Sunday, August 30, 2015

Proper 18 Ordinary 23 B (September 6): Crossing Boundaries

Bible Readings: Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37

About the images:
Upper Left: Found at Cerezo Barredo's weekly gospel illustration page at These are brilliant free illustrations - and there is one for each week of the lectionary.
Upper Right: I thought it was interesting to see this kangaroo in our garden crossing a boundary to drink from the bird bath because water is scarce in this part of the country - and the birds, who can be quite aggressive when they want to be, allowed the kangaroo to share their water.
Lower Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my link column at left.

Kids Story: Who Are You?
By Pamala Egan, Benjamin Books, ISBN 0715103490 (pictured at right).A lovely little story about crossing boundaries.

Introduction to the Gospel: Who Am I Game
Read one clue at a time and wait a second after each clue in case somebody has worked out the answer and is prepared to have a go at identifying the person:
When I was born, I was named Agnes.
I was the youngest of three children
I was born in Macedonia.
At the age of 18 I went to Ireland to further my education.
I left Ireland and in 1928 I began to teach at a school for girls.
In 1946, on a long train ride on the way to a retreat and to recover from suspected tuberculosis, I had a life-changing encounter with the Living God.
I realized that I had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless - to be God's love in action to the poorest of the poor.
In 1952 I received permission from city officials to use a portion of the abandoned temple to Kali, the Hindu goddess of transition and destroyer of demons.
It was here that I established a Home for the Dying.
I and my fellow workers gathered dying people off the streets and brought them to this home to care for them during the days before they died.
In 1953 I opened our first orphanage.
In 1957 I and my workers began working with lepers.
Ever since then, more that 42,000 have been taken from the streets.
Approximately 19,000 of those have had the opportunity to die in an environment of kindness and love could feel that they also were children of God.
For those who didn't die, we tried to find jobs for them or they were sent to homes where they could live happily some more years in a caring home.
My homes (I called them "tabernacles") have been established in hundreds of locations in the world.
My main centre is still in Calcutta, India.
I am Mother Teresa.
Rearrange the clues to make it harder if you want to. After the Who Am I is solved read out the remainder of the clues and conclude by saying that Mother Teresa is a 20th C example/picture of this week's gospel reading.

Discussion Question
What do the stories of Jesus and the woman from Syria, Jesus and the deaf man from Tyre and Mother Teresa and the poor and dying in India have in common?

Listening Song: Psalm 125: Like Mt Zion
By Sons of Korah on their album, Resurrection.

Drama: Racist or Redeemer
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 99 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.
Story: Who's Who?
Found in When You Walk by Adrian Plass, The Bible Fellowship, 1997, ISBN 0745935524, page 56 (pictured at right).This story is based on the James reading.

Sermon interruption: In Pairs
To get everybody going I found that it was easiest for me to share my most enbarrassing moment first - a traumatic incident with a wrap around skirt, a farm gate and three car loads of picnickers :-) - however I acknowledge that in some cultures the first question may not work at all or may be inappropriate - it works very well in Australian congregations:
1. Share your most embarrassing moment with the person sitting next to you?
2. Now share the most exciting thing to you about being a Christian.
3. Now talk about which was the easier thing to talk about.

Poem: And You Said
by Jan L. Richardson, In Wisdom's Path, Pilgrim Press, 2000, ISBN 0829813241 page 41.This goes well with both the James reading and the gospel.

Poem: Ephphatha

By Wayne Saffon in Imaging the Word Volume 1, United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 23 (pictured at left). This is based on the gospel reading.

Prayer/Listening Song: Sorrowing Song
By Robin and Dorothy Mann on their album, Let's Sing It Again (pictured at right). This can be easily used as a community song for your congregation but it is lovely to just listen to while projecting a few relevant images.

Response Activity:
In the silence read last verse of the above song out loud and ask people to pray, thinking about the following:
Think of a boundary you need to cross, a group or a person who God is calling you to reach out to.
Ask God to show you the way to cross this boundary.
Ask God to be with you .
Ask God to help you to be open to his leading.
Silence for prayer.

Response Activity:
Give everyone a Publisher classic paper aeroplane plan (or equivilent)on a sheet of A4 (decals replaced with world globes and the words on one wing saying “The thing that excites me about Jesus is……. “ and the words on the other wing saying “What is it about my relationship with Jesus that my community cannot live without?”) Ask the congregation to fill in their answers and then make the aeroplane. When everybody is finished, altogether, on the count of three, encourage everybody to launch their aeroplane. Ask everyone to retrieve one areoplane - but not their own. Ask them to have a look at the thing which excites people on their new aeroplane and the thing that the community cannot live without. Explain that these words and beliefs shared now in this church, can be shared again and again.

Lord, take our lips and speak through them;
take our minds and think through them;
take our hearts and set them on fire. Amen.

by W.H. Aitken in Little Book of Prayers (I can't source this benediction any further than the information above - if I had the book, I have lost it! I would appreciate any help or comment.)

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.

Poem/Meditation: Canaanite Mother
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 58 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Mark reading.

Kids: Pink Balloons
By Beverley McGregor, Ashton Scholastic,  with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 19. This goes well with the James reading.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Proper 17 Ordinary 22 B: 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 Left: 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 for worship and related activities. Many people don't know that it snows in some parts of Australia  (other than those of course who confuse us with Austria). If you want to know more about Mt Hotham, please visit
Upper Right: 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. They transform a rather ordinary looking tree. This is my photo and these are my neighbour's candlesticks - so please feel free to use the image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free image from
Lower Right: This is a free image from Imagebank - see my link column at left

Song of Songs 2:8-11

Just a note:
Many of the resources below belong best with Song of Songs,  which probably works better here Down Under 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!

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

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 (pictured at left).

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

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.

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9

Listening Song: Psalm 45: A Noble Theme
By Sons of Korah on their album, Hand to the Plough

James 1:17-27

Found in Before the Amen by Maren C Tirabassians Maria I. Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 105 (pictured at right).  This is in part based on the James reading.

Stories, Poems and Lots of Other Good Stuff: Proper 17
Based on all four readings and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, pages 209ff (pictured at left).

Kids: Webster the Preacher Duck
This is another brilliant book  by Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2006. This goes with the James reading.  The great thing about these books is that they only around $A5 and for a further $A10 (or instead of) you can buy on line the story in any format you need to project the pictures in church.  There are also free activity sheets and for a cost activity books for both teachers and children.  Visit to check out all the excellent resources.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Proper 16 Ordinary 21 B (August 23): Prayer

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 Left: A free microsoft image with text I have added.
Upper Right: My photo, my husband's hands - please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is my photo of a Roman soldier in Petra, Jordan. Not quite sure what he was doing there, but there he was in all his armour.  My image, so  please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.  
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Church Gallery site - see my link column at left.

Resources for Psalm 84
Story: The Grace of God
Story No 1445 in Parsons Bible Illustrator for Windows or at

Dramatic reading of Psalm 84:
I think Rosemary Broadstock and I wrote this one nine years ago and we used three versions of the Bible 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 need 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 each 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
Resources for the Kings reading:
Call to Worship
Found in Before the Amen by Maren C Tirabassians Maria I. Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 114 (pictured at right). 

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

Resources for the Ephesians Reading:
Kids: Armour Drama

Be melodramatic 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 at right).

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. The film clip below has a Standard YouTube License and is not good quality.  It will, however, give you an idea of the clip I am talking about so that you can search for a better quality legal clip.


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:
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.

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.

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.

Service Starters: Solomon
Based on the Psalm and the 1 Kings reading these are found in The All-Age Service Annual Volume 4, published by Scripture Union, 2010, ISBN 9781844275199, page 49.

May be a little more coming as I work on my service for this week.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Proper 15 Ordinary 20 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 Left: A Corel Free clipart to which I added the text.
Upper Right: My reading glasses, my dictionary, my photo - feel free to use them all for worship and related activities. 
Lower Left and Lower Right:  The two images made me think of being drawn into wisdom and the deeper things in life by our relationship with God. The left image is of the Old Ghan Railway crossing the Arkaringa Creek on the Oodnadatta Track - see .  The right image is part of the walkway in the Cradle Mountain National Park - see

Listening Song: Deep Calling Deep
By Margaret Becker on her album, Grace (pictured at left) or on WOW 1996. This goes well with the Ephesians and the Kings reading.

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

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.

Maybe a tad more to come......