Sunday, March 15, 2015
Lent 5 B (March 22): Belonging to God/Being Like Jesus
Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16, Hebrews 5:5-20, John 12: 20-26
About the Images:
Upper left: I love this image from the Heartlight site - see my links column at left.
Upper Right: I took this photo at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales (http://www.lightningridge.net.au/index.htm) 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 and showy.
Lower Left: The hyssop mentioned in Psalm 51. Copyright for the image: "Origanum syriacum Nachal Kziv" by Kippi70 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Lower Right: Another free image from Heartlight.com
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). This song is based on the Jeremiah reading.
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 -www.biblegateway.com - 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 at right).
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 left). This choral reading is based on Psalm 51.
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 right). This beautiful children's story can be used at Christmas or Easter or for any time of the year for that matter. I like using it particularly with the gospel reading for this week because Jesus predicts his own death.
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".
1. Who would they be?
2. What would you do?
3. What would you say?
4. Would they see Jesus?
Discuss these questions 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 at left). This story of sacrifice also goes well with the gospel reading.
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 104 (pictured at right). This is a story about how God works in our hearts and therefore it fits in well with the Jeremiah reading.
Story: Leaving Nothing Undone
By Leonard Sweet and quoted by Peter Kennedy at http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4547.htm - 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. This story challenges us ro respond to the gospel reading and the meaning of sacrifice in our own lives.
"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.
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 to be shared with others.