Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lent 3 C: The God of Second Chances/The Generosity of God/Keeping in Touch


Bible Readings: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, Luke 13:1-9
Theme: The God of Second Chances, The Generosity of God, Keeping in Touch

Kid's Story: The Second Chance
You need to word up the actors for this beforehand, but make it all look fairly natural in that it looks like part of your normal service. Have the congregation start to sing a kid's song led by your choir or musicians or band or whatever. Have one of the choir or band sing or play so badly that everyone can hear their mistakes and then have that person spit the dummy! (translation for non Aussies: throw a tantrum, get angry at themselves, yell out "Oh, I can't do it" etc etc). You stop the singing and inform the person making the mistakes that you are fed up with their mistakes and that you no longer want them to participate in the music in church. They look crestfallen and a couple of the other musicians speak up for them and beg you to tell the kids a story while they give the mistake maker some help. You say its not really worth their effort and the mistake maker might as well quit now. The other musicians persist and you give in - if they are willing to give the mistake maker a second chance, maybe you can too. You tell the kids the gospel story about the fig tree. Ask the kids how they think the fig tree will go with the extra care. Then ask them how they think the mistake maker will go now that he/she has had some help from the others. Check with the musicians who all assure you that everything will be fine now. Sing the song through all together successfully. Conclude by linking what has just happened with the gospel story.
Drama: Dead Plant
A bit like the one above but less involved and can be used to introduce the reading. Have a nearly dead plant - somebody sees it and says "That's no good, chuck it out". Another person comes along and says that they will feed it, repot it and give it another cha
nce etc etc.
Film Clip: Pay It Forward
Show the start when the man who loses his car is given a brand new car to replace it.
Questions for the Film Clip
Have you ever helped a stranger? What happened?
How can we tell if God is generous?
How can we be generous to each other?
Film Clip: Keep in Touch
Any one of the series of New Zealand Telecom Commercials with the slogan "Keep in touch" is terrific for this topic.
Questions for this Clip:
Why is it important to keep in touch with each other?
Why is it important to keep in touch with God?
How can we do this?
Illustration: The Intimacy of Prayer
Found in Life at Its Best: A Guide Book For The Pilgrim Life by Eugene H Peterson, Zondervan, ISBN 0007111193, page 267
Kid's Story: The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992 (renewed from 1964), ISBN 0060256656 (pictured)

Story: Wrong Way Reigels
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 228 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: Brandon's Mess
As above, page 58
Story: The Whisper Test
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551, story no. 259 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Story: God's Nickel (change nickel for something relevant)
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations
for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 144 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: A Letter to Father Dudko
Found in High Mountains, Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Thomlinson (Eds.), Albatross Books, 1992, ISBN 086760090X, page 213 (pictured)
Story: Gratitude
found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 112 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Found in Stories, Illustrations and Quotes by Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson, 2000, ISBN 0785244794, page 356
Story: Remembering
Found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, Page 107
Quote: Brother Laurence
Those whose spirits are stirred by the breath of the Spirit of God, go forward even in sleep.
Discussion Questions:
Think of a time when somebody has given you a second chance.
"Well, he/she had it coming"...Why do we say this? Is it true?
What is the point of the fig tree story and why does it follow the story of the men who dies and a call to repentance?
What is God's grace?
Listening song; I Am Carried
By Geoff Bullock on his Hands of Grace album, C. 1997 Watershed Productions

Listening Song: You're My God
By Delirious? on their Glo album. (pictured)
Homework?!: St John Chrysostom
St John Chrysostom told people to read psalm 63 everyday. Encourage people to try doing so for a while and report back.
Response Activity: Leaves
Give everyone a paper fig tree shaped leaf. Ask them to think about the following question and write the answer on their leaf.
If you had one more year, what would you need to help you turn your life around? or
What sort of fruit would you like your life to be producing by this time next year? What help will you need to realise this dream.
Either attach the leaves to a real branch or a sketch of fig tree. This activity should give you some idea of what your congregational needs are for the coming year.
Response Activity:
Have about a half a dozen comtemplative practices/spiritual exercises around the church for people to try - base each on the Bible reading you are concentrating on (I am going to use the psalm) and give people plenty of time (maybe a VERY short reflection) and space to
experience the discipline they have chosen. Encourage them to choose only one.