Sunday, August 23, 2015

Proper 17 Ordinary 22 B: New Beginnings






































Bible Readings: Song of Songs 2:8-11, Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9, James 1:17-27, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.

About the image:
Upper Left: This is the image I used on the cards mentioned in the response activity - I took it at Mt Hotham in the Australian high country. Please feel free to use it for worship and related activities. Many people don't know that it snows in some parts of Australia  (other than those of course who confuse us with Austria). If you want to know more about Mt Hotham, please visit http://www.mthotham.com.au/
Upper Right: These are candlestick banksias common to south eastern Australia - they grow up to a foot in length (30cms) and either grow straight up or at odd angles to their branches. They transform a rather ordinary looking tree. This is my photo and these are my neighbour's candlesticks - so please feel free to use the image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free image from http://www.servicioskoinonia.org/cerezo/dibujosB/51ordinarioB22.jpg
Lower Right: This is a free image from Imagebank - see my link column at left

Just a note:
Many of the resources below belong best with Song of Songs,  which probably works better here Down Under where winter is coming to a close and where we are surrounded by the many beautiful signs of spring - however in many parts of the world where there are no seasons or the seasons are in reverse, this still seems to be a time of the year where particular things (like holidays) are finishing and new beginnings are happening (like the school year etc) so it won't take much to use the following resources either as analogies or to creatively adapt them to your particular situation. Have fun, anyway!

Listening Song: Bring Me To Life
By Evanescence on their album Fallen (pictured at left).

Kids Story: 
Any story will work this week that relates to being loved by a parent - why not tell them a story from your own life. Relate it to the fatherhood of God.

Kid's/Youth: The Spell Begins to Break
This is the chapter in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1950 (pictured at right) where the witch's power begins to weaken in the face of the mighty Aslan and winter finally begins to give way to spring. In the preceding chapter, What Happened After Dinner, is the verse:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we will have spring again.

Film Clip: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
As above - use the film, instead of the book (pictured at left).

Discussion Questions:
1. What are examples of the winter times in our lives?, in our church?, in our community?, in our world?
2. How can we be part of God's activity in turning these winters into springs?

Response Activity:
Give out a card while thinking music plays in the background. On one side of the card have the words from Song of Songs printed: “Arise, my darling. I love you. Winter is past, the rain has stopped; flowers cover the earth, it’s time to sing”. On the other side of the card print a small bare branch with room enough to also write about their own personal winter. Give people time to write and then encourage them to come out and staple a sprig of blossom over the top of their winter as a sign of God’s promise to them.

Also:

Confession:
Found in Before the Amen by Maren C Tirabassians Maria I. Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 105 (pictured at right).  This is in part based on the James reading.

Stories, Poems and Lots of Other Good Stuff: Proper 17
Based on all four readings and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, pages 209ff (pictured at left).

There WILL be more ...most likely on the gospel reading


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Proper 16 Ordinary 21 B (August 23): Prayer





















Bible readings: 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43, Psalm 84, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69

About the images:
Upper Left: A free microsoft image with text I have added.
Upper Right: My photo, my husband's hands - please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is my photo of a Roman soldier in Petra, Jordan. Not quite sure what he was doing there, but there he was in all his armour.  My image, so  please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.  
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Church Gallery site - see my link column at left.

Resources for Psalm 84
Story: The Grace of God
Story No 1445 in Parsons Bible Illustrator for Windows or at
http://www.preaching.com/resources/illustrations/11546642/archive41/

Dramatic reading of Psalm 84:
I think Rosemary Broadstock and I wrote this one nine years ago and we used three versions of the Bible to do it. However if the idea is not ours, please let me know and I will duly acknowledge the source.

Psalm 84 as a call to worship
:
The readers come from their places in the congregation. As they come to the centre front, they join in the repeated chorus stopping close to the seats:
All: (repeat) Lord God all-powerful, being with you is so lovely. With everything inside me, I long to be here;
1: (moves up to the table as he/she speaks) How I love your church, God! How I like to be here! I go all weak at the very thought of it. My heart and body explode with joy when I’m with you! I want to sing.
2: (joining him/her) Even sparrows find a home here and swallows build nests here to raise their young. You bless everyone who stays close to you.
3-6: (remain near the seats)
3: How privileged are those who live in your house;
4: and they sing your praises.
2: (taking a step towards the other four and beckoning them to join him/her) Lord, Those who have tapped into your strength have got it made. The highway to heaven begins within them; a direct route to your holy presence.
1: (joins in beckoning the others forward) Come and be welcome. He will give you everything you need to come to him – food, drink, faith, strength, endurance. You will get stronger as you come nearer. Come on!
As 3-6 arrive they are welcomed by 1 and 2
1 and 2: They will see God!
All: Lord God all-powerful, tune in to our prayer.
2: You are the shield that protects your people. One day spent in your presence beats a thousand nights in a five star resort.
3: I’d rather scrub floors in your house, O God, than rub shoulders with the rich and famous beneath the flashing lights of greed and corruption.
4: O LORD our God, you are the sun that shines on us
and the shield that keeps us safe.
5: You shower us with generosity and honour,
6: You never refuse any good thing to those who trust you.
All: O LORD, ruler of all, everyone who trusts in you has got it made!
(all look at each other in amazement and shout)
All: We are blessed!!!!! (and run off back to their seats except 1. who hesitates)
1: Thanks God – for everything!!
Bible verses from C.E.V. Living and ©2000 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
 
Resources for the Kings reading:
Call to Worship
Found in Before the Amen by Maren C Tirabassians Maria I. Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 114 (pictured at right). 

Kids Story: Where Does God Live
Written by August Gold and Matthew J Perlman, Skylight Paths publishing, 2001 ISBN 189336139x (pictured at left).

Resources for the Ephesians Reading:
Kids: Armour Drama

Be melodramatic about this one and please feel free to change to suit your congregation/culture/whatever.
A person stands all alone looking a bit miserable. One at a time, six people come out of the congregation and hit him/her with a balloon while saying the words below - you could even write the words on the balloon if you like. They then stand back smirking; looking tough and unbeatable.

The person who is hit flinches back each time and, each time, asks the kids to help find a piece of armour that will help him/her. When the kids find the matching piece of armour with the suitable message, he/she puts on the piece of armour, unpins the message and pricks the tough person’s balloon. The tough person shrieks, “Arrrggghhh, Curses! Foiled again!” and runs back to their seat. As the miserable person gains more and more armour and foils more and more tough balloon weilding meanies, he/she becomes increasingly more confident and relaxed and happy.
Nasty balloon weilding meanies enter and are foiled as follows:

Nasty balloon: Nobody in this group likes you. Go and play with someone else!
Piece of Armour: Belt
Armour message: God loves me!!

Nasty balloon: Come on, let’s grab their footy. They’ll be too scared to do anything about it.
Piece of Armour: breastplate
Armour message: No, I‘d rather play with them than mess up their game.

Nasty balloon: How dumb! Do you really go to church??
Piece of Armour: Shoes
Armour message: Come with me and find out how much God loves you.

Nasty balloon: Ha ha ha, I got you into trouble.
Piece of Armour: Shield (umbrella)
Armour message: At least God knows I was right.

Nasty balloon: You can’t have any, you don’t deserve it !
Piece of Armour: helmet
Armour message: God gives me heaps of great gifts.

Nasty balloon: You’ll never be good enough to join our group.
Piece of Armour: sword-bible
Armour message: There are heaps of messages in here which tell me how special I am.

Talk it through with the kids...
Written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull.

Story: Men
Story 426 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right).

Discussion questions:
There is much talk in this reading of evil forces and what they throw at us.
1.How are these forces demonstrated in our lives?
2.How do they infect our church?
3. How do they infect our community – our social and political structures?

Film Clip: Romero
From the film Romero (pictured at left) show the scene where Archbishop Oscar Romero goes to the village that is under martial law and confronts the soldiers who have transformed a church into a barracks - start the scene at the point where he first arrives at the church and end it when he is leading the service. This is a very powerful film clip and sometimes reduces people to tears. The film clip below has a Standard YouTube License and is not good quality.  It will, however, give you an idea of the clip I am talking about so that you can search for a better quality legal clip.

 

Discussion: Romero
How is Romero able to withstand evil with such strength?

Response Activity:
Project a picture of the armour complete with labels and give everybody a 1 cm or so cube of self hardening clay. Ask: I wonder if there is a piece of God’s armour that you use less than you could? A piece going rusty or a piece that until today you never knew God had given you. With the small cube of clay which you have been given, model that piece of armour and while you model, talk to God about how you can use that piece of armour better.

Resources which suit all three readings above:
Listening song: Breathe Your Name
By Sixpence None the Richer on their album, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer (pictured at left) or on their album Divine Discontent or on the album WOW 2004.

Music video clip: My Will
By dc Talk on their The Supernatural Experience video.(pictured at right). This track is one of their best. It talks about depending on God’s strength to do the things he has called us to do and it acknowledges that our own discipline, knowledge and will may fail us from time to time but that God never will. An anonymous reader of this blog offered the following information: the audio track for DC Talk's "My Will" can be found on the Exodus(1997, Rocketown Records). Various artists include Michael W. Smith, the Katinas, Jars of Clay, and Chris Rice.

Response Activity:
As people arrive, ask them to write their name on a small square of paper - even better, make business cards with a photo or clip art of praying hands (see above) leaving enough space for people to write their name on the card. Collect all the cards. During the last hymn or song, ask some helpers (kids like to do this) to distribute the cards, making sure that no person receives a card with their own name on it and making sure that everybody receives a card. Encourage people to take home the card and pray for the person who is named on their card over the next week/month/year.

Also:
Service Starters: Solomon
Based on the Psalm and the 1 Kings reading these are found in The All-Age Service Annual Volume 4, published by Scripture Union, 2010, ISBN 9781844275199, page 49.

May be a little more coming as I work on my service for this week.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Proper 15 Ordinary 20 B (August 16): Wisdom


















Bible readings:1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Psalm 111, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58

About the Images:
Upper Left: A Corel Free clipart to which I added the text.
Upper Right: My reading glasses, my dictionary, my photo - feel free to use them all for worship and related activities. 
Lower Left and Lower Right:  The two images made me think of being drawn into wisdom and the deeper things in life by our relationship with God. The left image is of the Old Ghan Railway crossing the Arkaringa Creek on the Oodnadatta Track - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oodnadatta_Track .  The right image is part of the walkway in the Cradle Mountain National Park - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_Mountain

Listening Song: Deep Calling Deep
By Margaret Becker on her album, Grace (pictured at left) or on WOW 1996. This goes well with the Ephesians and the Kings reading.

Kid's Activity: Based on Ephesians 5:18b
Take a large clear glass of lemonade and drop some sultanas in it. Together watch the sultanas (golden raisins) repeatedly sink and then rise again. Discuss how the Holy Spirit is all around us,(like the lemonade around the sultanas) but we are not always aware of the Spirit’s presence. God's Spirit can lift us again and again giving us strength, courage, hope, faith etc – whatever we need to be Christians in this world.

Film Clip: Stigmata
Use the scene in the film Stigmata (pictured at right) where Frankie bumps into the priest in the market place. As they have a coffee together the priest tells Frankie that he was an organic chemist before he was a priest. She asks him why he became a priest and he tells her that he discovered "too many holes" and that science could not explain everything. He continues on to explain that the explanation he needed could only be found in God.

Discussion questions to get people thinking after the OT reading:
What is wisdom?
Can we be as wise as Solomon?
How does wisdom work in the 21st century?

Story: Choosing Wisdom
This story can be found in Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen's book, Absolute Zero Gravity, Simon & Schuster or at

Story: The Holy Spirit
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal (Eds.), Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 307 (pictured at left).
This story goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Story: Stopping at the Lights
Found in
1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 1989, ISBN 0801063302, story no. 428 (pictured at right). Goes well with the Ephesians reading. 

Response Activity:
Ask people to get in to groups and together write an acrostic prayer using the word "wisdom". It would be useful to have A3 or A4 sheets already brightly printed with the word. At the end of the activity display all the prayers and allow people some quiet reflective time to walk around and pray/read all the prayers.


Maybe a tad more to come......

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Proper 14 Ordinary 19 B (August 9): Love is the guide





















Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33, Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6: 35, 41-51

About the images:
Above Left: This is my photo so feel free to use it for worship and related activities. The sunset is taken from the foreshore of Lake Victoria at Paynesville. For more info on the Gippsland Lakes and Paynesville please visit http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland/Destinations/Paynesville
Above Right: This is a free Corel image onto which I put the Biblical text. 
Lower Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with words from the song "Where I Wanna Be" (see below).
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Heartlight site (see my link column at left)

Listening Song: Where I Wanna Be
By V'Enna on their album, Where I Wanna Be (pictured at left) or on WOW 2001 as a bonus track, This song makes a great call to worship.

Listening Song: Thankful
By Caedmon's Call on their album 40 Acres, 1997, (pictured at right) or on WOW 2000. This is a prayer of thanks but it also goes with the Ephesians readings for this whole month or so.


Listening song: Psalm 130: More than a Watchman
by Sons of Korah on their Redemption Songs album.  Here is a youtube clip:



Story: Don't Change Channels
You can find this story at https://meetingintheclouds.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/what-a-nightmare/  This story makes a great introduction to the Psalm - the point being that changing frequencies when talking to God is never going to work well. The Psalm also makes a great prayer of confession.

Kids: Weapon or tool?
Based on Ephesians 4:29. Person A comes in and begins to hammer in a nail or saw a piece of wood (or whatever). Do it in such an obvious over-exaggerated way that the kids can see that if Person A continues, they will hurt themselves; eg by having a finger across where they intend to cut. Person B arrives and points out what is going to go wrong. Person B shows person A how to cut the wood or hammer the nail in a safe manner and points out that in Person A's hands the saw/hammer is a weapon whereas in their hands it is a tool. Then have a discussion with the kids as to how our tongues can be weapons or tools.

Drama: We Are A Family
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing, 1991, ISBN 085910608, page 31 (pictured at left). This drama is linked to Ephesians 5:1 and 2.

Drama: We Could Die of Hunger
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing, 1991, ISBN 085910608, page 33 (pictured at left). This drama is linked to the gospel reading.

Film Clip: Bella
Show the scene from the film (pictured at right) where brothers Mannie and Jose argue in the kitchen after Jose quits working in his brother's restaurant. This goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Discussion: Bella

1. What are Mannie and Jose arguing about?

2. How do the brothers differ in their treatment of other people?

3. Who do you think is right?


Story: Why Mark Twain was turned off Christianity
Church leaders were largely to blame for Mark Twain becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God.

Source Unknown.
Story: You are playing the notes, but not the music
A post graduate student, studying cello under Pablo Casals, was called upon by the Master to play a certain piece previously set. As he played, the other students listened in raptures, for this was Casals prize student. When he concluded the piece every one of the students stood and clapped and cheered, they were thrilled. Casals rose to his feet, and when the maestro stood, silence fell, for they waited with batted breath for his words on the performance of his star student. Looking directly at the young man he said, "young man, you are playing the notes but not the music." 
Source unknown but found all over the net when you google bits of the story.

Response Activity: Patchwork
Found in Multi-Sensory Prayer by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2000, ISBN 1859994652, page 36 (pictured at left). This goes well with any of the readings as a prayer, but is particularly relevant to the Ephesians reading.

Response Activity:
1. Give everybody a small blank card.
2. Ask them to write on one side the name of somebody they have known or know who lived/s by love rather than just by good rules.
3. Ask them to share a story (without necessarily identifying the person) about that person.
4. Ask them to write prayerfully on the other side of the card what they intend to do this week to live in God's love and not just by God's rules.

Poem and prayer: come and see.
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 108 (pictured at right).These are based on the gospel reading. I am going to give everyone a copy of the poem as a conclusion to my sermon.







Proper 13 Ordinary 18 B (August 2): Come Together




















Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 11; 26-12:13a, Psalm 51:1-12, Ephesians 4:1-16, John 6:24-35

About the images:
Upper Left: Free clipart from www.heartlight.com - an excellent site for scripture slides which you can access via my link column at left.
Upper Right: This is my image so feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left:  This is a Microsoft free clip art with my text.
Lower Right:  A Norfolk island road.  This is my image so feel free to use it for worship and related activities.

Listening Song: Come Together
By Third Day on their album, Come Together (pictured at right). This goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Choral Reading: Create in Us A Clean Heart
By Martha Keys Barker and found in Building Worship Together by Martha Keys Barker and the Fisherfolk, Celebration Services, 1981, ISBN 0906309212, page 87 (pictured iat left). This relates well with Psalm 51.


Kids: The Man Who Loved Boxes
By Stephen Michael King, Scholastic, 2005, ISBN 1865048372 (pictured at right). A man, who most people think is useless, finds a unique way to express his love to his son. This relates well with the Ephesians reading.

Pass the Peace:
Change the words for this morning to - Peace be with you: You are an important part of this church.

Film Clip: Ratatouille
This film  has heaps of good scenes which suit this topic - it is all about teamwork and co-operation and each person discovering what he can do. The scene I will use is the one where Remy (the rat) is talking to the imaginary chef and very proudly identifying all the different roles and jobs of those who work in a kitchen. When the chef asks him what the boy washing the floor does, and what his role is, Remy brushes him off and says the boy does nothing important and is basically useless.



Discussion: Ratatouille
1. Why does Remy think the boy is a nobody?
2. What role do you think the boy has in the kitchen?
3. Is everyone a somebody?
 
Helpful Illustration/Sermon Idea: Life Aboard the Fellow-ship
Chapter 16 in In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado, Word, 1996, ISBN 0849913241, page 159ff (pictured at right). The comments/questions on Ephesians at the end of the book are also helpful.

Teens: Let Your Bodies Talk
Found in 40 devotions That Work With Youth by Geraldine Anderson (Ed.), JBCE, 1983, ISBN 0858194147, page 42 (pictured at left). This is based on the Ephesians reading and would also work well for a kids talk as long as the kids were older primary school children.

Story: Unity
Found in:
1. Your Point Being by Graham Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story 286 (pictured in an earlier blog), or
2. More Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 91 (pictured in an earlier blog) who attributes this story to William Barclay.
This story pops up in so many places it could possibly be an urban myth or something.... but then, when you think about it, does a story have to be fact to portray a truth?

Story: Stewardship
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal (Eds.), Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 686. This story goes well with the Ephesians reading - if you want more information about this story, visit http://www.stradivarisociety.com

Prayer/Meditation: Growing in Christ
By Tellhard de Chardin and found in Imaging the Word, Volume 3 by Susan A Blain(Ed.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829810862, page 269  I put images with these words on ppt and backed the images with I Hate Kareoke from the soundtrack of the film, Japanese Story.
 
Response Activity: Jigsaw
There are at least four ways you can do this:
1.This will depend on the size of your congregation, however, if possible give each person a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and then make the puzzle together - you may need a large enough table and jigsaw so that everybody can gather around it - encourage people to see that without all the pieces the jigsaw would be incomplete.
2. Give people a piece of jigsaw as they arrive. Tell them to put it in a prominent place at home to remind them that they are a vital part of the whole church picture. If we were to make the jigsaw and their piece was missing or deliberately witheld, then the picture would not be complete.
3. Make a mosaic (just google "mosaic" if you want a free program which makes such mosaics) of your church with photos of the congregation.
4. Make a homemade jigsaw using a large photo of the congregation.

Proper 12 Ordinary 17 B (July 26): When Things Get out of Hand/ We All Have Gifts/The Church




































Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1-15, Psalm 14, John 6:1-21, Ephesians 3:14-21

About the Images:

Upper Left: When Things Get out of Hand: Although we checked this river for depth we missed a hole and got out of our depth - in a car without a snorkle! - needless to say it has one now :-) This photo was taken near the eastern edge of the Baw Baw National Park near the Aberfeldy River. For more info on this area, please visit http://www.australianalps.environment.gov.au/parks/baw-baw.html
Upper Right: We All Have Gifts: Church members using their gifts - a toilet is installed/replaced at Seldom Seen in the bushfire ravaged Victorian High country. The work party came from Lara, eight hours drive from Seldom Seen. Both these photos are mine so please feel free to use them for worship or related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left
Lower Right:This is a wordle I created on Jesus' words in the gospel reading.  Please feel free to use for worship or related activities.

For the Samuel Reading: When things Get Out of Hand

Listening Song: In the Light
By dc Talk on their album, Jesus Freak (pictured at right)

Kids story: When things got out of hand
Tell a story from your own childhood when you tried to cover up what went wrong and things got worse! We all have these stories and kids just love to hear adults tell honest stories about their own childhood. Ask the kids what went wrong and what you could have done to improve your situation. Then link your story to David and the way he tried to cover up what he had done and how each time he tried to cover up, there was more to explain away and cover up.

Film Clip: The Library
Found on The Amazing Adventures of Mr Bean Volume 1, Tiger Television 1990.
 

 
Discussion questions: For Mr Bean and David
What went wrong?
What could he have done instead?
How does he let things get out of hand?
How can we avoid the same mistakes?
What do we know that gives us hope?

Drama: No Big Deal
NB I wrote this about ten years ago to fit with the above clip. I notice now that there are lots of "Australianisms"; so, if you come from somewhere other than Australia, please feel free to adapt the script accordingly.
B: Well, g'day, this is Radio Triple B’s Talk-back Help Line and our first caller this morning is….
D: King David.
B: Good morning …. umm, you’ll have to speak up a little. I didn’t quite catch your name. David King was it?
D: Yeah, that’ll do.
B: Well, what’s your topic for discussion this morning?
D: I think I’m in a bit of a mess and I can’t work out just how it happened.
B: Perhaps you’d like to tell us about it.
D: Well, it all started when the army went off without me.
B: Without you? Isn’t that slightly irregular?
D: Well, I just thought I’d hang around home for a few more days. It was no big deal really. They’re very capable, you know. Joab is a fine leader. They can get on without me. Anyway, late one arvo after I’d had a nap, I went out onto the balcony to get a little fresh air…… and that’s when I saw her.
B: Saw who?
D: Bathsheba (though I didn’t know her name then). She was having a bath and she was so beautiful that I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
B: You didn’t think that your peeping Tom behaviour was rather inappropriate?
D: Aw, it was no big deal. I was just having a bit of a look – who was it hurting? Anyway, I sent one of my servants over to find out who she was.
B: Why?
D: I just wanted to find out who she was! It was no big deal. Anyway the servant came back and not only told me who she was but also told me that she was married to one of my soldiers, Uriah Hittite. So, I got my servant to nick back and invite her over.
B: You invited her over when you knew she was married?
D: Yeah, I just wanted to see her close up. It was no big deal. …… She was so beautiful ….. Anyway, one thing led to another and we ….
B: Yes, yes, we can all imagine what happened next.
D: Actually, (sounds puzzled) this is where things seem to start going really haywire because after a few months she arrives on my doorstep to announce that she's pregnant! I couldn’t believe my bad luck! Then I had this brilliant idea. I’d just call her husband, Uriah, back from the war front and nobody would be any the wiser.
B: And Uriah would think the baby was his?
D: Yeah, I just wanted to keep everything nice. It was no big deal. Trouble was that Uriah is so blinking honest – he didn’t want to sleep with her while all his mates were back at the front fighting and risking their lives so he slept down at the barracks. Would you believe it!!!!? Bit odd if you ask me.
B: So…..?
D: So I came up with another even more brilliant idea. I’d invite Uriah over for drinks and dinner and get him so drunk he’d forget all about his mates and be off home like a shot.
B: Wasn’t that rather dishonest?
D: Not really. Think about it! I wasn’t going to do the drinking. I was just being a wonderful host – it’s not my fault if my guests over indulge. It’s no big deal. Anyway (sigh) it didn’t work. He got drunk alright but he still went and slept at the barracks.
B: Hmm. So this is your “bit of a mess” is it?
D: Well, actually that’s not the end of the story. Seeing that all my well-intentioned plans had failed, I decided that the only thing left to do was to actually get rid of Uriah once and for all. So, I arranged for him to take a letter back to Joab instructing Joab to put him where the fighting was thickest. I knew Uriah wouldn’t read it because, as I said, he’s just so blinking honest! I was so tired of it all. I just wanted to be finished with the whole silly business. It was no big deal really. Uriah had been putting his life on the line at the war front for years. We all knew that his luck would run out one day. I just made it sooner rather than later. It’s no big deal.
B: You keep saying that.
D: What?
B: It’s no big deal.
D: Well, it’s not. Uriah has died a hero. I’ve married Bathsheba and we’re very happy …….. (trails off)
B: So why did you ring?
D: Because, because ….. (sort of breaking down) it’s all such a terrible mess. To tell the truth, it’s a nightmare!!
C. Ann Scull

For the John Reading: We all Have Gifts

Listening Song: Day by Day
By dc Talk on their album Jesus Freak (pictured above)

Kid's Story: Little big gifts
Retell the gospel story and ask the kids whether they thought the little boy offered his lunch to Andrew or whether Andrew saw him with it. Discuss how difficult or easy they find it is to offer help to adults. Attach a gift rosette to each child in church to encourage them to see themselves as special gifts to everybody - give them extra rosettes to hand out to those adults they sit near so that they see that we are all gifts to each other.

Interesting Quote:
“It is hard to b be brave” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal”.
Rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said:
“It is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us”
A.A.Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, Methuen, 1928, page 84 (pictured at right)

For the Ephesians reading: The Church

Kid's Time: Awesome God
In Fun Group Devotions for Children’s Ministry, Group Publishing,1993, page 14 (pictured at left)
 

Film Clip: We Were Soldiers (2002)
You need a DVD for this because the scene, entitled "The Church" is in the Special Features: Deleted Scenes chapter. It is a compelling scene and links in very well with the reading


 

Drama: Who Do Say That I Am
Found in Let's Make Another Scene 3 by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 31 (pictured at right).

Story: The Smallest Power Bill
The story web site where I originally got this story from has disappeared and I can no longer source it. If somebody knows where it comes from could they please let me know.
'The story is told of a Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble to have electrical power installed in her home. They noticed she didn't use very much electricity at all. In fact, her usage was minuscule. They sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, "We've looked at the amount. Don't you use electricity?" "Oh yes" she said. "We turn it on every night to see how to light our lamps and then we switch it off again."'

Story: Power
Found in Your Point Being by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, Story 196 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Story: Valentine's Day
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, page 145 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Story: Jesus is in My Heart
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, page 77 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Meditation/Response Activity:
Either ask people to shut their eyes or give each person a piece of self hardening clay and while they work at making a symbol of what their congregation means to them, ask them to think about the following:
Think of a person that you love very much.
Thank God for this person.
Remind yourself that God loves you far more than you love that person.
Thank God for loving you.
Now think of a person, maybe in this congregation, who you find very annoying - maybe to the point where you do not even like them.
Remind yourself that God loves them as much as God loves you.
Pray for this person.