For Your Sermon Illustration File
Illustrations for Preaching
by Clyde W. Chesnutt*
Much of the following material is copyrighted and is presented here for oral communication only. Permission for reprinting must be secured from the publisher of the periodical from which the illustration is excerpted.
ADMIRATION "Girl Wearing a Funny Hat"
Lonise Bias came to San Antonio and wore a yellow dress and talked about hope and about love. At a visit sponsored by Intercept Care Center and Drug Abuse Programs of America, the mother of the late basketball star Len Bias talked about what you do when your parents aren't there for you.
"We are our own greatest resource," she said and told about how once her daughter was making fun of a girl on the school bus who wore a funny looking hat every day. "Baby," she said she told her daughter, "I love you because you're mine, but I admire that girl on the bus for wearing her funny hat no matter what y'all think about her."
, . . Betty Godfrey, columnist, San Antonio Light, September 28, 1987
CARING "A Salesclerk Takes Time"
Douglas Maurer, 15, of Creve Coeur, Mo., had been feeling bad for several days. His temperature was ranging between 103 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally his mother took him to the hospital in St. Louis. Douglas Maurer was diagnosed as having leukemia.
The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn't sugarcoat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body would most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression.
His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teen-age nephew who has leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said: "Douglas—I took your order. I Work at Brix Florist. I had leukemia when I was 7 years old. I'm 22 years old now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley."
His face lit up. He said, "Oh!"
It's funny: Douglas Maurer was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling in the hundreds of years.
But it was a salesclerk in a flower shop, a woman making $170 a week, who—by taking the time to care, and by being willing to go with what her heart told her to do—gave Douglas
'Clyde W. Chesnutt is publisher of Windows of Truth, a newsletter of sermon illustrations. His address is P.O. Box 339, Blanco, Texas 78606.
hope and the will to carry on. The human spirit can be an amazing thing, and sometimes you encounter it at its very best when you aren't even looking.
. . . Bob Greene, "From One Sufferer to Another," Chicago Tribune, August, 1987
FACTS "A Hard-Headed View"
We have reason to beware of ideologies, for these take us captive. Ideologies offer the attraction of breathtaking clarity. An overarching political and economic view of the world explains everything—and everything is made to fit that view. This applies whether you are a visionary of the left or the right. Inconvenient facts are brushed aside and people ill-served. Like the professor in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Lady Vanishes, who being confronted with evidence that proves his theory wrong replies, "Nonsense. My theory is perfectly correct. It is the facts that are misleading." . . . Art Simon, "Art to Art," Seeds, August 1987
GOD "All in All"
Deniece Williams, 36-year-old singer, has won two 1986 Grammys for gospel performances, plus she's had five gold records, eight previous Grammy nominations, an Oscar nomination, and countless TV appearances. All this might have been too much for many people. But the steady force in Deniece's life has been her faith.
Deniece explains: "The Lord became a father to me when growing up as a youth, I didn't have a father at home with me. The closest person I had was my grandfather; and when he left, I felt that I was really alone here. But through God's love, being in the church, and just listening and being open to God's spirit, he told me, 'Deniece, you are never alone; I am here with you. I am father; I am mother; I am all in all,' I've watched as God has given me growth as only the Lord can do. Many times we try to do it alone, but we can get in God's way and tie his hands. When we back off, God is able to do the greatest work."
. . . Bill Wolfe, "Deniece Williams: Desire of the Heart," Youth!, September 1987
HUMAN "A Jules Feiffer Cartoon"
"I'm not sure what a man is supposed to be. Do I share? Do I care? Do I feel? Do I give? Take? Grab? Am I compassionate? Passionate? Cool? Cold? Vunerable? Am I sensitive? Am I normal? What's many? What time is it? I'm going back to bed." . . . Cultural Information Service
HUNGER "Children Dying from Hunger-related Causes"
Imagine a DC-10 preparing to land; it is filled with preschool-age children. Some of the children sleep; others play and laugh; still others cry out for harried flight attendants' attention. But just before landing, something goes wrong,
and the plane plummets to the ground, killing all aboard.
Ten minutes later—even before emergency vehicles arrive—another planeload of children crashes right next to the first. Ten minutes later, a third crashes. And the tragedies continue: every ten minutes, a jet falls to the earth, all day and night, day after day, month after month.
Such a great number of deaths is not farfetched. The same number of children— 40,000—do die each day from hunger-related diseases.
. . . Tom Peterson, "ChildSurvival," The Christian Century, July 1-8, 1987.
LOVE "Total Acceptance"
A man finally decided to ask his boss for a raise in salary, according to a story by Joe Harding. He told his wife that morning what he was about to do. All day he felt nervous and apprehensive. Late in the afternoon he summoned the courage to approach his employer. To his delight, the boss agreed to a raise.
The man arrived home to a beautiful table set with their best dishes. Candles were lighted. His wife had prepared a festive meal. Immediately he figured that someone from the office had tipped her off.
Finding his wife in the kitchen, he told her the good news. They embraced and kissed, then sat down to a wonderful meal. Next to his plate the man found a beautiful lettered note. It read: "Congratulations, darling! I knew you'd get the raise! These things will tell you how much I love you."
While on his way to the kitchen to get dessert, he noticed that a second card had fallen from her pocket. Picking it off the floor, he read: "Don't worry about not getting the raise. You deserve it anyway! These things will tell you how much I love you."
. . . Steve Goodier, "To the Point," Quote, September 1, 1985
QUOTES WORTH QUOTING
Kirk Kirkpatrick: Anyone who thinks Christmas doesn't last all year just doesn't have a Mastercard.
Quote: Children's letters to Santa: Dear Santa, My folks are getting the toys; you just bring the batteries . . . Matt.
Fra Giovanni: At this Christmas time, I greet you with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Abraham Heschel: The word of God never comes to an end. No word is God's last word.
Mother Teresa: Through prayer you will believe and through belief you will love— through love you will serve.
Frederick Buechner: God's coming is always
unforeseen, I think, and the reason, if I had to
guess, is that if he gave us anything much in the
way of advance warning, more often than not
we would have made ourselves scarce long
before he got there. ■
CHURCH MANAGEMENT—THE CLERGY JOURNAL