Sunday, May 01, 2016

Easter 7 C (May 8):Freedom/United but Not Homogenous



























Bible Readings: Acts 16:16-34, Psalm 97, Revelation 22:12-14, 126-17, 20-21, John 17:20-26

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is free clipart from Heartlight - their address is in the column to the left.
Upper Right: This is my image. Please feel free to use it for worship purposes.

Lower Left: This is an Imagebank free clip art - see my link column at left
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com


Bible Reading: Psalm 97

This Psalm lends itself well to being read aloud accompanied by relevant projected images.

Bible Reading: John 17:20-23
Read these verses together replacing the words "these followers" with the name of your congregation the first time and thereafter with the words "this congregation".




Kid's Story: The Jailor Who Changed His Mind
By Carol Granger and Jim Roberts, Arch Books, 1971 (pictured at right).

Introductory Activity/Discussion:

Give everybody a blue card and an orange card. Make a series of statements - some very straightforward such as "You have blue eyes" and some more complicated , such as, " you do not a agree with......." (fill in with a recent political or denominational decision). Get them to hold up the blue card if they agree with the statement and get them to hold up the orange card if they disagree. Encourage them to look around as each statement is read out so that they
see the amazing diversity which makes up any congregation. Then ask them to talk together about or to make a list of all the things that Christians agree on. Finish with a question about ways we can achieve unity within a congregation.



Film Clip: Jesus  Said These Things
By the Work of the People - see my link column at left






Listening Song: One
By U2 ...I got this idea from Singing From the Lectionary (see link at left) and then went looking on the web and found this:








Drama: Six People in One Pew 
Found in Gospel Dramas by Dean Nadasdym Ausburg Publishing, 1985, ISBN 0806621850, page 79 (pictured at left). This play is based on the gospel reading.


Drama: A Man Named Paul 
Found in Mega Drama 5 by Verena Johnson (Ed), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 66 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the Acts reading.

Story: Testimony
Story No 266 in Your Point Being...? by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, (pictured at left.) This story fits in very well with the Jailer's question in the Acts reading.

Story: The One Only A Mother Could Love
By John Wilmot and found in the magazine, On Being, June 1997. This story goes well with the Gospel reading.

Story: The Hermit's Gift.

Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 112 (pictured at right). This story fits well with the Gospel reading. 



Responsive Reading: Ring of Faith 
By Ruth Bell and found on the Mucky Paws site (see address at left in my links section) archived under 20th May 2007.  This is a lovely 5 part voice reading connected to the theme of Freedom via the Acts reading.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Easter 6 C (May 1) : No Fear/About face!

































Bible Readings: Acts 16:9-15, Psalm 67, Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:5, John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9.

About the images:
Upper Left:
This is my image taken on the Gordon River, a world heritage area on the west coat of Tasmania - the beautiful island state south of mainland Australia. If you want to know more about this area please visit http://www.discovertasmania.com
Upper Right: This is my image also. Note how the two small boys on the ride - one in the middle, one near the back - both instinctively lean into their fathers for protection and/or comfort.  Please feel free to use both these images for worship and related activities.

Lower Left: This is an Hermano Leon free clip art - see my link column at left
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com





Film Clip: Psalm 67





Listening Song: Psalm 67
By Sons of Korah on their album, Resurrection (pictured at right).

Listening Song: Song of David (Psalm67)
By Maire Brennan on her album, Perfect Time (pictured at left).
 


Listening Song: Breathe
By Sixpence None the Richer on their album, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer (pictured at right).
 


Film Clip: Shawshank Redemption
(pictured at left) The scene where Red first meets Andy in the prison yard and in a voice over tells us that Andy seems to have a an invisible coat (or peace?) which enables him to withstand the rigours of prison life. At about the 28 minute mark depending on whether you are using a DVD or video.


Questions on the Film Clip:
How can we be like Andy?
How is or can God be an invisible coat for us?


Drama: Do You Promise
Found in Mega Drama 5 by Verena Johnson (Ed), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 52 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the John 14 reading.


Illustration: The Holy Spirit
Found in Living Stones: The All Age Resource for the Common Worship Lectionary Year C by Susan Sayers, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1840030097, page 110 (pictured at left). This all-age talk is a great reflection on the Acts reading.
Story: The Holy Spirit
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story No. 134 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the Acts reading.
Story: Obedience
S tory 463 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551. This story goes very well with the John 14 reading.

Response Activity: The Holy Spirit
Display a list of words and phrases which describe the Holy Spirit (based on the John 14 reading). Ask people to select the one that they think is most useful to them right now and then talk about it with a neighbour.

Response Activity: Preparing For Worship
I know this sounds like a bit of a contradiction but I think this little exercise, although well suited to the start of worship, also could introduce a time of contemplation in response to the John 14 reading or sermon or whatever. Found in
Multi-Sensory Prayer by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2001, ISBN 1859994652, page 55.

Also:
Poem: Shalom
Also a great prayer and collect based on the gospel reading included on the same page.  Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 155.



Response Activity: Who Do You See
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 77ff. This works well with the gospel reading.  



Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 92ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Easter 5 C (April 24): Belonging/God is in the Neighbourhood/God Plays No Favourites

 













 














Bible Readings: Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13: 31-35.


About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a Microsoft free clipart onto which I placed the text.
Upper Right: I love this image - it shows that we all belong to God's family. This is a free clipart image from a lovely little site (http://www.cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/) which puts images up each week to match with the lectionary readings. Now and again I get a tad lost on the site because most of the text is in Spanish. It is worth the effort though because the images are excellent. I have also listed this site in my links section (see left).
Lower Left: This is a free clipart from the Heartlight site (see my links column at the left).
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com



During the Service:
I have done this at scattered intervals throughout a service one family or person at a time: Ask a number of families (include a single person, a single parent family, a nuclear family, a married couple with no kids, an empty nest family etc etc) the following questions:
1. Describe your family situation
2. What does belonging to the church mean to you?
3. Why?


Listening Song: I've Always Loved You
By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at right).


Kids: Love Unlimited
Found in Fun Group Devotions for Children;s Ministry by various authors, Group Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1559451610, page 18 (pictured at left). This goes really well with the gospel reading.



Film Clip: Tuesdays With Morrie
c. Touchstone 1999 (pictured at left). A great discussion on love starts around 1 hr 10 mins in and goes for approximately 2 minutes or about half way through this clip:





Discussion Questions: Tuesday with Morrie
1. How would you define love?
 
2. What does belonging mean to you?
3. What do you think Morrie means when he says: "We must love one another or die"


Film Clip: Life Vest Kindness


 Drama: Love One Another
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson. Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910915, page 32, (pictured at left). This drama goes well with the gospel reading. 



Drama: What is Heaven?
Project or display a very traditional picture of heaven - fat angels, clouds, harps etc.
1: Is that heaven?
2: Is what heaven?
1: You know - like in that picture? Angels, harps, clouds?
2: Well, good question! Nobody really knows where it actually is?

1: So is it up in the sky?
2: Dunno really. I just know heaven is wherever God is.
1: Oh,so what do we do in heaven? Play harps and stuff?
2: Hmmm. Hard to say. I do know we'll be worshipping God.
1: Oh, so it will be like church!!!
2: Ummm, maybe.
1: So we're just going to be sitting around and praying?
2: Ummm, I think the Bible mentions that we'll get a chance to rest too.
1: Resting for eternity!!! Isn't that going to get a bit boring?
2: Well......we might do other stuff as well. I think the Bible talks about serving God too.
1: Heaven after you die isn't sounding too crash hot at the moment.
2: Well, I'm not explaining it very well. I know I have read that there is a big FUN component built in .......and anyway, who said anything about heaven after you die - what if it is going on right now.
1: What HAVE you been drinking
2: I haven't been drinking anything - but I have been reading! Listen to this.....

Then get No. 2 to read the Revelation reading.

NB: Not sure where I got this - pretty sure , by the language, that it is mine; but I stand to be corrected. 


Story: Love
Story 393 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551, (pictured at right).

Story: When Do I Die
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 223 (pictured at left). This is a poignant illustration of love and sacrifice.



Story: Are You God?
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 36 (pictured in an earlier blog). This illustration goes well with the gospel reading.



Discussion:
Who are the Cornelius's in our lives?
Who are the people missing from our church because we have not encouraged them in.
What are we going to do about it?
What does it mean for us to love people unconditionally?

Response Activity: Thank you For Being the Family We Choose to Have.
Have a new photo album ready and print off a variety of frames with blank middles - enough for everyone to have one. Encourage people to draw, in their frame, the people who mean a lot to them, whether family or friends. Play meditative music while this is going on. At the conclusion of the activity put the drawings in the photo album. The kids love this job while the adults sing.

Response Activity: Candles
Dim the lighting. Give everyone a small thin candle and a one centimetre cube of self hardening clay. Play some meditative music. Ask people to think about the question:
What does it mean for me to love people the way Jesus did, unconditionally? While they are thinking, encourage them to make a candle stand with their clay. Ask a few to come out and light their candle from the Christ candle and then share the flame around until everyone has a lit candle in front of them. Point out how the light is similar to God's love - it is spread by sharing. This adult activity is adapted from the kid's activity, Love Unlimited (above)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Easter 4 C (April17): Lives full of God Stuff

 













Bible Readings: Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

About the images:
Upper Left: Sometimes in rural Australia, we have occasions where we literally help shepherd the sheep if we want to get to where we are going.
Upper Right:
This is one of the excellent free images from Heartlight (see their address under my Link section at left)
Lower Left: This is a free image from the Imagebank site (see their address under my Link section at left).
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com


Listening Song: The Lord is My Shepherd
By John Bell, sung by the Cathedral Singers with Mhairi Lawson on their album, Psalms of David, Songs of Mary (pictured at left). I played this track and projected images with the following words from an unknown author (if you know who wrote the extra words, please let me know - Google has not come up with an answer for me):

The Lord is My Shepherd 
The Lord is my Shepherd --That's RELATIONSHIP!
I shall not want -- That's SUPPLY!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures --That's REST!
He leadeth me beside still waters --That's REFRESHMENT!
He restoreth my soul -- That's HEALING!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness --That's GUIDANCE!
For His name sake -- That's PURPOSE!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil --That's PROTECTION!
For thou art with me -- That's FAITHFULNESS!
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me --That's COMFORT!
Thou preparest a table before mein the presence of mine enemies --That's HOPE!
Thou anointest my head with oil --That's CONSECRATION!
My cup runneth over -- That's ABUNDANCE!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow meall the days of my life --That's BLESSING!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord --That's SECURITY!
Forever -- That's ETERNITY!


Kids Story: Herbert and Harry

By Pamela Allen, Puffin Books, 1986, ISBN 0140567836 (pictured at right)



Kids' Story: Cecil and Psalm 23
By Andrew McDonough, Adelaide, Lost Sheep Resources, 2008, ISBN 9781921229312 (pictured at left).


Skit: And Then There Were Shepherds
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 24 (pictured at right).




Discussion Questions on the Gospel Reading:
NB: These questions can be used randomly through the service or where ever.
What is your definition of a shepherd when you hear Jesus or God referred to as one?
Brainstorm: How do the verses John 10:37-29 make you feel?
Think to Yourselves: How have you experienced God's healing in your life?
With Your Neighbour: What was the result of this healing for others around you?



Film Clip:The World's Top Missionary sending Country





Film Clip: Meet me in the Middle of the Air by Paul Kelly


Story: Christ As Shepherd
Index 3264-3267 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990.


Story: Overcoming Mediocrity Means Living Differently
Index 11015-1017 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990.

Introductio
n to the Acts story: Bubbles

Found in Livi
ng Stones: The All Age Resource for the Common Worship Lectionary Year C by Susan Sayers, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1840030097, page 103 (pictured at right).


Discussion on the Acts Story:
Is this story....
a miracle story
a definition of a disciple
a bluep
rint for a subversive new world order
an indicator of hope.


Response Activity for the Acts Reading:
Project or distribute the following:
This story tells us that God is.......
protector of the vulnerable,
defender of the persecuted,
comforter of the broken hearted, and
giver of new life.
Ask: Look at the slide.
Do you fit any of these categories or do you know somebody who does?
Use this time of silence to either pray for yourself or for someone you know.



Response Activity for the John reading:
Give everyone a long and a short piece of pipe cleaner and project the following questions
1. Maybe you want to trust that God knows the way even if you don’t
2. Maybe you would like to thank God for someone who has been a shepherd on God’s behalf to you
3. Maybe you want to risk the way of Jesus and be part of God’s ripples out into the community
Pray about the answers to these questions as you fashion a shepherd's cross out of your pipe-cleaners. (N.B. - a shepherds cross is a cross where the vertical piece is made of a shepherd's crook).


Also:
Listening Song: Psalm 23 - The Lord is My Shepherd
By Sons of Korah on their album, Hand to the Plough (pictured at left).

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Easter 3 C (April 10): The Impact of the Resurrection































Bible Readings: Acts 9:1-20, Psalm 30, Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19.

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is my photo of our middle eastern bread cooking at our Easter dawn service when we re-enacted the brekky Jesus cooked for his disciples on the beach. This photo is mine and can be used for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: The Australian church still likes to meet around an open fire from time to time. This is a Uniting Church Presbytery area meeting at Wulgulmerang in Far East Gippsland. This photo is mine and can be used for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This photo reminds me that God walks with us always - an implication of the resurrection.
Lower Right:This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com

Listening Song: Hands of God
By Rex Carroll on his album, The Rex Carroll Sessions (pictured at left).

 Listening Song: Garments of JoyBy Sons of Korah on their album, Shelter, Wordsong Artists, Belmont, Victoria,2002 (pictured at right).  This song uses the words of Psalm 30.
Kid's Time: Believing is Seeing
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 60 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Acts reading.


Monologue: Peter
I've made some big mistakes in my time! ........ but nothing like the ones I made on the night when Jesus was arrested. It all started to go wrong when the soldiers came to arrest him. I couldn't believe it was happening! I jumped in like a real life rambo and took a swipe at one of the arresting soldiers - but I only managed to remove his ear and before I could have another go, Jesus reached out and healed him. I was astounded. And as the crowd started to snigger, I felt big and stupid and clumsy. So I stood and watched them lead him away as it hit me that after three years I still didn't really understand what he was on about. But I couldn't abandon him. I followed the soldiers at a distance till they reached a courtyard. I tried my best to blend in but it was difficult. They all recognised me. The servant girl. The gatekeeper. And a big bloke who was a relative of the soldier whose ear I had removed! He recognised me in a flash!! And if they didn't recognise my face then my Galilean accent gave me away. They were all having a go at me - trying to make me admit I was one of his friends. But I couldn't do it. Three times I denied that I even knew him! I was so scared of what they would do to me. I caved in like a house of cards.

But that's not the worst of it. Jesus knew what I was doing! As the soldiers led him away he looked straight at me, our eyes locked through an open doorway.... and I could tell. He knew all right. And ....and there was nothing I could do! And I remember his words telling me I would do this awful thing. I felt ill just thinking about it. I ran outside and cried like a baby. It was as if my heart was breaking. In a matter of minutes, my whole world was in shatters.


After he was crucified, strange things happened. I was one of the first to see his empty tomb. He appeared to us all one Sunday when we met together in secret. But for me, life became even more difficult as the dark cloud of my denial of him spoilt any of the joy. It was as if there was a wall between us - a wall which I had built - which I didn't know how to remove. I was dying
to speak to him but it was also the thing I dreaded most.

So I went back to my boats and the fishing. What else could I do? I didn't have the heart for it any more but it kept my hands busy. I conned a few of the others into fishing with me. And one morning as we returned home, there was Jesus - on the beach. I was so intent on speaking to him that I couldn't wait for the boat - instead I dived straight in and swam to shore. But I was tongue- tied. I couldn't say all the things that were on my heart. Instead I ran around doing everything he asked with all the enthusiasm I possessed. And my business and eagerness hid the wall between us - but could not break it down.


After brekky, he took me for a bit of a walk along the beach. I didn't know what he was going to say. The weight of my guilt blotted out any other thought. I couldn't think how to even start to say all the things I wanted to say. If I had tried to
say that I loved him it would have sounded trite and hypercritical after all that had happened. But I didn't have to. Instead he asked me if I loved him! Three times I had said he was not my friend on that terrible night. Three times on the beach he asked me if I loved him. Three times I said yes with my whole heart. And I knew he believed me because he gave me a job to do - to look after his followers for him - a job that proved to me that he trusted me and that the past was forgotten and that the wall between us was gone.
© Ann Scull


Discussion Questions:
1. Can you relate to the way the disciples felt after Jesus' death and resurrection?
2.What do you do when life is tough?
3. Have you ever given up on God or thought about giving up on God?
4. How does God call us back?


Story: The Cliff
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 60 (pictured at left). This story is about trusting God.

Story: Jump
 
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 98 (pictured at right). This story is about trusting God and fits well with the Acts reading.

Poem: Come Share a Damper With Me
Found in A Bloke Called Jesus by Norman Habel and Pro Hart, Rigby, 1982, ISBN 0727017586, page 46 (pictured at left). As the title suggests, this goes with the gospel reading.


Response Activity:
Choose two (or one or three or four depending on the time you have - each station takes about five minutes) of the following stations. Ask:
What do you need?
Who are you like?
Are you like .......:


Station 1. Paul and his need for a new direction:
Think about how God has grabbed your attention in the past.
Think about your current directions.
Are you travelling in the direction God wants you to go?

As you think about these questions fill in the picture (as artistically or as unartistically as you want to) and mark the top pointer with the direction you think God is calling you and the bottom three with the directions you sometimes would rather go.
Pray as you work.


Station 2. Ananias and his need for courage:
Read together the CS Lewis quote from Mere Christianity found in
Imaging the Word Volume 1 by Kenneth T Lawrence (ed.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 195 (pictured at left).
Discuss
:

Who has ever played the role of Ananias for you?
What do you do when it looks like God is going to ask you to do something really hard?
Has it ever seemed so hard that you walked away from Jesus or thought about doing so?
How does Jesus call us back?

 
Station 3.The disciples and their need for a new perspective:
Smell Trail Script 9 found in Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668, page 67.

Station 4. Peter and his need for forgiveness:
Find a quiet place and become aware of the gentle rhythm of your breathing. Read Not...Do You Promise to be Good prayer slowly – as many times as will fit in the time you have. Leave a space between each reading to sit and listen to what God is saying to you. This prayer can be found in Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 199 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Also:
Kid's Story: Paul Believes in Jesus (or The Man who Changed His Name)
by Loyal Kobrek and Don Kuecker, Arch Books, St Loius, Missouri, 1972 or 1987, ISBN 0570060664 or 0570090083 (depending on the edition you can get hold of). This is one of those tried and tested books which appeals to each generation of kids.

Poem: Breakfast
Also a great prayer and collect based on the gospel reading included on the same page.  Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 152.


Response Activity: Reaffirmation of baptism
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 70ff. This works well with the gospel reading.  

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 77ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.