Matthew 21: 23-32

Illustrated New Resources

  • Actions and Words of Significance

    by Jim Chern
    Matthew Maher had been drinking, got into a car, was driving home at a high rate of speed on the Atlantic City Expressway. Matthew struck the vehicle of 55 year-old Hort Kap, husband and father of six children, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Matt was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter. He was eventually sentenced to 5 years 5 months in prison, in which he had to serve 85 percent of his time. Prior to going to prison, Matt presented the story of his life called, “I’m That Guy” to over 34 schools in three months reaching over 7,000 students. In this powerful testimony of how “decisions determine destiny” Matt explains that he was “That Guy” who grew up achieving in every area of his life. He was a role model, active in his community, excelled in academics and athletics, earned himself a full scholarship to Temple University, and eventually signed a professional contract as a soccer player. Now he is “That Guy,” a drunk driver, who killed an innocent man and who ended up in prison...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 21A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Some while back I read an article by a pastor who had grown frustrated with something his parishioners often said to him. When people got into a difficult stretch of life, sometimes they would drop out of church completely. The pastor would, of course, call on them to see why they had disappeared from the fellowship but so often the answer he would receive went something along the lines of, “Well, pastor, as soon as I get this mess all straightened out in my life, then I’ll come back to church.” But, this pastor wrote, that is a little like saying, “My stomach ulcer is real critical just now but I’m thinking it might calm down and as soon as it gets better, I’ll check into the hospital.” That’s a backward way to think but I would suggest we turn this analogy in a slightly different direction: because if it is wrong to avoid church when we find ourselves in a bad situation, it is equally wrong to say that we aren’t going to minister to people outside the church until they have first pretty much been cured of whatever has been ailing them spiritually...
  • Proper 21A (2020)

    by Richard O. Johnson
    Maybe you’ve heard the story of the mother who, wishing to encourage her young son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a performance by the great master Paderewski. When the night arrived, they found their seats in the front row, just beneath the majestic Steinway on stage. The mother got into a conversation with the person in the next seat and didn’t notice that her son had slipped away. When 8:00 arrived, the house lights came down, the audience quieted, and only then did they notice the boy sitting at the piano bench, innocently picking out, with one finger, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” The mother gasped and was about to retrieve the boy when out walked the great pianist. He slipped on to the bench beside the boy, and whispered to him, “Don’t quit! Keep playing.” And then Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began improvising a bass line; and his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized...
  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    by Anne Le Bas
    I wonder if you’re a fan of the BBC programme “Who do you think you are?”, as I am. It’s been an unexpected hit for the BBC, with 15 series so far, starting many people on a journey to find out more about their family trees. But the title’s an interesting one, because it implies that at least part of the hook is the search not for our ancestors, but for ourselves. It’s not called “who do you think they were?” but “who do you think you are?” It’s based on the premise that we’re all shaped by those who’ve gone before us, whether through genetics or the way their life choices and the things that happened to them have affected future generations. The subjects of the show often seem to find ancestors who were, say, in show business, or were political movers and shakers like they are. “That must be where I get it from,” they say...
  • To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

    by Jim McCrea
    Robert Wolgemuth tells the story of a teenager he worked with who had already developed a hardened edge and seemed to be on the fast track to prison. Wolgemuth writes: “Sean took drugs and sold them to other kids. He befriended an elderly widow near his home, then stole her heirloom jewelry, pawned it and paid cash for a brand-new Porsche. As he’d done countless times before, Sean’s dad intervened and ‘fixed’ his son’s problem. “One day at summer camp, Sean asked me if I’d go for a walk with him in the nearby woods. As we walked, he began to pour out his regret for his evil and perverse life. He asked if I’d pray with him. “We found a large fallen tree and Sean climbed up, sitting cross-legged on the log. He prayed first, and I heard words of confession and remorse. This wayward and rebellious youngster cried out to God for grace and forgiveness. “I opened my eyes to see if this really was the same young man who [said he] ’hated everyone because they’re all so stupid.’ Here’s what I saw. Sean, the bad boy, was sitting in God’s awesome presence with his hands and face turned upward. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. ‘I’m sorry, God, for the terrible things I’ve done,’ Sean prayed. ‘Please forgive me and help me to be new.’”...
  • Words Are Not Enough

    by Debie Thomas
    When I was four years old, an elderly couple who attended my father’s church invited our family over for dinner. There were no children to play with at the parishioners’ house, so as the evening wore on, and the grown-ups kept talking, I got bored. The hosts kindly set me up with crayons and paper at a desk in their study, but after a few minutes of listless doodling, I got tired of that as well, and started exploring the contents of their desk drawers instead. In a large bottom drawer, I found a huge collection of keychains. Chains with simple silver keyrings; chains with pendants representing various states, cities, countries, and universities; chains with hearts, stars, rainbows, and animal charms. I fell in love with a gold chain that featured three tiny ice cream cones in bright, glittery colors — one chocolate, one strawberry, and one vanilla. Without giving it a second thought, I slipped the keychain into my pocket. My parents didn’t discover what I’d done until we got home and it was time to change for bed. When the keychain fell out of my dress pocket, the predictable parent-child conversation ensued: “Where did you get that?” “I found it.” “What do you mean, you found it? Where?” Etc...

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. Hopefully, members will have the ability to rate all of the resources on a 5-point system soon!! FWIW!!]
  • Changed Lives

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • God's Will

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • An Inch of Kindness

    by Jeanne Williams Carey
    A "homeless person" shakes up a church.
  • Wording Authority

    by D. Mark Davis
    includes lots of Greek exegesis!
  • As Good As His Word

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Isak Dinesen wrote a book called Out of Africa. In it a young Kikuyu boy named Kitau appears at Dinesen's door to ask for a job. She hires him but is surprised when after three months he asks her for a letter of recommendation to Sheik Ali bin Salim, a Muslim living in a nearby town..." and other illustrations)
  • Two Sons

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("When Tom Mason retired he bought a few acres out in the country. He wanted a big garden. He soon found he could not handle all the work so he advertised for help. When a young man showed up, Tom asked him: 'Know anything about gardening?' The youth admitted he knew very little..." and other illustrations)
  • The Parable of Yes and No

    by Sil Galvan
    A week after my son started first grade, he came home with the news that Roger, the only African American in the class, was his playground partner. I swallowed and said, "That's nice. How long before someone else gets him for a partner?" "Oh, I've got him for good," replied Bill. In another week, I had news that Bill had asked if Roger could be his desk partner. Unless you were born and reared in the Deep South, as I was, you cannot know what this means. I went for an appointment with the teacher. She met me with tired cynical eyes. "Well, I suppose you want a new desk partner for your child, too," she said. "Can you wait a few minutes? I have another mother coming in right now."
  • Proper 21A

    by William Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Friendly Persuasion

    Visual Parables by Ed McNulty
    (Review of the film. Relates to the aspet of grace in this gospel.)
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 21:23-32)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • A Simple Plan

    Movie Analysis by Jenee Woodard
  • Wording Authority

    by D. Mark Davis
    includes lots of Greek exegesis

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

  • Mercifully Fair

    by Phil Bloom
    The Portrait of Dorian Gray tells about a handsome young man who envies his own portrait because it will never grow old. Well, as the story develops, Dorian retains his youth and beauty even though he embarks on a self-centered and cruel life. After many years he encounters the portrait. While Dorian remained outwardly beautiful, his portrait has changed. Dorian sees the hideous face and realizes that it represents his true inner self. Out of shame and rage he attacks the painting. When people hear the commotion, they come running. They discover the portrait in its full original beauty. Next to the portrait they see the body of an old man, horribly disfigured - repulsive to all...
  • Ordinary 26A (2017)

    from Claretians
    Much of the book A World Waiting to Be Born by M. Scott Peck is about recovering civility in society through better community processes. "When we began we assumed that the church would be a natural market for our services. Christians generally knew that the early church seemed to have had an extraordinary amount of community and that the notion of 'Christian community' although largely lost, remained an ideal. Many clergy and lay people bemoaned the lack of community within their churches. As an individual, Jesus had clearly transcended local culture, and the first major decision of his church was to go peacefully international...
  • Repentance: "The Entire Life of the Believer"

    by Dan Clendenin
    In her book Amazing Grace; A Vocabulary of Faith, Kathleen Norris writes about a little boy who wrote a poem called "The Monster Who Was Sorry." In the poem the boy explodes about how he hated it when his father yelled at him. In anger he threw his sister down the stairs, wrecked his room, then destroyed an entire town. His poem concludes: "Then I sit in my messy house and say to myself, 'I shouldn't have done all that.'"...
  • The Children’s Teeth

    by Janet Hunt
    A parent has been accused of a horrific crime. As is often the case in such matters, our system of justice drags on and so for many months this one has been dealing with the consequences of this. And while the children will not be held accountable, already they are paying a price even while all the while innocence is claimed...
  • Love's Labor

    by John Kavanaugh, SJ
    In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky tells the tale of Madam Holakov’s confession to the monk Zossima. The old woman, doubting her destiny in the face of death, presumes her crisis is of faith. Father Zossima, however, sees the problem as one of love. When he advises Holakov to labor at loving her neighbors as a way to dispel her worries, she realizes he has struck a nerve. There is no doubt, she thinks, that she loves humanity; but the actual doing of it, the living of it, gives her pause. The old priest, concurring with her, recounts the story of a disillusioned doctor who had great dreams of universal love but bitter disappointments in dealing with the real thing. “I love humanity,” he said, “but the more I love humanity in general, the less I love people in particular.” While his dreams portray visions of saving humankind, in his daily life the good doctor can’t stand the people around him. “I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. … As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom.” The slightest irritation rattles the poor man’s nerves. He bristles at the way someone talks, sneers at the way someone walks or wheezes, and can barely tolerate the manner of someone’s dress or bearing. “In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men. … I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me.”...
  • The Eternal Now

    by David Lose
    I hear in this parable the surprising possibility of hope that someone who has refused to listen to God may yet change his/her mind. Hope that it’s never too late to respond to the grace of the Gospel. Hope that one’s past actions or current status do not determine one’s future. Hope that even those whom good folk – and, lest we forget, the chief priests and elders were good folk – in many ways the first-century equivalent of our church council members, elders, altar guild members, significant givers, and Sunday school teachers – have decided are beyond the pale of decent society are never, ever beyond the reach of God...
  • The Vietnam War and Jesus’ Parable About Authority

    by Nancy Rockwell
    Pete Seeger, the folksinger who wrote the psalms that belong to this war, called him Teacher Uncle Ho in one of them. And we all sang it. But I never knew till this series that his birth name was Nguyễn Sinh Cung, or that Ho Chi Minh means Venerable Teacher, or that he was born in 1890, and spent his entire life working for freedom for Vietnam. I never knew that he tried for decades to get western countries to understand and intervene to free Vietnam. That he sent long, handwritten letters, in English, which he learned while doing laboring work in Europe, to President Roosevelt, which were never even shown to the President. That he admired the US and hoped we would help, and turned last to the USSR...
  • Walking the Walk

    by David Sellery
    Henry Nouwen was a brilliant talker… an inspired contemporary theologian and scriptural scholar. His insightful articulation of God’s love and his practical prescription for spiritual living in a secular world are modern classics. But he did more than talk. At the height of his intellectual powers, Father Nouwen gave up his faculty chair and his prestigious speaking engagements to live with and serve people with developmental disabilities. He fed them and washed them. He cared for them and cleaned up after them. He laughed with them, played with them and prayed with them. Every waking hour this towering intellect lived with and loved the least among us. He rejoiced in their simplicity and sincerity. Their brokenness was his window into new insights on God’s love. In their service… in the footsteps of Christ… his whole life became a prayer far beyond words...
  • Proper 21A (2017)

    by Mark Suriano
    Shane Hipps in his excellent book, Selling Water by the River, has a wonderful quote that captures some of what is going on in this passage: "Some, in an effort to protect and preserve the gospel message, have become like the guards in a museum, fueled by fear that its treasures could be damaged or stolen if they are not vigilant in their watch. They have mistaken the good news for an ancient artifact that needs to be protected. But that is not its nature. This kingdom is a lot more like a tree. God is looking for gardeners, not guards. A guard is trained in a defensive stance of fear and suspicion. A gardener is motivated by love and creativity"...
  • Ordinary 26A (2017)

    by Stacy Swain
    The Fifth Sunday in Lent was also the first Sunday in April. For us, that meant it was a communion Sunday. As worship began, I remember feeling grateful for that wooden communion table at the front of the sanctuary, a table full of fresh bread and cups of juice, a table of welcome and abundance. I was about halfway through the sermon, sharing how I had come to see not the cross but the communion table as the defining symbol of our faith, when the side door to the sanctuary opened and Harriet (I will call her) walked in. As I spoke, Harriet made her way past the pulpit. She crossed the front of the sanctuary and was about to head down the center aisle to take a pew. Then the table caught her eye. Switching up her trajectory, she drew close to the table and began helping herself to the bread...

Illustrated Resources from 2014 to 2016

  • Walking the Walk

    by Danáe Ashley
    ("There once was a man who came to know Jesus and wanted to be baptized. The whole community supported him and he was baptized along with several others on a Sunday morning. Things seemed to be going smoothly with his newly minted faith. Prayer flowed easily from his lips and heart, he never went by the homeless person who was on the corner of the street where he worked without speaking to him and giving change when he could...")
  • Trust No Matter What (Week 1)

    by Phil Bloom
    ("Lorenzo had a gift that I wish I had - good penmanship! The Dominican priests in Binondo recognized his gift and employed him to keep the parish record books. Lorenzo married a woman named Rosario and they had two sons and one daughter. In 1636 his peaceful world overturned. He was accused of murdering a Spaniard. Convinced that he could not get a fair trial, the Dominican priests helped him escape...")
  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("'Emilia Fox, part of the Fox theatrical dynasty, wants to find out just how far back the family's acting roots go.' So runs the blurb for an episode of the popular family history show, Who do you think you are? It continued, 'Emilia also discovers, in an extraordinary tale of rags to riches, that her great great grandfather, Samson Fox, made one of the most important inventions of the 19th century. Born into an impoverished family, Samson started work in a Leeds textile mill when he was just eight years old, but ended up becoming one of the richest men in Victorian Britain...")
  • Proper 21A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("In his book, The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion, Martin Thielen says he recently saw a letter a neighboring pastor received from a family that had become inactive in the church. After listing a series of familiar reasons for their absence, they close their letter with these words, 'But one of these days, don't be surprised when you look up and see us out there in the congregation, because we just love you, and we just love our church.' That is a pretty clear example of saying yes while living no...")
  • Duty and Devotion

    by Tom Cox
    ("If we reach heaven, it could be interesting who we'll glimpse. It could be that annoying neighbour, not to mention that brother or sister we didn't talk to for years. There you stand with your mouth open in astonishment at who's there. And then, in a chastening thought, your realise that everyone else is equally as astonished to see you there. ...")
  • Who Says?

    by Dave Delaney
    ("Two high-profile public trials have recently ended: On Sept. 4, former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were convicted on charges of corruption after accepting money, gifts, and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for special access to government favors. Then on Sept. 12, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was acquitted of premeditated murder but convicted for reckless homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend...")
  • By What Authority?

    by Michael Howard
    ("A movie just came out that tells the story of Rich Mullins, aptly titled Ragamuffin. At one point, Rich Mullins and the band are getting ready to play for a preacher who orders them to shape up and put on their shoes. He explains that he is going to preach on holiness, and he wants them to play something that really drives his message home...")
  • The Will of the Father

    by Janet Hunt
    ("We stood around her casket on a rainy Christmas Eve forty years ago. It was just my mother and dad, my three sisters, my grandfather, and me. There was no visitation for receiving the care and comfort of friends. There was no pastor to speak a word of light in our darkness, a word of comfort to our sorrow, a word of life as we faced death. This is why. In 1933 Tom Clark, my dad's dad, died from a stroke. He was 40 years old. They had a comfortable life until everything was lost in the stock market crash a few years before...")
  • Gracie’s Grace IS Beyond Our Best Theologies

    by Dawn Hutchings
    About a dozen years ago, I traveled to Vancouver to attend an educational conference for Lutheran Mission Pastors. Most of the conference was spent inside a stuffy meeting room. But one afternoon about forty of us were loaded onto a school bus and we traveled down to the east-side of Vancouver to spend some time with Pastor Brian Heinrich, who ran the Lutheran Urban Ministry Society. I doubt that many of you have ever or will ever visit the downtown east side of Vancouver. Lutheran Urban Ministry was located near the corner of Main and Hastings in one of the poorest areas in all of Canada...
  • The Sprint to the Supernatural

    by Terrance Klein
    ("New York City, a suite on the 22nd floor of West 66th Street, ABC's corporate headquarters. Network President Ben Sherwood is berating a table of execs from creative. 'People, let me paint the picture. The CW's Arrow is so successful they're spinning off The Flash. Fox already has a headless horseman on Sleepy Hollow and is launching Gotham, a Batman prequel with a suddenly sexy Commissioner Gordon. TNT is getting ready to do Titans, with teenage superheroes...")
  • Authority Questions

    by Nancy Rockwell
    This past weekend, the mini-Telluride Festival in Portsmouth, NH showed a pre-release film called The Imagination Game, about the brilliant, tragic, life of Alan Turing. Turing, a mathematical genius who decoded German transmissions in WW2, saving an estimated 14,000 lives, was homosexual. After the war, caught in a sexual liaison, Turing was tried and given the choice of prison or medication to turn off his libido....
  • Wrestling with God

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("struggles in later life can be very different than what we struggle with earlier on. In the normal pattern of things, we spend the first-half of our lives struggling with sensuality, greed, and sexuality, and spend the last half of our lives struggling with anger and forgiveness— and that anger is often, however unconsciously, focused on God. In the end, our real struggle is with God. But wrestling with God has another aspect. It invites us to a certain kind of prayer...")
  • More Than Words

    by Alex Thomas
    ("Do you remember Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Professor Higgins is trying to teach her to speak proper English. She is courted by another man Freddy Enesford-Hill who talks a good line too. However, she wanted action not talk and in exasperation she sings: 'Words, Words, Words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?...")
  • Following Through

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time, a rabbi master of the Talmud, taught some seminary students a valuable lesson. They were playing checkers when they should have been studying the Talmud. He told them not to be ashamed since they could always find time to study the law. He then proceeded to ask them if they knew the rules for the game of checkers. They said nothing, since they were sure that the rabbi knew more than they did. So the rabbi told them the rules..." and other illustrations)

Illustrated Resources from 2011 to 2013

  • Our Final State

    by Phil Bloom
    ("In the novel, Dorian Gray is a handsome young man who envies his own portrait because it will never grow old. Well, as the story develops, Dorian retains his youth and beauty even though he undertakes a dissolute, self-centered and cruel way of life...")
  • Proper 20A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    Scroll down the page for this resource.

    "Soren Kierkegaard created a parable about this. It went something like this: Suppose a King issued an order to his Kingdom to be obeyed by all. But instead of obeying it the people created Schools to teach people to teach this order to the people. And these new Teachers then went out and held weekly study groups so people could study the King's order..."

  • Questions Not Answered: "Follow Me"

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("Terrence Malick's new film The Tree of Life depicts our human struggle to squeeze meaning out of life in a cosmos that is beautiful, terrifying, and therefore full of honest questions. A recurring flame in the movie symbolizes what A.O. Scott of the New York Times calls an 'elusive deity' who is 'both the film's overt subject and the source of its deepest, most anxious mysteries'...")
  • Which of Them Did the Father's Will?

    by John Dear
    In order to read this page more easily, just highlight the words on the page with your mouse.

    "One of the people killed at the World Trade Center on September 11th was Fr. Mychal Judge, the Franciscan priest and chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. He was giving the last rites to a firefighter when a part of the building fell on him and killed him..."

  • Preaching Helps (Proper 21A)(2011)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Some while back I read an article by a pastor who had grown frustrated with something his parishioners often said to him. When people got into a difficult stretch of life, sometimes they would drop out of church completely. The pastor would, of course, call on them to see why they had disappeared from the fellowship....")
  • Checks and Chainsaws

    by Larry Patten
    ("A church group sponsored a mission project, though I don't recall the specific goals. Perhaps the mission would provide safe drinking water to villages in Central America. The 'what' of their efforts seemed admirable to most of the congregation. 'Where' became the proverbial burr in the saddle for a few . . . and especially Ed. By supporting this mission, funds would be sent to a country where the United States waged war...")
  • God Values: Authority

    by Beth Quick
    ("I remember my mother once telling me about a friend of hers whose daughter had gotten in trouble on the bus at school, along with another young person. The woman's daughter was a church-going child from a fairly well-to-do family, and the other child in trouble was just the opposite. When relaying the story, my mom's friend said, 'Well, at least I know that my daughter knew better, so that gives me comfort'...")
  • Love Your Enemies Doesn't Mean Don't Make Any

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Mike Rowe has made a career out of doing disgusting stuff. As the host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, Rowe has mucked-out, dug under, flushed, slogged, and slid through some of the most filthy and foul places on the planet. But whether he has been hanging from rafters or slipping through sewers, Rowe has consistently shown his viewers how even the most grungy, grimy, gross job still has its own dirty dignity...")
  • Seeing or Hearing

    by Alex Thomas
    ("I think of a story coming out of a time of famine from the Scandinavian novelist Johan Borger entitled The Great Hunger. It was a story of an engineer whose little daughter was killed by a neighbour's dog. The cruel loss turned the community against the dog owner and drove the father almost insane. At first it shattered his faith. Shortly afterward the region was stricken with famine...")
  • So Much Unfairness of Things

    by Brian Volck
    ("Mrs. Turpin, the main character in Flannery O'Connor's short story, Revelation, is grateful. She's aware, after all, that God could have created things differently. She might not have been white or middle class, which, she thanks God, she is. She's even grateful that her daily, sometimes distasteful, encounters with poor blacks and 'white trash' remind her that 'one had to have certain things before you could know certain things'...")
  • By What Authority?

    by David Wadkins
    Now, a good example of what I mean by authority is in the story of Mother Teresa. There is a city [Norristown] not too far from Eastern University where they have a state hospital. In the state hospital they have people who are emotionally and psychologically disturbed. It’s a huge place. Well, the directors of the hospital wanted to start these halfway houses so that people who were on their way to full recovery could be nurtured from the hospital back into society, by first going to these halfway houses and from there they could get jobs and, little by little, own their own residences. It was a transition stage and that’s why they wanted these five halfway houses. Needless to say, the people in the city weren’t particularly thrilled with the possibility of this prospect. There was a city council meeting. The place was packed. Five hundred people plus squeezed into this hall, yelling and screaming their opposition to the halfway houses. They didn’t want the, quote unquote,“crazies” living in their neighborhood. Needless to say, the city council voted unanimously against the proposal. Not much discussion. A lot of yelling and a lot of screaming and the city council said no to the proposition. No sooner had they voted that the back doors of the auditorium were opened and in came Mother Teresa...

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Saying and Doing

    by Mickey Anders
    ("We are too much like the rich young man who was taken to the hospital, critically ill. His condition worsened, and his doctor even told him that he wasn't sure if he'd recover, but that they would do all they could...")
  • Show Me Now

    by Mickey Anders
    ("Tony Campolo has a famous sermon for Good Friday entitled 'It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming'. In his dramatic sermon, he tempers all the discouragement and disappointment of Good Friday with promise of the Resurrection...")
  • Small Talk, Big Talk: Freedom Is One Long Meeting

    by John Auer
    I actually met Emma Tiller on my own before I found out she was interviewed in one of Studs Terkel’s fabled oral histories of Chicago – Division Street or Hard Times. Emma Tiller was a veteran of the Civil Rights movement in the South then living out her citizenship in the community of the Cabrini Green projects. I was just an impetuous seminarian doing an urban semester. I loved to go around saying such deep and insightful things as, “I’m tired of all these meetings, how about some action?!” Until one day Emma Tiller sat me down to tell me when I had been through even a taste of what she had been through, I would know, “Freedom is one long meeting.” Freedom is one long meeting!...
  • Unspeakable Love

    by Phil Bloom
    ("You have probably heard of the nineteenth century English author, Oscar Wilde. He is best known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and a play which continues to be popular The Importance of Being Earnest...")
  • Low-Rent Righteousness

    by Stephen Bouman
    ("Her name is Electra. She is four and lives with her mother in a welfare motel among prostitutes and drug abusers. At a church Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless in our parish, we met Electra and her mother and invited them to stay with one of the families of the parish one weekend...")
  • The Monster Who Was Sorry

    by Dan Clendenin
    ("in her book Amazing Grace; A Vocabulary of Faith, Kathleen Norris writes about a little boy who wrote a poem called . In the poem the boy explodes about how he hated it when his father yelled at him...")
  • Promise Or Performance

    by Tom Cox
    ("Mr. Meant-to has a comrade And his name is Didn't-do, Have you ever chanced to meet them? Did they ever call on you?...")
  • Fine Words and Good Deeds

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("An associate pastor, new to the parish, sees the need to start a Bible study group where people could learn to read the word of God and deepen their faith. After service one morning, he presents the idea to the people and receives a unanimous and enthusiastic feedback. 'It is a wonderful idea,' they all say...")
  • Religious Couch Potatoes?

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("As a student one of the pieces of literature I studied was William Shakespeare’s play King Lear. I read the words in the book but the words were difficult to understand. Through simply reading the book I was not encountering the real King Lear...")
  • When "Yes" Means "Yes"

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("A father tells this story. "When my oldest son was about three years old, I was outside doing some work in the garden one afternoon. I took Kevin outside to play while I trimmed the hedges. Holding his hand, I knelt down beside him so that we could look at each other face to face...")
  • The Parable of the Seven Dogs?

    by Patricia Gillespie
    ("There was a woman and she had seven dogs. Two were blind. Two had obedience training. And the others were just regular dogs, generally minding their own business...")
  • Ordinary 26A (2008)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a CEO of a large and important corporation promoted two of his brightest young executives for rapid promotion because they were so creative and so intelligent and so hard working. Everyone knew, including the executives whom he had passed over, that one or the other of these men would be the next CEO....")
  • Ordinary 26A (2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there were twin age women who greatly loved their parents. Unfortunately the parents, who had married somewhat later in life, were just two tired to put up with the exuberance and inexperience of their children...")
  • Ordinary 26A (2002)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a parish had, in addition to the regular run-of-the-mill parishioners, two particularly noticeable groups – the politically, socially and financially well connected and those that might be called the marry’em, bury ‘em and Christmas and Easter Catholics...")
  • Ordinary 26A (1999)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there were two sisters who were the neighborhood baby-sitters. One evening the new couple on the block hired the younger sister to baby sit for their children...")
  • Saying "Yes" or "No" To God

    by Bruce Green
    ("Yes, I'll go where You want me to go, Dear Lord, Real service is what I desire, I'll say what You want me to say, Dear Lord, But don't ask me to sing in the choir...")
  • Proper 21A (2002)

    by Roger Haugen
    ("Do you remember what happened 30 years ago this week? 1972. Does the name Paul Henderson help out? Yes, 30 years ago this week Paul Henderson scored arguably the most famous goal ever scored in the history of hockey...")
  • We March to a Different Beat

    by Mark Haverland
    ("There's a book about the history of military drill called Keeping Together in Time. In a sense I'm suggesting that we too need to march together in time, or in step, with Jesus. It turns out that the roots of the drill lie in prehistoric hunting dances...")
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 21A)(2008)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Some while back I read an article by a pastor who had grown frustrated with something his parishioners often said to him. When people got into a difficult stretch of life, sometimes they would drop out of church completely. The pastor would, of course, call on them to see why they had disappeared from the fellowship.....")
  • Who's on First?

    by John Jewell
    ("Do any of you remember the now world famous routine which was done by Abbott and Costello on NBC radio? It was called, "Who's on first?" Bud Abbott is trying to tell Lou Costello the names of the baseball players and it so happens that the name of the first baseman is a Mr. Who...")
  • What Gives Us Confidence?

    by Beth Johnston
    "In the movie Beyond Rangoon, Dr Laura Bowman becomes severely depressed after the brutal murder of her son and husband and she loses her interest in life. Family members urge her to take a vacation and she decides on Burma..."
  • Word in Actions

    by Beth Johnston
    "A few years ago the Rev. Dr. William Willimon was leading a discussion on preaching in an affluent suburb of Washington DC. He asked, 'What do you look for in a sermon?' Immediately, one of the group members said, I want a sermon which helps me to think about things in a new way.'...")
  • Showing Up

    by Roger Lovette
    ("My son sent me a bulletin from the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. One Sunday he stood in a long line of visitors to listen to Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school...")
  • Two Sons: Yeses That Don't Mean a Darn Thing!

    by Edward Markquart
    ("There was a tough minded football coach who had high expectations for his football players. At the conclusion of one practice, he demanded that his players run three miles that night, do two hundred push ups, and study the play book for at least an hour...")
  • Authority: Human or Divine?

    by David Martyn
    The reality is that any inner strength you have is a gift from God. Paul writes to the church at Philippi “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you.” The love of God is already in you. When you express it, when you give it away, you are God like in your actions, you have the authority of God in what you do—that’s the fear and trembling part. David Albert tells a story that, for me, captures the essence of this mystery. I spent must of yesterday looking at violin bows. I must have tried 50 or 60 of them at my favorite luthier’s shop. Some were light chestnut in colour, others red maroon, still others a dark, rich brown. There were octagonal and round ones. Some had buttons (the piece that tightens the hair) made of nickel, others silver, and still others gold, and they could be in either one or three parts. Frogs (that’s what one holds when playing) were of ebony, ivory, or tortoise shell (I could never in good conscience own one of these last two; some of the ivory ones came from mastodon or woolly mammoth tusks which, when one considers that the donors are extinct, pose over ethical questions than if they came from elephants), with slides (attaching the hair to the frog) of abalone or oyster shell. Grips on the bow itself were of gold, or silver, or nickel wire, or plastic; the really fancy ones had whalebone (I thought those had only been used for 19th Century Corsets!). Some of the bows were lighter and some heavier, fatter or skinnier, flexible or stiff, heavily arched or straight. “There are actually 157 different kinds of Brazilian hardwood,” said my luthier friend, “even though we usually only talk about two of them.” He showed me some of the various types. And so I started trying them out...
  • Beyond Shame

    by David Martyn
    "In David Duncan's novel The Brothers K a father is confronted by one of his sons, who is about 12 years old. The father has seen his dreams of a career in baseball disappointed by injuries, and he is now killing himself slowly by the monotony of his work and by chain-smoking Lucky Strikes..." and another illustration
  • Working It Out

    by David Martyn
    In these days of fear—fear of war, fear of terrorism, it may be helpful to recall the drama that unfolded in the arrest and court proceedings of Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, that happened four years ago. In part it focuses our attention on that most basic of all communities, the family, and some deeper implications for our gospel reading about two brothers. Secondly, it addresses the focus of the scripture reading from Paul “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The contours of the case are well known. A strange, reclusive loner leaves enough clues to his identity as the long-sought Unabomber for his younger brother to suspect him and inform the FBI. His arrest and the subsequent exhaustive search of his cabin lead to trial preparations and eventually a surprise guilty plea. In an incredible turnabout, the brother, David, together with their mother appear in court to stand with Theodore and plead for his life. The cost to brother and mother of this support seems incalculable. The opening scene in court finds David and his mother weeping side by side as brother and son. Theodore strides by ignoring their presence. He has had no contact with David for 12 years or with his mother for 16. That scene of the weeping mother and brother, which typifies the entire family tragedy here, lends itself to some profound and, one would hope, instructive questions about the nature of family life. The most compelling of these questions is also the most obvious: How could two siblings turn out so differently?...
  • Breakdown in Authority?

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    ("There was a new television show that started Sunday night, called American Dreams. Our family watched it together last week, and we'll probably watch it again this week, because it seems to be a decent family show about a family living in the sixties. It is November of 1963, to be exact, since last week's debut ended with one of those historical moments we remember so well, the assassination of President Kennedy...")
  • Ordinary 26A (2008)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("A young Australian woman was travelling around India. And she was walking through a street in Calcutta when she came across a small boy who looked about 5 years old and, apparently, had been beaten and left to die...")
  • We Are All Leaders Before God

    by William Oldland
    ("In 1989 two people, a man and a woman, showed up at Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant, SC. They claimed to be Red Cross workers sent to help organize the shelter at the school in the aftermath of the storm. They told people where to store water, food, clothing, toilet paper, batteries, radios and other necessities...")
  • Are We Saying "Yes" but Living a "No"?

    by John Pavelko
    ("Macaulay Culkin become one of Hollywood's childhood stars when he portrayed Kevin, that mischievous, playful, innovative and just as cute as he could be son in the Home Alone movies. He taught us the value of family...")
  • Is the Lord Among Us or Not?

    by Michael Phillips
    ("Edmond Browning says: 'Stewardship is more than setting up soup kitchens and overnight shelters. It is good and right that we reach into the river of despair and rescue people who are drowning...")
  • The God Who Will Not Be Boxed In

    by Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R
    ("This reflection was further enforced by M. Scott Peck in his book A World Waiting to Be Born, (p. 351). Much of the book is about recovering civility in society through better community processes. "When we began we assumed that the church would be a natural market for our services...")
  • Where God Grows

    by Jan Richardson
    ("For decades, citrus was one of the mainstays of the farm, and it pervaded the culture of that region. Acres of groves stretched through my hometown and the surrounding area...")
  • Can You See It?

    by David Russell
    ("A mother shared her experience of events that happened in the late 1960's that are still fresh in her mind. She wrote, 'A week after my son started first grade, he came home with the news that Roger, the only African American in the class, was his playground partner...")
  • At the Intersection of "Yes" and "No"

    by Martin Singley
    ("In my Sunday School class today we’ll tell the story of Hugh Thompson....On March 16, 1968, Mr. Thompson and two other young Americans were flying a helicopter in support of a ground operation in Vietnam. When they hovered over a small village, Thompson saw a terrible sight. An injured Vietnamese woman was laying in a ditch...")
  • Seeing Is Believing

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("After I enlisted, my dad and I were talking. And he passed on words of wisdom that he learned while serving in the Navy during World War II. He said, 'Never volunteer for anything'. Well, back then, I was one of those guys who prided himself in not only in breaking the rules but being my own man...")
  • A Matter of the Heart

    by Alex Thomas
    ("There is a story of a little boy who watched a sculpture at work. For weeks the sculptor kept chipping away at a big block of marble. After a few weeks he had created a beautiful marble lion...")
  • Show Me!

    by Alex Thomas
    Robert Wuthnow, sociologist of religion at Princeton University, has studied stewardship in the church and discovered that preachers do a good job of promoting stewardship. They study it, think about it, explain it well. But folks don't get it. Though many of us are well intentioned, we have invested our lives in consumerism. We have a love affair with "more" - and we will never have enough. Consumerism is not simply a marketing strategy. It has become a demonic spiritual force among us and the theological question facing us is whether the gospel has the power to help us withstand it.
  • Words Are Not Enough

    by Alex Thomas
    "Do you remember Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Professor Higgins is trying to teach her to speak proper English. She is courted my another man Freddy Enesford - Hill who talks a good line too. She wanted action not talk..."
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Adrian Thomas held a bonfire out behind his drugstore in Meyersdale, PA, which his family owned and operated for three generations. During the winter in 1992, he came to a fateful decision. He had seen too many deaths of his friends caused by lung cancer and heart disease..." and other illustrations)
  • More Than Saying "I Do"

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time, a rabbi, master of the Talmud, taught some seminary students a valuable lesson. They were playing checkers when they should have been studying the Talmud. He told them not to be ashamed since they could always find time to study the law..." and other illustrations)
  • Proper 21A (2005)

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("Once upon a time, a man had everything his heart desired. His family was healthy; and, lo, good fortune smiled upon him. As was his custom ~ when he was in town, when the fish weren't biting, when he could manage to squeeze time in, when he was not too tired ~ he regularly went to church...")
  • Proper 21A (2005)

    by David Zersen
    ("I used to be a fan of Harry Kemmelman’s mystery stories. I used to be, I say, because once I had read all of them, there were no more to discover. They had titles like Friday the Rabbi Slept Late and Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry, etc...")
  • Illustrations (Proper 21A)(2005)

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Scott Scrooge went to church one Sunday morning. He heard the song leader miss a note during the singing and he cringed. He saw a teenager talking when everybody was supposed to be silent in prayer. He felt like the man passing the offering plate was watching to see what he put in, and that made his blood boil. He caught six grammatical errors in the sermon by actual count. As he slipped out the door during the closing song, he muttered to himself, 'Never again! What a bunch of hypocrites!'...")
  • What Kind of Sinner Are You?

    by Tim Zingale
    "I knew a man who was having an affair with a married woman for many years. This man was also active in his church, served on the council, went to Sunday school, helped with the youth group, we could go on and on. But then something happened..."

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