Saturday, November 18, 2017

Advent 1 A (December 3): Waiting/Hoping/Anticipation

Bible Readings: Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with text.
Upper Right:This is my photo of Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia (for more info visit:,Melbourne). Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower left: This free clipart with my text comes from - a useful site which seems to have been in recess for some time.
Lower Right: I am very careful to save copyright info for everything on my blog but I have slipped up badly on this one.  I am pretty sure it comes from the same site as the lower left image but I cannot access the site at the moment.  I have just spent a considerable time coasting around all my free image sites and  cannot find it anywhere else.  If somebody can verify where this image comes from I would very much appreciate it.

Candle Lighting Liturgy
Found in Ideas For Worship, July to December 1996, JBCE (pictured at left).

Kids' Talk
One enjoyable thing to do for the four Sundays of Advent is to turn the whole Christmas story into a serial telling a small part of the story each week - or act it out (see below). Start this week with the story of Mary and the Angel.

Drama: Mary and the Angel
From Cloth From the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 42ff (pictured at right)

Discussion: On the Isaiah reading
1. What was Isaiah hoping and waiting for?
2. What are you hoping and waiting for: for yourself? for your church? for the community in which you live? for the world?

Story: God's Answer
There is a story told about a faithful old deacon whose oft repeated prayer expression was, "O Lord, touch the unsaved with Thy finger." One prayer meeting night he was leading in prayer when as he intoned this petition, as he so often did, he abruptly stopped praying. Supposing he had been taken suddenly ill, someone went to him and asked if there was anything wrong, if he were ill. "No," he replied, "I’m not ill. But something seemed to say to me, ’Thou art the finger’."
I cannot find a specific copyright for this story (please let me know if you know) but if you google the first line it pops up all over the place on the net and can be found in the now out of print Bible Illustrator under the above title.

Meditation: Waiting
From Cloth From the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 20ff (pictured above)

Adult Response:
Give everyone a marking pen (or access to one) and a 2" (5cm) wide strip of green cloth,. Ask them to write on the strip one of the things that they hope for. These can be displayed in any number of ways. If you do a similar activity each week of advent (connecting the writing and the colour with the theme of each week), you will have the resources to finish in Advent 4 with the symbolic action Cloth for the Cradle found in Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 74ff (pictured above).

Adult Response: Wilderness and Return
From Bring
ing the Word to Life Together Year B by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2011, ISBN 9781921945038, page 13ff (pictured at left).

Blessing: One Day at a Time
From Advent, Christmas and Epiphany by Brian Wren, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, ISBN 978066423309, page 56 (pictured at right).

Christ the King A (November 26): How Shall We Live?

Bible Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, Psalm 100, Ephesians 1:15-23, Matthew 25:31-46 

About the Images:

Upper Left: This is my photo taken near Chambers Pillar in Central Australia (for more info on this area please visit with Nathan Nettleton's translation of Psalm 100:4a.
Upper Right: This is my photo of the walkway beside the railway line at Sawtell in New South Wales, Australia (for more info on this area please visit
You may use either of these images for worship and related activities.

Lower Left and Right : These are free Heartlight images - see my link column at left.

Listening Song: Above All
By Michael W. Smith on his album, The Second Decade, or on WOW 2003 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Kid's Story: Popa Panov
By Leo Tostoy - a classic and found in innumerable publications.

Story: Kindness
Based on the Matthew reading; Story No. 355 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers edited by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right).

The legend is told of a desert wanderer who found a crystal spring of unsurpassed freshness. The water was so pure he decided to bring some to his king. Barely satisfying his own thirst, he filled a leather bottle with the clear liquid and carried it many days beneath the desert sun before he reached the palace. When he finally laid his offering at the feet of his sovereign, the water had become stale and rank due to the old container in which it had been stored. But the king would not let his faithful subject even imagine that it was unfit for use. He tasted it with expressions of gratitude and delight, and sent away the loyal heart filled with gladness. After he had gone, others sampled it and expressed their surprise that the king had even pretended to enjoy it. "Ah!" said he, "it was not the water I tasted, but the love that prompted the offering." Many times our service is marked by multiple imperfections, but the Master looks at our motives and says "It is good."
This story is found at
pyright 2000 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others. 

Meditation/Prayer: As You Did to the Least of These, My Brethren
by Robert W Castle in Imaging the Word Volume 3 by Susan A Blain, Sharon Iverson Gouwens, Catherine O'Callagan and Grant Spradling, (Eds.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829801862, page 66ff (pictured at left). I put images with these words and backed the powerpoint with Pie Jesu by Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston on Andrew Llyod Webber's album, Gold (pictured at right )

Mediation: How Was I To Know?                               Based on the Matthew reading and found in Ideas for Worship, July - December 1996, JBCE, page 44 (pictured at left).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Proper 28 Ordinary 33 A (November 19): Risk

Bible readings: Judges 4:1-7. Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a free microsoft clipart image onto which I placed text.
UpperRight: This is my photo taken in the Simpson Desert in Central Australia (for more info on this area visit with a bit of a line from the meditation below. Please feel free to us this image for worship or related activities.
Lower Left:
This is an istock image with words from the dc Talk song below.
Lower Right: Another free image from the excellent Heartlight site - see my link column at left

Call to Worship:
Talk about taking risks. Then ask for people who have never taken an up front part in a service before to volunteer to do some of the things in your service on the spot eg take up the collection, do the Bible readings, pray, take part in a drama, whatever. Make sure they have plenty of instructions and help eg print the bible readings out in large print, have a prayer that can be read, print out the dramas with each actors parts clearly highlighted. Emphasise to the rest of the congregation that these people are taking a bigger risk than usual and that understanding is needed and that they are not "performing" but worshipping. You may have to word up the people on the roster that you will not need them this week.

Listening Song: Fearless
By dc Talk on their album, Supernatural (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Dead Poets Society
 Show the clip below where Robin Williams character encourages his students to seize the day.

Film Clip: Lord of the Rings 1
Show the clip below where Frodo and Sam have not long started out on their quest. Sam stops and Frodo walks on. When Frodo asks Sam what he is doing, Sam replies that he is standing at the farthest point from home that he has ever stood without turning round and going back home. and that his next step will take him into the unknown. Frodo has to encourage Sam to keep going.

Discussion: Lord of the Rings 1
1. Why do you think people are afraid to take risks?
2. How can we be like Frodo encouraging Sam, and encourage each other to go further in our walk with God?

Drama: The Ringmaster's Gift
Found in
Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 48 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: The Talents
Found in Let's Make a Scene by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, page 49ff (pictured at left).  This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Drama : Using our Gifts
Narrator and three people to mime plus others.
Narrator: God has given us certain gifts - things we are good at, or things that we have the potential to be good at, if only we step out and be a bit courageous with Him.
Ist person (with others):
Narrator: (points to Bill or whoever) It's like this guy here is good at cooking. (Bill pretends to cook a meal). His mother was a great cook and he is too. He could even make the pizza for tonight except that we have already ordered it. He has continued to use this gift of preparing and cooking food, and he now helps with the Secondary College breakfasts and is always helping with the catering at the church.
2nd person mimes with others:
Narrator: This guy here (name) is really good at helping others - especially listening to people if they have a problem. He is also part of the prayer team. He doesn't always have the answers, but people feel better for talking to him.

3rd person (by himself)
This person here is great at selling things in a nice way without being pushy. He would be the ideal person to work in retail or to help out in our Op shop. But somehow over time, he didn’t use this special gift God had given him. He couldn’t be bothered making any effort to use his talent. But it’s not too late…..

Narrator sums up
(all stop and listen) You see God gives us time, gifts and other resources according to our abilities, and he expects us to use them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have but how well we use what we have.
Author:Prue Taylor

Story: The Survey
A survey was taken recently of people who are over 95. The people were asked one question. It was an open ended question they could answer any way they wished. The question was: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? Among all the different answers, these three answers came back most frequently:
1. If I could live my life over again, I would reflect more.
2. I would risk more.
3. I would do more things that would live on after I'm dead.
Found at

Group Discussion: The Survey
What are some of the things which stop us doing what the surveyed elderly think are important?
What are some of our excuses?
What do we need to know or do so that we do grab the opportunities that God gives us?
What can we do for each other?

Poem: Risk
As far as I know the author is unknown although more than one poerson on the net claims to be. Find the poem at

Meditation/Poem: Our Deepest Fear
Found in Imaging the Word Volume 3 by Susan A Blain, Sharon Iverson Gouwens, Catherine O'Callagan and Grant Spradling, (Eds.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829801862, page 72 (pictured at left). I put images with these words and backed them with the following music: End Titles from the Sound Track of Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude (pictured at right).

Adult Response
Before the service I laid out large numbers of cards depicting different gifts and abilities which people may have. I made them slightly bigger than a business card and used clip art picture - the possibilities and variety are therefore endless. I made four per person (making a rough guess as to how many people would turn up) and then asked people as they arrived to take three which best described their gifts. I asked people to consider the cards they had chosen during my sermon on the parable of the talents and then at the end I asked people to get in to groups of four or five and share why they had chosen the cards that they had. Then they discussed the following:
Which talents in your group would be useful for
* developing a welcoming church community
* being involved in leading the worship service
* sharing God's Good News in the wider community.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Proper 27 Ordianry 32 A (November 12): Choose/Be Prepared

Bible Readings: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25, Psalm 78:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13.

About the Images:

Upper Left: This is a free microsoft clipart image with my text.
Upper Right: This is my photo taken in a Byzantine cave church in Avdat, Israel. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free clipart image from the wonderful Hermano Leon site - see my links column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the brilliant Heartlight site - see  my link column at left

Listening Song: Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
By Jim Fisher and the White Pointers on the compilation album, Tim Winton: Dirt Music: Music For a Novel, 2001 (pictured at left). This song is based on the Matthew reading.

Listening Song: Got To Serve Somebody
By Bob Dylan and found on various CD's and on line. This goes very well with the Joshua reading and with the gospel reading.

Discussion: Based on the Psalm
What is one thing about God you think the kids (in Sunday School, Youth Group, your family, whatever is appropriate in your congregation) should know above all else. It might be a Bible verse, a Bible story, a personal story, a verse from a song, a prayer or ......... When people have had a bit of time to talk it through, ask them to individually write down what they each think is the most important thing that they want the kids to know about God. I collected all of these, printed them on to A4's folded as A5 cards and gave them to the kids in our kid's club the following week. It was like a gift from the adults to the children and everybody enjoyed the experience.

Discussion: On Joshua reading
1. What sort of things in our past can hinder our relationship with God?
2. What sort of things in our culture hinder our relationship with God?
NB: I divided the congregation into age groups for this discussion becau
se the answers differ between generations more so than usual.

Drama: What should I Do?
Found in Let's Make Another Scene by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 26 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the Joshua reading.

Story: Testimony
Index 4173 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. This story makes a good introduction to the psalm.

Quote: Tho
mas Bandy and Bill Easum from their book Growing Spiritual Redwoods.
(Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1997, ISBN-10: 0687336007; pictured at left)
"It is a pre Christian world.
It is a world similar to the first century after Jesus.
It is a world of technalogical change and population migration;
a world of systemic injustice and apocalyptic longing;
it is a world of excessive materialism and spiritual yearning;
it is a world of deep anxiety and utter cynicism towards the religious institutions of the past."
Ask people to suggest examples for each of these and then link these examples of modern society with the Matthew reading concentrating on the "be prepared" aspects of the parable more than the "keep watch" aspects.

Poem: The Zode
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 75 (pictured at right).   This is a Dr Seuss poem which fits with the choice issue in the Joshua reading.

Poems, Prayers and Images: Choose This Day.
All the resources (which include the words to the Dylan song above) set down for the Joshua reading in Imaging the Word Volume 3 by Susan A Blain, Sharon Iverson Gouwens, Catherine O'Callagan and Grant Spradling, (Eds.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829801862, page 66ff (pictured at left) are absolutely brilliant!!!!

Adult Response:
When the people decided to choose God, Joshua put a stone in the meeting place to be a witness to the people's intentions. Ask the congregation to write down on a piece of paper one of the things that hinders their relationship with God. Collect them all in a dish or a basket and bury them under a big stone (literally or figuratively).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Proper 26 Ordinary 31 A (November 5th): Mainly about saints

Bible readings: Joshua 3:7-17, Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, Matthew 23:1-12

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is my image of Eringa Waterhole ( north of the Oodnadatta Track ( near Hamilton Station (or ranch or farm or homestead or whatever you call them in your part of the world) ( This really is a pool in the desert. Please feel free to use the image for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is a free Corel clipart with my text.
Lower Left:  This is a free image from Hermano Leon- see my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.

Listening Song: Go Light Your World
By Kathy Trocolli on her album, Greatest Hits, or on WOW 1996 (pictured at left)

Kids Story: Gertrude McFuzz
Found in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr Seuss, Collins, 1950, ISBN 0001717588 (pictured at left). This fits well with the Matthew reading because it talks about how we often act to impress.

Quiz: Who Am I?
Play this with the congregation as per usual - one line at a time until somebody gets it.
I was born on the 16th January 1902 in Tientsin, China.
My parents were missionaries for the London Missionary Society.
My baptismal names were reversed on the way to my baptism when my parents realised my initials would spell a rude word.
My grandfather was a grocer who often got into trouble for sing Moody and Sankey hymns which were considered far too modern and evangelical.
I enrolled at the School for the Sons of Missionaries in London when I was six years old,
My lasting school comment was " I don't think much of lessons, but I can run".
I started a Science degree at Edinburgh University in 1920.
I committed my life to Jesus when I was at university.
I played international Rugby for Scotland but I retired early.
In 1921 I lost the only race I ever lost in Scotland.
I was known as the only athlete to speak to a black athlete at one track meeting.
I always shook hands with all those I was running against.
I would often dig the starting holes for my opponents.
I would give less experienced runners the inside lanes.
I was once pushed over and off the track - but got up, gained the twenty yards I had lost, and still won.
I was selected for the 1924 British Olympic team to race in the 100 meters.
When I discovered that the heats were on Sunday I refused to compete.
I ran the 400 meters which I had not trained for - and won!
I am Eric Liddell (Chariots or Fire)

Film Clip: Chariots of Fire
(pictured at left) There are heaps of clips which fit this theme. Two which come to mind are the one of him telling the Prince he will not run on Sunday and the one of him winning the race at the Paris Olympics.

Story: What is a Saint
Find this story at

Story: What was Eric Liddell's Secret
Find the answer at

Story: Hudson Taylor

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Saviour. Whether we realise it or not, our example leaves an impression on others. Source unknown. Also found at

Story: Saints Depend on God
A young theology college graduate came up to the pulpit, very self confident and smug. He was immaculately dressed. He knew he had what it took. He began to deliver his first sermon to his first church but when he started to speak, the words simply wouldn’t come out. Humiliated, he burst into tears and ended up leaving the pulpit, obviously humbled. There were two old ladies sitting in the front row and one remarked to the oth
er, "If he'd come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in." Source unknown (but let me know if you know).

Discussion: Matthew 23:1-12
1. In verses 1-7 what are the things which prevent God's light from shining through us.
2. In verses 8-12, what are the things that allow God's light to shine through us?
3. Think of a saint you have known or still know. Describe that saint to the person next to you and explain the influence they have had on you.

Book: Hope is an Open Heart
By Lauren Thompson, Scholastic Press, 2008, ISBN 1397817416922
28. This beautiful book fits anywhere in this service - call to worship, children's talk, sermon, or response (pictured at left).

Response Activity:
Light a candle in memory of:
1. A saint you have known who has died, or
2. In thankfulness for a saint who still has the light of God shining through them, or
3. As a symbolic statement of your own intent to live as a saint.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Proper 25 Ordinary 30 (October 29): Being at Home with God

Bible readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, Matthew 22:34-46

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a microsoft free clipart background with the Biblical text.
Upper Right: This is my image taken from the summit of Mt Nebo (biblical Moab, present day Jordan) with the Biblical text. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower left and right: These are free cliparts from Heartlight (see my links column at left).

Listening Song: Gather At The River
By Point of Grace on their album, The Whole Truth (pictured at left) or on the WOW 2001 album. This song is about loving
one another.

Film Clip: Liar Liar
This clip can be found at the excellent Wingclips site - see my links column at left or go to the following address:
Grown Ups Lie - Movie Clip from Liar Liar at

Discussion: Liar Liar
1. Do you agree that adults have to lie sometimes to be kind?
2. How transparent should we be to those around us?
3. Where does God fit into this discussion?

Drama: We are a Family
Found in Let's Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 31 (pictured at left). A drama about not being at home with God.

Story: Sharing the Gospel
Found at the following address:
Type the name of the author, Cecil Northcott, in to find the story.

Poem: The Real Problem
By Ad
rian Plass in Clearing Away the Rubbish, Minstral, 1988, ISBN 1854240250, page 142 (pictured at right). A poem about not being at home with each other.

Quote: Robert Frost
"Home is where
when you go there they have to take you in." Found in Death of a Hired Man.

Prayer for Others: Based on the Gospel reading
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2010, ISBN 9780949656911, page 152 (pictured at left). This is a beautiful "hands on" prayer.

Sermon: DIY
Have three stations for people to visit in any order - each with input and response activities as follows
Station 1:
Have the poem, The Real Problem (above), printed on the other side of the adult response frames (below). Ask people to read the poem first and then respond with the frames in the same way as I have described in the Response Activity below. Provide pens or pencils so that they can do this.
Station 2:
Have a poster of the story, Sharing the Gospel (above), pinned up and in large print - it is a small story so it will be easy to do this. Ask people to read the story and then respond as per the prayer for others (above).

Station 3:
Have pens or pencils and a pile of A5 sheets of paper with 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8 on the B side with the question
"How does your list compare with Paul's?" beneath the reading. On the A side, which they will look at first, have the following:
1. Write a list, in order of priority, of those you wish to please the most.
2. Turn the sheet over and read the other side.

Response Activity:
Give each person a small folded card (three fitted on an A4 for me) with two empty frames printed on the inside. Reassure everybody that this is an activity between themselves and God - that no one will see what they write or draw. Ask people to write or draw their public image in the left hand frame,
and the real person in the right hand frame. Play some nice thinking music while they are doing this. To conclude, either pray a prayer about committing/giving all of ourselves to God and/or challenge people to put their cards in with their offering as an act of commitment.

Kids Talk: The Greatest Commandment
Found in Saving the Ants by Ruth Gilmore, Augsburg, 2001, ISBN 0806640804, page 116 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading.

Prayer of Confession: Based on Psalm 90
By Rachel C. Hackenburg and found in Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship by Marin C and Maria I Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, pages 200 (pictured at left).