Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Note of Explanation

G'day everyone,
I am going away for a few weeks. I am therefore working on getting a few blogs up ahead of time so that when I am away no Sundays will be missed. This means that you will have to scroll down the page to find the Sunday that you want or find it in the "previous posts" column on the left hand side of this page underneath the weather/search/booksearch/visitor-map icons.

Proper 17 Ordinary 22 Pentecost 13 B (August 30): New Beginnings
















Bible Readings: Song of Songs 2:8-11
, Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9, James 1:17-27, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.

About the image:
Upper: This is the image I used on the cards mentioned in the response activity - I took it at Mt Hotham in the Australian high country. Please feel free to use it. If you want to know more about Mt Hotham, please visit http://www.mthotham.com.au/
Lower: These are candlestick banksias common to south eastern Australia - they grow up to a foot in length (30cms) and either grow straight up or at odd angles to their branches. My photo, my neighbour's candlesticks - so please feel free to use the image.

Just a note:
The reading I have chosen today probably works best here Down Under in areas where winter is coming to a close and where we are surrounded by the many beautiful signs of spring - however in many parts of the world where there are no seasons or the seasons are in reverse, this still seems to be a time of the year where particular things (like holidays) are finishing and new beginnings are happening (like the school year etc) so it won't take much to use the following resources either as analogies or to creatively adapt them to your particular situation. Have fun, anyway!

Kids Story:
Any story will work this week that relates to being loved by a parent - why not tell them a story from your own life. Relate it to the fatherhood of God.

Kid's/Youth: The Spell Begins to Break
This is the chapter in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1950 (pictured at right) where the witch's power begins to weaken in the face of the mighty Aslan and winter finally begins to give way to spring. In the preceding chapter, What Happened After Dinner, is the verse:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we will have spring again.

Film Clip: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
As above - use the film, instead of the book.

Discussion Questions:
What are examples of the winter times in our lives?, in our church?, in our community?, in our world?
How can we be part of God's activity in turning these winters into springs?

Listening Song: Bring Me To Life
By Evanescence on their album Fallen (pictured at left).

Response Activity:
Give out a card while thinking music plays in the background. On one side of the card have the words from Song of Songs printed: “Arise, my darling. I love you. Winter is past, the rain has stopped; flowers cover the earth, it’s time to sing”. On the other side of the card print a small bare branch with room enough to also write about their own personal winter. Give people time to write and then encourage them to come out and staple a sprig of blossom over the top of their winter as a sign of God’s promise to them.

Proper 16 Ordinary 21 Pentecost 12 B (August 23): Grace of God/Prayer/God's Armour
















Bible readings: 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43, Psalm 84, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69


About the images:
Upper:
A free microsoft image with text I have added.
Lower:My photo, my husband's hands - please feel free to use it.

Resources for Psalm 84

Story: The Grace of God
Story No 1445 in Parsons Bible Illustrator for Windows or at
http://www.preaching.com/resources/illustrations/11546642/archive41/

Dramatic reading of Psalm 84:
I think Rosemary Broadstoack and I wrote this one six years ago and we used three versions to do it. However if the idea is not ours, please let me know and I will duly acknowledge the source.

Psalm 84 as a call to worship:

The readers come from their places in the congregation. As they come to the centre front, they join in the repeated chorus stopping close to the seats:
All: (repeat
) Lord God all-powerful, being with you is so lovely. With everything inside me, I long to be here;
1: (moves up to the table as he/she speaks) How I love your church, God! How I like to be here! I go all weak at the very thought of it. My heart and body explode with joy when I’m with you! I want to sing.
2: (joining him/her) Even sparrows find a home here and swallows build nests here to raise their young. You bless everyone who stays close to you.
3-6: (remain near the seats)
3: How privileged are those who live in your house;
4: and they sing your praises.
2: (taking a step towards the other four and beckoning them to join him/her) Lord, Those who have tapped into your strength have got it made. The highway to heaven begins within them; a direct route to your holy presence.
1: (joins in beckoning the others forward) Come and be welcome. He will give you everything you nee
d to come to him – food, drink, faith, strength, endurance. You will get stronger as you come nearer. Come on!
As 3-6 arrive they are welcomed by 1 and 2
1 and 2: They will see God!
All: Lord God all-powerful, tune in to our prayer.
2: You are the shield that protects your people. One day spent in your presence beats a thousand nights in a five star resort.
3: I’d rather scrub floors in your house, O God, than rub shoulders with the rich and famous beneath the flashing lights of greed and corruption.
4: O LORD our God, you are the sun that shines on us
and the shield that keeps us safe.
5: You shower us with generosity and honour,
6: You never refuse any good thing to those who trust you.
All: O LORD, ruler of all, everyone who trusts in you has got it made!
(all look at eac
h other in amazement and shout)
All: We are
blessed!!!!! (and run off back to their seats except 1. who hesitates)
1: Thanks God – for everything!!
Bible verses from C.E.V. Living and ©2000 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net

Resources for the Kings reading:

Kids Story: Where Does God Live
Written by August Gold and Matthew J Perlman, Skylight Paths publishing, 2001 ISBN 189336139x (pictured at right),

Resources for the Ephesians Reading:

Kids: Armour Drama

Be melodromatic about this one and please feel free to change to suit your congregation/culture/whatever.
A person stands all alone looking a bit miserable. One at a time, six people come out of the congregation and hit him/her with a balloon while saying the words below - you could even write the words on the balloon if you like. They then stand back smirking; looking tough and unbeatable.

The person who is hit flinches back each time and, each time, asks the kids to help find a piece of armour that will help him/her. When the kids find the matching piece of armour with the suitable message, he/she puts on the piece of armour, unpins the message and pricks the tough person’s balloon. The tough person shrieks, “Arrrggghhh, Curses! Foiled again!” and runs back to their seat. As the miserable person gains more and more armour and foils more and more tough balloon weilding meanies, he/she becomes increasingly more confident and relaxed and happy.

Nasty balloon weilding meanies enter and are foiled as follows:

Nasty balloon: Nobody in this group likes you. Go and play with someone else!
Piece of Armour: Belt
Armour message: God loves me!!

Nasty balloon: Come on, let’s grab their footy. They’ll be too scared to do anything about it.
Piece of Armour: breastplate
Armour message: No, I‘d rather play with them than mess up their game.

Nasty balloon: How dumb! Do you really go to church??
Piece of Armour: Shoes
Armour message: Come with me and find out how much God loves you.

Nasty balloon: Ha ha ha, I got you into trouble.
Piece of Armour: Shield (umbrella)
Armour message: At least God knows I was right.

Nasty balloon: You can’t have any, you don’t deserve it !
Piece of Armour: helmet
Armour message: God gives me heaps of great gifts.

Nasty balloon: You’ll never be good enough to join our group.
Piece of Armour: sword-bible
Armour message: There are heaps of messages in here which tell me how special I am.

Talk it through with the kids...
Written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull.


Story: Men
Story 426 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured in an earlier blog).


Discussion questions:
There is much talk in this reading of evil forces and what they throw at us.
1.How are these forces demonstrated in our lives?
2.How do they infect our church?
3. How do they infect our community – our social and political structures?


Film Clip: Romero
From the film Romero (pictured at left) show the scene where Archbishop Oscar Romero goes to the village that is under martial law and confronts the soldiers who have transformed a church into a barracks - start the scene at the point where he first arrives at the church and end it when he is leading the service. This is a very powerful film clip and sometimes reduces people to tears.


Discussion: Romero
How is Romero able to withstand evil with such strength?


Response Activity:
Project a picture of the armour complete with labels and give everybody a 1 cm or so cube of self hardening clay. Ask: I wonder if there is a piece of God’s armour that you use less than you could? A piece going rusty or a piece that until today you never knew God had given you. With the small cube of clay which you have been given, model that piece of armour and while you model, talk to God about how you can use that piece of armour better.

Resources which suit all three readings above:


Music video clip: My Will
By dc Talk on their The Supernatural Experience video.(pictured at right). This track is one of their best. It talks about depending on God’s strength to do the things he has called us to do and it acknowledges that our own discipline, knowledge and will may fail us from time to time but that God never will. An anonymous reader of this blog offered the following information: the audio track for DC Talk's "My Will" can be found on the Exodus(1997, Rocketown Records). Various artists include Michael W. Smith, the Katinas, Jars of Clay, and Chris Rice.

Listening song: Breathe Your Name By Sixpence None the Richer on their album, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer (pictured at left) or on their album Divine Discontent or on the album WOW 2004.

Response Activity:
As people arrive, ask them to write their name on a small square of paper - even better, make business cards with a photo or clip art of praying hands (see above) leaving enough space for people to write their name on the card. Collect all the cards. During the last hymn or song, ask some helpers (kids like to do this) to distribute the cards, making sure that no person receives a card with their own name on it and making sure that everybody receives a card. Encourage people to take home the card and pray for the person who is named on their card over the next week/month/year.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Proper 15 Ordinary 20 Pentecost 11 B (August 16): Wisdom





















Bible readings:1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Psalm 111, Ephesians 5:15-20
, John 6:51-58

About the Images:
Upper: A Corel Free clipart to which I added the text.
Lower: My reading glasses, my dictionary, my photo - feel free to use them all.

Listening Song: Deep Calling Deep
By Margaret Becker on her album, Grace (pictured at left) or on WOW 1996.

Kid's Activity: Based on Ephesians 5:18b
Take a large clear glass of lemonade and drop some sultanas in it. Together watch the sultanas (golden raisins) repeatedly sink and then rise again. Discuss how the Holy Spirit is all around us,(like the lemonade around the sultanas) but we are not always aware of the Spirit’s presence. God's Spirit can lift us again and again giving us strength, courage, hope, faith etc – whatever we need to be Christians in this world.

Film Clip:Stigmata
Use the scene in the film Stigmata (pictured at right) where Frankie bumps into the priest in the market place. As they have a coffee together the priest tells Frankie that he was an organic chemist before he was a priest. She asks him why he became a priest and he tells her that he discovered "too many holes" and that science could not explain everything. He continues on to explain that the explanation he needed could only be found in God.

Discussion questions to get people thinking after the OT reading:
What is wisdom?
Can we be as wise as Solomon?
How does wisdom work in the 21st century?


Story: Choosing Wisdom
This story can be found in Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen's book, Absolute Zero Gravity, Simon & Schuster or at
http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=1689

Story: The Holy Spirit
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal (Eds.), Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 307 (pictured at left).
This story goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Story: Stopping at the Lights
Found in
1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 1989, ISBN 0801063302, story no. 428 (pictured at right). Goes well with the Ephesians reading.

Response Activity:
Ask people to get in to groups and together write an acrostic prayer using the word "wisdom". It would be useful to have A3 or A4 sheets already brightly printed with the word. At the end of the activity display all the prayers and allow people some quiet reflective time to walk around and pray/read all the prayers.