when I was in college and I remember a machine we had that we used for this purpose. You'd put the credit card in a special slot on one side and a carbon receipt slip on the other side...")
  • Joseph's Story

    by Mark Adams
    ("In his book Forgive and Forget, Lewis Smeades tells the story of Jane and Ralph. After this couple had reared their three children, it appeared Jane was going to have a life of her own. But tragedy struck. Ralph's younger brother and sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident, which instantly orphaned their three children...")
  • For He Will Save His People

    by Robert Allred
    ("Mary Wicker had lost her beloved four year old son Billy to Leukemia in July, and as the Christmas season approached the pain of her loss became even worse. As she stood in her kitchen staring out the window she saw little Chris Wilson, Billy's best friend, playing in the backyard alone. Poor Chris always played alone now that he had lost her Billy. Mary had not been any comfort to Chris...")
  • God Has Landed on Our Shores

    by Robert Allred
    ("An atheist philosophy professor at the University of Southern California had as his goal to dispel every student's belief in God. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his stern manner and impeccable logic. At the end of each semester he would say to his class of 300, 'If there is anyone who still believes in Jesus, stand up!'...")
  • Least Expectations

    by Mickey Anders
    ("Recently a man took his film to a one-hour development facility in downtown Chicago. He left the film and returned in an hour to discover that the place had changed to a one-hour cleaners. The confused man hesitantly entered the store, met the same clerk, and asked about his film. The gentleman behind the counter said, 'Was that a suit or just shirts?'...") ("As I looked through the incredibly beautiful landscape photographs in the book, I came across one of a spectacular mountain valley filled with wild flowers. I read on the next page the photographer's description of the day he took the picture. He said he found the valley with the wild flowers in bloom early in the day and set up his equipment....")
  • He Shall Be Called

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("years ago a census collector was going from house to house to determine the number of residents in the area. He came to one house and said to the woman who answered his knock, 'How many people live in this house?' 'Well,' she answered, 'there's Johnny and Jamie and Tommie. Then there's Mary and Amy. Then there's...' The census collector was getting impatient...")
  • Immanuel, God with Us

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty...")
  • Joseph

    by John Buchanan
    ("It was a few days before Christmas, and Linda’s niece, Megan, age four, was drawing a picture of the nativity. It’s important to keep four-year-olds busy before Christmas and what better project than drawing a picture of the Bethlehem stable. So little Megan was working intently. She stayed with it for a long time, and when she completed the project, proudly showed it to her mother.." and a poem by Auden)
  • Bette Midler Was Wrong

    by Daniel B. Clendenin
    ("In a favorite song of mine, Bette Midler captures this deeply human but ambivalent sense of longing. From a sanitized 'distance'. life feels safer and better than what we experience up close and personal...")
  • Bethlehem Homecoming

    by Tom Cox
    ("Christmas is associated with homecoming. Our homes and fridges are never fuller. In preceding days; airports, train stations and ferry terminals strain to cope with the extra traffic. Whatever the reality, to be away from “home” leads to a special homesickness and loneliness...")
  • Blessed Night

    by Tom Cox
    ("More than in any other season, his name is on our lips. For a few precious hours our heavenly yearnings intermesh and we become a chorus. A ragtag chorus of business folk, lawyers, immigrants, and a thousand other peculiar persons banking that Bethlehem’s mystery is in reality, a reality...")
  • Have No Fear

    by Tom Cox
    ("When you move house, the physical move is one thing. Most people find the packing and unpacking aspect the most stressful. However, notifying your change of address to family, friends, colleagues and businesses can be a real headache. Only the Revenue Commissioners (Inland Revenue) seem to uncannily find you at your new home...")
  • The Unexpected Happens

    by Tom Cox
    ("By now, except for some fine details, our Christmas preparations are nearing completion. Lists checked, the perfect gift obtained and wrapped. Cards that we seriously intended delivered in time - sent. Menus are in their final stages...")
  • My Heart Sings Out

    by Patricia de Jong
    ("Wendell Berry has a poem about being faithful, even when the world around us seems filled with scandal and the spirit of insanity. Berry does not write so much of the silence of God, but of the faithful activity of the human being in an unkind world. 'So, friends, every day do something that won't compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing...")
  • Conceived From the Holy Spirit

    by Adrian Dieleman
    ("In the early 19th century, a war-weary world was anxiously watching the march of Napoleon. All the while babies were being born. In 1809, midway between the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, William E. Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Summersby, England...")
  • Immanuel

    by Adrian Dieleman
    ("When the song of the angels is silent When the star in the sky is gone When the kings and princes are home When the shepherds are again tending their sheep When the manger is darkened and still The work of Christmas begins -- To find the lost To heal the broken To feed the hungry To rebuild the nations To bring peace among people..." and other short illustrations)
  • What's Your Sign?

    by Rob Elder
    ("Several years ago, Edward McDonald wrote, 'When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, he goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn't release his thunderbolts or stir up his earthquakes. He simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps in a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother...")
  • The God Who Comes

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("Children are great. A kindergarten teacher tells her class the Christmas story of the Shepherds and the Three Wise Men. At the end she asked them, "Now tell me, Who was the first to know about the birth of Jesus?...")
  • Christmas Love

    by Richard Fairchild
    Once upon a time there lived a fisherman and his wife. Their home was a humble two roomed cottage with a tiny garden and a well. Every day the fisherman would go out in his little boat and in the evening bring home his catch, sometimes good, sometimes poor. This was their livelihood...
  • You Shall Call His Name Jesus

    by Art Ferry
    ("You remember the wonderful story of the Wizard of Oz. In the story several characters illustrate how persons learn and believe in unfounded assumptions about their personal limitations. Dorothy and her dog Toto want to return to Kansas, the Scarecrow wants a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart and the Cowardly Lion wants courage..."and several other illustrations)
  • God Keeps His Promises

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("The biography of the Christian scholar and writer, C.S. Lewis, tells of the suffering he endured because he kept a promise he had made to a buddy during World War I. This friend was worried about the care of his wife and small daughter if he should be killed in battle, so Lewis assured him that if that were to happen he would look after them. As the war dragged on, the man was killed...")
  • She Will Have a Son

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey shares an episode from his youth when the concept of 'the Word becoming flesh' dawned on him with profound meaning: 'I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task..." and another illustration)
  • Born of a What??

    by Bruce Goettsche
    (includes extensive discussion of virgin birth)
  • Christmas Midnight (A)(2001)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("A few years ago archaeologists in Israel, excavating a church from the Byzantine period uncovered a holy stone, 'The seat' where, according to early Christian tradition, Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Based on material found in early Christian sources, the church and nearby monastery were dedicated to Maria Theotokos, the bearer of God...")
  • Christmas Vigil (B)(2000)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there were two kids who were fed up with Christmas. They began an anti-Christmas campaign among their friends. Look, they said, everyone is tense and worn out, moms are tired from cooking, dads from putting up trees and decorations, kids from wrapping presents, neighbors from all the noise and bustle. We open the presents and they're not really what we wanted, though we thought we did...")
  • God with You

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Back in the 1960's, John Lennon and the Beatles recorded a song that embodied the desire to transcend reality so as to enter another realm altogether. Part of the song says, 'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a papercup, they slither as they pass, they slip away across the universe...")
  • Dreams: A Way To Listen To God

    by John Jewell
    There is, however, a resource available to all of us which requires that we simply stop and pay attention to it. Listen to a quote from a book written by John Sanford: "Suppose someone told you that there was something that spoke to you every night, that always presented you with a truth about your own life and soul, that was tailor made to your particular life story, and that offered to guide you throughout your lifetime and connect you with a source of wisdom far beyond yourself. And, furthermore, suppose that all of this was absolutely free. Naturally you would be astonished that something like this existed. Yet this is exactly the way it is with our dreams."John A. Sanford: Dreams and Healing Morton Kelsey in his book, Dreams: A Way Of Listening To God bemoans the fact that the subject of dreams has been sorely neglected in relatively recent Christian history. Yet, he writes, "I discovered that throughout the history of Christianity, the dream has been a channel often used by God to talk to His people." Most people In our culture today would see the study and interpretation of dreams as the province of psychologists and psychiatrists, yet dreams were received as a gift of God from biblical times on into centuries of Christian history long before Freud "discovered" them. Abraham Lincoln noted how much dreams appeared in scripture and paid close attention to his own dreams. "We know," John Sanford wrote, "That Lincoln believed God still spoke to people in dreams ... and has left us a record of some particularly interesting ones that immediately preceded his death, which seemed to him to be intimations of the forthcoming end of his life." In the very first book of the Bible, Joseph says of dreams, "Do not interpretations belong to God?"...
  • Fulfillment: "God is Here"

    by John Jewell
    ("It was a few days before Christmas when I met with a couple who were going to be married the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Although I don't usually perform weddings on Christmas Eve, I agreed to this one because this couple had been through some very difficult times and they saw their relationship as a gift from God...") ("I visited with an elderly couple in a new parish some years ago. They lived alone and as far as I knew they did not have any children. They were sharing some of their memories as they showed me around the small home. On a dresser in the bedroom sat a funny greenish clay saucer or bowl -- you couldn't really tell...")
  • Are We There Yet?

    by Beth Johnston
    Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." "I see millions and millions of stars," Watson replied. "What does that tell you?" asked Holmes. Watson pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
  • What If Joseph Had Said "No"!

    by Beth Johnston
    When I was in high school one of the novels we were required to read was Black Like Me. In this book the author, whose name now escapes me, decided that the only way he could really understand and appreciate the difficulties of being a person of colour was to become one. Using various drugs and skin creams he succeeded in fooling many people and he was able to become like a black man. It was an experience he could not have had by talking with people or even living with them; he became one with them for a time.
  • Seeds of Promise and Love: On Beyond Z

    by Fred Kane
    ("One of the greater practical theologians of our time is overlooked in theological schools, but is never ever neglected in preschools. I'm talking about Dr. Seuss. The Dr. Seuss story On Beyond Zebra helps us to imagine life beyond the boundaries that others have placed on us or beyond boundaries that we have perhaps placed on ourselves...")
  • All About Angels - Almost

    by David Leininger
    ("In Billy Graham's book is the story of the Reverend John G. Paton, pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. He told a thrilling tale of hostile natives surrounding his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left..." and other illustrations)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

    by David Leininger
    ("One of my friends recalls the days when he taught confirmation to each year's 9th grade Sunday School class.(2) At this time of year, he would do the same exercise. He would tell the class that scholars thought that Mary was the same age as they were, about 14 or so. He would then show them Deuteronomy 22:23-24, where according to Jewish law Joseph could have brought charges against Mary...")
  • The Original "Average Joe"

    by David Leininger
    ("One of my friends recalls the days when he taught confirmation to each year's ninth grade Sunday School class. He would divide up the class with all the boys on one side and all the girls on the other. The girls' assignment was to list all of Mary's options, while the boys were to list Joseph's....")
  • The Birth of Christ and the Birth of Christmas

    by Edward Markquart
    ("I found a poem the other day that seems to fit: 'When Jesus called that Christmas week I wasn't at my best; And the house was much too cluttered to entertain a guest. He seemed to notice everything, the card still unaddressed, The gifts piled high awaiting wraps, the baking and the rest...")
  • Emmanuel: God Is with Us

    by Edward Markquart
    ("I love that story about two little old ladies who were living on a farm in North Dakota. It was not only a farm in North Dakota, it was a dumpy farm in North Dakota. It was the dumpiest farm you have ever seen in North Dakota. The chicken coop was falling down. The barn was falling down. The rusted machinery was falling apart, and the old rusted spinsters were falling apart...")
  • Advent 4A

    by Brian McGowan
    ("John Irving, in his challenging A Prayer for Owen Meany describes the Meany family's crib thus: 'on the mantel..a creche with cheaply painted wooden figures. The cow was three-legged, propped against a rather menacing chicken almost half the cow's size...")
  • In the Middle of Our Muddle

    by Harold McNabb
    ("One of the songs that become a Christmas staple is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The song was introduced in 1943 in the middle of WW II, when people were yearning for happier times..." and another illustration)
  • What's In a Name?

    by Gregory Munro
    ("In the movie Casualties of War, Michael J. Fox plays a soldier who is part of a squad that rapes a young girl. He didn't participate in the crime, but after, as he struggles with what happened, he says, "Just because each of us might be blown away at any second, we're acting like we can do anything we want...")
  • Advent 4A

    by Joseph Parrish
    ("The great composer George Frederic Handel's musical genius was discovered when he was just a child. He composed operas, toured Europe, and directed the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was revered by all of England. But slowly Handel’s music fell out of style...")
  • Truth In Scandal

    by John Pavelko
    ("My favorite Christmas pageant story is presented by Charlie Schultz in comic strip Peanuts. Linus has been assigned the part of narrator. He must open the performance with the retelling of the angel's appearance to Mary announcing that she has been honored to bear the Christ child..." and another illustration)
  • More Than Just a Name

    by Stephen Portner
    ("I recently read an article about the boy who was named 'Fruitstand'. Calvin Miller tells the story of a first-grader in a rather counter-cultural community who came a few days late for the beginning of school. His teacher was pleased that his parents had filled out the appropriate forms, including putting his name on a name tag around his neck...")
  • God Is a Grown-Up

    by John Purdy
    ("But how a child grows to responsible maturity is one of life's awesome mysteries. In her novella Good Will, Jane Smiley creates what seem ideal circumstances for the growth and development of a child. Bob and Liz Miller choose to raise their one child on a Pennsylvania farm. They do nearly everything for their own survival and nourishment...")
  • Close Encounters of the Best Kind

    by David H. C. Read
    ("There's something a little different about the story I'm going to tell you this Christmas morning. Usually when a minister tells a 'tale for all ages' there are parts of it the children don't understand, but this time the children will easily understand, but they may have to explain some things later to their parents. For this is a story about space and space travel...")
  • Tim's Predicament

    Story Sermon by Gary Roth
    ("Tim Muhler and Edna Pantini are getting married in a couple of days, on Christmas Eve, between the 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. services. Pastor Shulz didn't want to do it at first - after all, Christmas Eve is about the busiest night of the year, and he's got two services going already...")
  • Trust or Bust

    by Jeeva Sam
    ("Have you ever noticed what happens when new parents come into a crowded room with their new baby? The spotlight comes on and zooms in on the baby and the mom, right? When was the baby born? How much did she weigh? How long was he? Was it an easy delivery? How long was the labour? Through all of this the new father just stands there...")
  • Joseph

    Poem for Worship by J. Barrie Shepherd
  • Glory To The Newborn King

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("In an old Garfield comic, Odie is asleep on the floor. Garfield walks up, lifts up Odie's ear and whispers 'Christmas is coming' and then walks off. Odie is still asleep, but now their is a big smile on his face and his tail is wagging ninety to nothing..." and several other illustrations)
  • The Hopes and Dreams of God

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("There is a story told by Hans Lilje in his book Valley of the Shadow. It was Christmas Eve and they were in prison during the war. In the cell next to him were two men waiting to be executed. These men had requested communion as they faced their limited future. Hans, who was a pastor was called into their cell to take the service...")
  • The Imperfect Made Perfect

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("An eight-year-old girl was showing her preschool sister a picture of Mary and the baby Jesus. The younger girl examined the picture closely and then she asked, 'Where's Joseph?' The older sister thought for a moment and then replied, 'He's taking the picture.'...")
  • One Thing After Another

    by Alex Thomas
    ("There is a story told by Hans Lilje that he told in his book Valley of the Shadow. It was Christmas Eve and they were in prison during the war. In the cell next to him were two men waiting to be executed...")
  • The True Excitement of Christmas

    by Alex Thomas
    ("It was Christmas Eve. Sam looked out the window of his small farm house. The snow was swirling down and covering the ground with it's clean bright whiteness..." and another illustration)
  • God with Us

    by John Timmer
    ("Some of you have read Albert Camus's novel The Plague. The scene is a city in North Africa where the plague has broken out. No one may enter the city or leave it for a long period of time. People are dying by the hundreds. Those who survive grow weary and sick at heart. One of the novel's characters is an old man....")
  • The Sign: Emmanuel

    by Leonard Vander Zee
    ("Walter Wangerin tells us the true story of a woman named Gloria Ferguson. Gloria is an ordinary person who works at the Salvation Army Senior Drop-In Center. She has suffered an ordinary loss, the death of a beloved uncle and friend Sonny Boy, who was like a father to her. Death is ordinary, and loss is common, until it's yours. Then it's not ordinary any more.....")
  • God Is With Us

    by Keith Wagner
    ("According to an old legend, two monks named Tanzan and Ekido, were traveling together down a muddy road. Heavy monsoon rains had saturated the area, and they were grateful for a few moments of sunshine. Before long, they came around a bend and encountered a lovely girl in a silk kimono. She looked extremely forlorn as she stared at the muddy road before her...")
  • Ultimate Faith

    by Keith Wagner
    ("This past week the television program, "Home Improvement," had a special Christmas episode. Randy returned from Costa Rica, but every in the family ignored him. They were all busy, living their lives. Randy felt left out. It wasn't the same home he used to know. It was if he was an outsider...")
  • Getting to the Front of the Stable

    Poem for Worship by Ann Weems

Other Resources from 2019

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 2007 to 2009

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 2004 to 2006

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 2001 to 2003

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Other Resources from 1998 and 1999

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Resources from the Archives

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Children's Resources and Dramas

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

The Classics

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable

  • Lexegesis

    by David Buehler
  • Advent 4

    by Luis de Moya
  • Children's Literature

    from Union Presbyterian Serminary
  • Three Men

    by David Martyn
    ("The hymn Stranger Song was featured in Robert Altman's film McCabe and Mrs. Miller, an anti-Western piece. The gambler McCabe dies alone in a snow bank, Mrs. Miller the prostitute tends to her opium addiction...")
  • The Rest of Your Story

    by Sharron Blezard
    Scroll down the page for thoughts on children's time.
  • The Gospel of God

    by Fred Anderson
  • A Question of Paternity

    by Fred Anderson
  • The Christmas Angel

    by Russell Brownworth
    ("I finally saw Saving Private Ryan about two weeks ago. I was extremely proud until the last minute of the movie. As the movie began, I was proud watching the Rangers take Omaha Beach. Then the story begins when they receive a mission to go deep into enemy territory to save Private Ryan. They hit skirmish after skirmish, and some of them are killed along the way...")
  • A Righteous Man

    by David Risendal
  • Advent 4A (2016)

    by Dave Shea
  • Christmas Gifts

    by Damian Spikereit
    ("in 1873, there was a young, brave Catholic priest named Father Damien who volunteered to spend his life serving the people secluded on the island of Molokai. When he arrived, he was was startled to see people who were not only suffering physically, but socially, and emotionally, and spiritually...")