Login / Signup

Free Access

Sermon Illustrations for Trinity Sunday (2018)

Psalm 29
This is a lesson to highlight the glory of God; such glory is associated with the mystery of the Trinity. Modern Reformed theologian Karl Barth well describes this glory:
In view of what has been said so far, this ‘in the highest’ means quite simply that he is the one who stands above us and also above our highest and deepest feelings, strivings, intuitions, above the products, even the most sublime, of the human spirit. (Dogmatics in Outline, p.37)
Great Puritan leader Jonathan Edwards extols God’s majesty this way:
But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable. (Works, Vol.1., p.669)
God’s reign over the waters in this Psalm (v.3) is reminiscent of how some ancient theologians used water as a way of describing God’s oneness and still his diversity. We can compare him to water in three forms -- the father as the source of a river, the son as the river itself, and the Spirit as the cup of water drawn from the river (see Athanasius, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol.4, p.84).
Mark E.

Isaiah 6:1-8
Isaiah is called as a prophet of God and has a vision of the throne of God. Isaiah, like most of us, does not believe that he can follow through to the call of God. He is only a man, after all. Only a sinner, not really ready or capable of being God’s prophet. Yet, the seraphim, who have been singing and praising God, bring a coal from the altar and touch it to Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah is purified. When God calls, Isaiah responds with hope and courage, "Here am I; send me!"

Do you feel unworthy to answer the call of God on your life? Be in prayer my friend. Have no fear. Respond to God. God takes the broken and mends. God takes the lost and finds. God takes us, each as we are, and uses us. Be willing to respond, "Here am I; send me!"
Bonnie B.

Isaiah 6:1-8
Encountering God led Isaiah to confess his sin (v.5). John Calvin nicely explains how encounters with God make us know our sin:
Accordingly, until God reveals himself to us, we do not think that we are men, or rather we think that we are gods; but when we have seen God, we then begin to feel and know that we are. Hence springs true humility, which consists in this, that a man makes no claims for himself and depends wholly on God... (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol.VII/1, p.208)
Martin Luther notes that Isaiah’s mouth was then cleansed with a burning coal (vv.6-7). In his view:
The glowing coal is the word kindled by the Holy Spirit in love... To touch the mouth is to strike the heart with the Gospel, which is sweet to the bitter heart. Then the heart is a fit vessel for honor, because it will... be His instrument for teaching others... (Luther’s Works, Vol.16, p.77)
This quote makes clear that the mission to which Isaiah and we are called must come about through God’s work and grace. On that matter Luther adds:
Of good works I have said and still say: No one can be good and do good unless God’s grace first makes him good... Just so the fruits do not make the true, but the tree bears the fruit. (What Luther Says, p.614)
Mark E.

Romans 8:12-17
While there is value to knowing the original Biblical languages when doing Bible study, let us not lose sight of the fact that if you read the gospels in an English translation you are still reading the scriptures. That’s because, when it comes to the New Testament, the original authors already wrote in a language different from the one Jesus spoke. What you are reading is a translation from the Greek, the world langauge of the Roman Empire in that time. The evangelists translated the original words of Jesus, probably first spoken in Aramaic, a regional language. At that time Greek was everyone’s second language. It was necessary to know it to engage in commerce.

However, every now and then an Aramaic word sneaks though, like in this passage. “Abba” is related to the word “ab,” “father,” but it really represents the sound a child would make not unlike daddy, or da da.
Frank R.

Romans 8:12-17
I saw it first on my social media feed. I later found that USA Today had written about it, too. It's a moment of pure joy committed to film. A young girl realizes she will be adopted. Her foster family will become her permanent one. Security footage from at American Heritage School in South Jordan, Utah, captures the moment when 11-year-old Tannah Butterfield learned from Jackie Alexander, her school's office manager, that courts had approved her adoption. Alexander had received a call a few moments earlier from Tannah's mother about the news.

"Her mom knew she would want to know right away because she had been so worried," Alexander wrote. "I don't think even I could understand myself what that moment would feel like."

What is shown on the camera is heartwarming. Tannah flings herself into Alexander's arms, kicking her legs in excitement as she's carried across the room.

Alexander said Tannah's parents had fought to adopt her "for as long as I can remember," and Tannah told CBS News she dreamed of the moment for years

"They are just caring, loving, they take really good care of me," she said. "My heart was so happy, it was like, 'Ahhh!' It was screaming."

There is such joy in an 11-year-old girl finding a permanent family. She belongs and that feeling overwhelmed her. I thought about that video and report again as I read this passage in Romans. Followers of Jesus do not have the spirit of fear. We have the spirit of adoption. Those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. We’ve been adopted into his family. We are not just workers. We are children of the King! The phrase “Abba! Father!” speaks of an intimate expression a child would say to his or her father. It’s like saying “Daddy.” Do you remember the joy you felt when you recognized God’s love for you and that you were a part of his family?
Bill T.

Romans 8:12-17
Presbyterian minister Reverend Benjamin Weir, in his book Hostage Bound, Hostage Free, reveals what it was like to be held hostage. He was captured on the streets of Beirut by a group of Shiite Muslim extremists, in May, 1984. Weir was imprisoned for sixteen months. During those torturous months he was often chained and held in solitary confinement. Weir’s devout faith and trust in God sustained him during those perilous times. One routine in particular sustained Weir’s reliance on Jesus. Weir realized that if he dared to stand on the toilet, always in fear of being caught, he could look out the window. Doing so, he could see beyond the Bekaa Valley to the Lebanon Mountains. The snow-covered mountains and rays of early morning sunlight strengthened his faith. Weir confessed, “That sight, and the memory of it throughout the day, spoke to me of the grandeur of the Creator and his good intensions for the world and its people. This gave me hope and a sense of harmony.”

Application: Many things in life hold us hostage, whether it is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, money, sex, television, workaholic or a hobby out-of-control. In our daily living we feel ourselves in bondage to pain, health problems, grief, difficult decisions, unruly neighbors, inconsiderate coworkers, and an uncompromising boss. For all these problems and others, each robbing life of its joy and satisfaction, we call upon the name of Jesus for help. We should seek liberation by living with the Holy Spirit. Then we can say with confidence, “Abba! Father!”
Ron L.

John 3:1-17
For sermons on the theme of being born again, John Wesley offers a striking observation on what it takes for someone to be entitled to the blessing’s of the Messiah’s kingdom:
An entire change of heart as well as of life is necessary for that purpose. This can only be accomplished in man by the almighty power of God. (Commentary On the Bible, p.457)
In the same spirit John Calvin also stressed that an entire change must transpire:
By the phrase born again is expressed not the correction of one part, but the renovation of the whole nature. Hence it follows, that there is nothing in us that is not sinful; for if reformation is necessary in the whole and in each part, corruption must have been spread throughout. (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol.XVII/2, p.108)
Martin Luther sees the lesson as having implications for the Trinity doctrine, should this be a sermon direction:

Christ wants to prevent us from thinking of him as separate from the Father. Therefore, he again directs our mind from himself to the Father and says that the Father’s love for us is just as strong and profound as his own... (Luther’s Works, Vol.22, p.355)
For images to illustrate the Trinity, see the image drawn from Athanasius above in the exposition of  Psalm 29 or the following parts of a hymn attributed to early African theologian Marius Victorinus:
O Blessed Trinity...

O Blessed Trinity...

O Blessed Trinity...

Free us,
Save us,
Justify us,
O Blessed Trinity
(The Fathers of the Church, Vol.69, pp.324ff.)
Mark E.

John 3:1-17
There are so many passages in the Bible that should not be taken literally or you will miss the point. The earth was not created in seven 24 hour days. Bread and wine are not literal, but symbolize Jesus body and blood. Baptism is not just water, but water and the Spirit. We should not kill our enemy -- we should love them. The Bible is full of examples that can’t be taken literally. Nicodemus was taking Jesus words about being born again literally. Some denominations take many statements literally, like the creation story or like looking. Nicodemus was normal in that sense.

Sometimes there are some unbelievable statements that must be taken literally. Even the disciples had trouble with Jesus statement that he would rise from the dead -- literally! We need the Holy Spirit to guide us as we read. Even in our church there are individual differences. Just one example you may not want to use is the strong statements in both Old and New Testaments against homosexuality! It has divided our church!

The most important sentence that must be taken literally in this text is verses 16 and 17. This is God’s promise for us.

Our lesson is rare in that it tells of one Pharisee who believed in Jesus. He saw literal miracles performed by Jesus. Some today believe that healing miracles can still happen as Jesus promised and believe because they saw it happen, but others doubt it. We should not need a miracle in order to believe God’s word for us but we also need to be born again. We usually think of this as our baptism in water and that is important. Maybe Jesus was thinking of John’s baptism which the Pharisees rejected because it hurt their pride. Maybe Nicodemus rejected it when he first heard it also. It sounds like Nicodemus had come to believe in Jesus because he stayed to witness and didn’t just run off.

You wouldn’t be in church if you didn’t believe it. But in every church I have served there was always at least one who shared his doubts with me. It was my job to change his or her doubts and sometimes I could only do it through prayer.

A dear friend of my wife and I was in in depression when she lost her faith because of some problems in her life. When I gave her a booklet with some scripture in it, she read it over and over again until she began to believe. “That and prayer were the answer!
Bob O.

John 3:1-17
Be born again! What does it truly mean? How does it come to be? These are questions Nicodemus asked? There are things we do not understand, us humans. We do not know how being born of God works. There are those who believe that one single moment of choosing to follow Jesus and the resulting power of the Holy Spirit they feel is the moment when they are born again. They remember the occasion, the date and the time. For others of us that born-again moment is harder to identify. Is it when we were baptized or confirmed. Is it when we felt God stirring in our hearts the first time. Is it a specific moment or a time of spiritual growing and developing?

My friends, it does not matter how you encounter the life you have been given by God in a faith-filled and faithful way. What matters is that you seek to align your life with God, with God’s love and grace and hope. What matters is you accept that you are a beloved child of God and that in thanksgiving for that giftedness you live a life of righteous love of God and neighbor. This is the born-again moment that Jesus speak to Nicodemus about.
Bonnie B.
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...
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...
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


John Jamison
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (vv. 26-27)

The Immediate Word

Mary Austin
Katy Stenta
Dean Feldmeyer
Thomas Willadsen
Bethany Peerbolte
George Reed
Christopher Keating
For May 23, 2021:
  • Are We There Yet? by Mary Austin — God’s people never get good at waiting. Our Christian calendar has two whole seasons dedicated to preparation, aka waiting, and we never quite mange to do it gracefully.

Emphasis Preaching Journal

Mark Ellingsen
Frank Ramirez
Bonnie Bates
Bill Thomas
Acts 2:1-21
A focus on the Holy Spirit in the lesson is nicely explained in a sermon by Martin Luther. He proclaims that “the Holy Spirit, the real teacher, comes and gives power to the word so that it takes hold” (Weimar Ausgabe, Vol.17 II, p.460 [translation mine]).  Elsewhere he adds:
Wayne Brouwer
Schuyler Rhodes
Note: This installment was originally published in 2009.

An ancient Jewish writing declares, "Pentecost is the day on which Torah was given." According to the teaching, it was on the day that eventually became the feast of Pentecost that God gave birth to the Hebrew nation by speaking the divine covenant to them at Mount Sinai.

As the book of Acts makes clear, Pentecost was also the day on which the New Testament church was born. Just as God spoke through Moses to bring the nation of


John E. Sumwalt
Frank Ramirez
“The Billy Graham Test” by John Sumwalt
“Correctly Hearing Each Other” by Frank Ramirez

The Billy Graham Test
by John Sumwalt
Romans 8:22-27

And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (v. 26)

The Village Shepherd

Call to Worship:

On this, the birthday of the Christian Church, let us welcome God's Holy Spirit into our hearts and into the heart of our Church.

Invitation to Confession:

Holy Spirit, sometimes our hearts are cold or luke-warm.
Lord, have mercy.

Holy Spirit, sometimes we fail to believe that you still have power in human lives.
Christ, have mercy.


Richard A. Jensen
Over at last. That's the only thought she could think about just now. Over at last. The funeral finished. The committal service completed. She was home now and weary; bone weary. Her husband, Carl, was safely tucked into the grave. How had she ever endured the year of his agony?
Schuyler Rhodes
In Christian tradition, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as a partner on the journey (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7), an advocate who will accompany us on our journey toward faithfulness. We hear the Pentecost story and delight in the dancing tongues of fire as they descend and create something new in their wake.
Michael D. Wuchter
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

William J. Carl, III
What a way to start a church! It's certainly not the typical format for new church development. Where is the planning committee, the fund-raising, the arm twisting, the real estate deal acquiring the land, the faithful few who volunteer from other churches to give the whole thing its initial push? Not everyone has the personality to start a church from scratch, but Paul did. "I planted, Apollos watered," says Paul (1 Corinthians 3:6). Some preachers are just good at planting churches and getting them started.

Special Occasion