Sunday, March 29, 2009

Palm Sunday B (April 5): After the cheering has stopped..../God is Coming

Bible Readings: Isiaah 50:4-9a, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11,Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16

About the Images:
Above: This photo is mine and taken at Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia. If you want to find out more about Broome visit
Below: This image comes from Hermanoleum Clipart ( and has my text added.

Skit: After the cheering has stopped.....
A group of people to come in waving palm branches and coats etc
. yelling and cheering. As they reach the front of the church one person notices the cross, points it out to the others and they all become very subdued. This person then lays his/her branch/coat at the foot of the cross and the others follow suit. The worship leader, after a short silence, says " …and after the cheering has stopped…..what?" This makes a good call to worship. I can't remember if I half inched this idea from someone or somewhere else or whether it is my own. Let me know if you know of another source for this idea and I'll gladly make due acknowledgement.

Skit: The Extraordinary Event
Found in Meg
a Drama 3 by Verona Johnson (Ed.) Openbook, 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), page 60, (pictured in an earlier post).

Confession: Going Up to Jerusalem
Found in Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 127
(pictured at left).

Listening Song: Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, Birdwing Music, 1994.

Listening Song: Talk About It
By Nicole C. Mullen on her album Talk About It (pictured at right) or on WOW 2003.

Film Clip: John 12:12-16
From The Gospel of John by The Visual Bible Society (pictured in an earlier blog).

Film Clips: Jesus Christ Superstar
The musical film version of Jesus Christ Superstar (pictured at left) has two useful song clips for this week - because it is a musical, an audio effort could be made instead if you cannot show film clips. The two songs are Hossanna and Christ, You Know How I Love You.

Film Clip: Horton Hears a Who
There are plenty of clips in this film about Horton going to extreme lengths to save the Who. At one point when he is warmed of the dire consequences of doing so, he reiterates that he is faithful. Very like Jesus who knew that the his entry into Jerusalem was leading him ever closer to his death - but he remained faithful and ever determined to be our Saviour. has a great Horton clip for this idea.

Discussion: Horton Hears a Who
1. Why won't Horton give up on the Who even when he is threatened?
2. How are Jesus and Horton similar?

Story: The Visit
By Adrian Plass in The Final Boundary, Minstral, 1987, ISBN 1854240935, page 149ff. This brilliant modern day parable is too long for a service but the first section has a great scene which challenges us to think about how we would celebrate Jesus' arrival in our midst.

Prayer: Headline Prayers
Project some news items. Pray together for those who make the headlines this week.

Response Activity: Palm Crosses
While gentle music plays, encourage everyone to make a palm cross. Have the instructions printed out on A5 sheets for everyone and make sure a few people can already confidently make them so that they can guide others who may have difficulties. Clear instructions are available from www.king At the conclusion of the activity encourage people to lay their cross at the foot of the cross as you pray about the implications of the Easter week.

Response Activity: If You Were In the Crowd
This idea is found in Worship Ideas For Group Ministry, Group Publishing, 1997, ISBN 076442002X, page 50 (pictured at right).
Based on the gospel readings.

To Take Home: Business cards or bookmarks
Print with the following readings to lead into Easter:
Today: The Parade: Mark 11:1-11
Monday:The Temple: Mark 11:12-19
Tuesday: The Conflict: Mark 11:20-13:27
Wednesday: The Preparation: Mark 14:1-10.
Thursday: The Farewell: Mark 14:12-31
Friday: The Death: Mark 14:32-15:47
Saturday: The Silence: Mark 16:1
Sunday: The Winner: Mark 16:2-20.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lent 5 B (March 29): Belonging to God, Being Like Jesus

Bible readings:
Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12 0r Psalm 119:9-16, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-26
Themes: Belonging to God, Being Like Jesus

About the Images:
Top: I love this image from
Bottom: I took this photo at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales ( I call it "Church and Manse" and it reminds me that God calls us not only to all kinds of exciting places but that being like Jesus doesn't mean we have to be flash.

Call to Worship:
Use the Jeremiah reading as a basis for a call to worship.

Listening Song: Written in My Heart
By Plus One on their album, The Promise, or on WOW 2001 (pictured at left).

Prayer of Confession:
Bits of Psalm 51 make a great prayer of confession - use a modern translation or paraphrase such as the C.E.V, The Message or the New Living Translation. People are not as used to listening as they used to be, so print or project the words along with some relevant pictures. The Bible Gateway site - is a very helpful site for translations and paraphrases.

Prayer of Confession: We Have Spoken to You
From Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Group Resource Group, 1998,ISBN 1876357363, page 71 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Prayer of Confession: 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 at right).

Jeremiah Reading:
This will depend a bit on the size of your group and the amount of energy you and/or your team have. Have enough snazzy envelopes for one per person. The matching paper sealed within should have the Bible reading printed on it OR print the reading onto A4 parchment and roll up and tie with a coloured ribbon – one per each person.Give these out as people are arriving and then ask people to open them/unroll them as the Bible reader comes forward to read.

Kid's Story: The Tale of Three Trees
By Angela Elwell Hunt, Lion Publishing, 1989, ISBN 0745922627 (pictured at left)

Discussion: What if.....
What if "some Greeks" (based on the John reading) came to your faith community this week and said "We want to see Jesus". What would you do? What would you say? Would they see Jesus? Discuss in groups of three.

Story: The Right Choice
In Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 147 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Story: Conversion
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 104 (pictured at right).

Story: Leaving Nothing Undone
By Leonard Sweet and quoted by Peter Kennedy at - this is the John Mark Ministries site set up by Rev Rowland Croucher (referred to in the next resource below). The site is a very useful one - well worth a visit.

Handy Quote:
"To each one of us Christ is saying: If you want your life and mission to be fruitful like mine, do as I. Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried. Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid. Those who shun suffering will remain alone. No one is more alone than the selfish. But if you give your life out of love for others, as I give mine for all, you will reap a great harvest. You will have the deepest satisfactions. Do not fear death or threats; the Lord goes with you." - Oscar Romero, 1 April 1979, a year before he was shot while preaching at Mass. I found this quote in Rivers in the Desert by Rowland Croucher (ed.) Albatross Books,1991, page 398.

Response Activity:
Put in the plate with the offering how you intend to specifically follow and serve Jesus this week. You will need small pieces of paper and a pen or pencil for each person for this. Reassure them that this is between them and God and not necessarily to be shared with others.

G'day to all the lovely people I met in Queensland last week.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lent 4 B (March 22): Unconditional Love

Bible readings: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm
107:1-3, 17-22, John 3: 14-21, Ephesians 2:1-10

About the images:
Top: Mediacom free clipart with my text.
Bottom: My photo - feel free to use it.

Listening Song:: Speechless
By Steven Curtis Chapman on his album, Speechless, or on WOW 2000 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Listening Song: Call My Name
By Third Day on their album, Revelation, or on WOW 2009 (pictured at right). This song matches well with the Gospel reading.

Prayer of Confession: In this World
Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Resource Group, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 55 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Film Clip: Les Miserables
From the end of the credits (the first scene) startiong with the convict walking the streets and ending with the priest blessing him and giving him a second chance (pictured in an earlier blog).

Film Clip: Walking Across Egypt
(pictured at left).Show the clip where Mattie argues with her children about when she should stop loving and caring for Wesley. I got this clip from in their "unconditional love" section. This site is well worth the subscription.

Discussion: Walking Across Egypt
1. When does God stop loving us?
2. When should we stop loving others?

Film Clip: Aladdin
Show one of the clips where Aladdin tries to impress Princess Jasmine by pretending he is some thing that he is not - there is one particularly useful clip where his friends encourage him to tell her the truth but he can't do it.

Discussion: Aladdin

1. Why was Aladdin pretending to be someone he was not?

2. Who was Aladdin trying to impress?
3. How do we sometimes try to find favour with God and with each other?

Kid's Time: Learning John 3:16
Put the individual (or pairs or phrases) words of John 3:16 on big red hearts and distribute to various members of the congregation before the service. Ask them to hold them in front of them at the start of the children’s time. Ask kids to come out and look at the congregation and see if they can see anything odd. Tell them it is a secret message from God to them and ask them to find all the people with hearts, bring them to the front and then try to arrange the secret message so that it makes sense. The adults always help if it gets a little difficult :-)

Kid's Story: The Sneeches
The first story in The Sneeches and Other Stories by Dr Seuss, Dr Suess Enterprises, 1957, ISBN 0007158505 (pictured at right). This story can lead to a discussion about whether we need to do anything to be loved by God.

Drama: The Tune
Roughly based on a puppet play (but no longer using as many people or puppets) found in Drama Resources One from the South Australian Lutheran Youth Office. My version makes use of a fairly astute musician. Email me if you would like a copy.

Drama: That's Not Fair
Based on John 3:16-17 and written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull. Email me if you would like a copy.

Story: Too Late
Based on the Ephesians reading this story is found at You need to scroll down the page to find it.

Story: The Kiss
In Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1194, ISBN 0310402611, page 131 (pictured in an earlier blog). This links well with the Gospel reading.

Story: The First Shall be Last
In Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks Book 4 by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 2001, ISBN 0310236193, page 160. (pictured in an earlier blog). This links well to the Ephesians reading.

Response Activity: Unity
In 40 Devotions that Work with Youth, by Geraldine Anderson (ed).,JBCE, 1983, ISBN 0858194147, page 58 (pictured at left). In the book this was intended to be a youth group devotion for the Ephesians reading however it can be quite easily adapted to suit a congregation and used as part of the sermon or as a conclusion. Try using post-it notes and a small portable cross instead of paper and the floor.

Response Activity: Loving as God Loves
Hand out pencils and A5 sheets or business cards (it's better to do this bit when people are arriving for the service) with the following words: God loved me and ………………. so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God did not sent Jesus into the world to condemn me or ………….. God sent Jesus to save us. John 3:16-17. Give everyone a minute or two to talk to God and to fill in the blanks.

Response Activity: Forgiven by God
Found in Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668, page 73 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Response Activity: John 3:14-21
In response to this reading, I used three of the above activities:
vv. 14-15: Forgiven By God
vv. 16-17: Loving as God Loves
vv. 18-21 The Tune

Closing Prayer: You Call your Disciples
Found in
Stages on the Way, as above, (pictured in an earlier blog) page 59.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Lent 2 B (March 8): Discipleship

Bible readings
:Genesis 17:1-7,15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-18

Theme: Discipleship

About the image:
Above left: A smoky sunset Lake Tyers Beach ( Looking out across an empty ocean is a good reminder that discipleship does not always have a perceived outcome. We must faithfully step out not always knowing what is to come or where we will end up. It is my photo so please feel free to use it.
Above right: I just love this verse. The image is from Microsoft free clipart.

Listening Song: Edge of the World

On Beyond These Shores by Iona, 1993 (pictured at left) The cover insert has some good info on St Brendon.

Story: The Chicken and the Pig
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice (ed.) Youth Specialities, 1994,
ISBN 0310402611, page 63 (pictured in an earlier post). This story illustrates the cost of true discipleship.

Story: Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Go to to find an amazing story of discipleship.

Story: Life of St Brendan
See and for more info on St Brendan.

Discussion Questions:
What scares you most about being a disciple?
What are the characteristics of a disciple?

Useful Quote:
"Christians in the west have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of Western Christians are church members, pew fillers, hymn singers, sermon tasters, Bible readers, even born again believers or spirit filled charismatics - but not true disciples of Jesus". Found in Discipleship by David Watson, page 16 This book is out of print and I have lent my copy, never to see it again, so I can give you few details other than what I have here....sorry!

Another Useful Quote:
"For countless Christians in the West 'Discipleship' means little more than going to church regularly, giving a proportion of one's income -usually at best one tenth and often below that figure - and getting involved in a limited number of church activities". Also found in Discipleship by David Watson.

Poem/Prayer: When I Became a Christian
Found in Cleaning Away the Rubbish by Adrain Plass, by Minstral 1988, ISBN
1854240250, page 173 (pictured at right)

Poem/Prayer: St Brendan's Prayer

Found at