Ephesians 1: 11-23

New Resources

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Sermon Starters (Christ the King)(A)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    Oliver Sacks wrote a fascinating book about neurological disorders entitled, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. In it he describedf Christina, a 27 year-old who’d hardly been sick a day in her life. The day before doctors scheduled her for gallbladder surgery, however, she became very unsteady on her feet and prone to dropping things. She eventually couldn’t stand unless she looked down at her feet. Christina’s hands also wandered unless she kept a very close eye on them. When she tried to stand up, her body just “gave way” on her. Neurologically health people, even with our eyes closed, have a sense of where our arms and legs are. Our proprioceptors help us sense that we’re moving them, even when we don’t see them. Dr. Sacks, however, determined that Christina’s proprioceptors weren’t working well. She, after all, had no idea her limbs were moving unless she literally watched them...
  • Above Every Game

    by Scott Anderson
    Recently I watched Concussion, a movie about Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born pathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy--the buildup of protein deposits in the brain caused by repeated blows to the head. In an early scene in the movie, Omalu (played by Will Smith) warns his colleagues about the physical dangers of football. "God did not intend for us to play football," he says. In the movie another doctor tells Omalu to leave God out of his research. But Omalu, a devout Roman Catholic, knows that there are limits to the human body that God created, limits to what it can endure.
  • Justice as Staple Diet

    by Rowland Croucher
    I vividly remember Pedro, a day-labourer who with his wife Isabella lived in one of the 400 favellas/slums around Fortaleza, in north-east Brazil. They had five children (of nine live births) – all malnourished. Pedro could only get work about every third day; Isabella made clothes on a basic sewing-machine lent by World Vision. But sometimes they had no food at night, and to stop their starving kids crying from hunger Isabella would feed them little balls of rolled-up moistened newspaper, sprinkled with sugar. These had almost no nutritional value, but at least they wouldn’t cry so much and Pedro could get some sleep. They’d owned a black bean farm, inherited from Pedro’s father and grandfather, and one day the police, bribed by a wealthy neighbouring landowner, drove them off their farm. They had no legal redress – the authorities were in the pockets of the rich...
  • Breadth, Length, Height and Depth

    by Kathy Donley
    From the house on the top of the hill, you could see a field of ripe corn with the bean flowers that promise a good harvest. The one thing the land needed was rain. All morning Manuel had been examining the sky, "The water will come." During dinner the rain started to fall. Great clouds came from the northeast. Then all of a sudden, a strong wind started to blow and giant hailstones began to fall. For an hour hail fell on the house and garden. The beans were left without a single leaf. The corn was destroyed. Manuel’s heart dropped. "A swarm of locusts would have left more than this. We won’t have any corn or beans. All our work is lost. Our only hope is God." The next morning, Manuel wrote a letter: "God, if you do not help me, my family will go hungry. Because of the hail you sent, I need one thousand dollars to replant and live until the next harvest." He wrote "God" on the envelope and put it in the mailbox. Later that day, the mailman picked up the letter addressed to God. At first he laughed, but then he thought: "I wish I had the faith of the man who wrote this letter. To believe what he believes. To write a letter to God." So as to not disillusion Manuel, the mailman decided to answer the letter, but when he opened it, he discovered that responding would take more than good will, ink, and paper...
  • Christ's Power, Our Power

    by Kathy Donley
    Denise Levertov was a fascinating American poet of the last century who often wrote about faith. One of her poems about Jesus’ Ascension is called Suspended. She imagines trying to hold on to God’s garment. She writes I had grasped God's garment in the void but my hand slipped on the rich silk of it. The 'everlasting arms' my sister liked to remember must have upheld my leaden weight from falling, even so, for though I claw at empty air and feel nothing, no embrace, I have not plummeted.
  • Saints Alive

    by Susan Durber
    ("The film Truly, Madly, Deeply tells a bitter-sweet story of love, bereavement and new love. The central character, a woman, has lost her partner - which is to say - in the world of truth that we find hard to name - he has died. She grieves for him, truly, madly and deeply - just as she has loved him and just as they have loved each other. The sorrow is deep and hard to bear...")
  • Enlightened Hearts

    by Jim Eaton
    Ephesians asks us to imagine a series of mornings breaking, over and over, offering new days each day in which we more fully know Christ, more fully receive the wisdom that helps us understand and see God working in the world. Anne Lamott alludes to this in her book, Stitches. She says, “Many people did help me to stand up in July 1986 when I stopped drinking. it turned out that some of the sober people who mentored me through sobriety’s monkey mazes had not been housebroken for long… They taught me that I would often not get my way, which was good for me but would feel terrible, and that life was erratic, beautiful and impossible. They taught me that maturity was the ability to live with unresolved problems. They taught me—or tried to teach me—humility. This was not my strong suit.
  • A Theology of Ascension

    by Evan Garner
    As a kid, whenever my father or I hit a put that went rolling past the hole, he would say, "Come back, Shane!" That's a reference to the 1953 film Shane. In the closing scenes, a young Brandon De Wilde appeals to Alan Ladd to stay with the family, but Ladd, who plays the title character, knows that he must go. It's a fabulous farewell. Shane keeps riding farther and father away while little Joey calls out to him with all the reasons he should stay. His voice echoes off the mountains in the distance. "Shane...come back!"
  • Christ the King (A)(2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In a poignant moment of C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia,” the children at one point walk into what appeared from the outside to be no more than a shabby little building. But once they step into it, they discover a vastness they could not have guessed at before. “Why,” Lucy exclaims, “it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside.” “Yes,” another character replies, “something like that once happened on earth. In a place called Bethlehem there was a tiny stable whose inside was bigger than its outside because that stable contained the whole world.”
  • The Footstool

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    On the Sunday we acknowledge the Reign of Christ, the idea of Christ having all things under his feet makes sense. That would make "everything" Christ's footstool. Cartographers had the opportunity to illustrate this idea as they created maps of the world with Christ enthroned at the top. The top of a map was generally oriented to the East, so Christ sits on those maps at the direction of the rising sun and the resurrection. Cathedrals altars were usually at the east end of the building, meaning that the congregation faced the rising sun...and the rising son. Hearing that, then, you might expect that Jesus' figure on a mappamundi (map of the world) would be seated on a throne with his feet resting on the earth like a footstool. After all, the visual is there in Ephesians. You might expect, but it wouldn't necessarily be true...
  • Ascension and Embrace

    by Debra Dean Murphy
    ("I was puzzling over what to write here when across my Facebook newsfeed came the story of a New Englander who has offered a burial plot for the Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Three weeks after Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police, and with no cemetery willing to receive his remainss, Douglas Keene of Vermont made the offer to Tsarnaev's family on the condition that it be done 'in memory of my mother who taught Sunday School...")
  • Past, Future and Present

    by Michael Ruffin
    One of the recurring themes in time travel stories is the extent to which future events can be altered by changing the past. If you could go into the past and alter events in what would then be your present, how would that change things in the future? (By the way, Stephen King produces a great thought experiment around this question in his novel 11/22/63. If you could go back in time and prevent the assassination of President Kennedy, would you? And if you did, how would that change the future? It’s fascinating.) Our lesson text for this Reign of Christ Sunday doesn’t deal with time travel but it does call us to reflect on how the past and the future affect the present...
  • The Adventure Begins

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After examining it, all excited he called the curator of a prestigious natural-history museum. 'I've just discovered a 3,000 year-old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!' the excited scientist exclaimed. The curator told him to, 'Bring him in. We'll check it out.'...")
  • An Exquisite Attitude of Gratitude

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    "On a grey Friday in January 2007, during the peak of the early morning commuter rush, an unassuming young man entered the L'Enfant Plaza train station in Washington D.C. As the crowds rushed by, the man found a place to stand out of the way of the foot traffic. He opened the violin case he carried. He threw into the case a few coins and dollar bills to 'prime the pump'..."
  • Ascension (A)(2020)

    by Samuel Zumwalt
    At the trauma hospital, I met Sister Regina, a little Polish nun who had served first as a nurse and then as a trained chaplain for seventeen years. The head of the pastoral care department was on his second appointment to that position. The regular staff chaplains, including the Jesuit priest, had all been there for less than half of Regina’s tenure. Day in and day out, year in and year out, she went into room after room, patient after patient, a sign of her Lord’s abiding presence, a woman of great faith, hope, and love. Bolstered by the daily reception of Jesus in the Host and Cup and returning nightly to a community of prayer, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Regina pointed beyond herself to the Crucified, Risen, and Ascended Lord, the Head over all things to the Church. On one difficult day in which the weight of human suffering was particularly heavy, I asked Regina how she managed to keep going. She smiled gently and said: “Sam, you open your heart to others in their pain, and that is where you find the joy of the Lord, who bore the sins of the whole world in His Body on the cross.”...

Other Resources from 2020

Other Resources from 2017 to 2019

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Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

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Other Resources from 2010 to 2013

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Children's Resources and Dramas

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The Classics