Sunday, November 10, 2019

Proper 28 Ordinary 33 C (November 17): Perserverence / Following God

Bible Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19

About the Images:
Upper Left and Right :Free clipart from - see my link column at left) 
Middle Left and Right: Free clip art from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left
Lower Left:A free image from the Cerrezo Barredo site - see my link column at left.

Kid's Story: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Judith Vorst and Ray Cruz, Angus and Robertson, 1972, ISBN 0207151375 (pictured at right). Finish with an assurance that God is always with us.

Listening Song: Legacy
By Nichole Nordeman on her album, Woven and Spun or WOW 2004 (pictured at left). This song goes very well with the Thessalonians reading.

Exercise: Fake Money
Ask all the youth to come forward for free money. Give them Monolopy money and then have a discussion on how you tell the difference between real money and fake money. Relate this to "who do we listen to" below and the Luke reading.

Film Clip: Ice Age
Show the scenes at the very beginning of this film where Scrat holds on to his nut no matter what happens. (pictured at right and seen below). This clip goes very well with the Thessalonians reading.

Film Clip Group Discussion: Ice Age
1. How is Scrat a picture of perseverence?
2. Make a list together of some of the things in life you think are worth persevering with?

Film Clip: Titanic
(pictured at left )The scene near the beginning when everybody is on the wharf just before boarding the Titanic and all the claims are made about how strong and beautiful - and unsinkable - the Titanic is. This fits well with "Who do you depend on" below and the Luke reading.

Discussion: On the Thessalonians reading
How an we encourage each other not to be discouraged, to never give up, to persist?

Story: Leadership

Found as story No 147 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at right). This fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.

Story: Sewing the Sheets
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 68 (pictured at left). This fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.

Story: Prophecy/Harper's Weekly 
Index 2889-2894 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Who do you turn to?" below and the Luke reading.

Story: Fear
Index 856-859 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Where do you get Your words?" below and the Luke reading

Drama: Who Do You Depend On
This drama is based on the Luke reading for this week. Use hymns, the film clip, poems, stories and prayers between the sections and do not have a sermon.

Reader: Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God.
A: (looking around) Isn’t this just the most beautiful church, you’ve ever seen?
B: Yes, we definitely have the nicest one in ........... (put your own town here).
A: We dedicated it to God, and he certainly has blessed us!
B: I’m sure the others in town would love to have what we’ve got.
Reader: But Jesus said: As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.

Reader: They asked Jesus:
A and B: Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?
Reader: He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming,
A: I am the One!
B: The time is near!
A: Follow me
B: Listen to me!
Reader: But Jesus said: Do not follow them.
Reader: Jesus said: When you hear of wars and revolutions.....
A: The war in Syria reached a new intensity today as missiles landed.........
B: The residents of the city continue to live in fear. Police have been unable to withstand rioters and looters.....
Reader: Jesus said: Do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
A: Military exercises continued today in foreign waters. Response was swift with ....
B: Planes carried out a surprise bombing attack before daybreak today .....
Reader: Jesus said: There will be great earthquakes
A: More than one hundred thousand people lost their lives in a devastating earthquake. Authorities say the quake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale ....
Reader: ......sickness.......
B: These virus’s continue to spread our the community. Health authorities claim they are in epidemic proportions and show no signs of letting up ....
Reader: .........famines in various places,.............
A: Two more shipments of food reached port but never made it to the starving masses. Warlords continue to control .......
Reader: Jesus continued: Fearful events and great signs will come from heaven.
B: Scientists claim two asteroids are on a collision course...
A: How much science fiction can become actual reality?

Reader: Jesus said: But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you.
A: You’re under arrest!
B: Take that!
A: No video tape so lets give ‘em a good thumping!
B: Teach them a lesson!
Reader: Jesus said: They will deliver you to synagogues
A: Don’t you know the stories about Jesus aren’t really true?
B: If your Christianity really worked you wouldn’t be suffering like this.....
Reader: ... and put you in jail
A: We’ll put you away for good!
Reader: ......and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
B: Why do you believe when it is against the law?
A: You are going against the very things your country stands for. You traitor!

Reader: But this will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry before hand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
B: Well, actually, you make a lot of sense.
A: I think I’ll have to think about this - you have a point.
Reader: You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends.......
B: Come on, I’m your mother. After all I‘ve done for you, how can you waste your life following Jesus.
A: I’ve been your best friend since kinder. You’re too smart for all this. You’ve been brainwashed.
Reader: and they will put some of you to death. All people will hate you because of me.
A and B: Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!
Reader: But Jesus said: "But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”
c. R. Broadstock and A. Scull (please feel free to adapt)

Response Activity: For the Thessalonians reading

Have a large mural sized piece of paper that all your congregation can fit around (or multiples thereof)  and have lots of felt markers (textas) available. In the middle of the paper have the three main points from the Thessalonians reading written in very large letters: Follow Instructions, Do Your Bit, Never Give up. Ask people to visualise in turn their lives, their families, their workplace and their church community. Allow a little time for them to think about their contribution to each of these areas - what they contribute to make each of these areas a place of worship and service and places imbued with God's love and understanding. Encourage them to write unsigned responses on the paper (encourage people to use it like a graffiti board).
N.B. I used this idea in 2004 and I am not sure (forgotten) if this idea is mine or somebody gave it to me. I am happy to acknowledge a source if someone can enlighten me.

Benediction: Breathe

Based on Isaiah 65 and from the excellent Work of the People site (see my links at left).


Kids: Jesus Gets the Last Word
Found in Party On Together by Beth Barnett and Dr Keith Dyer, Scripture Union, 2010, page 82 (pictured at left). This is based on the Gospel reading. This resource is also available in electronic form through the Baptist Union of Victoria website, where it can be copied freely for non-commercial use. 

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Proper 27 Ordinary 32 C (November 10): New Life/Fighting Discouragement

Bible readings: Haggai 1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145 :1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38.

About the Image:
Upper Left: This image comes from I put a line from Josh Groban's song on it.
Upper Right: This image is made with two microsoft free clipart images.
Middle Left: This is a free Microsoft clip art image.
Middle Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which is down at present. This particular one was free on the site.
Lower Left: This is a free image and comes from

Listening Song: Don't Give Up
By Josh Groban on his album, Awake (2006) (pictured at right). You can use this song as a response activity for the Thessalonians reading exactly in the same way as you can use the Susan Aston song (next)  - see the response activity below.

Listening Song: You Move Me
By Susan Ashton from her album, A Distant Call (pictured at left). See below for a way to use this song as a reflective response for the Thessalonians reading.

Kid's Story: The Day It Rained Colours
By Roy Etherton and Leon Baxter, Lion Publishing, ISBN 0856481734 (pictured at right). I us
ed this story with the Haggai reading.

Video Clip: The Trueman Show
(pictured at left) One of the last scenes, where Trueman discovers that the world he had always thought was real was nothing more than an enormous TV set. The scene below, where he discovers the door in the wall at the end of the lake which leads to the real world, relates well to the basic question that the Sadducees ask Jesus in the Luke reading - Is there more to life than just what we see?

Video Clip: Snow Dogs
(pictured at right) Show the scene about an hour in, where Ted meets the grizzly bear and things go from bad to worse. In desperation, he eventually rings the emergency number, but gets a recorded message. You can follow this with a discussion on what sort of measures we take when everything seems to be going wrong , and about what causes discouragement in our lives. This is a good lead in to the Haggai reading or the last verses of the Thessalonians reading.

Discussion Questions: For the Haggai Reading
1. Why are the people in this reading discouraged?

2. How are they encouraged?

3. What is the immediate promise that they are given?

4. What is the long term promise that they are given?

5. What is there in this reading for us?

Poem: Be Like the Bird
By Victor Hugo in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain, Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 66 (pictured at left). This poem fits in well with the Thessalonians reading.

 Response Activity: For the Thessalonians reading
The Josh Groban song is more up to date  but the Susan Ashton song has more than a minute of instrumental music at the end - they both work well so you choose :). Ask people to read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 during this time and pinpoint the words or phrases they think God wants them to concentrate on. Alternatively, instead of asking them to read these verses, give each person a business cards with verse 17 printed on it.

Response Activity: The Church of the Future
Through Haggai, God told the people to keep building their temple. Through Paul, God promised the Thessalonians a fresh heart to keep working at their faith and their new Christian community. Have lots of model making materials available eg; pipe cleaners, paper, cardboard, balloons, glue, string, pencils, ribbon, modelling clay, boxes etc etc. Have people get in groups and ask each group to make a model of their church which portrays they way they think God wants their church to be in the future. N.B. I have done this with numerous groups and I have never yet seen a group make a model of their church building and I have never yet seen a model even remotely similar to another. The combined creativity of a bunch of ordinary people is truly inspiring.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Proper 26 Ordinary 31 C (November 3): Come on Down

Bible Readings: Habakkuk 1:1-4,2:1-4, Psalm 119:137-144, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12, Luke 19:1-10

About the Images:
Upper Left:
Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen found on Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain.
Upper Right:
A free image from Hermano Leon (see my links at left)
Middle Left: A free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.
Middle Right: This image comes from the  Church Galleries website which is still down at the  moment. This particular image was free on the site. 
Lower Left: A free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.

Kid's Story:
The Magpie's Story
by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen, 1988, ISBN 0551015799 (pictured at left).

Drama: Up a Tree
This is a drama which can be used with puppets or two people. You need an old grumpy person or puppet and a young or teenage person or puppet. I think I have written this with a sort of inbuilt Australian accent so if you are not Australian just adapt it or change it as you see fit.
Oldie: G'day there young fella!
Kid: Hi Gramps! Did ya hear all about Zacchaeus?
Oldie: Is he that short fat bloke who lives in the huge house on the corner? I hate him. He collects our taxes and he rips off everybody by making us all pay heaps more than we should and keeping most of our money for himself.
Kid: Yeah, that's the man alright.
Oldie: There's al ot of stories going around about him at the moment. Tell us what you know.
Kid: know the other day when Jesus came to town?
Oldie: I certainly do! I went down to see him myself. By golly, it was a big crowd, wasn't it? It took me all my time to elbow my way to the front of the crowd. I'm glad I took me walking stick! It's an advantage being as old as me sometimes. He, he, he!
Kid: Well, ole Zac had even more trouble than you did! Because he's so short he couldn't see over the crowd so he tried to push and squeeze his way through near where me and my mates were standing. But we all jammed up so that he couldn't get past us. Then we all pretended he wasn't there. It was great fun - me and my mates don't like him any more than you do.
Oldie: Gee, I wish I'd been near you lads. I'd 've helped by giving him a good poke with my walking stick. Accidently, of course.
Kid: Well, Zacchaeus had us beaten in the end because he climbed this big sycamore tree growing by the edge of the road..........just as everybody starts yelling out and cheering because Jesus was coming.
Oldie: Hmmp! Ole Zac sure is cunning. Why didn't you young blokes accidently just shake him out of his tree?
Kid: But Gramps!! You haven't heard the really awesome part of this story yet. Jesus walks right up to the sycamore tree, stops and looks up at Zacchaeus .......... and says "Zacchaeus! Come on down!!!!! I want to come round to your place for tea."
Oldie: Well ! The idea !!
Kid: Zacchaeus nearly falls of his tree......he's so surprised. The rest of us just couldn't believe what we were hearing. Who'd want to stay with a cheat like him?
Oldie: If I'd been there I'd have given Jesus a piece of my mind. It'll only encourage the that little cheat to be even meaner to the rest of us!
Kid: NO! but it didn't. That's the amazing thing! Do you know what Zac said when he climbed down out of that tree? He said he was going to give a half of his stuff away and pay back everyone he's cheated by giving 'em four times as much as he pinched in the first place!
Oldie: I don't believe it!
Kid: Walk around to Zac's place with me now. You'll soon see that it's amazing but it's true!
Oldie: I think I will. Come on
c. Ann Scull

Story: Behind the Shower Curtain
Found in When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado, Word, 1996, ISBN 0849913241, page 51 (pictured at right). This story is based on the gospel reading and the idea of grace.

Communion Invitation: I Did Not know His Name
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 30 (pictured at left).  This is particularly useful if you are using the gospel reading.

Film Clip: The Apostles Creed
From the excellent The Work of the People - see my link at left


Meditation: Perseverance
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 42 (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Poem/Meditation: Zacchaeus
By Ruth Burgess in Dandelions and Thistles: Biblical Meditations from the Iona Community by Jan Sutch Pickard (ed.) Wild Goose Publications, 1999, ISBN 1901557146, page 50 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Mark reading.

Kids: Zac the Taxman
This is another brilliant book  by Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2006 (pictured at right). This goes with the Luke reading.  The great thing about these books is that they only around $A5 and for a further $A10 (or instead of) you can buy on line the story in any format you need to project the pictures in church.  There are also free activity sheets and for a cost activity books for both teachers and children.  Visit to check out all the excellent resources.

Service Sample: The Upside-down Dinner

Found in Party On Together by Beth Barnett and Dr Keith Dyer, Scripture Union, 2010, page 52 (pictured at left). This is based on the Gospel reading. This resource is also available in electronic form through the Baptist Union of Victoria website, where it can be copied freely for non-commercial use.