Sunday, October 25, 2015

Proper 26 Ordinary 31 B (November 1st): Feeling like an Alien/Choosing to Love


Bible Readings: Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34

About the Images: 
Upper Left: It is so natural to turn to your Father when things go pear-shaped. This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is a free powerpoint background with words I took from one of those emails which does the rounds of all our computers from time to time (see Useful Quotes below).
Lower Left: The land of Moab today (part of present day Jordan). This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This is a Microsoft free clipart image with my text.

Listening song: Alien
By Third Day on their album, Conspiracy No 5 (pictured at right) This song fits in well with the Ruth reading.

Kid's Story:
Tell story of Ruth and Naomi as an example of Mark 12:30-31 in that Ruth loves God enough to follow God, and loves Naomi enough to follow and be with her,
Hide the individual words of Mark 12: 30-31 in the congregation on big individual red hearts. Get the kids to find them, and put them in order to work out what the verse says.

Kid's Story: The Runaway Hug
By Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood, Scholastic Australia, 2011, ISBN 9781865044057 (pictured at left).  A delightful story-book which fits in beautifully with the gospel reading.  Thanks to Miranda Walker for suggesting this book.

Youth Time: When you don't fit in.
Do you ever feel like an alien – like a misfit, like you don’t belong?
Tell a story from your own teen years when you felt like you didn't fit in (we all have at least one!). Relate it to Ruth and Naomi and how hard it must have been to live in a strange place and amongst foreigners/strangers.

Voice drama for congregation: Not enough
One: I am a good Christian.
Many: What do you mean?
One: Well, I go to church every Sunday.
Many: That is not enough.
One: I visit my parents.
Many: That is not enough.

One: Well, I’ve never stolen anything, and I’ve certainly never killed anyone.
Many: That is still not enough.
One: What then? What is enough?
Many: You must love God. We must love God. With our hearts. With our minds. With our bodies. With our souls. We must love our neighbors. We must love ourselves.

ALL: Let us put our love into motion as we worship the One who’s taught us to love.
Written by Crystal Sygeel-Lystlund, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Richmond, Virginia. Excerpted from Homiletics, Nov. 2, 1997: Mark 12:28-34.

Useful Quotes: About Love:
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your chips without making them give you any of theirs."
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."
"Love is when you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you any more. But then you get surprised because they love you even more."
"Love is when you tell a boy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."
"God could have said some words to make the nails fall off the cross, but .............. He didn't. That's love."

"Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love others as much as you love yourself." -Jesus
"Love God and do as you like" - St Augustine

Pew Discussion:
Would you rather be known for your goodness or your love? Share your answer with the people on each side of you.

Benediction: Based on an African Version
Project the following words:
The Good News: You are loved
The Challenge: To love
The Invitation: To follow 
Ask everybody to choose the line that means the most to them.
Stand at the door and have the first person who leaves tell you what line they chose and you then tell them what you chose. Ask that person to stand beside you. Have the second person to leave tell you which line they chose and you tell them which you chose, and then have them do the same with the person standing next to you. The second person then stands next to the person standing next to you. Have the third person to leave .......and so on.
When you do this with a whole congregation it takes a bit of time and you end up with a sort of human snake spilling out the door of your worship space; but it is a great end to a service and has literally everyone talking to everyone!


Kids: Let the Celebrations Begin
By Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Box Press,  with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 55. This goes well with the Ruth reading.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Proper 25 Ordinary 30 B (October 25): Risky Discipleship/Going Against the Flow

Bible Readings: Job 42:1-6, 10-17,
Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22), Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 10:46-52

About the images:
Upper Left: There was a T - shirt a bit like this doing the rounds a few years ago. I made this one with Microsoft free clip art.
Upper Right: I took this photo in one of the laneways of inner city Melbourne, Australia. For more info on the laneways, Google Melbourne and see the page on "Melbourne laneways" under "About Melbourne" or "Welcome to Melbourne". Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: Discipleship means not always knowing where we are going and sometimes it feels like we might be walking through a minefield. This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities,
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Heartlight site -see my links in the column at left.

Listening song; It's My Life
By Bon Jovi on the album, Crush, 2000 (pictured at right).The words of this song could easily be Blind Bartimaeus's words as he stands up to the crowd and continues to call out to Jesus.

Prayer of Confession: Praise - The Business of Eternity
Found in Rivers in the Desert by Rowland Croucher (Ed.), Albatross Books, 1991, ISBN 086760137X, page 51 (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Mother Teresa
This is a TV series (pictured at left) which I have not seen in Australia (but I might be wrong). I downloaded the clip from that excellent site I used the conversation between Mother Teresa and her priest, where she convinces him that she must go against the conventions of her cloistered order to follow God's call to minister to the poor of India.

Discussion: Mother Teresa
1. How are Mother Teresa and Blind Bartimaeus alike?
2. How is discipleship difficult for them both?

Psalm 34: From www. the Work of the


Drama: Blind Bartimaeus
Part 1: Interview 1.
Reporter interviews Bartimaeus who has a begging bowl and a blanket that he takes from his shoulders and sits on. Anything else to add authenticity is OK. Questions run along the lines below - it’s not word for word, make it up as you go along keeping to the basic story.
Who are you?
Blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus etc
Why don’t you go out and earn a living some other way?
In my culture that’s all I can do, no sheltered workshops, no braille, no social welfare etc etc.
What are you doing here?
Seemed to be a big crowd, bit of a holiday atmosphere, thought there might be good pickings
Why do you have that bowl?
People chuck money in it, its noisy so I know how much money people have given me, I eat out of it
Why do you sit on that cloak?
If any money misses the bowl, I have a fair idea where it is and I don’t waste my time sorting through stones and gravel
Can I look at your cloak?
No way!!Why not?Most important thing I own, I’d never let it go, it catches all my money, it keeps me warm, it shelters me from the weather, its my bed, its my security, my comfort, basically it is my life. Walks off in a bit of a huff at the very idea that someone might touch his cloak?
Part 2: Congregational play
Read the story out to the congregation (Mark 10:46-52). They provide the voices for the crowd (on the overhead or data projector or in your pew sheet). Encourage them to shout their parts loudly – even practice before you start reading. Its better if they each chose one or two phrases to shout out instead of trying to say the whole thing together.
Response 1 (after v 48a):
Pipe down! Be quiet!! Put a sock in it! Stop shouting!! Shush up!!! Don’t yell like that!! Hey, that’s enough from you!! Who do you think you are??
Response 2 (after v. 49b)
Don’t be afraid! Come on! He’s calling for you!! Go on then!! Get up!!! Quickly!!! Get a move on!! Hurry!!
Part 3: Interview 2
Reporter again interviews Bartimaeus -as before, what is below is not word for word. Improvise!
Why! Is that you, Blind Bartimaeus? You old rogue! So, you were just pretending to be blind?
No, I really was – tell story of what happened.
Wow, so where’s your cloak?
Chucked it away, didn’t even think, wanted to get straight to Jesus when he called, somebody’s probably nicked it by now.
So, do you want us to help you find it? I remember how you felt about that cloak?
Nah, don’t need it any more. Who cares? I’m off to follow Jesus
But it was the most important thing you owned. You said that you’d never let it go, it catches all your money, it keeps you warm, it shelters you from the weather, its your bed, its your security, your comfort. Basically, it is your life.
But everything’s changed. I can see. I am a disciple of Jesus. He’s my shelter, he’s my security, he’s my comfort.But I’ve heard tell things are getting a little sticky for him. People are plotting his death.
Will you follow him that far?
The most important thing is being one of his followers, I’ll never let him go. He is my life.
Copyright: Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull - permission given to use and adapt.

Discussion Questions:
What if Bartimaeus had not stood up to the crowd?
What does Jesus tell Bartimaeus to do after he is healed?
What does Bartimaeus do?
Where is Jesus going?

Story: The Kreplach Joke
Found in August 04 2006 archive of the blog called Divinity is in the Details. Useful for illustrating that we often feel comfortable with a lots of the different parts of out Christian faith, but when we put it all together and see the call and risk of discipleship sometimes we, too, say "AAAHHHHH!!"

Story: Christian Retirement?
Heard a story once about a minister in a small, struggling rural church in a small drought stricken and struggling rural community who went to visit a new couple in the town who had recently retired and moved from the city. He had heard that they had been very active members of their city church and so he went with some excitement and anticipation. However when he knocked on the door and said who he was, he was met with this bald statement; " Oh no, we don't want to go to church here. We've retired".

Response Activity:
Pass around ribbons:
Ask people to think of one aspect of following Jesus which they would like to do or do better.
Then ask: If Jesus is asking you “ What do you want me to do for you?", what is your answer.
As they think of an answer to each question, ask them to tie a knot in their piece of ribbon. Stand together and say an Affirmation of faith/Creed together. Encourage them to take the ribbon home and put it somewhere significant to remind them of God's faithfulness and their determination to follow.

From Come Holy Spirit: Renew the Whole Creation, WCC Publications, 1990, page 38 (pictured at right).


Poem/Meditation: Follow Me
By Ruth Burgess in Dandelions and Thistles: Biblical Meditations from the Iona Community by Jan Sutch Pickard (ed.) Wild Goose Publications, 1999, ISBN 1901557146, page 49 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Mark reading.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Proper 24 Ordinary 29 B (October 18): Looking at the Bigger Picture/Servant Leadership

Bible Readings: Job 38:1-7, 34-41, Psalm 104:1-9,24,35, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45

About the images:
Left image: This is a Microsoft free clip art image to which I have added the Bible text.
Right image: This is Australia Rock near Narooma in New South Wales, Australia. Unless you stand in front of the Australia shaped hole you cannot see the bigger picture - the sea beyond. From the side,it appears to be a solid rock wall. This is my image so please feel free to use it. It goes well with the Job reading. Nobody is quite sure how the hole in the rock wall was made but it is known that ships used to tie up here in the early days of Australian white settlement. For more info about Narooma, visit
Lower Left and Right: Two free cliparts from the Church galleries site - see my links at left.

Listening Song: Get Down
By Audio Adrenaline on their album, Underdog (pictured at left). This song fits in well with both the gospel reading and with the Job reading.
Listening Song: You then Me
By Rebecca St James on her album, God, 1996 (pictured at right). This song fits in well with the Mark reading.

Kid's talk: God is Here
Have each letter of the words "God is Here" on separate cards and scatter them about the worship space. Get a couple of people to adlib a conversation about the whereabouts of God and their difficultly working out just where God is - especially when things go wrong. Have a third person join the conversation by noticing the scattered cards. Together, with the help of children in the congregation, sort out the cards so that they spell out the words "God is here" and then work out how these words apply to the conversation about the whereabouts of God in difficult times.

Kid's Talk: Fighting The Green Eyed Monster
Found in Fun Group Devotions For Children's Ministry by various authors, Group Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1559451610, page 75 (pictured at left). This fits in well with the disciple's reaction to the request by James and John in the gospel reading.

Drama: What is a Servant
Based on the gospel reading and found in Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (Ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859100186, page 23 (pictured at right).

Story: Servanthood
Story 623 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured left). This also suits the gospel reading.

Story: A Lesson in Servanthood
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 151 (pictured at right). This story fits in well with the gospel reading.

Story: True Greatness
Found at
This story fits well with the gospel reading.
Quote: Frederich Buechner
"God does not always give us all the answers.......God gives us himself." This quote links to the Job reading.

Response Activity:
Ask people to form inward looking circles of around eight to ten people. Tell them that each circle represents the church. Get each circle group to discuss and reform in any way and in any shape that they like in a way which they think, as a group, best represents the way the church should be.

Closing Prayer:
By Michael Quiost and found in Gentle Darkness by Rowland Croucher (Ed.), Albatross Books, 1994, ISBN 073241007X, pages 421-422. This fits well with the gospel reading.


Poem/Meditation: A Child
By Ruth Burgess in Dandelions and Thistles: Biblical Meditations from the Iona Community by Jan Sutch Pickard (ed.) Wild Goose Publications, 1999, ISBN 1901557146, page 63 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Mark reading.