Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Good Friday C (April 19)

Bible Readings: Isaiah 52: 13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42

About the images:
Upper Left: This images is one of a set put out by Image Bank (see my links at left); an excellent free site.
Upper Right: This image comes from This site no longer updates (you will see the sad reason why when you visit) however the artist, Don da Silva, has left a legacy of wonderful images and templates via the site archives. 
Middle Left and Right: This is a free Heartlight image - see my links column at left.
Lower Left:This is a Cerezo Barredo free image - see my link column at left.

Bible Readings: John 18 and 19 
This service needs to be a more sombre occasion than usual , not just because Jesus died - we celebrate his resurrection on Sunday when it is all said and done - but because of the immensity and the implications of what God has done for us through and in Jesus.
ory Meditation: Now I Let Go 
Show about a dozen images depicting Jesus' life and ministry, Use Now I Let Go by Moby on his album Songs (pictured at left) as backing music - you may have to play it through twice because the track is quite short. An alternative track could be Barber's Adagio for Strings by William Orbit on Open Space 1.

A Note of Explanation:
I have listed the resources for Good Friday below under story/Scripture/station headings. Please don't use them all or you will be at church all day. One option is to use the symbolic actions as station activities if you don't mint people moving around from station to station. I would provide the readings on printouts and some visual media to go with each station if I was doing it that way. If people are seated I often use a tubular bell and/or a Taize sung response to divide the readings. 

1. John 18:1-14 The Arrest
Symbolic Action

Light a lantern or a candle 

2. John 18:19-23 The Questioning/The Trials
Symbolic Action
Place a crown of thorns on the cross

Poem: My Baby
Found in Clearing Away the Rubbish by Adrian Plass, Minstral, 1989, ISBN 1854240250, page 93 (pictured at right). If you are going to use all or part of this, read it over a few times first because it emotionally difficult to read. (I should have put the same warning on The Ragman story two weeks ago).

3. John 18:15-18, 25-27 The Denial.

Symbolic Action
Give everyone a feather

Poem: A Prayer at Burger King
By John Shea. Can't source this any further - I have a copy somebody gave me.

Story: The Death of Bishop Romero
Found in numerous books and on the web

4. John 18:28-40 Pilate
Story: Gerry Conlan
Found in A Hell of a Life by John Dickson, Matthias Media, 1997, ISBN 1875245626, page 85ff (pictured at left).

5: John 19:1-16 Death Sentence
Symbolic Action:
Throw a purple or black cloth over the cross.
Symbolic Action:
Pass around a bowl of horse shoe nail crosses and ask everyone to take one.
6. John 19:17-27 Crucifixion
Symbolic Action:
Give everyone two pieces of white ribbon, a pencil and two twigs. Ask people to write a prayer on the ribbons and use them to make the twigs into a cross. 

Reflection Idea: Three Crosses

Can't remember where this comes from but it goes like this: Rebellion: the mocking thief Repentance: the other thief Rescue: Jesus 

Story: Freedom

Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 88 (pictured at right).

Story: Back to the Future
By Adrian Plass in Cabbages For The King, Fount, 1993, ISBN 0006276687, page 158 (pictured at left).

7. John 19:28-37 Death
Symbolic Action
Have the communion table set up before hand with a white cloth, bread and wine. Rip (and I mean rip!) the bread in half and knock over or pour out the wine on to the white cloth.

Symbolic Action:
This can be done here or for the burial. Pass around a shallow dish/es of salt water and ask people to trace a cross on their own cheek or on that of the person sitting next to them.

Symbolic Action:
Snuff out the candle

Prayer for Others: When Jesus Died
Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 168 (pictured at right)

Poem: Jesus Dies on the Cross
By Michel Quoist in Prayers, Sheed and Ward, 1985, ISBN 0934134464.

8. John 19:38-42
Symbolic Action:
Hang the stained communion cloth over the black or purple cloth already hanging on the cross. Alternately, rip the white cloth in half.

Prayer: Lord Where Are You Now
Found in Stages on the Way, as above, page 166

Conclusion of the Service:
Play a piece of quiet music and encourage people to sit and think/pray and to leave when they are ready to. You could provide small blank cards for people to write or draw their response to Good Friday - encourage people to take these home with them. Suitable music: Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, Pachabels Canon (pictured at right) - particularly the Cleo Laine/James Galway version because the words fit the mood exceptionally well.


A Chapter of Resources for Good Friday: 
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 165-206 (pictured at left). 

Maundy Thursday C (April 18).

Bible readings: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10) 11-14, Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (same readings for Years A, B and C).

About the Images:
Upper Left: This image comes from Heartlight - a very useful free slide site (see my links in the left column)
Upper Right: This image comes from an equally helpful free slide site: Image Bank (see my links in the left column)
Middle Left: This is another Heartlight image.
Middle Right: As is this
Lower Left: And this

Introductory Activity:
Have a small laminated footwashing picture for each person to hold throughout the service and take home afterwards. Either image above would work well or visit for a couple of great pencil sketches on this theme. Please abide by all copyright rules.

Response Activity:
This works well as a change from foot washing or when there are congregational members who have mobility difficulties. It also takes a while to do so have some meditative music playing in the background.  Pass a peeled onion around and talk about how raw onions leave a nasty reminder behind. As each person takes a turn to hold the onion ask them to think of a disappointment, a hurt or an action that they have suffered or caused.  Then pass a box of scented disposable towelettes around and ask each person to wash the hands of the person on their right. As they do so, ask them to pray for that person asking God to remove the pain or disappointment or hurt in that person's life. I am fairly sure this is my idea but lots of other people have had e a similar idea and there are numerous variations on this theme. 


A Chapter of Resources for Maundy Thursday: 

By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 154-163 (pictured at left). 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Palm Sunday C (April 14): In and Out of Season

Bible Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11, John 12:9-12, 16-19, Luke 19:29-40
About the images:
Upper Left:
This comes from A free site well worth a visit but not always up to date particularly for those of us a day or so ahead of most of the world. Use the site search engine if you find the site is a bit behind.
Upper Right:
This is a photo of mine which I have fiddled with a bit. It makes a useful background. Please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.

Middle Left:  Jesus followers were a mixed bunch!  This image is of Gamla where the Zealots hailed from - a hill top fort-like town overlooking the Sea of Galilee where many of their arms were manufactured. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities. 
Middle Right: This is a palm tree near Seisia on the Cape York Peninsula (for more info on this beautiful bit of Australia, visit,_Queensland) 
Lower Left:This is a free image from Ceredo Barredo - see my link column at left.

Listening Song or Film Clip: Hosanna
From the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar

Listening Song: Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, Birdwing Music, 1994.  This fits really well with the gospel reading (pictured at left).

Kid's Story: Paradise of Saints/Who Am I?
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 54 (pictured at right). This prettu much goes with all the readings but is based to some degree in the Old Testament reading.

Youth: Fashions and Fads
Bring some odd very dated clothes from your youth (I took witches britches and my husband's platform shoes from the late 60's/early 70's). Talk about how things go in and out of fashion. Discuss which celebrities are "in" at the moment. Talk about Jesus' popularity on Palm Sunday compared with later on in the week. Challenge them to follow Jesus whether he is in or out of fashion and not to let him go out of style. Pick an example of a place where people follow Jesus where it is not popular to do so. There is a great picture taken by John Leongard of the Polish people celebrating Easter in 1982 (when public faith gatherings were still banned) in Life Classic Photographs, 1988, ISBN 0821217143, page 70 (pictured at right).

Drama: Palm Sunday Interviews
The complete drama is below however the answers for each character are not written word for word; instead the general idea only is given so that a real interview feeling is realised. Interviewer's questions are in bold print.

Today we are at the scene of a major rally. Something really big is happening here. I haven't seen so many people gathered in the streets for a long, long time. Let's ask a few of the crowd just what this is all about.

Rally Follower:
Excuse me, Sir/Madam/Miss, would you mind telling our viewers what you're doing out here on the street waving around that large palm branch?

Swept along with the branch wavers. Joined in for the thrill of it all.
What's this all about then? Why are all these people here?

Don't really know and don't really care - as long as its lots of fun and I feel involved. Think the bloke on a donkey is supposed to be a king or something.
On a donkey!!!! What happens if he's not? Won't you feel a little silly?

Hadn't really thought about that. I'm not really sure......trails off.
Friend of Lazarus:
Excuse me Sir/Madam/Miss, why are you attending this demo?

I saw Lazarus rise from the dead and I'm really excited about Jesus power. It was a fair dinkum miracle and gives everybody great hope for even bigger and better things to come. At last someone has come that can solve all our problems and fix everything up for us.
But have you heard the rumour that there is a price on his head?

Oh no, that's not possible is it? There can't be. That would change everything if anything happened to him. It's not possible.
Mugwump: [the person who sits on the fence with his mug (face) on one side and his wump on the other]
Excuse me, why are you attending this major gathering?

Just come to have a look.
How do you feel about becoming an integral part of this rally?

No way. We've all been warned. If we take part, there is a strong possibility that the chief priests will take down our names and then there's no telling what will happen.
What do you think of Jesus, the man on the donkey?

No comment. Don't get me involved.
There's a man who people seem to be making rather a fuss of?
Excuse me, Sir, can I have a word with you? Why do you seem to be attracting a bit of the attention away from Jesus?
Tells about his resurrection.
I've heard rumours that there's a price on your head.
Yes, the Pharisees have done that etc etc.
Well, you seem to be the meat in the sandwich, don't you?

Yes, it's very confusing. I'm losing the point of my miracle if I'm only going to die anyway.
Yes , if you follow Jesus then you may pay the ultimate cost. Do you think a man who they say is a King, yet rides on a donkey, is going to be of much use to you?

Ah I see one of the our town's leading Pharisees over there. Tell me, Your Grace......

Today's a great success.....How do you feel about the number of people who h
ave turned up today?
Not particularly pleased. Crowds are pretty fickle and easily swayed.
Do you think you're losing it with the common man... you know, losing control?
No not at all....Jesus and Lazarus are obviously trouble makers whose activities will be nipped in the bud.
Ah, so you have plans to get rid of these two, have you?

No comment except to say that we have ways and means of ending little disturbances like these!
Ah, I see one of Jesus' very good friends - a disciple. Could you please tell me ...... Do you feel that this day has been a real success?

Yes, heaps of people (very enthusiastic)
Well then, what's with the donkey. Hardly a kingly mode of transport is it?

Not sure about the donkey - but knows that Jesus is going to fix the world still .....only not sure how He's going to do it. Maybe the donkey is an ancient sign of a miracle worker.
Well folks, there you have it. These are the facts. There is far more to this rally today than meets the eye. It is a far more complex situation than we first anticipated. Is this Jesus the man we thought he was? He can perform astounding miracles: yet he came in to our city riding on a donkey - a small, unbroken colt, in fact. Has He given people false hopes - a man on a donkey doesn't look too promising. Is it time to restore order with the Pharisees or could you follow this mysterious man? Is Jesus the conquering King who will save the world? Can He solve all our problems? Can He save us from ourselves? What you will all have to decide is - has He really got something to offer? Could you, and would you, follow this man? Thankyou for watching.
c. Ann Scull and Rosemary Broadstock. Permission granted for use in worship.

Discussion: On the above drama.
Explain how we can all be like those who were interviewed at different times in our lives. Number everybody off from one to eight, ask people to get into the eight groups and then give each group one of the characters in the dram to discuss using the following questions:
1. Who is this person today?
2. What role can we play in their faith journey?

Story: Jesus, the Leader
Found in Ruth Daugherty, "Issues of Leadership in the 21st Century.' in Viewpoint, Summer, 1991,2.

Meditation: Three Stone Meditations
Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 92 (pictured at right).  

Prayer: You Called Us Your Disciples
Found in Stages on the Way
by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 59 (pictured at left).  This goes well with the gospel reading.


Prayers and Poems: gloria
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 148 (pictured at right).

Response Activity: Holy Passion
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 59ff (pictured at left).  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 54ff (pictured at right). These ideas are based on all of the readings.

Story Plus Other Stuff: Roxsanne Makes Good
Found in Wally the Dodgy Trolley and other Stories of Faith and Humour by Ian Johnson, Scripture Union Australia, Lidcombe, 2000, ISBN 0949720984, page 37 (pictured at left).

Resources for Palm/Passion Sunday
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 124-135. 

Lent 5 C (April 7): Looking to the Future/What Really Matters/There is a Pool in the Desert


Bible readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-11

About the Images:

Upper Left and Right: I thought these photos went well with the "rivers in a dry land" bit of Isaiah. The top one is Glen Helen Gorge near Alice Springs, Northern Territory and the lower image is the Murchison river near Kalbarri in Western Australia. For more info on Glen Helen Gorge visit and for more info on the Murchison River area visit http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Murchison_River_(Western_Australia) These images are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship or related church activities. 
Middle Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart which I thought when very well with the Psalm reading about dreaming.
Middle Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website - this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at
Lower Left: A free Microsoft image which goes well with the Psalm.

Worship Space: Decor 
Have lots of incense and aromatic oil lamps burning (as long as there is not a vulnerable asthmatic or two in your congregation - it is worth checking first).

Listening Song: Because You Loved Me

By Celine Dion on her album, All The Way: A Decade of Song, EMI (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Flowing Over Me
by Derri Daugherty on his album, Flap Your Wings, Resolve Records, 2000 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Isaiah reading.

Listening Song: Psalm 126: Men who Dream
By Sons of Korah on their album, Redemption Songs.(pictured at left) 

Prayer of Confession.
Found in Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill (Eds.)l, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 107
(pictured at right)

Film Clip: Moulin Rouge
Start approximately one minute in - with the words "Paris 1900". End at approximately at 2:15 minutes as Christian types the words "Moulin Rouge". 

Drama: Get Your Perfumes Here
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 0859109151, page 68 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Discussion: On Get Your Perfumes Here and Moulin Rouge Film Clip.
What really matters to the people in the drama and in the film clip?
What do you think really matters?

Film Clip: The Legend of Bagger Vance  
(pictured at left) This works well with the Isaiah reading if you are talking about looking backwards and forwards, God doing new things and God making a way for us. The scene is found at the end of Chapter 13 or around 1hr 35 minutes in. In the scene Junuh goes to retrieve a golf ball from a wooded area and ends when his caddie, Bagger, promises to be with him always.

Discussion: The Legend of Bagger Vance.
1. What does Junuh have to do to play good golf?
2. Who does Junuh have to trust?
3. Why do people often tend to look backwards instead of forwards when things get tough?

Film Clip: The Merton Prayer
This comes from The Work of the People site -an excellent site with a relatively cheap subscription rate. See my link column at left.

Drama: What Really Matters.
Word up a few people to be interviewed as one of the other characters in the story. To prepare their part just ask them to read the story and any other gospel story which involves their character. During the service walk to where each character is sitting and ask them what they thought about the whole incident. People to be interviewed: Martha, Lazarus, Judas


When has someone's generous act surprised you? 

Discussion: Philippians Reading.
What really matters to Paul?
What things really matter so much to us that they can shift Jesus our of the centre of our attention?
What did Paul give?
What is the most important thing that we can give?

Story: A Diet For Losers. 

Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 21 (pictured at left). This story goes well with the Philippians reading.

Story: Giving

Story No. 238 found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: Ragman.

Found in Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walter Wangerin Jr, Spire, 1984, ISBN 0340592729, page 3. This is a great Easter story and could really be used any time in the next couple of weeks.

Group Activity:
Divide into six working groups - double up or even triple for a large congregation.
Each of the six groups takes on one character or group of characters
out of the gospel story.
1. Martha: serving
2. Lazarus: listening, being a friend
3. Mary: something extravagant and special
4. Judas: more concerned about money than the action
5. People in verse 9: trying to find out more
6. Chief priests: eradicate the problem.
Ask each group to discuss the following questions:
a. What is/are your subjects doing?
b. What do they think of Jesus?
c. How do they show how they feel about Jesus?
d. What really matters to them?
Ask each group to report back - give them a few alternate ways (and the materials to do so) of doing this - a poster, a short speech, a song etc etc.

Response Activity: Goes with Group Activity Above.

Have a gift box full of small sachets of bath salts and give everyone a sachet. As they hold it, smell it, feel it, ask them which group they fit into. Maybe they are already serving God like Martha, maybe they are hanging around Jesus like Lazarus, maybe they have things they want to give like Mary, maybe, like Judas, other things are getting in the way, maybe like the crowd, they are still searching, maybe like the chief priests, they feel uncomfortable in God's presence. Whatever - encourage them to take the salts home and as they relax and use them, encourage them to have a chat with God about their relationship with God.
NB. I put the kids in the Mary discussion group and they made the sachets while they talked- however the sachets are not hard to make beforehand.
3 parts Epsom salts
2 Baking Soda
1 Table salt or borax
Food dye - as you want - the colour makes it look a bit more spiffy.
Scented oil - as you like - according to your nose.
Mix in a large bowl with your hands - you'll smell good for days!
Each person only needs a few tablespoons of bath salts for a bath (and water, of course :-) ).

Response Activity:

Have a gift box lying open at the foot of a cross. Give everyone a pencil and a piece of paper. Give them some thinking time while they consider and pray about their response to Jesus - project some ideas eg., spending more time with him like Mary, doing something for him like Martha, listening to him like Lazarus, rearranging priorities like Paul. Whatever they discover as they listen to God, encourage them to write it down and put it in the gift box.

Response Activity for the Isaiah reading:
Give everyone a small beach or river pebble - the sort that look pretty dull out of water but have lovely colours show up when they are wet (opal tailings are brilliant for this but other pebbles will do). Have a clear bowl of water out the front. Encourage people to hold their pebble and think of things that are desert like or wilderness like in their lives. Ask them to pray about these things and, when they are ready, bring out their pebble and drop it in to the bowl of water. Just as the water transforms the pebbles so God transforms our deserts and wildernesses and does a new thing.

Prayers and Poems: while you are here
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 147.

Response Activity: You have poor people with you always
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 56ff. This works well with all the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 51ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings. 

Opening and Closing Responses for Lent
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 86-88 - two to choose from. 

Poem: I Owed Him One  
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 147 (pictured above). 

Meditation or Bones of a sermon: The Judas and Mary in Us  

By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 149 (pictured above).