Login / Signup

Free Access

Sermon Illustrations for Proper 22 | Ordinary Time 27 (2020)

Illustration
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
The toy “Etch A Sketch” is sixty years old in 2020. Wow! That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? I remember playing with an Etch A Sketch as kid. It had a red border surrounding the screen and two knobs which you could move to cause the sketch to be made. There is an Etch A Sketch website that celebrates this iconic toy’s birthday and has pictures of some amazing sketches.

There was one thing about the Etch A Sketch, though, that ought to be noted. What was done on an Etch A Sketch wasn’t permanent. If you turned it over and shook it, what had been there was gone.

In some ways, that how our culture sees moral values and standards. They exist as if written on an Etch A Sketch. That’s not the way God sees it, though. He didn’t write the Ten Commandments on an Etch A Sketch to be easily erased. They were inscribed on stone tablets.

As Christians, we understand that we don’t live under the law as Moses records it for us here, but we do recognize that this is how God views moral issues. Our salvation is not dependent on doing these things, but God’s opinion about worshipping him, honoring parents, murder, and stealing have not changed. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy it.

In an Etch A Sketch culture, may God’s moral values be written indelibly, not on stone, but on our hearts.
Bill T.

* * *

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
There’s this song from the musical Godspell that only appears in the stage version. You won’t find it on the movie soundtrack. At one point the lyrics state:

Learning every line and every last commandment may not help you but it couldn’t hurt.
First you gotta read ‘em
Then you gotta heed ‘em
You never know when you’re gonna need ‘em.
(lyrics by Stephen Schwartz)

Before we go pontificating about the Bible it doesn’t hurt to have actually read the commandments — or the whole Bible, for that matter.
Frank R.

* * *

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Isabel Charlotte Garbett published a devotional in 1864 that was titled Morning Dew, Daily Readings for the People of God. Garbett selected the best daily devotionals written by both ancients and modern divines and complied them into a single book of daily readings. For July 3, she selected a sermon written by J. M. M’Culloch, who was the senior minister of the West Parish, Greenock. His sermon was titled “Love to Christ.” The text comes from 1 Peter 1:18 (New Living Translation), which reads: You love him even though you have never seen him. Garbett selected one section from that sermon to reproduce in her devotional.

An inspirational part of that reading is how we can know Christ, though we have never seen him. M’Culloch wrote: “It is not a mere glow of feeling, which warms the heart for a moment, and then vanishes, leaving no trace behind. It is an affection, a settled mood of mind, an active sentiment, which cannot but tell on the temper and the life. Where it is present, it must make its presence felt, it must fill the house with its odor. We may know whether we love the unseen Savior, by the general tenor of our thoughts; that which is uppermost in our thoughts; and hence if Christ is really the object of our love, he must be the subject of our frequent and spontaneous musings. It cannot be that we love him, if we think of him only when his name is mentioned…”
Ron L. 

* * *

Philippians 3:4b-14
Christian life is a journey, something that Paul says you keep pressing on. We cannot be like some aging church members who decline a new task by saying that they have done enough regarding congregational activities, are retired. (Use this text on them.) What Albert Einstein once said about life applies to faith as well. He noted, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep you balance you must keep moving.” John Calvin made a similar point:   

Thus, for example, should any one persuade himself that he has made sufficiently great progress, reckoning that he has done enough, he will become indolent... or if any one looks back with feeling of regret for the situation that he has abandoned, he cannot apply the whole bent of his mind to what he has engaged in. (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol.XXI/2, p.103)

Tell a lover that he or she is finished, and I’ll show you a lousy relationship. Same with the love relationship Jesus has with us. There’s more to do in living with Jesus.
Mark E.

* * *

Philippians 3:4b-14
Setting goals is good process for me. Sometimes I can accomplish them, and I admit, sometimes cannot. I wish I had the persistence Paul shares in this passage. Maybe it’s more about what the goal is than it is about Paul’s strength and perseverance. The goal Paul presses on toward is a letting go of his past and a straining toward a focus and life in Christ. As I write this I am thinking about my own life in Christ. How am I seeing God? How are others seeing God in me? How am I becoming more aligned with Jesus? What can I let go of, sort out, discard so I can be filled with God’s love and spirit? Surely, I can let go of hate, anger, hubris, envy, impatience, and self-centeredness. Those would be good to discard. If I move those out of my heart, there is room for more love, compassion, humility, patience, and generosity. I think I will make those my goals, the things I press on towards. What about you?
Bonnie B.

* * *

Matthew 21:33-46
The newspaper comic strip Ziggy is written by Tom Wilson. We must admire how insightful Wilson is regarding daily living. Ziggy is a nondescript character, and as such he represents everyone. He has a big nose, a puffy face, and clothes that resemble a smock. Ziggy is a very nice individual who relates to the everyday person and the everyday struggles of life. Ziggy is not an activist; he is just someone who lives in reality of day-to-day living.

In this one episode, Ziggy is walking, very dejected, past a wall poster in his home. At the bottom of the poster is a bright shining happy sun. Above the sun reads, “Tomorrow will be a better than today!” Ziggy then mumbles, “…probably! ’cause today set a pretty low bar!!”
Ron L.

* * *

Matthew 21:33-46
In ancient quarries, highly trained stonemasons carefully chose the stones used in construction of buildings. No stone was more important than the cornerstone because the integrity of the whole structure depended on the cornerstone containing exactly the right lines. Builders inspected many stones, rejecting each one until they found the one they wanted.

The cornerstone mattered. The total weight of a structure rested on this particular stone, which, if removed, would collapse the whole building. The cornerstone was also the key to keeping the walls straight. The builders would take sightings along the edges of this part of the building. If the cornerstone were set properly, the stonemasons could be assured that all the other corners of the building would be at the appropriate angles as well.

Matthew records Jesus challenging the Jewish religious leaders. They’ve known about the Messiah, but they’re missing him. His challenging parable of the landowner leads to the quote from Psalm 118 about the stone rejected by the builders which has become the cornerstone. They are the builders who are rejecting the stone that would be the most important.

Many ancient buildings fell because of poor construction and lack of a good cornerstone. In this text, the spiritual lives of the Jewish religious leaders fell because they missed the most important part. I wonder, if our lives were inspected as a building might be inspected today, would they be found straight, safe, and secure? Would they be found to be built on the right cornerstone?
Bill T.

* * *

Matthew 21:33-46
Towards the end of this passage we read: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.” When preaching about parables it’s important to make it clear Jesus is not talking just about pharisees and chief priests. He’s talking about us.

I’m telling you, a parable is like a boomerang -- it can be deadly. You toss it correctly and thought at first it looks like its heading for its intended target suddenly it turns and -- boom! -- it hits you right between the eyes. (By the way, don’t try this at home. It would be fatal.) The Greek word parabola, the mathematical arc that boomerang follow, is also the word for “parable” in the New Testament. There’s a good reason for that. When Jesus tells us a parable it seems to fly out to strike another person then returns with deadly fury to whack our own hypocrisy! Kind of like when we throw Bible verses at an opponent only to have them come back to bite us.
Frank R.
UPCOMING WEEKS
In addition to the lectionary resources there are thousands of non-lectionary, scripture based resources...
Signup for FREE!
(No credit card needed.)
Easter 6
30 – Sermons
110+ – Illustrations / Stories
26 – Children's Sermons / Resources
20 – Worship Resources
25 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Ascension
25 – Sermons
160+ – Illustrations / Stories
22 – Children's Sermons / Resources
18 – Worship Resources
23 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Easter 7
30 – Sermons
160+ – Illustrations / Stories
27 – Children's Sermons / Resources
25 – Worship Resources
27 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Pentecost
29 – Sermons
140+ – Illustrations / Stories
27 – Children's Sermons / Resources
28 – Worship Resources
32 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Trinity Sunday
27 – Sermons
140+ – Illustrations / Stories
29 – Children's Sermons / Resources
29 – Worship Resources
30 – Commentary / Exegesis
4 – Pastor's Devotions
and more...
Plus thousands of non-lectionary, scripture based resources...
Signup for FREE!
(No credit card needed.)

New & Featured This Week

The Immediate Word

Thomas Willadsen
Dean Feldmeyer
Mary Austin
Christopher Keating
Katy Stenta
George Reed
Bethany Peerbolte
For May 9, 2021:
  • One Nation Under God? by Tom Willadsen — What would the United States look like if we truly were “one nation under God?” What would it be like to live in a place where everyone was treated as one who has been “born of God?”
  • Dying Is Easy by Dean Feldmeyer — Dying is easy; living the gospel is hard.

StoryShare

John E. Sumwalt
Frank Ramirez
Contents
“Waking Up to Racism” by John Sumwalt
“Twists and Turns” by Frank Ramirez

 
Waking Up to Racism
by John Sumwalt
Psalm 98

Let the floods clap their hands;
    let the hills sing together for joy
 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.
(vv. 8-9)

Emphasis Preaching Journal

David Kalas
In the mid-1960s, a popular song declared, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of.”1 It was an era of both national and international unrest. And the American landscape was reeling from the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and opposition to both. Amidst headlines so marked by unrest and division, therefore, the sentiment of the song struck a chord with an American audience. 
Bill Thomas
Mark Ellingsen
Frank Ramirez
Bonnie Bates
Acts 10:44-48
Prejudice is always wrong. Nat King Cole is a well-known artist who was the first African American to host his own national television program. In 1948, he purchased a beautiful home in an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood. When the local neighborhood association confronted him and informed him it didn’t want any undesirables to move in, Cole responded, “Neither do I. If I see any coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.” He lived in that house until his death in 1965.

CSSPlus

John Jamison
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (vv. 9-12)

Hi, everyone! (Let them respond.)

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Call to Worship:

Jesus gave up his life for us. In our worship today let us explore how to love one another as he has loved us.


Invitation to Confession:

Jesus, sometimes our love for each other is thin and pale.
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, sometimes we pretend to love but fail to care.
Christ, have mercy.

Jesus, sometimes we don't know how to love.
Lord, have mercy.

SermonStudio

John E. Sumwalt
Jo Perry-sumwalt
One evening, when I was 26 years old, beleagered by guilt for acknowledged sins, I was deep into an hour-long prayer of repentance. In despair, I grieved that I had broken the commandments and that I was not worthy of God's love.

Near me lay the Bible, unused and unfamiliar. I had never, ever read from the Bible. Yet my hands reached out and took the Bible to open it. I knew not where, nor why. But my hands knew the way. They opened to John 15:9-11 and as my eyes began to read, my mind knew the meaning with clarity. My eyes read verse 10 first:
Mark Ellingsen
Theme of the Day
God's love brings us together.

Collect of the Day
It is noted that God has prepared great joy for those who love Him. Petitions are then offered that such love may be poured into the hearts of the faithful so that they may obtain these promises. Justification as a reward for our deeds (love) is communicated by this prayer.

Psalm of the Day
Psalm 98
Stan Purdum
(See Christmas Day, Cycles A and B, for alternative approaches.)

Richard E. Gribble
Once upon a time a great and powerful king ruled over a vast territory. There was something very strange about this kingdom, however -- everything was the same. The people ate the same food, drank the same drink, wore the same clothes, and lived in the same type of homes. The people even did all the same work. There was another oddity about this place. Everything was gray -- the food, the drink, the clothes, the houses; there were no other colors.

Special Occasion