Sermon illustrations


An Interesting Depiction

At one point in his life, the famous modern artist Pablo Picasso was robbed in his French home. He told the police he would be happy to paint them a picture of the robbers. “And on the strength of that picture,” the French police later reported, “we arrested a mother superior, a government minister, a washing machine, and the Eiffel Tower.”

 Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Origin of the Word “Sincere”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed hearing stories about the origins of certain words. One of these words is the “sincere.” While there are some questions about the history’s authenticity (ironic, given the word in question) nevertheless it makes for a good illustration. As you may remember from your old Western Civilization courses, the Romans were especially fond of Greek culture (especially after their conquests of much of modern-day Greece) and Greek imports became all the rage among Upper Class Romans. 

Greek marble sculpture in particular was one of the most highly sought-after treasures of Greek society. Because many of the sculptures were already a few hundred years old, many were damaged. Traders discovered that if they placed wax in the damaged parts of the sculptures, they looked like new. But of course, over time, the wax would harden and change color to an ugly yellow, thereby exposing the inauthentic parts of the sculptures. 

Thus, after a while, vendors needed to differentiate their complete works from those held together with wax. To do this they would mark the undamaged statues as being sine, the Latin word for “without” and then cera, the Latin word for “wax”. Sine cera, without wax.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Stick With What You’re Good At

Pablo Picasso lived among a group of artists in Paris in the early 20th century. One evening, the celebrated American writer Gertrude Stein was hosting a group of artists at her home, which doubled as a salon. Picasso, who was in attendance, and who was not known for his humility, remarked that if he had focused his energies on poetry, as he had with his painting, he could have been a great poet.

Picasso then decided to read a poem to the group assembled. At the end of his reading a long pause took place, as it was unclear as to how to respond to someone so accomplished as Picasso.  Finally Stein, who was already considered a great poet, spoke up, “Pablo…go home and paint.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Value after Brokenness: The Art of Kintsugi

There are going to be broken times when you feel as if everything is under demolition. When things feel unresolved or ruined inside of you. When the only thing you might have the strength to do is three-quarters-of-the-way trust that God will take the broken pieces and glue them back together. That’s called kintsugi. Kintsugi is a Japanese term that means “join with gold” or “golden seams.”

If you were to break a jar and wanted to put it back together using the method of kintsugi, someone would take the jar and piece it back together with a glue that is mixed with powdered gold or platinum. It wouldn’t be like superglue, where the item looks perfect because the glue is clear. You would see the gold in all the cracks.

You would know that the object has breaks in it. Those who practice kintsugi believe that just because something breaks doesn’t mean it cannot be used anymore. It’s not about perfection; it’s about resilience. The once broken thing becomes more valuable because now there is gold binding the pieces together.

Hannah Brencher, Fighting Forward: Your Nitty-Gritty Guide to Beating the Lies That Hold You Back, Zondervan, 2021.

See also illustrations on Beauty