Sermon illustrations


A Hungry/Thirsty Soul

The soul can also manifest physical symptoms of need. I like to think of it this way: Just like my stomach growls when I’m hungry for physical food, my spirit tends to growl when I’m in need of spiritual food.

When a checker at the grocery store seems overtly irritable or grouchy, I sometimes grin and think to myself, “I bet her kids woke up before she had a chance to have her quiet time!” I can certainly assure you that my personality is distinctively different when I haven’t had the time I need with the Lord. My soul can do some pretty fierce growling!

How about you? Does your hungry soul ever manifest physical symptoms such as irritability, selfish ambitions, anger, impure thoughts, envy, resentments, and eruptions of lust? Here’s a similar analogy. When a soul is thirsty for the Living Water (John 4), just as my mouth gets dry when I am thirsty, my spiritual mouth gets dry when I need the satisfying refreshment only God can bring.

Beth Moore, Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender, B&H Books, 2007.

Incarnation Essential to Reconciliation

In their thoughtful book on reconciliation, Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice share how Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement showed up in the lives of the working poor, which ultimately enabled them to do the work of reconciliation: 

In connection with reconciliation, incarnation means learning to be there in broken places and developing the patience and discipline necessary to stay long enough to see the needs. That is why every time we think about incarnation, we think about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement she founded.

Her testimony of how it all started is very telling: We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form saying, “we need bread.” We could not say, “Go, be thou filled.” If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread.

We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us. Let those who can take it, take it. Some moved out and that made room for more. And somehow the walls expanded. We were just sitting there talking and someone said, “let’s all go live on a farm.” It was as casual as all that, I often think. It just came about. It just happened.

Taken from Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice Copyright (c) 2008 by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Looking to Be Filled In All the Wrong Places

The more I use stuff to fill up my hungers, the more distance I put between God and myself. And as I continue to fill up my infinite hungers with finite things (when I run through the Starbucks drive-through as an answer to my weariness or feeling out of place), these finite things not only leave me hungry but also create ways of being—or liturgies—that move me away from God.

Ask yourself, Where do I run when I experience negative emotions—is it food, a listening ear, shopping, drinks, exercise? Or do we first bring our fear, angst, and impatience to a God who can actually do something about it? When we get antsy waiting on God and his word, we ask our stuff to save us.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Retail Therapy

Retail therapy gives us the thrill of the hunt and a hit of dopamine (the love hormone) as we anticipate a purchase, but it cannot feed our hungers. We know this. But we return each time, hoping it will. We buy and we window shop because we aren’t captivated by a better way, a better story.

The process of finding holy in the suburbs is not necessarily eschewing Target runs, but it starts by waking up to our hungers in the first place. Our hunger is human: we want to be filled. We desire abundance and satiety. We want to belong to a people and a place. In the suburbs we settle for consumerism to answer our hunger to be whole. “There is an intimate and indissoluble link between suburbia and buying,” writes Roger Silverstone. Buying has become our favorite form of worship.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com 

Sharing or Stealing Their Last Ration

In 1908, Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton headed an Antarctic expedition attempting to reach the South Pole. They came closer than any before but, 97 miles short of the pole, had to turn back.

In his diary Shackleton told of the time when their food supplies were exhausted save for one last ration of hardtack, a dried sort of biscuit, that was distributed to each man. Some of the men took snow, melted it, and made tea while consuming their biscuit. Others, however, stowed the hardtack in their food sacks, saving it for a last moment of hungry desperation.

The fire was built up, and weary, exhausted men climbed into their sleeping bags to face a restless sleep, tossing and turning. Shackleton said he was almost asleep when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed one of his most trusted men sitting up in his bag and looking about to see if anyone was watching.

Shackleton’s heart sank within him as this man began to reach toward the food sack of the man next to him. Shackleton watched as the man opened the food sack and took his own hardtack and put it in the other’s sack.

Harold J. Sala, Heroes, Barbour, 1998, pp- 277-278.

See also Growth, Learning, Obedience, Satisfaction, Searching, Treasure, Worship