Sunday, July 22, 2018

Proper 12 Ordinary 17 B (July 29): 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
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.
Middle Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left
Middle Right: This is a wordle I created on Jesus' words in the gospel reading.  Please feel free to use for worship or related activities.
Lower Left: Another free image from Heartlight - see my link column at left

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 at left)

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 at right)

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 at right).

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Proper 11 Ordinary 16 (July 22): Building Bridges/Rest?

Bible Readings:
2 Samuel 7:1-14, Psalm 89:20-37, Ephesians
2:11-22, Mark 6:30-56

About the Images:
Upper Left: Free Microsoft clipart with my text.
Upper Right: Hampden Bridge: This is my photo and you are welcome to use it for worship and related activities. The bridge was built out of sandstone in the 1890's and is Australia's oldest suspension bridge. It is located in the picturesque Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales. For more info about this area, please visit
Middle Left: This is the free gospel drawing for the week from the Cerrezo Barrado - see my link column at left
Middle Right: This is a corner of the Singapore Orchid gardens. It reminded me of Jesus' words in the gospel reading to come aside and rest a while.  This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left:  This comes from the free Heartlight site - see my link column at left. 

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

Kids: God is Never too Busy
The Gospel reading stands alone as great story to show that God is never too busy. Use a good story teller. It makes all the difference! 

Film Clip: Burst
This is a brilliant short film (total length:7 minutes) about reconciliation, forgiveness and freedom which came second in the Sony Tropfest 2006: The World's Largest Short Film Festival. For copyright details and permission contact

Discussion Questions for Burst
2. Who is the peacemaker, reconciler, forgiver?
2. Who does the God things?

Film Clip: One Cross, One Body
This film clip, based on the Ephesians reading, is available from The Work of the People - see my links column at left.

Drama: The Bridge
This links with the Ephesians reading and is found in Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109186, page 14 (pictured at left).

Discussion Starter:
Share an experience of being excluded.
Share an experience of being included.

Sermon Ideas and Prayers: Ah, Wilderness. 
Linked to the gospel reading, these can be found in The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2009 edited by David N Mosser, Abingdon Press, 2008, ISBN 9780687651955, page 233 ff (pictured at right)

Story: The President and the Little Boy
Links well with the idea of coming to God through Jesus and is found in More Hot Illustrations by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, page 140 (pictured at left).

Poem: Mother Teresa
Found in The Two-Way Clock: Poems by Sydney Carter, Stainer and Bell, 1974, page 127.

Response Activity and/or Prayer of Confession: The
Found in Multi-Sensory Prayer by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2000, ISBN 1859994652, page 51 (pictured at right). This goes well with any of the readings as a confession, but is particularly relevant to the Ephesians reading, in any context.

Ask people to sit comfortably with their eyes shut.
Give them time to relax and then read the following slowly:
Think about God.
Think about the barriers in your life:
maybe a personal relationship which has gone wrong,
maybe it is an injustice you see in the community which alienates some people
maybe it is a division or disagreement within your congregation. Whatever it is, talk to God about it. .....
Ask God what your role is in healing the situation you have talked about.......

Meditation: The Coming of Jesus
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 63 (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Proper 10 Ordinary 15 B (July 15): Listening to God's Voice

Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 6: 1-5, 12b-19, Psalm 24, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6: 14-29

About the images:
Upper Left:
is This is a photo of a replica of the ark of the covenant I took while in the Holy Land. Please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.
Upper Right: This is my image (my husband's ear actually) so feel free to use it or adapt it as you wish for worship and related activities.
Middle Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with my text.
Middle Right: This is my photo of a beach on Norfolk Island.  It reminded me of the line in Psalm 24: You raised the lands above the seas.....
Lower Left: This is a free Heartlight image - see my link column at left

Ideas to Go With the Psalm:

Psalm 24
It is very easy to find great images to go with the words of this psalm (see above)

Ideas to Go With the Mark Reading:

Listening Song: Gravity
By Delirious? on their album Mezzamorphis, Curious? Music UK, 1999 (pictured at right)

Call to Worship/Story: The Lesson
This story makes a great call to worship. It is found in Still More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 170 (pictured at left).

Kids: The Emperor's New Clothes
A great old Hans Christian Anderson story that encourages kids to choose God's truth over what the world may be accepting as the truth. My version is a Magnet Book, Great Britain, 1985, ISBN 041697080X, however this story is available in a multitude of places and books, and no doubt, in some forgotten recess of your own brain. 

Drama: Let There Be Light
People: God said “Let there be light, so light that candle.”
Person 2 (enters wearing fire helmet): Why are you touching that candle!
People: God said to me “Let there be light, so light that candle.”
Person 2:You can’t do that!
Person 1: Why not? We need a symbol of God’s light, and here it is.
People: God said to me “Let there be light, so light that candle.”
Person 2: But there are professionals to do this kind of thing.
You need to get a proper fireman to do that.
People: God said to me “Let there be light, so light that candle.
Person 2: And there could be all kinds of fire restricttions,
insurance considerations and what about all the occupational health and safety regulations. Has the stand for that candle been properly inspected? (both look) If you’re a Christian, you care about people and you won’t want them to get hurt. How can you consider taking risks with other people’s safety!
People: God said to me “Let there be light, so light that candle.”.
Person 3: Hey! what about that match you’re holding. (All
look at match) Do you understand how it works.(Horrified) And you’re not even wearing regulation gloves or safety helmet! We don’t have rules and regulations for nothing! If you’re a Christian you’ll act responsibly. You’ll study the rules. (hands big book) Here, this is Volume 1.
Person 2:No, call a fireman! There’s nothing worse than a christian who thinks he’s superman.
Person 3:No, you don’t need an fireman. But surely you need to understand how a match works and how we got to this point of being a symbolic society. Study the history of candles. People who don’t understand history will just make all the old mistakes again. Nothing worse than Christians who won’t learn.
People: God said to me “Let there be light, so light that candle.”
Person 4: Well that’s all good and fine, but what about the environment. What sort of a Christian are you – just happily using power without a thought for the world’s resources. Nothing worse than Christians who don’t care about justice issues.(Person 1 begins to light candle)
Person 5: (appalled) What are you doing?
Person 1:I’m lighting the candle!
Person 5: But you can’t do that!
Person 1:Why not?
Person 5: Because I was promised that that candle was only for special occasions - and now you’re breaking that promise. How can a Christian break a promise and still live with himself?
Person 1: Look – all I want is the answer to two questions: 
a. How do you tell the difference between what God thinks is right and what we think is right? and 
b. And how many Christians DOES it take to light a candle?
Copyright: Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull.  Please feel free to adapt to fit your church and culture.

Group Discussion:
Divide congregations into groups and give each group a situation on a card eg "I have to take shortcuts to keep my boss happy. They are not illegal shortcuts but they are a bit unethical" or " I've been invited to sit with the cool group at school but they only want me, not my friends" or "My husband reckons I've gone overboard with the church thing. I want to join a study group but he reckons that's just overdoing it - once a week on Sunday is all God wants. Now I can't decide." etc etc.
Ask them to answer the following questions in the light of the particular situation on their card.
1. What are the choices?
2. What are the consequences?
3.What would a disciple do?

Story: Courage
Found in Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching by Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, 1993, page 36 (pictured at right).

Ideas to Go With the Ephesians Reading:

Listening Song: King of Glory
By Third day on their album, Offerings (pictured at left)

Film Clip: The Family That Preys
(pictured at left) There is a really useful scene in this film when Alice and Charlotte are speaking together in the church. Charlotte wonders just how extensive God's forgiveness is and if there are limits to it. She doubts herself and God; and Alice tries to reassure her. 

Discussion: The Family That Preys
1. Is Charlotte fine?
2. Does God forgive us for all our previous sins?
3. How does God reassure us?

CD and Story:
Tell the story of Vedran Smailovic playing his cello in Serajevo after the killing of 22 innocent people while Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor (the piece he played) plays in the background. You can find the whole story at or in the book at left: Echoes From the Square by Elizabeth Wellburn and Deryk Housten, Rubicon Publishing Inc, Oakville, Ontario, 1998, ISBN 0921156995. This book is a work of fiction but was inspired by the actions of Vedran Smailovic, who also contributed to the ideas included in the book.

Story: Disposable Guilt Bags
This story can be found at in the conclusion.
Story: Heaven
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551, story No 297.

Discussion questions
1. When we know we have been marked (or sealed) by the Holy Spirit, how does this shape our understanding of what God wants us to do in the world?
2. In what ways can we live according to God’s vision for the world, despite what we see going on around us?
3.What does it mean for us to live as inheritors of God’s grace?
4. How big is our imagination?
5. Can we imagine that God has a plan for the entire universe?
6. Can we imagine our place in that plan?

Before the service find a nice readable translation or paraphrase of Ephesians (if you are an Aussie, try Nathan Nettleton's paraphrases at - they are brilliant and tap into our culture very well).  Underline all the promises. At this point in the service, ask everybody to shut their eyes, invite them to listen to reassuring and encouraging words from God and then slowly read out your underlined promises.

Meditation: What is of Lasting Value

Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 49. This goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Meditation: The Peacemakers
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 89. This goes well with the Ephesians reading.