Sermon Illustrations


During the winter of 1951, a Montana café owner named Clarence Pellett pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker who appeared cold and frozen while walking during a snowstorm. Once in the car, the hitchhiker Frank Dryman pulled out a gun and ordered Pellett to get out of his vehicle, then began firing, ending Pellet's life. During the criminal trial, the angry defendant who easily admitted the crime but felt no repentance shouted at the judge "I am going to kill you," then stared down the jury repeating the same promise. Ordered to receive the noose, as was the practice over a half century ago, Dryman's life was supposed to end...until he managed to escape a short time later during a parole board hearing. One could say he vanished, without a trace.

Months ago, the invisible man had been sighted thanks to the perseverance of Pellett's grandson Clem, who had kept up a quest to seek justice in the face of all opposition. It turns out Frank Dryman had been hiding in plain view for decades. He had conveniently left the family he had at the time of his accusations, started a new family, moved to the state of Washington, altered his name, and even requested and was receiving his pension for serving in the military during World War II. Once arrested, Pellett would go on to say, "I had no fear. To be honest, I didn't even remember the victim's name."

You know, a murder is a horrible crime that is deserving of punishment, like all crimes too are worthy. And just as earthly people are able to make laws and govern accordingly, God too is just. Therefore, since God has clearly laid out his orders, his commands, we know full well exactly what will be asked of us on our day of judgment. And unless we have someone to step in to take responsibility for the crimes we have committed, well, in a way...aren't we all fugitives running from the law? Just because we hide in plain view does not mean that justice will not be procured upon us.

(From a sermon by Tom Papez, Without a Trace, 6/8/2012)

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