Matthew 11: 2-15

Illustrated New Resources

  • John, Jesus and Joy: Listening to the Right Prophet

    by Rian Adams
    Last night I watched the Heisman trophy presentation. Over the years I’ve noticed how the winners usually say things like, “I want to thank my coach, and my team, and my parents. I especially thank my 11th-grade coach who cut me from the first team. That’s when I decided I’d prove that was the greatest coaching mistake he ever made.” The speeches are usually them and their accomplishments. Last night LSU’s QB, Joe Burrow, won the Heisman. He sounded a lot like Isaiah. He stood, fought back the tears, and said, “First, I want to thank my line because without them I’m nothing.” Continuing, thanked family, coaches, team members, and friends. Joe didn’t mention himself. He ended with, “I’m just a kid from a rural town southeast Ohio. We face poverty at four times that of the norm. This is for the hungry kids, for the kids who can’t afford to play football, and for the kids who are scared they will never have enough, I am proof that there is hope.” Preach it, Isaiah. Flowers can bloom in the parched and barren lands.
  • Advent 3A (2019)

    by David Brooks
    A group of friends had gone hiking in the Colorado mountains, but one of them was a novice, with new, unused and unfamiliar equipment and a few too many days spent on the couch instead of on the move. The hike had gone well at first, with an easy pace and much conversation. But then the trail began to rise steeply, cutting back and forth in switchbacks that did little to ease the strenuous ascent. They hiked in puffing silence for a time, until the trail leveled out and a icy patch—all that was left of an ancient glacier—lay across their path. The leader reviewed quickly the proper use of an ice axe for stopping if a hiker slipped on the ice, and they began to cross, using their axes as support as they traversed the ice. But the novice, tired and unsure of his gear, got a few dozen steps onto the ice and stopped—he was very afraid, very tired and very trapped. The vast sky and the slick, steep slide left the poor hiker wobbly, and his axe hung useless on his belt. Nothing the other hikers could do would coax him to continue another step, and his legs began to shake. His fear grew in his throat as he saw the concern on his friends’ faces; to slip down the ice would mean a fall of 100 feet or more. Finally, the leader took a length of rope out of his pack, gave one end to another hiker who continued through the ice field to solid ground, and walked back to his trapped friend. He secured the other end of the rope to the trapped hiker and said the following words: “this happened to me, and I know what to do. Just put your hand on my shoulder and follow me.” So, with the one leading, the other following, they walked back together to the place where the ice had started. Once on solid ground, the novice collapsed to the ground, exhausted but safe. In much the same way, John the Baptist is perhaps afraid, perhaps tired, but certainly trapped...
  • Jesus, Are You the One?

    by Jim Chern
    Sadly, when we hear on the news or read on our timelines reports of a Cop being killed in the line of duty; of a hate-filled attack that has terrorized a community; of a Church being burned to the ground by some deranged arsonist – we’ve almost become desensitized to how incredibly evil those things truly are. These types of stories have almost been accepted as an ordinary report of just some more bad news. Yet when all three of those things happened this past week – all about 10 miles from where we sit, the proximity of it all made it all too real, all too horrific and evil, all too shocking...
  • The Gift of Doubt

    by Brian Cole
    Thomas Merton, the Kentucky monk and writer, who died 51 years ago in the month of December, wrote numerous books on prayer and faith, on literature, with poetry and letters and essays and his own biography serving as important markers for many other seekers who would follow his path. Many people today have faith because Merton wrote faithfully. But of all the things he wrote, I would suggest the most enduring writing is a prayer he wrote while sitting in a toolshed in Nelson County, Kentucky. It is referred to as Merton's prayer. He wrote this prayer in the Mid 1950s, when he was already considered a spiritual giant by many. The prayer is this. "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."...
  • Living Here and Now

    by Mary Ellen Helms
    Our community recently screened the film, “Look to the Sky” by Brett Culp. This documentary told the stories of many young people who were not waiting until they had the resources, time, or drive to change the world – they were doing it right then and there. These were young people with great challenges who met the world with eyes of hope and joy – not ones who wanted to rush through the current state and get to adulthood. I loved the story of Violet, a young girl who had a rare form of cancer. She bubbled over with enthusiasm and shared that joy with others in big and small ways. Instead of focusing on what was surely a life filled with a lot of ups and downs, she took her superpower of love and spread hope and joy for others to see.
  • Sermon Starters (Advent 3A)(2019)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Years ago I attended a taping of “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in Burbank, California. Before the taping began, the show’s announcer and second banana, Ed McMahon, came out and talked to the audience. He cracked jokes and humorously reminded us to laugh at Johnny’s jokes when he came out so that we’d all be nice to the show’s star. Ed warmed us up, got us ready. We never saw Johnny himself, of course, until that moment when the band was fully cranked up and Ed said his famous intro “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny,” at which point the curtains parted and out stepped Mr. Carson. John the Baptist was the warm-up. He had spent years getting people ready to hear him say, “Heeeeeeere’s Messiah!” but in this case when the curtain parted, the man who stepped forward ended up being camera shy. He ducked the spotlight. He muffed his lines. He fled to out-of-the-way places. John sensed that the audience was let down, and so was he...
  • John in Prison

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Giovanni di Paolo's version (left) has the animal chained to an outside wall of John's cell. The creature is lying belly-to-the-ground and looks away from John and the disciples. In the version by the Mastor of Astorga (right), the creature is sitting on its back haunches, echoing John's position by looking at the disciples wearing a collar but not chained to anything or anyone. What are these two animals?...
  • The Hope of Advent

    by Brenda Seat
    Early this year parts of California near Walker Canyon and Lake Elsinore experienced a “super bloom apocalypse,” where long dormant desert flowers in the hot dry desert exploded into bloom after rain and snow melt from the mountains watered the thirsty ground. The bloom was so vibrant and full this year that when satellites in space took pictures you could easily see the areas where the bloom was occurring. But the bloom doesn’t happen every year. The last time was in the spring of 2016 and depending on weather conditions it might not happened again for another 10 years. We have to be patient and notice the signs, when the weather and water conditions are just right, and then we see the miracle of the desert blooming...
  • Timing Is Everything

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    •There was a joke that came out of the Soviet Union many years ago about a Russian who stood on the street corner in Moscow, and shouted, "Down with Khrushchev!" He was arrested and sent to prison camp for ten years. While he was in prison he had a change of heart, and came to see that Khrushchev was a great leader after all. The only problem was, while he was in prison the times changed and Khrushchev was deposed from office and publicly denounced. When the man was released, he went back to that same street corner in Moscow. He wanted to give a public testimony to his rehabilitation. This time he shouted, "Hooray for Khrushchev!" and got ten more years. Which just shows you, timing is everything.
  • To Infinity and Beyond

    by Chana Tetzlaff
    One of my favorite allegories for ministry comes from the scene in Disney/Pixar’s original Toy Story, where toy space ranger hero, Buzz Lightyear, “proves” to Andy’s other toys that he can fly. He climbs up the post of the footrest on Andy’s bed, takes a deep breath, and confidently proclaims his trademark phrase: “to infinity and beyond!” With a leap off the bed, he soars toward the ground but at the last second lands on a bouncy ball, which catapults him head over heels onto a Hot Wheels car sitting at the top of its track. As he rides the car down the shoot and loops around the track, Buzz catches air once again and shoots up to grab the ceiling airplane. His momentum jolts the plane to circle faster and faster until it launches him into a graceful arc to land on his feet in front of the awed and astonished waiting toys. “It’s true!” they exclaim in awe and wonder. He “flies!” (Except Woody, who declares later that Buzz is simply “falling with style.”) Such is often the case with ministry as, despite our all too human quirks and foibles, the Holy Spirit brings grace and transformation out of our fumbling attempts to do God’s work and will...
  • Has It All Been for Nothing?

    by Debie Thomas
    In a beautiful reflection on Advent published in the Washington Post this week, columnist Michael Gerson describes the choice that is before us during this holy season: “On the evidence of our senses, despair is perfectly rational. Entropy is built into nature. Decay is knit into our flesh. By all appearances, the universe is cold, empty and indifferent…This leaves every human being with a choice between despair and longing. Both are reasonable responses to a great mystery.”...

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!!]
  • JTB: Faithful Inquirer

    by D. Mark Davis
    (lots of Greek exegesis)
  • Are You The One Who Is To Come?

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Robert McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security adviser, had been indicted for his role in the Iran-Contra affair. McFarlane was crushed. His career was ruined. In desperation, he tried to commit suicide. Then a stranger mailed him a video of It's a Wonderful Life. Robert McFarlane had never seen it. In an interview, McFarlane said it was that movie that gave him the inspiration to go on..." and other illustrations)
  • The Blind See

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("It's like a woman named Marlene Nance who wrote in to Decision Magazine sometime back. One day, Nance's little daughter, Emma, was playing with her paper dolls. These were special paper dolls. They were all Bible characters. Suddenly Emma realized that the Jesus character was missing. Marlene and Emma looked all over the house, but they couldn't find Jesus anywhere..." and other illustrations)
  • Modern Day Prophets

    by Sil Galvan
    It was in a church in Munich that I saw him - a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to a defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. "When we confess our sins," I had said, "God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever." One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, the blue uniform and a visored cap with its swastika. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking past this man naked. The place was Ravensbruck and the man walking toward me had been a guard - one of the most cruel of them all.
  • Looking for Christmas?

    by Maxwell Grant
    ("What kinds of things are we looking for in these days? I have a dear friend being treated for an aggressive cancer--one of those cancers that comes out of nowhere and changes everything. And she's fighting bravely and has a lot to live for, but she's a doctor, and so she doesn't need someone to tell her that it's unclear if she will prevail. And what she's looking for is not some wonder drug or even a miracle. What she's looking for is the energy to be part of Christmas this year..." and another good illustration)
  • Advent 3A

    by Bill Loader
    (always interesting insights!)
  • Stories and Illustrations for Advent 3A

    Compiled by Jack Lohr
    he and his family fled from Austria to escape from Hitler. They worked their way across Europe, gradually selling or bartering everything they had. The last night they had to cross from Belgium into Holland, to get to the port at Rotterdam..." and other illustrations and quotes)
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 11:2-11)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • The War Prayer

    by Mark Twain
    ("It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun...")
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Advent 3A)

    by Various Authors
    ("In his book Horns and Halos, Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton tells about one of the weirdest auction sales in history; and it was held in Washington, D.C., in 1926, where 150,000 patented models of old inventions were declared obsolete and placed on the auction block for public auction. Prospective buyers and on-lookers chuckled as item after item was put up for bid..." and many more)

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!)
  • Advent 3A (2016)

    by Delmer Chilton
    The story is about a man who new to the Methodist Church, who had been raised in a Pentecostal tradition and brought much of that ethos and sensibility with him to Pastor’s School. The tape was of his first sermon in preaching class. He said, “I got here today to preach and this preaching teaching fellow asked me ‘Where is your manuscript?’ and I says, I says, ‘I ain’t got no manuscript.’ So he says, ‘Well, where is your outline?’ And I says, I says, ‘I ain’t got no outline.’ And he says, ‘Well have you got your sermon memorized?’ And I said, “How could I memorize it if God ain’t told me it yet?’...
  • How God Works

    by Jim McCrea
    Peter Perry tells of a woman who was a member of one of the churches he pastored. She lived alone in an assisted living facility because her husband had died some 25 years earlier. Perry says, “She was practically blind. She was broke. And she was mean. […] She had a son she didn’t like, and a daughter-in-law she liked even less. She claimed that she was glad they lived two hundred miles away and only came for a few hours on major holidays. She wanted the church to pay attention to her, but anytime anyone visited, all she had were harsh words about how no one ever came to visit her. She complained about the food, the nurses, the doctors, her neighbors, her family…”
    Perry visited her twice and was dreading the third visit, but he went dutifully anyway and listened to her laundry list of complaints. Finally he decided to confront her. So he asked, “Elizabeth, why are you so angry?” With that, she became quiet for a moment and then changed the subject to the weather. But Perry refused to be diverted.
  • Suffering the Extremes of Kingdom

    by Andrew Prior
    includes several quotes
  • Advent 3A

    from Sacra Conversazione
    In The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida Caputo wrote: “This now, the Messiah’s now, belongs to messianic time and is not the now of ordinary time; the messianic time now does not maintain the maintenant of temps ordinare but breaks it open, and opens it up to what is coming, which is the very structure of messianic time. So when the Messiah says, ‘today,’ now, he means ‘Now, if only you heed me, or if you are willing to listen to my voice.’ The messianic ‘today’ means if you will begin, now, to respond to the call for the Messiah not with hollow words, but with virtue.” “That call for doing justice is also signaled by the setting of the Messiah’s appearance – among beggars, among the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, those who demand justice now….”
  • Great Expectations

    by David Sellery
    In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis spelled out God’s expectations for us: “I have not come to torture your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. Hand over your whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.” That is what John the Baptist did. He gave his will to God. That is why the only truly joyful place in Herod’s whole palace was deep down in the dungeon.
  • Tell Me Who You Are

    by Michael Simone, SJ
    Not long ago I called an Uber. The driver’s photo was striking. She had a peacock-blue mohawk, a pair of sunglasses with mirrored lenses and a barbed-wire neck tattoo. When the car arrived, I was surprised to find the driver conservatively dressed, tattoo-free and a brunette. “You’re not the person I was expecting,” I told her. “I keep forgetting to change my photo; that was me 10 years ago,” she said. I was skeptical, so I held up my phone and compared. Sure enough, the face was the same.
  • The Arc of Justice

    by Kristen Leigh Southworth
    But as Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out in The Gospel Messenger in 1958, "Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but that same Christ arose and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name. Yes, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
  • Hope in the Waiting

    by Jay McDivitt
    I look for the good around me – and I find it, to be sure. I rejoice in my children’s giggles and listen to great music and connect with friends. But these days seem heavier than ever for some reason (many reasons), and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by all the bad news. I could just turn it off – stop reading – and sometimes I do. Yet I believe it’s important to know what’s happening in the world, even if it’s often not very joyful.
  • Voices from Prison: John the Baptist

    by Beth Quick
    I find Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail to be one of the most powerful pieces of writing there is. You’ll notice in your bulletin worksheet a link so that you can read the whole thing. King was writing particularly to white clergymen in Birmingham, because they had refused to support his cause in the Civil Rights movement. They agreed, in theory, with his quest for equal rights, but they didn’t like his techniques. They didn’t feel like King needed to break the law, or encourage others to do so, to achieve their aims. If they were just more patient, they argued, change would eventually come without all the “upset.” King responded with this letter. He writes, in part: My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely” … I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in."...

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!)
  • Nelson Mandela

    by Neil Bishop
    (" Mandela was inspired by the Victorian poem Invictus. '...the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.' 'When people are determined,' he once said, 'They can overcome anything.'...")
  • Advent 3A (2013)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "When I was 5-10 years old, my favorite TV show was The Cowboy Bob Show. Cowboy Bob wore a stereotypical Western shirt and white Stetson and sat behind a table where he demonstrated card tricks and simple science projects in between episodes of old 1930's, serial westerns. Cowboy Bob was my hero. One day at school, I heard great news. Cowboy Bob was coming to town!..."
  • Perspective

    by Anne Emry
    ("When astronauts are in outer space, they spend their free time looking at Earth. They call it 'Earth gazing'. Earth gazing gives astronauts a sense of transcendence, and a larger picture of the connectedness of life. It is as if a fish could comprehend the ocean, and fully understand its origins and the range of its existence. Earth gazing prompts a kind of reverence for the Earth, our precious oasis, our island home in the vastness of space...")
  • The Blind Receive Their Sight

    by Janet Hunt
    ("Twenty microscopes were about to be discarded from a school here. They were, by now, at least twenty years old and it was time for them to be replaced. But one with an imagination and a connection to another part of the world where such riches are almost unimaginable, called Mike and wondered with him about whether something useful might be done with these...")
  • Two Sizes Too Small

    by Terrance Klein
    ("The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small...")
  • Advent 3A (2013)

    by Alex McAllister
    ("There is a poem by RS Thomas entitled The Kingdom, which is one of the best descriptions I know of what kind of world the Kingdom of God will be and therefore what kind of world it is that we are attempting to build. 'It's a long way off but inside it There are quite different things going on: Festivals at which the poor man Is king and the consumptive is Healed; mirrors in which the blind look At themselves and love looks at them Back...")
  • Signs of the Kingdom

    by James McCrea
    ("Clare Oatney tells a story that happened when she was a little child. 'Once, when I was young, my family was up at my aunt and uncle's farm for Christmas. Now, it was a pig farm, but there was still a general air of growing things around, so my brothers, my cousins and I decided to try our hands at it. We took some seeds from the apples we had eaten for lunch, and we planted them in a pot of soil our aunt gave us...")
  • What Are We Waiting For?

    by Nathan Nettleton
    The world witnessed a very similar thing happening in the public life of Nelson Mandela. After decades of oppression in South Africa, you had exactly the sort of social conditions that create the strongest hunger for a day of justice when the scales are tipped and the oppressors are torn down and humiliated and made to pay for the evil they have perpetrated. Mary’s Magnificat was no doubt a popular part of the repertoire of freedom songs
  • Forerunners

    by Nancy Rockwell
    ("It's been a joy in my life to have known South African Methodist pastor Theo Kotze, who was briefly Mandela's chaplain on Robben Island. Theo often told of approaching Mandela's cell, of Mandela asking him for prayer, of reaching his hand through the bars to take Mandela's, and praying for him, hand in hand. But then a guard came and roughly shoved Kotze away, saying 'No Touching!'...")
  • Advent: Creating a Space of Chastity

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("Carlo Carretto, one of the great spiritual writers of recent times, spent many years alone, a hermit in the Sahara desert. During these long, quiet years, he tried to hear what God was saying to us. In one of his books, written from this desert solitude, he suggests that perhaps the most important thing that God is trying to tell us today, especially in Western culture, is this: Be patient! Learn to wait—for everything: each other, love, happiness, God. The message of the great advent figures (Mary, John the Baptist, Isaiah) is the same..." and another illustration)
  • The Blind See, Lepers Are Cleansed, the Lame Walk

    by Robert Stuhlmann
    ("Miracles are more about commitment and tenacity more than magic. In Haiti Sr. Joan, a young Boston lass and a Sister of St Margaret arrived to grinding poverty. When she asked a man what would happen to the blind child he held, he told her, "The child will die." Sr. Joan scooped the child in her arms and announced, "She will not!" Thus, St Vincent's School and Hospital began in Port Au Prince...")
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Healing

    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!)
  • A Child in a Foul Stable/Where the Beasts Feed and Foam

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("'Sooner or later', writes Craig Barnes in Searching for Home; Spirituality for Restless Souls, trouble 'visits every address and comes for a visit'. No one gets a free pass. Mental health experts warn us that this can especially be the case during the holidays with its superficial gaiety and heightened expectations...")
  • Advent 3A (2010)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Have you ever felt really let down by something? Maybe it was a meal at some well-known restaurant. You'd looked forward to tasting this particular chef's cuisine for so long but when you actually got to try the food, it was strikingly ordinary. Or perhaps it was some long-anticipated movie....")
  • The Last Laugh

    Drama by Sherrie Dobbs Johnson
  • Advent 3A (2010)

    by Steve Kelsey
    ("Years ago, Bishop Harold Robinson, retired bishop of Western New York, addressing the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, told a story of a bike tour he and his wife took through the English countryside. They kept finding the most curious signs. One said simply, 'This is a sign'. That was all. Another read: 'Do not move this sign'...")
  • What's the Plan?

    by Daniel Matthews, Jr.
    ("My daughter Catie, who is in high school, has a one word question she uses frequently. The one word question is, 'Really?' It is normally said when life or a friend suddenly foists upon her some turn of events that seem woefully unfair given all the hardship that she's already had to bear...")
  • Advent: Preparing for the Sublime

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("A couple of years ago, Robert Waller published a book that became a runaway bestseller and an immensely popular movie. Entitled The Bridges of Madison County, it stirred the romantic imagination in a way that few other stories have in recent times, especially as it was played out in its film version by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep...")
  • Time to Unpack

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Advent is not our journey. We are NOT in charge. Advent is not a journey we make, a journey we prepare for, a road that we navigate. No, Advent is the journey GOD makes. Advent isn't a trip we prepare to go on. Advent is the time we prepare for God's trip to us...")

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

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  • Do Not Complain

    by Phil Bloom
    ("A pastor once received a package in the mail. When he opened it, it contained a book called A Complaint Free World. The subtitle said, How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. He asked himself: Is someone trying to tell me something?...")
  • Are You the One Who Is to Come?

    by Samuel Candler
    ("We say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting. We try to persuade ourselves that if we just say that often enough, it will become true. Advent is a season of waiting. But it's not. Advent is a season of impatience. Sure, there are other times throughout the year when we experience impatience. But this season, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this season is the climax of impatience...")
  • Waiting

    by P. C. Enniss
    ("My wife's grandfather (Presbyterian preacher of the old school), when he became quite elderly and blind, used to bore the family mercilessly with his incessant talk of looking forward to heaven - during family prayers pleading with the Lord to take him home, in conversation at the dinner table, talking of how he couldn't wait to meet Jesus face-to-face. Now some of us would not want to put it quite that way...")
  • That's Not What I Was Expecting

    by Brad Hertzler
    ("I received a phone call on a beautiful, crisp, clear Tuesday morning while I worked as a summer camp counselor at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp. I dropped the phone as I heard my mother tell me that the evening before my college roommate of two years had been struck by lightening while refereeing a soccer game and was killed instantly....")
  • Including the Excluded

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("Recently I read an eye-opening book entitled The Meaning in the Miracles by Jeffrey John. He believes that the healing miracles of Jesus need to be seen in contrast to the purity laws found earlier in the Bible. About these miracles, he writes, 'They seem to have been deliberately selected by the evangelists to show Jesus healing at least one of every category of persons who, according to the purity laws of Jesus' society, were specifically excluded and labeled unclean...")
  • I've Got a Little List!

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("Fred Craddock tells of the time he received an invitation to give a series of lectures at the University of Winnipeg. The lectures were held in the middle of October, and since Dr. Craddock was from the South, he asked his host how he should dress. The man said, 'Well, it's a little early for the bad weather, but you will probably want to bring a windbreaker'. Dr. Craddock followed his advice...")
  • A Way Out of Darkness

    by Nicholas Lang
    "last fall, a 33-year-old milk truck driver in Pennsylvania shot ten Amish girls, killing five of them before taking his own life. We all watched in horror as the story unfolded..."
  • Disappointed with Jesus

    by Leonard VanderZee
    ("As Barbara Brown Taylor puts it, 'You want the Messiah to come and you want him to come right now. You want clear helpful answers to your questions. You want to be relieved of the burden of waking up every day without knowing what you’re supposed to be doing next...")
  • Illustrations (Advent 3A)

    by Tim Zingale
    ("At a early morning Bible Study someone remarked: 'If God would take one of the towns down-and-outers and change that person over night, it would do more to convince us of his presence than anything I can think of.' And the pastor present remarked, 'What about Bob?'...")

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!)
  • John the Baptist

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

    by Robert Allred
    ("A Pink Lady was faced with the dilemma of whether to knock on a hospital door with the NO VISITORS sign or to just go on by--- but something led her to knock. She knocked and opened the door just a little and said sweetly, 'Merry Christmas! I have some magazines'. A gruff response came back, 'Didn't you see the sign, and are you one of those pushy religious nuts?'..." and other illustrations)
  • Making a Name

    by Rob Elder
    ("Dr. Muehl noticed an old rifle hanging over the fireplace in the main room and, admiring its craftsmanship, reached up to fetch it down for a better look. 'Please don't touch it!' the woman exclaimed, 'it might go off!'...")
  • Blessed Is Anyone Who Takes No Offense At Me

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("A certain lady who spent her time working for the Lord — visiting the sick and the bedridden, helping the elderly and the handicapped — was diagnosed of a knee problem needing surgery. The surgery was not a success and so left her in constant pain and unable to walk. It seemed the Lord had ignored the prayers of this woman and her friends for a successful surgery...")
  • Rejoice Always

    by James Farfaglia
    ("A number of years ago, young college student was working as an intern at his college’s Museum of Natural History. One day while working at the cash register in the gift shop, he saw an elderly couple come in with a little girl in a wheelchair. As he looked closer at this girl, he saw that she was kind of perched on her chair. The student realized that she had no arms or legs, just a head, neck and torso...")
  • John the Baptist

    Narrative Sermon by Sarah Foulger
    ("I have been called a prophet. If a prophet is one who speaks the truth regardless of the cost, I suppose that is what I am. The truth I am called to speak, however, is as narrow as a single strong reed. I was given but one message to offer the people. Repent. Repent! Turn your life around before it is too late...")
  • Yes AND Yes

    by Anna Gilcher
    ("In her new book Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, Cynthia Bourgeault writes about centering prayer as being perhaps the quintessential Christian practice: of surrendering to God, of being present to God in the Now. what I found really helpful and intriguing in the book was a chapter near the end called The Welcoming Prayer...")
  • Or Shall We Look for Another?

    by Leah Grace Goodwin
    ("I would like to close with a poem written by Gerard Manley Hopkins: 'The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?...")
  • Advent 3 (1995)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a very successful business executive. He fired men and women who had worked for his company for twenty years. He exported work and jobs to other countries where he could pay starvation wages. He got back on pension and health benefits whenever he could. Sometimes he fired people just a week or two before they became eligible for pensions...")
  • Not About Me

    by Mark Haverland
    ("We were having dinner with Harold and Selva Lehman near Alleman one snowy, blustery January evening. Saturday evening as it turns out. When we arrived it was a normal winter day. But as the evening wore on, the weather worsened..." and another illustration)
  • The Royal Road

    by Donald Hoffman
    ("Once there was a young pathfinder who gained such a reputation for excellence in her craft that she was called in to see the High King...")
  • Are YOU The One Who Is To Come?

    by Beth Johnston
    "A number of years ago I visited my mother's Aunt when she was in the hospital. She was talking about her husband, my great uncle who had died a few years before that..." and other illustrations
  • So What Did You Expect?

    by Beth Johnston
    "Have you seen that TV commercial lately where an employee is sent to the airport to pick up the boss' wife, Thelma? He is greeted by a very good looking woman who says that her name is Thelma. They are halfway to the office before he realizes that it is the wrong Thelma. An older, well dressed but very sour looking Thelma is waiting very impatiently for the drive that her husband had promised her..."
  • Advent 3A (2001)

    by Linda Kraft
    "A year ago I waited, very impatiently, for a plane to land at Bradley Airport. On board would be my big sister, whom I hadn't set eyes on in 46 years! Shirley was the first child of our father's first family. And I was the first child of his second family born 20 years later. We had grown up in different parts of the country..."
  • Are You the One?

    by David Leininger
    ("A few years ago in Reader's Digest a lady reported searching for the perfect birthday card for her husband. She came across a promising one. On the outside it read: 'Sweetheart, you're the answer to my prayers'. Then she turned to the inside, which was inscribed like this: 'You're not what I prayed for exactly, but apparently you are the answer'..." and a quote from Barbara Brown Taylor and another illustration)
  • A Desert in Bloom

    by Ruth Meyers
    ("In recent years I have discovered the delight of cultivating the earth, coaxing beauty out of the wild overgrown corners of my yard...")
  • The Incomparable Christ (RCL)

    by David Leininger
    ("An anonymous author made this striking comparison: "Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men, who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity....")
  • Advent 3A

    by Brian McGowan
    ("Some years ago a totally deaf member of the congregation plucked up the courage to tell me how boring my sermons were! Not because he had to sit and listen, but because he couldn't hear them! Cliff could pick up the rhythm of most of the Eucharist, but sermons were a great black hole. So my colleagues & I immediately undertook to give him printed notes of what we were going to say each Sunday...")
  • Have You Caught the Jesus Virus?

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    So do you remember The Sword in the Stone? My favorite scene from that movie is the battle between the apparently befuddled old Merlin the Magician and the purple wickedness of the “marvelous mad Madam Mim,” a sorceress! Merlin and Mim are fighting it out because Mim wants to eat Merlin’s student, none other than the young King Arthur. Obviously a lot is at stake. The witch and the wizard agree to certain rules before their battle, pledging among other things that neither of them will turn into a purple-spotted, fire-breathing dragon or turn invisible altogether. But as the contest heats up, the wicked Mim cheats and turns herself into the fire-breathing dragon she had promised not to become. Just as Mim is about to incinerate the hapless Merlin, he apparently disappears. Enraged, the dragon-Mim accuses Merlin of breaking their rules by becoming invisible. The magician’s seemingly disembodied voice floats back to Mim and announces, “I am not gone. And I am not invisible. I am a germ.” A germ? In fact, Merlin has transformed himself into a very specific and quite potent dragon-virus, which immediately reduces the dragon-Mim into a pathetically sneezing, coughing, broken-out-into-spots, bedridden mess. Merlin wins the match of wits and wizardry...
  • Advent 3A

    by Joseph Parrish
    ("In a poem by Ann Weems entitled Kneeling in Bethlehem, the first line reads, 'If there is no cross in the manger, There is no Christmas'...."; includes experiences at World Trade Center site)
  • Patiently Embracing the Sufferings of Life

    by John Pavelko
    ("A doctor at a major university and the chaplain of the school were discussing how people deal with illness and death...")
  • Questions in the Darkness

    by John Pavelko
    ("Dutch authorities announced a few years ago that they had just completed a thorough and complete study of the origin and definition of all the known words in the European languages. It is a massive study filling volumes. I would be curious to read what they wrote about the word patient..." and several quotes)
  • Advent 3A (2007)

    by John Pridmore
    ("Even the saints — especially the saints — know what it is to wrestle with uncertainty. Mother Teresa walked with God, but, in the recesses of her heart, she wondered whether there was anyone there. She wrote in 1958: 'My smile is a great cloak that hides a multitude of pains. People think that my faith, my hope and my love are overflowing...")
  • To Stay Home In

    by Kathy Raines
    ("One of my colleagues suggests that Christmas is a yearning for home. We yearn to go home for Christmas - a place where we're loved and accepted for who we are. I think most of the ‘trappings’ or ‘trimmings’ of Christmas as we know it express that yearning, that longing - a fire in the hearth, decorations that make our home - inside and out - feel warmer with the colors and scents of the season...")
  • Leveling Mountains

    Story Sermon by Gary Roth
    ("Pastor Shulz didn't really want to be a pastor when he was a kid - he wanted to be a doctor, like his Uncle Ed. Ed was one of those old country doctors - the kind that made house calls, and who wasn't afraid to yell at his patients if they didn't take his advice...")
  • Child of Peace

    by Gary Roth
    ("Lucy is speaking to Linus as she stands at the base of a hill. She says, 'Someday I'm going over that hill and find the answer to my dreams. I think, for me, all the answers to life lie beyond those clouds and over the grassy slopes of that hill!...")
  • Advent 3A (2001)

    by Charles Royden
    ("I wonder how many of you have been able to watch the recent television series Band of Brothers? It tells the story of some American soldiers in the Second World War. One of the best episodes told of events which took place at dawn on this day in 1944, the Germans started their last major counter-attack of the Second World War..." and another illustration)
  • The Missing Jesus

    Story Sermon by Jeeva Sam
    ("About a week before Christmas the family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found 2 figures of the Baby Jesus. 'Someone must have packed this wrong,' the mother said, counting out the figures. 'We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear!...")
  • Signs of the Messiah

    by Byron Shafer
    "In the year 1931 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Jane Addams. Some forty years earlier, in 1889, in the city of Chicago, Addams had co-founded Hull House, having been motivated to do so by Jesus’s concern for the poor and the sick. She set up Hull House to serve as a community center for the neighborhood’s sick and poor..." and another quote and poem
  • Third Sunday of Advent

    by Barbara Brown Taylor
    ("When I pulled Flannery O'Connor's second novel off the shelf to check my memory, I found Matthew 11:12 right there in all caps on the second page...Leave it to Flannery O'Connor to find and preach the gospel that most church folk never hear..." No illustrations here but a powerful sermon nonetheless. Well worth a read!!)
  • The Place He Stops is Now

    by Porter Taylor
    ("In Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself the speaker says farewell to his readers with these lines: 'I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles - Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged. Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you...")
  • Looking for Something More

    by Alex Thomas
    ("I saw a video not long ago called The Greatest Gift. It was done in pantomime with clowns taking all the parts. One clown was sad. One by one clowns with spectacular gifts tried to cheer the sad clown up. One was a musician and played beautiful music but to no effect. One was a magician. One was an acrobat. Another was a comedian..." and another illustration)
  • Timing Is Everything

    by Mark Trotter
    ("Hugh Redwood was a British journalist. He described a time when he was under a terrific strain and pressure because of terrible decisions that he had to make. He didn't want to make them. He didn't know which way to turn. One day he was invited to give a speech in another town. His host arranged a little reception before the event in his house so that he could meet some people..." and other illustrations)
  • Are You the One Who Is to Come?

    by J. Barry Vaughn
    "The painter Matthias Grünewald also brings them together in his Isenheim altarpiece. One one side of the altarpiece we see the Beloved Disciple supporting Mary the Mother of Jesus. On the other side of the cross is John the Baptist pointing his bony finger at the Crucified Christ and holding a book on which is written the words, Ecce Agnus Dei – 'Behold, the Lamb of God'..."
  • Advent 3A

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("In a Charlie Brown cartoon, Charlie is standing on the pitcher's mound saying: 'We lost again. I can't stand it. I just can't stand it! Our loses are so meaningless! I think that's what bothers me the most. We get beaten and nobody even knows about it...") ("In one of the greatest novels ever written, Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, a woman comes to a saintly old monk named Zossima with her questions about the faith. She says, 'And I say to myself, "What if I've been believing all my life, and when I come to die there's nothing but burdocks growing on my grave? It's awful!...")
  • A Child, A Messiah

    by Tim Zingale
    ("The story is told of a brand new pastor and his wife, that arrived in suburban Brooklyn in early October excited about their opportunity to reopen a church. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve..." and a quote from Buechner)

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

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Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

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Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

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Other Resources from 2007 to 2009

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Other Resources from 2004 to 2006

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Other Resources from 2001 to 2003

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Resources from the Bookstore

Children's Resources

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The Classics

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Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable