My earliest sermons had very few illustrations. I knew that it would be helpful to people, but it just wasn’t how my mind worked. One year at Easter, however, I decided to work at keeping younger children engaged in the worship service by using note sheets and slides with a picture for each point. The kids liked it, and to my surprise several adults liked it. So, since that time, I have continued to use pictures this way. Today my sermon picture file has over 1,500 images. I reuse some and add new ones every week.
Eventually, this visual way of thinking led me to try to capture each sermon series in artwork, and in 2016 we decided to capture the theme of my preaching for the entire year in a physical display in our sanctuary. These efforts were bolstered when Audie King joined our church family. She works as a graphic designer and volunteers her time to design and create these projects.
Our theme for 2021 is “Waiting for the Lord.” Since we are studying Exodus 1-18 in the “Humble Leadership” series, we have created a display to remind us of how God appeared in a pillar of fire and miraculously parted the Red Sea to rescue the people of Israel. We created a 12 foot tall pillar made of wood wrapped in orange, yellow, and red fabrics. It stands between two 12 foot tall waves made of wood and wrapped in various blue and white fabrics. The cross stands in the foreground because later in the year, we will see the same idea of waiting in Paul’s teaching in 1 & 2 Thessalonians about the return of Christ.
We have also reinstalled our artwork from 2019 more permanently on the west wall of our sanctuary. These five stained-glass style images are drawn from the parables of Jesus recorded in Luke’s Gospel. They remind us of his heart to reach the lost.
- In Luke 11:33-36, he attempts to persuade the Pharisees to open their eyes to God’s truth by describing the eye as the lamp of the body.
- The fig bearing sycamore tree is mentioned on three occasions. He points to it to explain that he wants his people to bear fruit (13:6-9); he finds Zacchaeus up in one (19:4); and then he uses it to speak of preparing for his return (21:29-31).
- In 15:3-7 he describes his heart for the lost by telling the parable of the lost sheep.
- He continues this focus in 15:8-10 with the parable of the lost coin. But he also refers to money on several other occasions: the parable of the shrewd steward (16:1-13); his conversations with the rich young ruler (18:18-30) and Zacchaeus the tax collector (19:1-10); his parable of the minas (19:11-27); his critics testing him with a denarius (20:19-26); and his observation of the widow’s mite (21:1-4).
- Our final image is of a grapevine representing the parable of the vineyard from 20:9-17. In this powerful story, Jesus foretells his rejection by the Jews as the culmination of their rejection of the Old Testament prophets.
Our hope is that this imagery will help you remember the truths we discover in the Scripture each Sunday.
– Bryan Craddock