Matthew 3: 13-17

Illustrated New Resources

  • God Is a Trinity

    by Klaus Adam
    The famous Australian apologist, Frank Sheed, used a simple example to help that process. He worked backwards, reflecting on the image of God (human nature) to get to know God. Every human being thinks. The thinker is like God the Father. When we think about ourselves, we conceive an idea of ourselves. That idea, conceived in the mind, is like God the Son, the Word of God, God’s idea of himself. Our idea of ourselves is less real than ourselves, because our minds are limited. But God is unlimited. In His case, the thought shares fully the characteristics of the thinker ? the Son is an existing person, equal in nature to the Father. When we have an idea, we know it, and we like or dislike it. Likewise, God the Father, in knowing His Son, loves Him, and God the Son knows and loves the Father. That mutual knowledge and love is unlimited, because God is unlimited, and so it too is fully divine: it is the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit...
  • You're Not Alone: You're Noticed, You're Cared For, You Matter

    by Jim Chern
    A few years ago, a high school sophomore received horrific news that shocked him and devastated his parents: he was diagnosed with a highly aggressive, fast-growing brain cancer. Doctors rushed Brycen Newman who was sixteen years old at the time into emergency surgery to remove one brain tumor, only to discover three more tumors growing. Anytime we learn of someone who’s facing an illness, a disease – it triggers any number of thoughts, feelings, and emotions… but when it is something rare and shocking like this, striking a kid who we think should only have to worry about acne; passing that class; what he wants to do when he gets older – it understandably pulls on people’s hearts strings even more. Other parents will hear that story and realize that what is one of their worst nightmares has become a reality for Brycen’s parents...
  • Beloved

    by Kathy Donley
    Some of us may remember the movie Weapons of the Spirit. We watched it together one Sunday in Lent a couple of years ago. It told the story of the people of Le Chambon, France who sheltered and protected 3500 Jewish people and 1500 other refugees during the occupation of France in the Holocaust. Many of those who were saved were children. One of the children who survived was Renée Kann. She was just a young child during the war. Her experience had been so traumatic that she put most of it out of her mind. The story of the courage and resistance of the people of Le Chambon was not well known, but then in 1989, Renée Kann came across an article in the New York Times about the Weapons of the Spirit movie. She said to her husband, “There is a film being made about a town where I think I might have spent some time.” So they went to see it together. A woman named Madeline Dreyfus was responsible for getting about 100 of those children to safety...
  • Sermon Starters (Baptism of the Lord)(A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    One of the finer films of the last thirty or so years is Bruce Beresford’s “Tender Mercies” (our colleague Roy Anker has an entry on the role of the Holy Spirit in the film and another on the kingdom of God in our “Movies for Preaching” part of the CEP website). The film chronicles the story of Mac Sledge, a one-time country-western singing star whose life later dissolved into a fog of alcohol and shiftlessness. Divorced from his wife and estranged from his only daughter, Mac staggers through life until one night he collapses onto the porch of a small, lonely little motel and gas station out in the middle of nowhere on the Texas prairie. The motel is run by Rosa Lee, a young widow who is raising her boy, Sonny, and trying to make ends meet. Even though Mac is a shipwreck of a human being, grizzled, drunk, and despairing, Rosa Lee takes him in, sets him to work for her, and through this, transformation comes to Mac’s life. Over time he kicks his drinking habit, becomes a kind of father figure to young Sonny, ends up marrying Rosa Lee, and begins to attend the Baptist church in which Rosa Lee is a member of the choir. In one lovely scene, both Mac and Sonny are baptized one Sunday morning...
  • Do Humans Make Rituals or Do Rituals Make Us Human?

    by Terrance Klein
    There is an historical riddle in the very kernel of Christianity. If Jesus is God’s own holiness, why did he undergo John’s baptism of repentance? What sort of righteousness had to be fulfilled, as our Savior himself put it to the Baptist? In a word: ritual. Christ gave himself to us in the ritual of baptism. His ministry and martyrdom would make good his gift. What is ritual? It is the house of our humanity. Our consciousness rose above its immediate environs when two humans first did something physical and personal as a way of sharing life with each other, sharing consciousness itself...
  • The Usual Way

    by Owen Griffiths
    There was this old guy in my congregation named Bob, now, alas, numbered among the saints in glory, who always liked the old Ferlin Husky country/gospel song, “On the Wings of a Dove.” If memory serves, we played that song at Bob’s funeral. It’s a really sweet song set in ¾ time or waltz tempo. It was a big hit for Husky in 1960[i], and it’s been covered over the years by many country and Christian artists. When the famous duo of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton recorded it, they added a verse which recounts the gospel lesson appointed for the Baptism of Our Lord in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary (Matthew 3: 13-17). The verse goes like this: When Jesus went down to the river that day He was baptized in the usual way; When it was done, God blessed his son. He sent down his love On the wings of a dove...

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!!]
  • Illustration on Baptism

    from the Archives
  • A Child of God

    Illustration by Fred Craddock
    ("Fred Craddock tells about a trip to his home state of Tennessee. He was in a restaurant in the Smoky Mountains. It was one of those informal places where the proprietor is the waiter, the cashier, and the greeter. He moved from table to table, visiting with the diners. He introduced himself to Dr. Craddock and wanted to know who he was and what he did...")
  • Resistance and Permission

    by D. Mark Davis
    (lots of Greek exegesis)
  • Baptism of the Lord (A)(2002)

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    (includes several illustrations)
  • Baptism of the Lord (A)(1999)

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Late one spring a former student came by Tom Long's office for a cup of coffee. They chatted about this and that and then she said, 'I have a secret to tell you.' 'What is it,' Tom said. 'I'm pregnant,' she said. He was overjoyed. She and her husband had a seven-year-old daughter, and they had been trying since their daughter had been born to have another child, but had been unsuccessful and had finally given up.' and other illustrations)
  • A Moment in Time

    by Sil Galvan
    A store owner had placed a sign in his store window which read PUPPIES FOR SALE. One day, a little boy stopped by and inquired about the puppies. "How much are you selling the puppies for?" he asked the owner. The man told the lad he didn't expect to let any of them go for less than $50. The boy reached in his pocket, pulled out some change, looked up at the store owner and said, "I have two dollars and thirty-seven cents. Can I look at them?" The store owner smiled and whistled. From the kennel, a dog named Lady came running down the aisle, followed by five tiny balls of fur. One puppy lagged behind. Immediately, the little boy asked about the limping puppy. "What's wrong with that doggie?" "The veterinarian told us the dog is missing a hip socket," said the store owner. "He'll always limp like that." "That's the one I want to buy," the lad said without hesitation. The store owner replied, "No, you don't want to buy that dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you for free."...
  • Destiny and Decision

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Here's how Harry Potter first learned that his destiny was coupled with that of the evil Lord Voldemort. It's back in the first volume, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 'Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose with a sound like a foghorn. 'Sorry,' he said. 'But it's that sad—knew yer mum an' dad, an' nicer people yeh couldn't find—anyway...")
  • Eustace's Baptism

    by C. S. Lewis
    ("The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, third book in the Narnian series begins much like the first: the Pevensie children visit a strange house and are suddenly transported to another world. Whereas the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has many parallels to the Bible, this book is more of an adventure book, with moral instruction to be gleaned from the various adventures...")
  • Baptism of Jesus (A)

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • The Life of the Beloved

    by Henri Nouwen
    ("To be taken, to be blessed, to be broken and to be given is the summary of the life of Jesus who was taken, who was blessed by God, broken on the cross, and given to the world...")
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 3:13-17)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Baptism of the Lord)(A)

    by Various Authors
    ("The story is told of a pastor's words to a baby shortly after he had baptized her. No doubt, the minister was speaking as much to the congregation as to the infant. "Little sister, by this act of baptism, we welcome you to a journey that will take your whole life. This isn't the end. It's the beginning of God's experiment with your life..." and several others)

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

  • Baptism of the Lord (A)(2017)

    by Delmer Chilton
    Writing in Christianity Today, Pastor Paul Bocca talked about how some people find a genuinely Christian life boring. Going to church, doing the liturgy, reading the lessons, hearing the sermons, doing the rituals, serving on committees, etc. etc. BORING! Pastor Bocca turns this boring accusation upside down – by admitting it, and then reminding us of another meaning for the word boring. The Christian faith is like the slow movement of a drill; slowly, laboriously digging beneath the surface of our lives. Within the continuing cycle of Sunday after Sunday, season after season, year after year, the Christian message and life in community bore ever deeper and deeper into our souls, until we begin to realize the truth of the words spoken over us in baptism.
  • Do We Really Want Baptism?

    by Margie Dahl
    Oscar Romero was the bishop of El Salvador who was shot dead in his church as he celebrated the Eucharist. He understood what baptism was all about. He wrote: If some day they take the radio station away from us, if they close down our newspaper, if they don’t let us speak, if they kill all the priests and the bishop too, and you are left, a people without priests each one of you must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet. The church will always exist as long as there is one baptised person. And that one baptised person who is left in the world is responsible for holding aloft the banner of the Lord’s truth and of his divine justice...
  • Beloved

    by Owen Griffiths
    I was just playing the soundtrack to the original London cast of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Sunset Boulevard. As a former actor and one-time denizen of Hollywood, I really love this musical. There’s a great production number at the end of the first act which takes place in the apartment of a young assistant film director. He’s invited all of his young movie-biz friends to a New Year’s party. They sing a terrific song about their dreams for the future called “This Time Next Year.” I love this scene because I’ve been to parties just like that one, and I’ve imagined a golden dawn with a “yellow brick road career” which must be just around the corner. Unfortunately, that magical tomorrow never seems to come.
  • On (Holy) Happiness

    by Larry Patten
    This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Later in my adult (and professional) life, I purchased the newer and boringly named New Revised Standard Version for use in my preaching and teaching. The NRSV, just like its RSV predecessor, echoed the KJV’s original phrase. Now, influenced by my resources for lectionary study, I’ve shifted to the very current Common English Bible (CEB) translation. And for this Sunday, there was a shift within the shift: This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.
  • Make Them Hear You

    by Joseph Peters-Mathews
    In the musical Ragtime, Coalhouse Walker, an African American jazz piano player — after attempting legal means to have his Model T restored and the racist vandal held accountable for its destruction — takes over the Morgan Library and threatens to blow it up. Coalhouse is a radical who fights for the entire show to be recognized as a person of full worth, as one of God’s beloved with whom God could be well pleased. Coalhouse’s demands aren’t met. He doesn’t get to mete his own justice to the fire fighter, and he is shot with his hands up after being assured safe passage for himself and his followers. When he gives up his cause and agrees to turn himself over, his followers are disappointed. They had found something to believe in and then it was gone. Coalhouse assuages them by admonishing them, “Make them hear you.”
  • Tattooed for Life

    by Debra Samuelson
    A man from Good Shepherd, the church I'm serving in Minneapolis, told me that he and his twin boys were watching a football game together. The boys noticed and commented on the tattoos of many of the players. It opened up a wonderful conversation for them. Bill, their father, talked about the stories; all those tattoos have stories with them. Bill, the wise father that he is, used this conversation with his boys about stories and tattoos as an opportunity to remind them of their baptisms and of God's story in their lives through their baptisms. He said to them, "We have our own tattoos, you know. You are marked with the cross of Christ in your lives--forever."
  • Patterns

    by Melissa Bane Sevier
    Simon Beck walks in the snow. He walks and walks and walks. The purpose of his walking is to create art. Using mathematical formulas and wearing special shoes, Simon spends countless hours, walking for miles, making huge patterns. If you were beside him, you’d be unable to see much except a series of impressions; the full pattern is only visible from the air. (Check out his astounding work here.)
  • You Are a Child of God...Uh-Oh

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    Retired Presbyterian pastor John Buchanan tells of baptizing a two-year-old boy in a Sunday worship service. After the child had been baptized, Pastor Buchanan, following the directions of the Presbyterian prayer book, put his hand on the little boy's head and addressed him like this. He said, "You are a child of God, sealed by the Spirit in your baptism, and you belong to Jesus Christ forever."
    Unexpectedly, the little boy looked up and responded, "Uh-oh."
    The people in the congregation smiled, of course. But, writes Buchanan, the child's response was appropriate. Buchanan called it a "stunning theological affirmation" from the mouth of a child.
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Baptism

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Call

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2014 to 2016

  • An Outward Sign of Inward Grace

    by Sarah Buteux
    "Years ago, a woman named Fayette found her way to Janet Wolf's church. Fayette lived with mental illness and lupus and without a home. She joined the new member class. The conversation about baptism—'this holy moment when we are named by God's grace with such power it won't come undone,' as Janet puts it—especially grabbed Fayette's imagination. Janet tells of how, during the class, Fayette would ask again and again, 'And when I'm baptized, I am…?' And 'The class,' Janet writes, 'learned to respond, 'Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold..."
  • Baptism of the Lord (A)(2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("In a book called Craddock Stories, Fred Craddock remembers preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church, sometime in the 1980's. He says, 'Joe Roberts, the pastor, had invited me...the service had moved to the point where I was to stand and speak. I'd moved to the pulpit and was ready to read, when Joe Roberts began to sing. Just as I was going to say my first word, he started singing. 'I feel much better now that I've laid my burden down'...")
  • He Knows My Name

    by Tom Cox
    ("Do we look like we have a heavenly Father? Do I look more "orphaned" than "sonlike" as I pray "Our Father"? Just imagine if each of us with our words and witness lived the truth that "I have a Father". If you know Him, communicate him; if you don't, get to know Him. It will change your life....")
  • Who We Are and What We Do

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("The manager of a manufacturing company often visited the production area of the factory unannounced. Sometimes he would take off his coat and tie, roll up his sleeves, and help on the assembly line. One of the bolder employees asked him one day, 'Why do you do come down from your air-conditioned office to get dirty down here?'...")
  • Baptism of Our Lord (A)(2014)

    by Ben Helmer
    ("Recently, a woman found herself being prodded to do something about the lack of housing for the poor and homeless in her community. Among them were people who were undocumented, people who were out of work, single mothers with children, and several who were simply alone. She tried to get the attention of her church about their plight. A committee was formed, but nothing happened...")
  • Baptism of Christ (A)(2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("One of the finer films of the last quarter-century is Bruce Beresford's Tender Mercies. The film chronicles the story of Mac Sledge, a one-time country-western singing star whose life later dissolved into a fog of alcohol and shiftlessness. Divorced from his wife and estranged from his only daughter, Mac staggers through life until one night he collapses onto the porch of a small, lonely little motel and gas station out in the middle of nowhere on the Texas prairie...")
  • Jesus, Who Simply Stood with Sinners

    by Janet Hunt
    ("I stopped at the County Court House the other day. I was not dressed professionally the other morning. I ran into someone I used to know. And I found myself immediately explaining my presence in that unlikely place. Oh, I was surrounded by those for whom this was commonplace: from both sides of the bench. Not so much for me. And yes, many of the best people I know have found themselves in situations where it was necessary to spend time there. And yet, I quickly discovered this was an instinct I too easily followed. I wanted him to know I was not there for myself...")
  • Baptism of Jesus (A)(2017)

    by Robert Morrison
    "Around the time Irish writer James Joyce was defecting from the Roman Catholic Church, he explained to his brother Stanislaus that epiphanies were sort of 'inadvertent revelations', and said they were 'little errors and gestures — mere straws in the wind — by which people betrayed the very things they were most careful to conceal..." and other quotes
  • Birthday Parties for Prostitutes

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    Tony Campolo tells a true story about a time when he was traveling. He was in another time zone and couldn’t sleep, so well after midnight he wandered down to a doughnut shop where, it turned out, local hookers also came at the end of a night of turning tricks. There, he overheard a conversation between two of them. One, named Agnes, said, “You know what? Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m gonna be thirty-nine.” Her friend snapped back, “So what d’ya want from me? A birthday party? Huh? You want me to get a cake and sing happy birthday to you?” The first woman replied, “Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I’m just sayin’ it’s my birthday. I don’t want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?” When they left, Tony got an idea. He asked the shop owner if Agnes came in every night, and when he replied in the affirmative, Tony invited him into a surprise party conspiracy. The shop owner’s wife even got involved. Together they arranged for a cake, candles, and typical party decorations for Agnes, who was, to Tony, a complete stranger. The next night when she came in, they shouted, “Surprise — and Agnes couldn’t believe her eyes. The doughnut shop patrons sang, and she began to cry so hard she could barely blow out the candles. When the time came to cut the cake, she asked if they’d mind if she didn’t cut it, if she could bring it home — just to keep it for a while and savor the moment. So she left, carrying her cake like a treasure. Tony led the guests in a prayer for Agnes, after which the shop owner told Tony he didn’t realize Tony was a preacher. He asked what kind of church Tony came from, and Tony replied, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.” The shop owner couldn’t believe him.. “No you don’t. There ain’t no church like that. If there was, I’d join it. Yep, I’d join a church like that.”
  • Normal to Strange

    by Larry Patten
    ("And not long ago, with a muddling of facts to protect the innocent and guilty, I heard a version of 'the light shines in the darkness' when we discussed a patient at the hospice where I work. What is not true, but true enough, is that we were discussing a young man with leukemia. They were planning to get a tattoo. How silly of them! The social worker said, 'Their tattoo will be in Latin'...")
  • Come to the Waters

    by Beth Quick
    ("Pastor Emily Scott writes that we long for "A different us: . . . Us version 2.0 . . . This new us springs energetically out of bed and goes to the gym three times a week, or suddenly has no desire for cigarettes, or alcohol, or other vices, or magically keeps the house tidy and organized. This new us is shiny and new, and feels recently purchased, like a new car...")
  • The Selfie

    by Nancy Rockwell
    ("In the film, Philomena, a biographical account, a woman travels across an ocean to say to a child she bore fifty years ago, that he is her beloved child. And the miracle of her own pyschic survival, after horrible shame and mistreatment, is rooted in her deep sense of herself as Beloved by God. In Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northrup clenches that name to himself through years of hell...")
  • Our Inability to Cast Out Demons

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("There's a story about a troubled mother who had a daughter who was addicted to sweets. One day she approached Gandhi, explained the problem to him and asked whether he might talk to the young girl. Gandhi replied: "Bring your daughter to me in three weeks time and I will speak to her." After three weeks, the mother brought her daughter to him. He took the young girl aside and spoke to her about the harmful effects of eating sweets excessively...")
  • Finding Out Who We Really Are

    by Alex Thomas
    ("As Frederick Buechner points out in one of his meditations in Listening to Your Life: 'I discovered that if you really keep your eye peeled to it and your ears open, if you really pay attention to it, even such a limited and limiting life as the one I was living on Rupert Mountain opened up onto extraordinary vistas. Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye. Eating lunch with a friend. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it..." and other quotes)
  • Secret Identity

    by Barkley Thompson
    ("The abduction of Elizabeth Smart is well-known, as are many of the details of her story. In mid-summer 2002, Elizabeth was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City bedroom under cover of darkness by Brian David Mitchell, a deranged, messianic drifter. She was taken to his camp deep in the woods, where she was brutalized by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. For nine months, Elizabeth endured her captivity, until in March of 2003 she was recognized on a Salt Lake City street and freed...")
  • The First Step

    by Brett Younger
    ["During the week before his death, the leaders of the temple challenge Jesus: 'By what authority are you doing these things?' (Matt 21:23). Jesus answers with a reference to his baptism: 'Was the baptism of John from heaven or not? I was baptized. That's why I do the things I do.' In the waters of baptism, Jesus heard the Spirit calling him to speak the truth and live with grace..."]

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2011 to 2013

  • Getting Wet

    by Rob Elder
    I had an old seminary professor who used to say that the church is meant to be a safe-house for sinners, but that bringing sinners into the church – which means all of us – is like bringing a pig into a fancy parlor. It’s not the pig that gets changed. It’s the parlor that is changed, of course. The arrival of a sinless Savior to receive the baptism of John is like a parallel truth. Bring a sinless Messiah into the world and it’s not the Messiah that gets changed. It’s the world...
  • Possibilities Unfolding

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • Baptism: A Near-Death Experience

    by Linda Kraft
    ("On a hot summer's day the year I turned 14, my best friend's parents offered to drive us all to the beach for the afternoon. Even though I'd grown up in southern California, I was far from a beach bunny, and in fact this day with friends was the first time I'd ever risked going far enough into the water that I could actually body surf the waves back to shore...")
  • The River

    by Bill Leonard
    ("In the story called the River, Southern novelist Flannery O'Connor tells of the day that Bevel, a child of alcoholic and abusive parents, is taken to a baptizing by his sitter, Mrs. Connin. 'Have you ever been baptized?' the preacher asked. 'What's that?' he murmured. 'If I baptize you,' the preacher said, 'you'll be able to go to the kingdom of Christ.'...")
  • God's Love for Us

    by Joe Parrish
    ("In a sermon of his from 1991, Henri Nouwen said, 'I would like to tell you a little story about our community of mentally challenged people. There is one of my friends there, Janet, who is quite handicapped but a wonderful, wonderful lady. She said to me, "Henri, can you bless me?"...")
  • One Is Sufficient

    by Larry Patten
    ("I was thinking this week about Ruthanne. That's her real name, by the way. It's the name she was baptized with, and the name I'll always remember her by. Note the past tense in that sentence. Ruthanne is dead. Died too young, barely made it to become a loving, doting grandmother. Died from cancer she battled for years...")
  • The Year in Review

    by David Russell
    "Bill Leonard, a friend of First Baptist who spoke here a few years ago, told this story. He wrote: 'Our daughter, Stephanie, is a person with special needs, learning and motor skill disabilities. Concepts do not come easily for her. Because of that I supposed that she might never receive baptism since she cannot meet all the conceptual pre-requisites demanded by many Baptists..."
  • You Bring Me Great Pleasure

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("How many of your New Year's Resolutions have made it intact through the first full week of 2011? Have you missed a day of exercise yet? Have you stuck to your diet? Are you texting less, talking more, always telling the truth? Most 'resolutions' we make are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life...")

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2008 to 2010

  • Belonging to Something Greater

    by John Bedingfield
    I read something recently on this subject, and I love the imagery and language of it. Here is what Dr. H. King Oehmig had to say, Jesus, here and throughout his ministry, makes it a point to go out of his way to mix socially with outcasts, with notorious sinners, beggars, the diseased, and the disenfranchised – to be “baptized” into their world so as to fully disclose Abba’s love for them as they are not as they ought to be. Stepping into the leftover bath-water of the unclean as the Clean One is nothing less than the spine-tingling manifestation of God’s passion. It discloses God’s willingness to go to any length to show – not just say – ‘I love you.’...
  • The Road to Sanity

    by Phil Bloom
    ("A young man once described his experience of sinking into insanity. He was a very bright university student, but he had abandoned his studies in favor of nightclubs and pornography...")
  • Baptism Made Real

    by Randy Calvo
    ("Another co-worker of mine recently gave me a book entitled The Art of Pastoring, Contemplative Reflections written by William C. Martin. Thought #11 in Martin's series of daily meditations is entitled Emptying. Please hear it for yourself: 'It is the invisible center where the spokes of the wheel meet that allows the wheel to move....")
  • Wading into the Waters: the Baptism of Jesus

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("In The Last Temptation of Christ, we watch a very human Jesus. He confesses his sins, he fears insanity, he wonders if he's merely a man, and he anguishes over the people he didn't heal....")
  • Fulfilling All Righteousness

    by Rob Elder
    Several years ago a film was released entitled, “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” loosely — very loosely — based on Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. The film was set during the Great Depression in the deep South, as three inmates escape from a chain gang. They are a clueless trio, but manage to bungle their way to freedom. On their journey they come across a gathering of folks by a riverbank who are lining up to be baptized. Two of the three scramble down to the water, and the first one baptized, the one played to perfection by Tim Blake Nelson, exclaims as he returns to his skeptical friend on the bank that the pastor told him all his sins have been washed away, even the theft of a pig for which he’d been convicted and sent to prison. His friend reminds him sarcastically that he had maintained all along that he was innocent. He responds, “I lied...and that’s been washed away too!”...
  • In the Beginning

    Narrative Sermon by Frank Fisher
    ("I was there in the beginning. All around me was a formless void; a void filled with watery chaos. There, while I hovered in the darkness over the chaos covering all the earth, I began what I must begin; the battle that would fill all time and all space...")
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a family moved into a new house. It was a very nice house with a lot more room than in their old house. However, it was also strange and when it came time to go to bed, the three children were very sleepy...")
  • What's Your Business?

    by David Leininger
    ("In a recent issue of The Christian Century, novelist and poet Kathleen Norris writes: 'I suspect that to many Christians baptism seems a curious and antiquated custom. People want their children baptized but can't say much about why they want it, and what the rite is meant to signify...")
  • Baptized into Submission

    by Erin Martin
    ("Dean McIntyre tells a story about the greatest Christmas gift he received this year. It was a card from the singer and songwriter Ken Medema that contained a $10 bill in it...")
  • The Lost Language of Our Faith

    by Nancy Petty
    "American poet, theorist and feminist, Adrienne Rich writes; "I believe that words can help us move or keep us paralyzed, and that our choices of language and verbal tone have something—a great deal—to do with how we live our lives...
  • Preserving Your Identity

    by Paul Rooney
    ("One of the sad signs of our pagan culture today is the wide variety of crimes we need to be on guard against, including what is called identity theft....")
  • Praying Our Way Out of a Pickle

    by Bill Wigmore
    Bill Wilson had an epiphany in his detox room. His epiphany started a chain reaction that’s spread to millions of alcoholics & addicts who found themselves just as hopeless as he was. Bill’s alcoholism had sent him to the hospital for the 4th time in less than two years – but that last time he was desperate enough to get down on his knees and pray to a God he wasn’t quite sure was there – and he wasn’t quite sure would help him. But when he did that, when he prayed, when he emptied himself of his ego and invited God into his life Bill had his epiphany. He felt God’s presence – right there with him in that room – The sense of separation that he’d known for so long was now over - and inside he knew he wasn’t alone and he knew who was really in control. Bill had made a conscious connection with God. Bill was changed and he never drank again...
  • Baptism as Epiphany

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Spencer Marsh has written a book entitled God Man, and Archie Bunker and in it he says, 'Every time Archie has a scrape with God, he becomes more religious. This we saw when a ton crate of machine parts fell off the crane at work and missed Archie by inches. Though Mike or better known as meathead, raised the possibility that God may have been trying to hit Archie and missed, Archie was convinced it was God's doing that he escaped..." and other illustrations)
  • Illustrations (Baptism of the Lord)(A)

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Each year a monster came to the city with a riddle: 'What speaks with one voice, but walks on four legs,on two legs,and on three legs?' If no one could answer the question, the monstor would eat one of the people of the city. Finally a hero came along, Oedipus. He answered the riddle..." and other illustrations)
  • Illustrations #2 (Baptism of the Lord)(A)

    by Tim Zingale
    ("Thomas G. Long recounts a scene from an August Wilson play Ma Rainey. The play is about African American Jazz musicians rehearsing in a Chicago recording studio. At one point they take a break from their rehearsal and they begin to tell stories. One of them tells the story about a cousin of his, a minister whose sister in Atlanta was desperately ill and so he took a train to Atlanta to visit her ..." and other illustrations)

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

  • Beginning Again, Again and Again…

    by Robert Allred
    ("A dear Christian lady put in her will the unusual request that she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand. When word got around, one of her friends was appointed to go ask her why...")
  • My Own Dear Son

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("Years ago, we were in a church with a 'wayside pulpit' - a notice-board with space for a pithy comment on faith and life. It was blank when we arrived - good space gone to waste...")
  • Who Are You?

    by Fred Anderson
    ('Who are you?' You remember the question. It was asked of Alice by the Caterpillar, in chapter five of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...")
  • Get Rid of the Junk!

    by Peter Blackburn
    ("Some people are hoarders. They never throw anything away and, if they live in the same house all their lives, the accumulation of bits and pieces can be massive. ...")
  • The Grace of Baptism

    by Phil Bloom
    ("To me the best movie about baptism is Tender Mercies. In it Robert Duvall plays a broken down, alcoholic singer, who is rescued by divine grace – in the form of a humble Christian woman..")
  • With Whom I Am Well Pleased

    by Phil Bloom
    ("C. S. Lewis once commented: 'No one can enter heaven except as a child and nothing is so obvious in a child as his great and undisguised pleasure at being praised.'...")
  • Ready for Revolution

    by Brad Ronnell Braxton
    ("the means by which John and Jesus meet their deaths should convince even the most hardened skeptics of the revolutionary nature of their ministries. Neither dies of 'old age' or 'natural causes'. Bart Ehrman addresses this point:...")
  • The Fulfillment of Righteousness

    by Barbara Bundick
    ("The internet is buzzing with warnings about an extremely dangerous chemical. Called dihydrogen oxide, or DHO, it is, quote, 'colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people each year...")
  • Reverend Jesus, Sir

    by John Christianson
    ("I remember the day of my Ordination, June 20, 1963. I drove to the local airport to pick up the president of Luther Theological Seminary, Dr. Alvin Rogness. He was going to do the ordination...")
  • Bonds of Faith

    by Tom Cox
    ("Baptism can became a bit of a battleground even in Royal families. New attitudes clash with old understandings. Take Crown Prince Laurent of Belgium who last year expressed the wish to have a Muslim Godfather for his new born daughter...")
  • Jesus: A Baptism of Repentance?

    by Adrian Dieleman
    "There was a law in Tokyo around the year 1900 that no foreigner could take up residence there unless he had a 'substitute'..."
  • Getting Wet

    by Robert Elder
    ("The teacher announced one morning that the play she had chosen for the class members to perform was Cinderella. The usual chaos ensued, every hand went up, waving madly, as all the students fell to begging for an important part...")
  • The RICE of Baptism

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("In Nigeria the baptism of a child is usually followed by a happy reception where children are sure to eat one thing, rice. As a result, the baptism dress is sometimes referred to as your rice dress. Though the connection between baptism and rice is altogether accidental, one can utilise it as a memory aid for the meaning of baptism. The meaning of baptism can be found in the four letters of the word RICE...")
  • God's Time of Affirmation

    by Richard Fairchild
    ("The word affirmation is not a word that often mentioned in our vocabulary these days. We talk of loving and supporting - but we don't tend to use the word affirm very often. Perhaps it is because we don't engage in a lot of affirming action?...")
  • Lord, When You Came Down to the Jordan

    by Art Ferry
    ("Consider a certain mother named Marie. Marie's only son died at age 17 of a drug overdose. For weeks the young mother was so wrapped in grief that she was unable to function. One day an older woman advised her to give up her constant grieving. 'Give your sorrow to the Lord,' she said, 'and He will give back one hundred fold what you have lost'..." and other illustrations - recommended!!)
  • Why Jesus Was Baptized

    by Art Ferry
    ("There is a famous story about a woman who goes into an ice cream store. Suddenly she recognizes that Robert Redford is also buying ice cream in that store..." and other illustrations)
  • The King Is Here

    by Scott Grant
    ("There is a certain force each January when both houses of Congress gather for the State of the Union address and a voice booms out from the center of the House of Representatives, 'Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States'...")
  • Baptism of the Lord (A)(2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a family moved into a new house. It was a very nice house with a lot more room than in their old house...")
  • The Baptism of Jesus (A)(1996)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a young man who was charming, handsome, witty, and a great athlete. Everyone in his school adored him, especially one quiet, thoughtful girl who was too shy to talk to him...")
  • Not About You...

    by Peter Haynes
    ("Perhaps you're familiar with that recent country music hit song from Toby Keith, in which he sings this to his girl: 'We talk about your dreams and we talk about your schemes your high school team and your moisturizer cream...")
  • To Fulfill All Righteousness

    by Randy Hyde
    Ann Patchett has written a book called The Patron Saint of Liars. It is the story of a woman named Rose and her daughter Cecilia. They live at Saint Elizabeth’s Home for Unwed Mothers in Habit, Kentucky. Rose is the cook and Cecilia has become sort of the mascot of the place. One day, when Cecilia is fifteen years old, she meets one of the new girls who has come to Saint Elizabeth’s. Her name is Lorraine, and she’s about to have a nervous breakdown while she waits to be interviewed by Mother Corinne, the nun in charge. Cecilia decides to give this newcomer some advice. “The guy who got you pregnant,” she tells Lorraine. “Don’t say he’s dead. Everybody says that. It makes Mother Corinne crazy.” Lorraine sits on her hands and is quiet for a minute. “I was going to say that,” she says. “See?” “So what do I tell her?” “I don’t know,” Cecilia says. “Tell her the truth. Or tell her you don’t remember.” “What did you tell her?” Lorraine asks. And Cecilia is speechless. She’s never before been mistaken as one of them – one of the weak people whose bad decisions had derailed their lives, who had done something so shameful that their own families had packed them off to live with strangers until the evidence could be put up for adoption. Cecilia thought she was going to pass out because she had been mistaken for a sinner...
  • He Came Down to Lift You Up!

    by John Jewell
    ("Some years ago, I was invited to attended a conference on world peace at the Wingspread Center in Racine, Wisconsin. This center, which was the original home of Samuel Johnson [of Johnson's Wax], is one of the wonderful examples of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright...")
  • Called to be Christs!

    by Beth Johnston
    "Carolyn Hughes tells of a woman named Jill who was trying to decide what she should do with her life. She thought of going to seminary and becoming a minister. To help her decide it was suggested that she work for a time as an intern in a hospital chaplaincy..."
  • How's the Water?

    by Scott Black Johnston
    ("On the shelves of his office, my former colleague at Austin Seminary, Stan Hall, keeps an unusual assortment of bottles. It's his water collection. Containers of various shapes and colors display Stan's growing array of special waters...")
  • Baptism: Opening a New Door

    by Fred Kane
    ("During the Tsunami in South Asia there were two Scuba divers who were actually diving off of the coast of the Thai island of Phuket when the great waves came...")
  • What Difference Does It Make?

    by Linda Kraft
    ("Television courtroom shows are covering the airwaves these days. The People's Court, Judge Judy, Judge Mills Lane, Power of Attorney. Even though these are staged events, they're based on reality: a genuine dispute is resolved in a courtroom before a judge, and sometimes with lawyers, all in 30 minutes...")
  • When Church Gets Dangerous

    by David Leininger
    ("Our friend Fred Craddock tells of a little community in southwest Oklahoma where the Native American Black Kettle and most of the women and children of his little tribe were massacred by General Custer as he and his troops swept down in the early morning hours...")
  • Rare Sightings

    by Barbara Lemmel
    ("One early summer morning, as I plied my fishing rod along the foggy river, I caught sight of what looked like just such a foam puff. a bit downstream...")
  • Taking the Plunge

    by John Manzo
    ("If you remember the mini-series Roots, each generation of fathers would take their newborn children out in the star lit night, hold the child up to the Heaven, and say, 'Behold the only thing greater than yourself'...")
  • Baptism: What Do We Teach?

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

    by Edward Markquart
    ("The story of STAR WARS is the story of people recovering their knowledge of the Force, that it actually existed but also, these people had to learn how to use the power of the Force. The story of STAR WARS is learning once again to believe in the Force and learning how to use the power of the light sword in battle with the enemy...")
  • God and the Tsunami

    by David Martyn
    The oldest story in the world is the story of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk in Babylon about 2700 BC. Like any immortal story it deals with eternal themes: what does it mean to be human—with both god and animal natures; what are the qualities of good government and why is there death. To answer this final question Gilgamesh undertakes the heroic spiritual quest to meet the one human who attained immortality. After a long and dangerous journey, Gilgamesh arrives at a shore and encounters another man. He tells this man that he is looking for Utnapishtim and the secret of eternal life; the old man advises Gilgamesh that death is a necessary fact because of the will of the gods. At this point, Gilgamesh realizes that he is talking to Utnapishtim, the Far-Away; he hadn't expected an immortal human to be ordinary and aged. He asks Utnapishtim how he received immortality...
  • Christian Conundrum

    by Jim McCrea
    ("There is the story of an African-American minister whose sister in Atlanta was desperately ill and so he took a train to Atlanta to visit her. The train stopped in a little south Georgia town to take on water..." and other illustrations)
  • Entering the Promised Land

    by Jim McCrea
    ("The famous artist Vincent Van Gogh certainly understood the communal dimensions of baptism. Most people don't know that he wasn't always a painter. He was a pastor in his early years. In 1879, he was posted to a Belgian mining community known as Wasmes. He was shocked to discover that the miners in that community endured deplorable working conditions and poverty-level wages...")
  • The Baptismal Vows of Jesus

    by Harold McNabb
    ("In his book on the life of Jesus, James S Stewart comments briefly on Jesus life up to the time of his baptism. Stewart's take on the silence of Jesus' first thirty or so years of life was that he lived a normal life of learning and growing the same as any young boy...")
  • Some Mother's Sons

    Narrative Sermon by Phil Nevard
    ("Dear Mary, I felt it was time I got in contact with you again. I have had a long talk with my dear son John and he has shown me the error of my ways. Last time we spoke together I said some very unkind things about you and Joseph and the haste with which you were married...")
  • The Voice of God

    by Phil Nevard
    ("What does the voice of God sound like? What do you think? In film or T.V. drama it is usually a deep, booming, echoing sound - much like the 'It could be you!' voice on the National Lottery adverts. It's a voice that sounds like it should be written in capital letters...")
  • The Baptism of Jesus

    by Raymond Osborne
    ("my mind has been haunted by the words to a song by the Oak Ridge Boys: 'Among the local taverns they'll be a slack in business 'Cause Jesse's drinkin' came before the groceries and the rent. They baptized Jesse Taylor in Cedar Creek last Sunday Jesus gained a soul and Satan lost a good right arm They all cried 'Hallelujah' as Jesse's head went under 'Cause this time he went under for the Lord...")
  • Bring Down the Walls!

    by Raymond Osborne
    ("It was the Sunday after Christmas and the seven o'clock Mass was beginning. Chilled latecomers hurried up the side steps and the rear seats were filling up with stragglers, who welcomed the warmth of the radiators that backed the last pews...")
  • Fulfilling All Righteousness

    by John Pavelko
    ("An automotive company had a problem with a new car. A few months after nearly every vehicle was sold the owner complained about a leaky front windshield causing enormous warranty claims. A group of quality control engineers were called together and assigned the task of finding a solution. They reviewed the design blueprints..." and other illustrations)
  • To Fulfill All Righteousness

    by John Ewing Roberts
    ("A piano teacher had taught the little boy how to hit every note just right. He had the fingering right, the tempo right, the phrasing right; he even kept his thumbs off of black keys, but when he played the piece without missing a note, it just wasn't 'right'. 'You just haven't got it right', says the exasperated piano teacher..." and other illustrations)
  • Connecting the Dots

    by Paul Rooney
    ("Have you ever thought about how 'God's voice' would sound? I always think of a particular movie actor. If there is any one single voice that I think everyone remembers, it is the voice of James Earl Jones..." and another illustration)
  • Serving Children

    by Jeeva Sam
    ("If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart...")
  • The Politics of Baptism

    by Ed Searcy
    ("Not many people realize that Jim Strathdee found the words for the hymn 'I am the light of the world' in a Christmas message sent by Howard Thurman. A famous black preacher, Thurman was passionate in his belief that Christmas leads to the formation of a radically odd community...")
  • Baptizing Our Wallets

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("There was a little town in West Texas that had their only oil well catch fire. They worked like Trojans to put out the fire but every effort to put it out failed. In desperation they offered $5,000 to anyone who could put out the fire..." and other illustrations)
  • Come to the Water

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("In the movie Toy Story, Woody is a cowboy action figure. The favorite toy of a little boy named Andy. But Andy's birthday rolls around and suddenly there is a rival for Andy's affection and attention named Buzz Lightyear...")
  • Down By the River Side

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("At age twenty-five, William Lawrence Bragg was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Prize in physics. He was also an avid amateur gardener. He spent years perfecting a beautiful garden in Cambridge ..." and other illustrations)
  • Affirmation

    by Alex Thomas
    ("I had read a few years ago about Dr. Roy Sano had written of how during the second World War he and his family, as Japanese-Americans, were treated with prejudice and terror by many other Americans..." and other illustrations)
  • Our Story

    by Alex Thomas
    ("Paul Tillich says in his well known sermon You Are Accepted: It strikes us when, year after year , the longed for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as the have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage..." and other illustrations)
  • You Are My Beloved

    Narrative Sermon by Pamela Tinnin
    ("I'll never forget the day I finally gave my heart to Jesus. Daddy had just about given up on me. Here he was, pastor of Blue Crick Primitive Baptist Church, and his only child still unbaptized at near 14. How could I tell him that I'd never be good enough, never holy enough?...")
  • A Tall Tale

    by J. Barry Vaughn
    ("The movie Big Fish is the story of a father and a son that begins and ends at a river. The father, Edward Bloom, is larger than life. On the day of his son William's birth he catches the biggest catfish in Alabama's Blue River...")
  • The Green Face of God: Christianity in an Age of Ecocide

    by Mark I. Wallace
    ("At bedtime I sometimes read to my five-year-old daughter the Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax. The story takes place in a bucolic setting of heavily fruited Truffula Trees, Swomee-Swans, and Brown Bear Bar-ba-loots; it is a place where 'from the rippulous pond[s] / comes the comforting sounds / of the Humming-fish humming / while splashing around...")
  • Baptism of the Lord

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("There is a story of a black family and a white family who lived in the area of Atlanta during the time of the racial riots and uprisings of the 60's. The day came when the black family was told by law that they would have to bus their little 11-year-old from her school in the urban city to a school in the suburbs. They had no choice, for this was the law...")
  • No Problem

    by William Willimon
    (includes numerous quotes)
  • Being with Us

    by Tim Zingale
    ("The chief executive officer of a manufacturing firm got into the habit of showing up in the production area unannounced. Sometimes he would take off his coat and tie, roll up his sleeves, and help on the assembly line. One of the bolder employees asked him one day, 'Why do you do that?'..." and other illustrations)

Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

Other Resources from 2011 to 2013

Other Resources from 2008 to 2010

Other Resources from 2002 to 2004

Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable