Mark 1: 7-11

Illustrated New Resources

  • Sermon Starters (Baptism of the Lord)(B)(2021)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In the movie Pleasantville we see a reversal of the Christian story. In the film two teenagers from 1998 somehow get trapped inside a 1950s situation comedy show on TV. They suddenly find themselves in Pleasantville U.S.A. long about 1953. Like the old TV show itself, the entire town and all the people in it are in black-and-white. It’s the typical caricature of 1950s buttoned down, middle class suburbia where Mom wears a dress all the time (even when baking cookies), Dad goes off to some nondescript job every morning, returning home each evening around five with the characteristic, “Honey, I’m home!” And in those pre-Elvis, pre-Beatles days, the teens of the town are all very square and moral and, according to the film, boring. So the kids from the future set about to inject some enlightenment into the town and they do so through (what else?) sex. But no sooner do they start to spread the sexual revolution around town through seducing basketball players and providing homebound housewives with lessons on what sexuality is really all about and suddenly the black-and-white town begins bursting into color. First it’s just one red rose but soon it is entire persons (the enlightened, sexually active persons, of course) and finally, as the roaring 1990s gets fully injected into the staid 1950s, the entire town is in Technicolor splendor...
  • You Are God's Beloved Child

    by Jim McCrea
    •The late Henri Nouwen was a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, who taught at the Menninger Clinic and several Ivy League schools. But he ultimately left academia to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. One day, a mentally challenged resident there named Janet asked him, “Henri, can you bless me?” So he performed a brief ritual, ending with drawing a little cross on her forehead. But she said, “Henri, it doesn’t work. No, that is not what I mean.” So he was flustered and wasn’t sure what to do. Here’s how he described what happened next: “We had a little service and all these people were sitting there. After the service I said, ‘Janet wants a blessing.’ […] Janet walked up to me and said, ‘I want to be blessed.’ She put her head against my chest and I spontaneously put my arms around her, held her, and looked right into her eyes and said, ‘Blessed are you, Janet. You know how much we love you. You know how important you are. You know what a good woman you are.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, I know.’ “I suddenly saw all sorts of energy coming back to her. She seemed to be relieved from the feeling of depression because suddenly she realized again that she was blessed. She went back to her place and immediately other people said, ‘I want that kind of blessing, too.’ “The people kept walking up to me and I suddenly found myself embracing people. I remember that after that, one of the people in our community who assists the handicapped, a strong guy, a football player, said, ‘Henri, can I have a blessing, too?’ I remember our standing there in front of each other and I said, ‘John,’ and I put my hand on his shoulder, ‘you are blessed. You are a good person. God loves you. We love you. You are important.’ Can you claim that and live as the blessed one?” Nouwen concludes, “I think it is very important that when we are in touch with our blessedness that we can then bless other people. People need our blessing; people need to know that their father, mother, brothers and sisters bless them.”...
  • Baptism of Our Lord (B)(2021)

    from Sermons on the Gospel
    "Once upon a time long ago a young man decided to become a saint. He left his home, family, and possessions and journeyed into the hot sands of the desert where he eventually found a dark cave. He thought, 'I can find God here. I will be alone and nothing will disturb me..."

Other New Resources

Recommended Resources

Illustrated Resources from 2018 to 2020

  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2018)

    by Kat Banakis
    Some years ago one of my parents was diagnosed with cancer. It was a routine, treatable cancer, but the very word, the C-ness of it, frightened me. Driving home I called a friend whose parent had died of a different cancer, and she patiently walked me through the worst-case scenario. My parent would get sicker and sicker and need help doing things one would never want or imagine having one’s child do because it seems too embarrassing or intimate. But we’d get beyond that. I’d do the things such that they would become routine, and we’d find moments of macabre humor. And then my parent might die. And if that happened, my friend finished, I would become part of the population of children whose parents have died...
  • Forgiveness of Sins

    by Delmer Chilton
    I’ve been haunted for many years by the vague memory of an old TV show. I remember the word “sin-eater,” and a teenage boy dressed in rags going into a torch-lit room and taking a piece of bread off a man’s chest. He gobbled it down while sobbing and screaming in apparent torment. That’s all I could recall. Sometimes the internet is an amazing research tool. I typed in “sin-eater” and in a matter of minutes all was revealed. The show was a 1972 episode of Night Gallery based on an old tradition in parts of rural Wales and England in which one of the villagers was the sin-eater. When someone died, food was placed on their chest, which the sin-eater ate while reciting a prayer. The deceased’s sins then passed from his or her soul into that of the sin-eater. In the TV show, the sin-eater had died, and his wife persuaded their son to eat the bread laid on his father’s corpse—he took on not only his father’s sins, but those of all who had died in the village for many, many years. No wonder he sobbed and screamed. The episode was called “The Sins of the Fathers,” echoing the biblical admonition that “the sins of the parents shall be visited upon the children …”
  • Who Am I?

    by David Henson
    A few years back, as I was blearily returning from dropping my kids off at school one morning, a story came on the radio about new DNA tests that help people trace their roots and genealogy with surprising accuracy. The story was mildly interesting, but then as the reporter Eric Weiner was preparing to send his test off, he said something so profound he nearly caused me to run a red light in my minivan. “Hopefully in the next few weeks,” he said, off-handedly, “I’ll find out who I am and where I came from.” And in that one sentence, Weiner distilled the internal quest of humanity: The question of identity; of discovering who we really are and who we really aren’t; the search to “know thyself” as Plato famously put it...
  • Baptism of Jesus (B)(2018)

    by James Howell
    If you want illustrative material, it would be hard to top that very sorrowful moment in The Secret Life of Bees, which tells us about twin sisters who were “like one soul sharing two bodies. If April got a toothache, May’s gum would plump up red and swollen.” After April’s death, “it seemed like the world itself became May’s twin sister.” Any word of anyone suffering struck agony into May’s heart. All her family could do was to build a “wailing wall” in the back yard; May would write down the hurts of the world and people she knew on scraps of paper and press them into the wall. But over time she could bear it all no longer, and simply walked into the stream below their house and drowned — to the elegiac singing of “Song for Mia” by Lizz Wright. Moves me every time. (Scroll down the page for this discussion.)
  • Baptism: A Mystery of the Faith

    by Dawn Hutchings
    It happened on a Thursday night. All week long I’ve been thinking about what I would say about the Baptism of Jesus and I wasn’t getting very far. It had been a busy week, with lots of things to do as programs around the church geared up after the lull of the holidays. After teaching Confirmation Class, I arrived home at about 9:30. The house was empty because my wife Carol was off visiting the grandchildren. It had been a long day, and I quickly got into my pajamas, switched on the fireplace, and settled into my recliner in front of the television. The PVR was full of shows for me to watch and the opening scenes of Grey’s Anatomy dragged me into the complications of lives I would never have to minister to and I began to relax. The drama of medical emergencies mixed with the complications of various love affairs pulled me into a world where there was absolutely nothing expected of me and I was loving it right up until the moment that the telephone rang. Modern technology means that the name of the person calling usually appears on right there on the TV screen so that I can decide whether or not I’m going to answer the call. When the phone rang I expected it to be Carol calling to say goodnight, so I’d already pushed the pause button, expecting that after a quick goodnight I could get back to my shows. By the time I realized that there was no name on the TV screen but only a phone number, it was too late and I was already saying hello...
  • Recognizing the Sacred In and Beyond the Stories We Tell

    by Dawn Hutchings
    HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job...
  • Surely We Can Learn to Tell Our Stories, Enact Our Rituals and Be Love for One Another in Ways That Transcend Religions, Cultures and Old Hatreds

    by Dawn Hutchings
    A long time ago, a very dear Sikh friend of mine, Sarginda Singh, introduced me to the Hindu word, Namaste. Namaste is a greeting which means that the God in me recognizes the God in you. Sarginda, went to great pains to remind me that we Christians have a similar greeting: Peace be with you. According to Sarginda this is how Christians, say “The Christ in me, greets the Christ in you.” Jewish people say, Shalom, and Muslims say Salem a lachum. The God in me, sees the God in you. I suspect that until we find a way to see the sacred in everyone, humanity will remain stuck in a cycle of violence, which threatens to destroy us all...
  • Wear Your Baptism in Ways that Others Might See a Visible Means of Grace in You

    by Dawn Hutchings
    Well one day, I needed some candles and so I dashed into the Zellers over the road to quickly grab a couple. I was having difficulty finding just the right candles when a store clerk came up to me and asked me if I would come with her. I figured that I’d been lingering over the candles for so long that she must have mistaken me for a shoplifter, but as we hurried along, she explained to me that there was a man in housewares who was abusing his wife and child. I’d forgotten that I was wearing a collar, but the reality of what this clerk was asking me to do choked me into realizing that the collar had led her to believe that I could actually do something. Not knowing what she expected me to do, I told her to call 911. She assured me that they had already called, but that in the meantime perhaps I could help. We stopped just before the aisle where the abuse was taking place. The store clerk whispered that, “they are just over there.” As she pointed, I realized that she wanted me to go on alone. So, not knowing what to expect, I took a deep breath and walked in on a scene that was way beyond my abilities...
  • Spirit Renewed

    by Sharlene McGowan
    I recently saw two movies which I thought were quite intelligent: The first was the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II. The second was about Churchill at the time he became Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940, Darkest Hour. In my opinion, the two films complemented each other tremendously and, although the subject of both films was solemn, each portrayed events which could be seen as new beginnings for the characters involved and, indeed, the circumstances of that time...
  • Metanoia and John: Transformation in the Wilderness

    by Valarie Luna Serrels
    There’s a story in Greek mythology about Kairos, the young, swift god of opportunity, with wings on his feet. When he passes by you, it’s too late to grab hold of said opportunity. However, in the wake of Kairos’ fleeting journey, stands the sorrowful goddess Metanoia. She invites those passed by with opportunity for reflection, mourning and space to make a decision. An urgent decision. Metanoia literally means change. A changed mind, heart, behavior, life. When John cries out for repentance, the Greek term Metanoia is used, giving us a much more rich connotation of transformation.
  • Spiritually Prepared

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    There is a story about a priest who was about to baptize a young child. He approached the father of the child and said solemnly, "Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?" "I think so," the young father replied. "My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests." "I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?" "Oh, sure," came the reply. "I've got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey."

Illustrated Resources from 2015 to 2017

  • A Scientist Who Renewed His Baptism

    by Phil Bloom
    Niels (Nicolaus) Stensen (known as 'Steno') was a young Danish physician, eager to advance human knowledge. In his twenties Steno performed remarkable investigations. Some were seemingly small, like his discovery of parotid gland which produces saliva. Others were far reaching; for example, he demonstrated that the heart is a muscle (not a 'furnace' as Descartes and others argued)...
  • Self-Made Man

    by Tom Cox
    Then we had the social media phenomenon in 2014 of 'no make-up selfie' where ladies bravely appeared minus mascara, foundation etc for a charity cause and posted pictures of themselves online. Not to mention the 'ice-bucket challenge' of pouring 'ice water over yourself as you then donated to a particular charity. In both cases, loads of self-images popped up online. Today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord reminds us that for centuries - before ice bucket challenges made it fashionable - we've been pouring water over adults and babies in Baptism...
  • Down in the Valleys

    by Vince Gerhardy
    In the 1970's, the people of El Salvador were down in the dark valleys of suffering. Thousands of people were unjustly imprisoned, beaten, tortured and murdered. Many simply disappeared never to be heard from again. Priests and nuns were tortured and murdered. The people of El Salvador were in a dark valley and must have wondered why God seemed so far away. Bishop Oscar Romero said, 'God is not failing us when we don't feel his presence. God exists, and he exists even more, the farther you feel from him...
  • Torn Open, by God

    by Maxwell Grant
    Mark writes that as Jesus 'was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and a dove descending'. His word for 'torn apart' is schizo, and it means 'to cleave, to cleave asunder, to rend'. It's a strangely violent word to describe such a happy occasion. It's the word Matthew, Mark and Luke all use to describe that moment on Good Friday when the curtain of the temple is torn in two...
  • The Father's Voice

    by Janet Hunt
    I came across my dad's old compass a few weeks back. It was in a plastic bag nestled in a trunk which holds pretty much all the stuff of his that we have held on to. The trunk has been in a closet at my mother's home and it was only as we were emptying out her house, that I had reason to come upon it again. I couldn't resist taking a look. When I pushed the lid open, I was overcome by the smell of leather and wool....him. And I found myself pushed back on my heels, blinking back tears. It will have been eighteen years this January and we do still miss him so...
  • Death, Dreadful and Dear

    by Terrance Klein
    Baptism is our sacramental acceptance of death. It's a lot of other things, like entrance into the church and our adoption as children of God, but all of that is wrapped around the fundamental fact that we are destined to die and that there are only two ways to face death: as dread or dear. Life is all about choosing between the two...
  • Baptism of Christ: "Je suis....?"

    by Anne Le Bas
    This week we have seen vivid reminders of the need for that new creation, for the work of the Spirit in our lives and our world. There has been widespread horror at the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the deaths of others after that too. Many have responded to this tragedy by identifying themselves with its victims, affirming their own commitment to freedom of speech. 'Je suis Charlie' has been the cry...
  • Which Way You Look at It

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Some artists make this scene a sprawling landscape with people and cities and mountains, trees and birds and all manner of things. Annibale Carracci's version below is one of those. Jesus is at the center of the composition with John to the right (as we look at the picture). Large figures clothing and unclothing themselves in eye-catching bright white garments twist and turn at the left, pointing toward Jesus. At the right are other figures wandering into the picture space. Rocky outcroppings and silhouetted trees form both a background and a back drop.
  • Baptism of Our Lord (B)(2015)

    by Andrew Smith
    Richard John Neuhaus was a former Missouri Synod pastor who ended up converting to Roman Catholicism some years ago. Years before he died, while reflecting on what he suffered through the treatment for cancer that he was sure to be his end, he wrote: 'When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ...
  • You Are My Beloved

    by Robert Stuhlmann
    Years ago now my Roman Catholic priest friend said to me, 'You don't have to be baptized to be a beloved child of God. All you have to do is to be born. That is enough.'...
  • Out of the Water

    by John Sumwalt
    Elsie Dewitt had to force herself to come to church on baptism Sundays. She always went to worship on Sunday. But baptism Sundays were different. They were something she suffered, as one might endure the occasional migraine headache. She viewed it as part of her lot in life. The reason was a secret that she had shared with no one, not even her late husband...
  • Now is a Time for Renewal

    by Alex Thomas
    Many of you probably have seen the movie Shadowlands at some time or another. It is about the life of C.S. Lewis who is played by Anthony Hopkins. There is a time that he goes through a tremendous struggle when his wife became sick with cancer. He spent much time in prayer. When his wife experienced a remission, a friend said to Lewis that God was now answering his prayer. Lewis replies that it was not why he prayed....'I pray because I cannot help myself, because I'm helpless. The need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping, It doesn't change God. It changes me.'...
  • Assumed and Healed

    by Brian Volck
    Late in Dante's Purgatorio, the second part of The Divine Comedy, Dante stands in the Earthly Paradise and is told to wash in two streams found there. The first is Lethe, river of forgetfulness, which pre-Christian ancients said flowed through Hades. But Dante presents Lethe as that part of our journey to God where even the memories of our sin and shame are cleaned away. Dante is then led to Eunoe, a river unknown to the ancients, whose waters strengthen the memories of all the good in one's life...
  • Remember Your Baptism

    by Keith Wagner
    The year was 1411. Wolf, the Duke of Bavaria, was trapped inside his castle at Weinsberg. Outside the walls was the army of Frederick, the Duke of Swabia, who was Wolf's brother. The siege lasted a long time and the time had come when Wolf knew he had no choice but to surrender. Their wives however were not ready to give in. They sent a message to the Duke of Swabia requesting safety for all the wives inside...
  • Reaching Those Who Long to Be Loved

    by Timothy Warren
    Sadly, many children today struggle through life without ever knowing the love of a parent, often with tragic results. According to research, fatherless boys face an extra challenge in life. Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families. Boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated...
  • Blesssings First

    by Carl Wilton
    "When Joanne was in the fourth grade, a boy on the school playground threw a chunk of concrete that caught her on the cheek. After a trip to the emergency room, many stitches, and a bandage that stayed on her face for the rest of the school year, Joanna was left with a very pronounced scar. She came to see herself as an ugly duckling. Years later, as an adult engaged to be married, she found herself seated across from a plastic surgeon. As she describes the encounter: His thumb softly rubbed the twisted flesh on my cheek. 'Hmmm,' he said quietly. 'Are you a model?'..." and several quotes
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Baptism

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Call

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2012 to 2014

  • Baptism of Our Lord (B)(2012)

    by Delmer Chilton
    Paul Bocca then turns this boring accusation upside down – by admitting it, and then reminding us of another meaning for the word boring. He says Christianity is boring. It is like the slow movement of a drill; slowly, laboriously digging beneath the surface of our lives. The continuing cycle of Sunday after Sunday, season after season, year after year, the Christian message and life in community bores ever deeper and deeper into our souls...
  • I Know How You Feel

    by Dan Clendenin
    In The Last Temptation of Christ, director Martin Scorsese portrays 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. In his 'last' or ultimate temptation, during his execution Jesus battles a hallucination sent by satan. He wonders what his life might have been like if he had chosen the path of an ordinary person...
  • God on the Loose

    by Kathy Donley
    God is on the loose. The Spirit is blowing in our time. We are not safe. We might be hurled into the wilderness, danced to the edge of what we know and trust. And if we are, let us ride the wind and join the dance, knowing that in the beginning, this same wind swept over the dark and the deep, bringing light to the darkness, bringing order out of chaos, and God said that it was very, very good.
  • I Went Down to the River to Pray

    by Rob Elder
    why does baptism matter? I recall finding one answer to that question in a Flannery O’Conner short story, “The River.” In the story, a woman named Mrs. Connin is employed to care for the son of some wealthy but distant and uncaring parents. The boy’s mother is sick one day, and so Mrs. Connin takes the boy off to a riverside baptismal service of her church. Standing on the riverbank, they hear the preacher warning the crowd that if they’ve come for an easy miracle, if they’ve come to leave their pain in the river, they’ve come for the wrong reasons. “There ain’t but one river,” he declares, “and that’s the River of Life, made out of Jesus’ blood. It’s a river of pain, itself, to be washed away slow...” Suddenly Mrs. Connin lifts the boy up in the air and asks the preacher to pray for the boy’s mother. But then, embarrassed, she whispers to the preacher that she suspects the boy has never been baptized, and the preacher commands her to hand the boy to him. “Do you want to be baptized?” he asks him. And when the boy says yes, he responds... “You won’t be the same again. You’ll count!”...
  • Recognizing the Sacred Presence in Every Person

    by Rex Hunt
    A few years back now a group of computer salesmen went from Newcastle to Sydney to take part in their annual State one-day sales meeting. They assured their spouses they would be home in plenty of time for dinner. But, with one thing or another, the meeting ran over time so they had to run to Central Station, tickets in hand. As they rushed through the ticket terminal area, one man inadvertently crashed into a table supporting a display of fruit. Without stopping they all reached Platform No. 10 and the train - just, and boarded it with a sigh of relief. All but one...
  • Baptism: A Mystery of the Faith

    by Dawn Hutchings
    It happened on a Thursday night. All week long I’ve been thinking about what I would say about the Baptism of Jesus and I wasn’t getting very far. It had been a busy week, with lots of things to do as programs around the church geared up after the lull of the holidays. After teaching Confirmation Class, I arrived home at about 9:30. The house was empty because my wife Carol was off visiting the grandchildren. It had been a long day, and I quickly got into my pajamas, switched on the fireplace, and settled into my recliner in front of the television. The PVR was full of shows for me to watch and the opening scenes of Grey’s Anatomy dragged me into the complications of lives I would never have to minister to and I began to relax. The drama of medical emergencies mixed with the complications of various love affairs pulled me into a world where there was absolutely nothing expected of me and I was loving it right up until the moment that the telephone rang. Modern technology means that the name of the person calling usually appears on right there on the TV screen so that I can decide whether or not I’m going to answer the call. When the phone rang I expected it to be Carol calling to say goodnight, so I’d already pushed the pause button, expecting that after a quick goodnight I could get back to my shows. By the time I realized that there was no name on the TV screen but only a phone number, it was too late and I was already saying hello...
  • New Beginnings

    by Kate Matthews
    includes numerous quotes
  • Two Words

    by Larry Patten
    The professor surveyed his office. With retirement probably troubling his thoughts more than next semester's plans, his gaze fixed on the student perched on a chair. The old scholar's eyebrows, like lenticular clouds—the disc-shaped, high-elevation clouds sometimes mistaken for UFOs—raised as he dropped stapled papers onto his desk...
  • Baptism, Mystery and Creativity

    by Todd Weir
    Scott Berkum, author and creative management consultant, describes a tour inside of Google headquarters in 2006: 'The group of business managers had the giddy look of kids in a candy factory-their twinkling eyes captivated by Google's efforts to make a creative workplace. …We strolled together under the high ceilings and brightly colored open spaces designed to encourage inventiveness. No room or walkway was free of beanbag chairs, pin-pong tables, laptops, and Nerf toys, the endless clutter of shared games, brain-teasing puzzles, and customized tech gadgetry...

Illustrated Resources from 2009 to 2011

  • In the Hole He Goes

    by Tim Boggess
    "My favorite scene in the movie Finding Nemo takes place at the very end, after the credits begin to roll. The heart of the story is already over. After a harrowing journey across the sea, Marlin, the father clownfish, has been reunited with his son, Nemo, who had been taken from his home on the Great Barrier Reef and ended up in the fish tank of a Sydney dentist..." and another illustration
  • The Heavens Opened

    by Vince Gerhardy
    According to history, James Whittaker saw the heavens open and believed. Who was James Whittaker? He was a member of the hand-picked crew that flew a Liberator bomber to where the war was being fought in the Pacific. On board was Eddie Rickenbacker who had been sent to meet with General MacArthur and see first hand what was happening. In October of 1942...
  • Baptism Is Like...

    by Jennifer Gold
    For some, baptism is like 'fire insurance' or 'hell insurance'. Once there was a well-meaning Grandmother who insisted that her grand daughter be baptized before the family went on an extended trip. Grandma didn't want to have that baby be in a car accident, die and go to hell...
  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2009)

    by Denis Hanly, MM
    This was the introduction to the Baptism of the Lord in one of the Sunday missals. The man who wrote it, his name was Roger Keeler, and the man who wrote it was the friend of this couple he will now describe to you. “She wore a lavender cashmere sweater. A single strand of pearls matching her earrings rested elegantly in its folds. Her hair was carefully coiffed, make-up freshly applied, perfume sweet and subtle. She smiled at her husband tenderly holding her hand. He smiled back at her, eyes questioning, seeking a flicker of recognition. “‘She doesn’t make connections much any more,’ he whispered. ‘It’s a terrible disease, Alzheimer’s.’ He wiped away another tear that traced its way down his cheek. “He dresses her, does her hair and applies her make-up. He reads the papers to her and shares stories of their grandchildren’s latest accomplishments and endless discoveries. He feeds her the breakfast that is delivered to her room at eight, and ensures she eats the lunch that arrives at noon. “‘You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ God the Father spoke these words to the Son. The same words are spoken to us by the Father on the day of our baptism: each of us held in divine tenderness, clothed in dignity, anointed with oil for service, witness and belonging. “His care for her is more than simple duty. Grounded in vows long ago uttered in Christian faith, he sees beyond her Alzheimer’s to the precious child of God she is, fully deserving of respect, affection, care, attention, and the dignity that God intends for all his children.”...
  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2009)

    by Scott Hoezee
    "In the movie Pleasantville we see a reversal of the Christian story. In the film two teenagers from 1998 somehow get trapped inside a 1950's situation comedy show on TV. They suddenly find themselves in Pleasantville U.S.A. long about 1953..." and more discussion about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • God's Claim Upon Us

    by John Pavelko
    The origin of marking livestock with an insignia or brand dates back to 2700 BC and the ancient Egyptians. Wall paintings in the ancient tombs of the Vally of the Kings depict livestock being thrown over in order to brand them. Branding irons have even been found dating back the 1500 BC and the 18th Dynasty...
  • God in the Water

    by Peter Perry
    Most everyone has heard the story of the two boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. The two were always getting into trouble and their parents could be assured that if any mischief occurred in town their two sons were in some way involved. The parents were at their wits end as to what to do with these boys. The mother heard that a visiting evangelist was in town and asked for his advice. He said it was most likely a spiritual problem and he would to talk to the boys individually. The 8 year old went to meet with him first. The preacher sat the boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is God?" The boy made no response, so the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?" Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the man raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face, "WHERE IS GOD?" At that the boy bolted from the room and ran directly home, slamming himself in the closet. His older brother followed him into the closet and said, "What happened?" The younger brother replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time. God is missing and they think we did it."
  • Behind the Curtain

    by Michael Phillips
    In the Wizard of Oz there is a moment when Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal an ordinary man, who exclaims, 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'. The Wizard turns out to be a fraud made plausible by the bells and whistles of his console...
  • Baptism of Our Lord (B)(2009)

    by Debbie Royals
    A Native American Coyote story describes a poor man who had a dream or vision that there was a place where everything is perfect. You might say that this was heaven. He had been told that this place was visible to all who had accepted a life of humility and complete service to their community...
  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2009)

    by James Stockton
    ("I read about a medical missionary who went to serve in India. Dr. Shaw is a physician serving with a group of fellow missionaries to help take over from a government settlement for people suffering from leprosy. She has come to provide something new: compassion to people of whom many have never known it..." and another illustration)
  • Baptism of Christ (B)(2009)

    by Martin Warner
    Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor stir­red things up when he suggested recently that the painting of The Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca should be taken down from the National Gallery and placed in a Roman Catholic church in London because it is a work of faith and piety rather than a work of art...
  • Superman

    by Timothy Zingale
    Do you remember this introduction to a long ago favorite TV program, 'Look , its bird, its a plane, its Superman. Superman who was faster than a speeding bullet, more power full than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, can bend steel in his bare hands...

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • When Jesus Came to Jordan

    by Robert Allred
    Prior to Christmas a friend, and new church member, brought me a galley edition of a new C. S. Lewis biography the NARNIAN, that he purchased from a bookshop. I had never had a pre-released book. I started reading and enjoyed correcting their typos...
  • The ABZ's of Baptism

    by Mickey Anders
    "I want to borrow from Mark's simplicity and try to tell you the simple truth about baptism, so I have entitled this sermon The ABZs of Baptism. From first to last, here's what you really need to know about baptism. A – Baptism is a symbol of Affirmation..." and onward through the rest of the alphabet
  • Do Real Men Eat Locusts and Wild Honey?

    by Mickey Anders
    One of the most disturbing movies of our time is the violence-filled Fight Club. Almost all of the reviewers I read panned the movie as filled with excessive violence, but it has been a movie that I haven't been able to get off my mind. I am not recommending the movie, but I believe it makes a disturbing point about men...
  • Baptism of Jesus

    by George Butterfield
    David McKenna repeats the story of a friend of his who had a miserable moment during his military training. On a particularly nasty day, right after a rainstorm, the recruits were ordered to the rifle range. Prone in the mud, they shot round after round...
  • I Am Well Pleased

    by Dan Chambers
    Many of you will recall the movie that came out in the early 1980's Chariots of Fire. In part, it was the story of Eric Liddell, a Scottish runner who ran for Great Britain in the Olympics after World War II. Eric Liddell, son of missionaries in China, was very religious, as was his sister, Jenny...
  • Tookie Williams and "Redemptive Transition"

    by Dan Clendenin
    After twenty-five years of appeals and delays, on December 13 at 12:01 AM the state of California executed Stanley 'Tookie' Williams by lethal injection. He was 51. Williams, who maintained that he was innocent, was convicted in 1979 of murdering four people...
  • Seekers as an Open System

    by Pat Conover
    We have a declaration, 'The Eternal Realm is present'. This simple declaration has many implications. God is present. God cares. We are not alone. We have not been abandoned. Despite the signs of the times, there is room for hope...
  • Under a Waterfall of Grace

    by Tom Cox
    One writer put it well: You came among us In a new womb of blankets.. We did rites over you With all the ceremony of a primitive tribe Painting their babies.. Your parents held you Under a waterfall of grace...
  • Come to the Waters

    by Patricia de Jong
    The film The Apostle with Robert Duvall has a marvelous scene that communicates this notion. Duvall rides out of town because he has been accused of something awful: killing a man. He camps out for three days by the side of a river. On the third day, he gets up, starts his car and drives it into the river...
  • I Went Down to the River to Pray

    by Robert Elder
    In Flannery O’Conner’s short story The River, a woman named Mrs. Connin is employed to care for the son of some wealthy but uncaring parents. The boy’s mother is sick one day, and so Mrs. Connin takes the boy off to a riverside baptismal service of her church...
  • 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...")
  • The Baptism of The Lord: His Beginning and Ours

    by Richard Fairchild
    Mark Busse, 16, of Reardon, Washington, poses with classmates from his high school in this eastern Washington state town. His friends shaved their heads to show support for Busse after his hair fell out following chemotherapy for inoperable lung cancer...
  • A Matter of Choice

    by Eric Funston
    Back in World War I there was a Chaplain, a "Padre," in the British army named G.A. Studdert-Kennedy. He was known as 'Willy Woodbyne' because he had the custom of handing out Woodbyne brand cigarettes to the troops. He was also a poet...
  • God's Beloved

    by Vince Gerhardy
    A 10 year-old boy named Cameron, walked into the pastor’s office. Fresh from soccer practice, and still wearing his soccer gear, he had a request. 'I'd like to be baptised,' he said...
  • In Baptism, God Gives...

    by Vince Gerhardy
    A drunk stumbled along a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeded to walk down into the water and stood next to the Preacher. The minister turned and noticed the old drunk and said, 'Mister, Are you ready to find Jesus??'...
  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2009)

    by Andrew Greeley
    Once upon a time, Molly Whuppi and the girl's basketball team at Mother Mary High School had a home game against Christ the King High School. CK was always a push over for MM because their players were not very good...
  • Baptism of Our Lord (B)(2003)

    by Roger Haugen
    In the late 4th Century, Irish pirates invaded northeast England and took a number of young men captive, to be taken back to Ireland to be sold into slavery. Among them was a young man named Patrick. Patrick came to love his captors, to identify with them, and to hope for their reconciliation to God. He came to understand the Irish Celtic people, and their language and culture by living it. He began to tell them about God, a God of love. He spoke to them in terms that they would understand, shaping the parable of Jesus in the folklore of their culture. This young man became known as Saint Patrick, the missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland. Into the chaos of slavery and a pagan Druid culture, “ a wind from God swept over the face of” Ireland and there was light...
  • Beloved

    by Mark Haverland
    "My first experience with this peculiar concept of 'beloved' took place with the adoption of our daughter, Kate. We knew of Kate's birth but had to wait two more weeks to actually meet her. During these weeks my anxiety level shy-rocketed..."
  • Riding the Wave of Change

    by Donald Hoffman
    Once upon a time (actually it was in the early 1930's), there was a professor of history who realized that another world war was inevitable. The last war had convulsed Europe. It had been horrible. He knew the next would be even worse...
  • Brand Spanking New!

    by John Jewell
    Brand spanking new! Have you ever used that phrase? If you have, you were referring to something really new. Right off the assembly line new. That's what brand spanking new means. It is a newborn infant brought to a rude awakening life with a spank on the bottom...
  • Baptism of Jesus (B)(2006)

    by Kirk Kubicek
    The second place is found in this short passage from Henri Nouwen’s little book, Life of the Beloved. Listen to these words with great inner attentiveness. At your center is a voice that says: I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will satisfy all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, your spouse. Yes, even your child. Wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one...
  • Sons and Daughters of God

    by Tommy Lane
    My father abandoned his wife and four children when I was young. I never saw him and never heard from him and until I was 18 I believed he was dead. When Aunt Emma, my father's sister, told me he was alive, I was astonished...
  • Grief, Anger and God in West Virginia

    by David Leininger
    I stayed tuned for the late news and got even MORE exciting news. Twelve of the thirteen West Virginia coal miners who had been trapped underground following an explosion earlier in the day were reported alive. Wow!...
  • I Am Somebody

    by David Leininger
    Among the millions of Jews imprisoned by the Nazis in the death camps of the 30's & 40's was Victor Frankl. In spite of the horrors and the odds, he survived. Around him, next to him, each day of his ordeal dozens, hundreds, thousands of fellow Jews and others died, many of them, of course, in the ovens -- but many others who were killed by giving up hope, losing heart, overwhelmed by horror and fear and hopelessness...
  • Torn Apart Forever

    by Barbara Lundblad
    When I was a little girl on the farm, I used to ride my bike as fast as I could down the lane that led out past the barn toward the pasture with grasshoppers whizzing around my ankles. At the end of the lane, I jumped off the bike and flung myself down on the pasture grass...
  • 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....")
  • Breathing Water

    by David Martyn
    Jean Paul wrote, “I voyaged through the world, I climbed into the suns and flew along the Milky Way through the wastelands of heaven, but there was no God. I climbed down…and peered into the abyss and cried out: Father, where are you? But all I heard was an eternal storm that no one rules, and a shining rainbow from the west hung over the abyss without a sun to create it, and rain fell from it. And as I looked up through the immeasurable universe to find the divine eye, just an empty and bottomless eye socket stared back at me. Then the dead children who had come to life in the graveyard came into the temple and threw themselves down before the lofty figure above the altar, and cried “Jesus, have we no father.” And he answered, his face streaming with tears, “We are all orphans, you and I, we are fatherless.”...
  • More Than You Know

    by David Martyn
    "A few years ago, Jaroslav Pelikan wrote a book Jesus Through the Centuries. This book presents the many different images of Jesus in literature and art for the past two thousand years. Many different images..." and other references
  • Marked for Life

    by Jim McCrea
    The Olympics often provide dramatic stories, but one of the more remarkable of those stories happened at the Barcelona games in 1992. Derek Redmond of Great Britain had dreamed all his life of winning a gold medal in the men's 400-meter. Redmond's dream seemed to coming true, as the starter's gun sounded at the semifinals...
  • The Winds of Creation Within You

    by Jim McCrea
    The cat's owner, whose name is Gary Rosheisen, had fallen out of his wheelchair and was lying on the near his bed. Rosheisen couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and some mini-strokes that disrupt his balance...
  • Mistaken Identity

    by Amy Miracle
    The musical Rent focuses on a group of twenty something artists and students who live in New York City’s East Village. Several of the characters are HIV positive. One scene takes place at a support group of people living with HIV/AIDS...
  • Four Words No Dad Should Leave Unspoken

    by Bob Norris
    Bronwen Dickey is the 16 year old daughter of the late poet and novelist James Dickey. She was quoted by an article in Newsweek magazine reflecting on her Father's death last year and in the impact he made on her life. Describing the last day she spent with her dad, Bronwen wrote, 'I can't remember exactly what I said to him, but I remember him looking up at me. . . with tears in his eyes....
  • Out of the Water (2000)

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    “I’ll have to start at the very beginning,” Elsie said. And then she poured it all out. “I had a child out of wedlock when I was sixteen. My folks kept me home from school as soon as they found out I was expecting. Dad simply told the teacher that I was needed on the farm. In those days that was a common occurrence, so no one thought anything about it. And no one ever found out about the baby. My mother assisted me in the delivery. That went well enough, but the baby was small, and he had difficulty breathing from the first day. I knew I should have sent for the pastor and had him baptized, but I was afraid of what he might say. So we never sent for him. The baby, I had named him Edward, died two weeks after he was born. We buried him in the family cemetery on the ridge behind the house. I told my husband about the baby before we were married, but I have never been able to tell anyone about my failure to have him baptized. I tried to put it out of my mind, but every time I see a baby baptized in church, I remember, and I wonder if my baby is all right. I can’t imagine that God would keep him out of heaven just because he hadn’t been baptized, but I don’t know. I worry about it, and even more now that I’m older.”...
  • Out of the Water

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    Robert Hamerton-Kelly in The Gospel and the Sacred, pp. 64-73 devotes three sections to the beginning of Mark's gospel: Creation and the Beginning (Gr. arche) of the Way, Baptism as Taking the Way of the Servant, and Baptism as the Ransom for Many...
  • Baptism of the Lord (B)(2003)

    by Paul O'Reilly
    ("I remember one man telling me: 'My sister is in hospital. We think she is dying. The doctors don't know what's wrong with her but they think it's cancer. To be honest, Father, she's not a Catholic and she isn't normally very religious. In fact, none of the family is really...")
  • The Water of Commitment

    by John Pavelko
    Thomas Anderson after he was baptized in the movie The Matrix. By day, Thomas Anderson worked in a small cubicle for a respectable software company. He felt that something was wrong with the world but he could not identify the real problem. He had an inner sense of dissatisfaction, a lack of fulfillment...
  • Don't Water Down the Spirit

    by Peter Perry
    In his book Good News from North Haven, Michael Lindvall tells of a baptismal brouhaha. The new pastor had a rule that required families to be involved in the life of the church in order for a child to be baptized. A church member by the name of Angus McDonnell had a grandbaby coming to visit for Thanksgiving in a few weeks from Washington State...
  • The Town Crier

    by Bruce Prewer
    In Michael Swanwick’s novel Jack Faust, one Jew named Nathan, who had suffered much, asks the question that millions have asked: 'WHY?' Jack Faust’s answer is gloomy: 'To ask why implies that things happen for a purpose, and they do not. There is no purpose, no direction, no guidance to events...
  • Baptism

    by Gary Roth
    This morning, I'd like to reflect on another baptism, to help tell the story. Her name was Nicole. She was a wee wisp of a thing, a sprite or, perhaps a fairie princess. I could easily picture her playing ring-around-the-rosy with butterflies and honey bees in the midst of a field of dancing daisies, ringlets of her hair, bright as sunshine, light as the down of milkweed, swirling about her in the breeze...
  • Sermon Notes (Baptism of the Lord)(B)

    by Kathie Sandmeier
    'I need more God Stuff!' This was the wail of my 22 year old Indiana University daughter in the middle of a rage brought on by ill treatment by a house mate. She had spent the evening with me at a parish function, having just received the ill-fated phone call. I didn't have time to deal with it...
  • Hospitality House

    by Mark Sargent
    In the world as we now know it, the worldview of God as the guy up there who controls what happens down here on earth is no longer defensible. There are a host of reasons for that, not the least of which comes from the consummate theologian George Carlin, who suggests that if God is the big cosmic vending machine, where we put in our faith and get what we want, the machine is out of order...
  • Baptism: The Start of a Long Race

    by Ron Saunders
    The Olympic games were held in Atlanta, Georgia, in July of 1996. At the sound of the gun, twenty-five runners leaped from the starting blocks to begin the Ten Thousand Meter Race. Ten thousand meters is six miles of running...
  • Promises, Promises

    by Marcia W. Mount Shoop
    "An early work by Fredrick Buechner The Final Beast tells the story of a minister, Theodore Nicolet. The book opens after his wife has been killed in a car accident and he is left to care for his two young children. It is the story of a man whose life is in pieces..." and another illustration
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Love Is First, Middle and Last

    by John Standiford
    Today’s news is presented by Carol LeBeau and the doctrine is grace, the love of God. (Carol LeBeau) Good morning everyone! You probably heard the news. It broke Tuesday. It was the lead story on CNN’s business report, news that rocked the tech and business world: “Hundreds of millions of PCs (personal computers) at risk for a virus attack...
  • Claimed, Named and Aimed

    by Billy Strayhorn
    Once there was a monk and his apprentice who traveled from the abbey to a nearby village. They parted at the city gates and agreed to meet the next morning after completing their tasks. According to plan, they met and began the long walk back to the abbey...
  • Drink Deep

    by Billy Strayhorn
    "In the movie Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal is a young girl whose mother abandoned her and her preacher father when she was still very young. Opal and her father have moved to Naomi, Florida where he is the pastor of a store front church..." and several other illustrations
  • It's Amazing What a Little Water Can Do!

    by Billy Strayhorn
    "I didn't know real Christians could have arms covered with tattoos. Or be as big as a bear. Or wear leathers and ride a Harley. Or speak from behind prison bars. But I met a mighty Christian and heard a life changing Christian witness the first time I went to a Kairos closing at the Michael Unit..." and another illustration
  • Be Quiet

    by Alex Thomas
    "I ran across a story this week about a guy who was burnt out. He longed for a new spark in his life. It wasn't that he was unhappy. he loved his wife and kids. He had a good job. All the things of life. It's just that life wasn't very exciting any more..." and other illustrations
  • The Search

    by Alex Thomas
    Some people hear him gladly but others hurt in conscience wish to wipe his words away. I begin to think it might be him — the one whose birth the shepherds honored with their presence. The Age is right the simple kind of life — the poverty is true...
  • Spiritual Rebirth in the Midst of Adversity

    by Alex Thomas
    Thomas Moore in a recent book Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding your Way through Life's Ordeals writes in a section called Night Work: You probably know more about the depths of your soul from periods of pain and confusion than from times of comfort...
  • Are You Worthy?

    Narrative Sermon by Pamela Tinnin
    When I read the reading in Mark, I remembered my old friends, the twins Mary and Marie. We grew up together and I spent a lot of time at their house. Their mother was much older than mine, a woman in her late fifties when we were in the sixth grade...
  • Heavenly Showers

    by Keith Wagner
    'Tell me the weight of a snowflake,' a coal mouse bird asked a wild dove. 'The weight of a snowflake,' answered the dove, 'is nothing more than nothing.' 'In that case I must tell you a marvelous story' said the coal mouse...
  • The Heavens Torn Open

    by Carl Wilton
    It’s what the character Eric Liddell feels in the movie Chariots of Fire. If you’ve seen that film, you know that Eric is a real person -- a track star who just may be the fastest man in the world in 1924. Yet Eric is also the son of a missionary...
  • The Waters of Life

    by Lauren Winner
    But M. L. King was an Epiphany prophet. He understood his ministry in the context of Jesus' ministry. It's worth recalling King's response, recorded in A Testament of Hope, to the fire hoses Bull Connor turned on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham...
  • The Cast of Characters

    by Tim Zingale
    While I was in college, I spent my first 2 years as a drama major. The play was Six Characters in Search of an Author. The play begins as a group of actors are rehearsing a new drama. In walks six characters, who say, "We bring you a drama," They say, "We are six most interesting characters but we have been sidetracked...

Other Resources from 2018 to 2020

Other Resources from 2015 to 2017

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

Recursos en Español