Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lent 3 C (March 7): The God of Second Chances/The Generosity of God/Keeping in Touch































Bible Readings
:
Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9.

About the images:
They are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship purposes. The landscape is of sunrise near my place across Lake Victoria, part of the Gippsland Lakes in East Gippsaland, Victoria Australia.

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 at right).

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.

Kid's Story: Dead Plant
A bit like the one above but less involved and can also be used to introduce the gospel reading. Have a nearly dead plant - somebody sees it and says "that's no good, chuck it out!". Another person comes along and says they will feed it and nurture it, re-pot it and give it another chance etc etc.

Kid's Stor
y: The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992 (renewed from 1964), ISBN 0060256656 (pictured at left).


Film Clip: Pay It Forward
Show the clip at the very start of the film where the man who loses his car is given a brand new car to replace it.

Questions for the Film Clip: Pay It Forward
1. Have you ever helped a stranger? What happened?
2. How can we tell if God is generous?
3. How can we be generous with 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. Google them.

Questions for the Telecom Commercials
1. Why is it important to keep in touch with each other?
2. Why is it important to keep in touch with God?
3. 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

Story: Wrong Way Reigels
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 228 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading or the psalm.

Story: Brandon's Mess
As above, page 58. This also goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: The Whisper Test
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal.. Baker Books, 2002,
(pictured in an earlier blog). Story No 259 goes with the gospel reading.

Story: God's Nickel (change nickel to whatever is relevant in your country)
Found in Stilll More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1999, ISBN 1310224640, page 144 (pictured in an earlier blog). Another story that matches up well with the gospel reading.

Story: Letter to Father Dudko

Found in High Mountains Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Tomlinson (Eds.) Albatross Books, 1992, ISBN 086760090X, page 213 (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading and the psalm.

Story: Gratitude
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story No. 112 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Found in Stories, Illustrations and Quotes by Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson, 2000, ISBN 0785244793, page 356. It is a story of God's care for us.
.


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?

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 (based on the gospel reading).
Give everyone a paper fig tree shaped leaf. Ask them to think about the following question and write the answer on their leaf.
1. If you had one more year, what would you need to help you turn your life around? or
2. What sort of fruit would you like your life to be producing by this time next year?
3. 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 contemplative 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/sermon) and space to experience the discipline they have chosen. Encourage them to choose only one. The disciplines I used were:

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lent 2 C (February 28): Risking Everything/God's Wings
















Bible Readings: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35.


About the Images:
These are both my both my photos, so please feel free to use them. The upper one is of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as they are today. The lower photo lends itself to having one of the pertinent texts from today's readings added to the lower half.


Listening Song: Why
by Tracey Chapman on her self titles album c. 1998 (pictured at left)

Disc
ussion on the Genesis Reading:
1. What do we learn about God in this reading?
2. What do we learn about Abram?

Drama: Don't You Get It
4: God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.
1: Yes, but I don’t know if my money is going to out-last me. If I can just do a good
job with my investments I know everything will turn out all right.
2: And if we could only get some extra money - the kids will be going off to uni soon and at the moment I can't see how we'll manage. With a little more money I know everything will turn out all right.

4:But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

3: If only I could get my hands on that hotted up Torana everybody's being eyeing off down the street. Everyone would look up to me, envy me ..... then I know everything will turn out all right
.
1: And I am so frightened of the future. All my family live a long way away. If I could work out some way to be near them then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.
2: Yes, but if only we could get the house paid off and the renovations finished then I know everything will turn out all right.
3: If only I could get the results I really want at school then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

1: Yes, but what if I get sick – what if I can’t look after myself any more. I’m going to find my self the best health specialists in the world… then I know everything will turn out all right.

2: And if I could only make sure than I have the best time possible for as much of the time as possibl
e then I know everything will turn out all right.
3: If only I could convince myself and everybody else that I'm not nearly as much of a dork as I seem to be then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward ....... You know, don’t think any of you get it!
Written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull: Permission granted for use and adaption. It is not necessary but we would love to know if you use it.


Discussion on the Drama:
1. How do we stop becoming like persons 1,2 and 3?
2. How do we put our faith in God into action?


Story: The Tightrope Walker and the Wheelbarrow

Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page
206 (pictured at right). This story, featuring Blondin the famous tightrope walker, can also be found in numerous illustration books and by Googling. It is also possible to find images. This story goes well with a number of the readings because it is about trust and faith.

Story: Personal
Ask someone in your congregation to share a story from their own life where they had to trust God when they did not know what the final outcome was going to be.
Ask the person before hand so that they can prepare what they are going to say.

Story: An Antidote for Fear
Found in The Youth Bible, Wor
d Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 497. This story is based on the Psalm. (pictured at left)

Story: Don't Change Channels
Found at http://www.trinityurcvisalia.com/sermons/ac02v42d.html in section II B. This story goes very well with the Genesis reading.

Quote: Darren Beadman, Leading Australian Jockey
"It's all about relationship and what lies within your heart.....Some people are at a stage in their life where they feel secure in their environment and don't want to step out because they don't know what the future holds. But if you've got the relationship with the Lord, and you believe that he is your provider and that this is what he wants you to do, well - do it" This is part of an interview found in Alive Magazine 1998. I can't source the month, sorry.

Quote: Old Scandinavian Proverb
Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.

Response Activity:
Give everyone a coloured feather (found in craft shops).
While they concentrate on the feather ask:
1. Where in your life at the moment do you need to hear God say; " Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your very great reward"?
2. What situation are you in at present which should make you seek shelter under God's wings?
3. Are you trusting God or are you looking in other places for shelter and reward?
Have a time of silence.

Alternate but slightly the same Response Activity:
Have three stations set up around your worship space and encourage people to visit all three and then return to the one that means the most to them and take something home form that station:
Station 1: Reassurance: Have small copyright free pictures of "Abram and a starry sky", post-it notes shaped as stars (available from post offices in Aus), written instructions and some pencils or pens. Ask people to think about the question "
Where in your life at the moment do you need to hear God say; " Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your very great reward"?" and to write their answer on a post-it notes and stick it on the picture of Abram. Encourage them to think about Abram and his relationship with God when he feared for the future. Before they leave the station, ask them to peel of the star, screw it up and place it in a waste paper basket provided.
Station 2: Shelter: Provide everyone with a feather and instructions. Encourage them to spend a few minutes brushing it against the skin on their face or hands as they consider the question:
"What situation are you in at present which should make you seek shelter under God's wings?", and then to think about God's shelter and thank God for being a shelter in all sorts of situations - including their own.
Station 3: Trust: Ask people to consider the question:
"Are you trusting God or are you looking in other places for shelter and reward?" Provide everyone with a prayer which asks for forgiveness for lack of trust and strength to trust in the future.
When you eventually all sit down together again each person should have a picture of Abram or a feather or the prayer to take home with them.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Transfiguration C (February 14): Reflecting God's Light

















Bible Readings: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-43



About the images:
Upper: Photo by Tamar Dolev.
Lower: Sunset from Norfolk Island. My photo so please feel free to use it. If you want to know more about this beautiful island, then visit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_Island

Decor of the worship space:
Decorate the focal point of your worship space with any combination of heaps of lit candles, spotlights, and white and gold material.

Listening Song: Great Light of the World
By Bebo Norman on his album, Myself When I Am Real (pictured at left), 2002, or on WOW 2004.

Kids Story: Reflections
Place a large mirror in adim part of your church and put the lighted Christ candle on it. Give each kid (with supervision if necessary) a tea light. Ask them to light their tea lights from the Christ candle and place them on the mirror. The effect should speak for itself.

Kid's S
tory:
I have a collection of large cards with dinner plate sized round faces drawn on them - each face reflecting a different emotion; eg tired, scared, surprised, sad, happy, excited, puzzled etc etc. The transfiguration lends itself very much to a retelling of the story using these cards to reflect the emotions of the disciples. You can either hand out the faces and get kids to hold up the one they have when they think that is how the disciples must have felt or you can hold up a relevant card at the relevant time and ask the kids (and the congregation?) to reflect the same face. It can be lots of fun.

Film Clip: Amelie
(pictured at rig
ht) Show the clip where Amelie walks the blind man across the road. As she does so, she begins to detail all the things around him so that she gives him his sight.

Discussion Questions: For the film clip or as stand alones
To think about by yourself: When have you felt closest to God's glory?
Brainstorm: How did it make you feel?
Together: Why do you think God sometimes is revealed in these ways?
How has the experience impinged on your daily life?
How are we able to reflect god's glory on to other people?
What happens when we do?

Drama: We Can't Tell You
Found in Mega Drama 5 by Verena johnson, (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 61 (pictured at left). Based on the gospel reading.

Sermon Starter: Space Jump
Liken the disciples experience on the mountain to the Theatre Sports game, Space Jump, and then compare the game with the business and diversity of modern life.

Story: A Candle in the Darkness
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 17 (this book is pictured in an earlier blog). When I first told this story, I illustrated it with a self lighting candle in that you cannot put out God's light.

Story:Spiritual Disciplines
Found in
Story 664 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). Goes well with the Corinthians reading.

Story: Testimony
Found in Story 719 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). Goes well with the Corinthians reading.

Story: Reflected Son-light
Index 2166
from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990

Story: Wouldn't He stick Out?
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On
by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 203 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Poem: Transfiguration
By Bruce Prewer and found
his site at www.textweek.com (see my links at left) under Prayers, Prefaces, Litanies, etc. on the Transfiguration C page.

Prayer: Transfiguration
This is a great three reader prayer written by Roddy Hamilton and found on his Mucky Paws blog (see my links) in his Archives for February 16 2007.

Response Activity:

Project or give everybody a copy of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and ask them to underline the part that gives them the most hope. Be generous with time to do this - make it a spiritual exercise. Then ask them to share their response with two other people.

Response Activity:
Give each person a small candle or tea light and ask them to light it at their main meal each day this week to remind themselves of God's love for them and that they are reflectors of God's light.

Response Activity:
Brainstorm ideas on how your congregation can be a light in the community? As each idea is suggested, write it on a separate piece of paper. Put them around the walls. Give everybody three stickers each and ask them to put a sticker on the three which excite them the most.
After the service, give the six with the most dots to a member of your church council or leadership team :-) !!