About the images:
Upper Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with text from www.laughingbird.com - a great site for an Australian paraphrase (among other things).
Upper Right: I decided this flood photo fitted all three possible titles for the readings this week:-
Rescue: this house is certainly in need of rescue,
Mission Not Quite Impossible: Of all the places it could have come to rest - such as the middle of the river! - the house actually came to rest right beside a road.
Making a Positive Impact: the owner of this house made a very positive impact when he was interviewed - he basically said "it's just a house, not a life, that has been lost".
Lower Left: This is a free Heartlight image. See my link column at left.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week. Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com
Listening Song: Grace
By U2 on their album, All That You Can't Leave Behind (pictured at right). The song title says it all. This is a brilliant and moving song.
Kid's Story: The Good Stranger
Found in Stories Jesus Told: Favourite Stories From the Bible by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen, Zondervan, 2007, ISBN 101859855881 (pictured at left) or in a separate volume under the same title published by Harper Collins, 1995.
Video Clip: Mission Impossible 2
You can relate this clip (one impossible mission after another!) to the Amos reading.
Video Clip: Pay It Forward
(pictured at left) You can connect chapter 31 - when Trevor's Mum forgives her Mum - to the Colossians reading.
Discussion: Pay It Forward
What is grace?
When have you seen an example of grace?
Video Clip: Mr Holland's Opus
A great clip about how everyone, no matter who they are, has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Film Clip: The God Samaritan
This lovely little clip is found at http://www.max7.org/resource.aspx?id=2defafcc-c191-4314-81c4-78ce0d07526a&creatinguser=1
Can church work get in the way of love and compassion?
Discussion: On Amos
1. Discuss a time when you have had to start again - pick a painful restart or a less painful one - it doesn't matter.
2. Share what was hard in the new beginning.
3. Share what was easy.
1. What are some of the good things about starting again?
2. What are some of the more difficult things about starting again?
3. How were the people of Israel asked to start again?
4. What did God and Amos use as an image?
5. Who opposed Amos?
If someone was asked to hold a plumb line against our congregation, how would it hold up?
Quote: Paul Harvey
If you don't live it, you don't believe it".
Story: Practising the Existence of God
By Philip Yancey in Rumours of Another World, Zondervan, 2003, ISBN 0310255244, pages 223-4. This is a series of grace stories set in South Africa at the time when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
Response Activity: The Good Samaritan
Ask people to consider, at this point of their lives, who do they relate to best:
The lawyer: so busy debating the issue that he cannot see the need,
The people who pass by: so busy with religious duties that he cannot help
The beaten up man: accepting help from somebody he would rather not accept help from
The Good Samaritan: responding to a need even when he knows he is seen as inadequate.
Leave some silence for them to talk to God about it.
Response Activity: Grace
Have A4/letter sized paper (art paper is best but ordinary paper will do), plenty of pencils, paints and crayons available, flat tabletops or whatever to work on ( I use various spaces in the worship area and rooms nearby) and the following instructions either projected or printed on small cards.
1. Take some time in silence to concentrate on God.
2. On the paper, make a drawing of your life so far - it can be a time line, a series of small drawings or symbols, a diagram, a graph - whatever. Take your time and use what you are doing as part of your praying.
3. Take a bright colour you have not used on the paper anywhere and circle or shade the parts of your life where you can see God's grace at work.
4. Somewhere on the paper make a "what next" area and as you do, ask God to show you what's next for you.
Allow about ten minutes for this activity. To conclude, you could ask everybody to place their work in an area accessible to all so that people can wander about enjoying what has been created or you could encourage people to each say a one sentence prayer which thanks God for something they have discovered whilst doing the activity or....you could do both.
Hmmmm who's idea is this? - I think it is mine but let me know if you think it is yours.
Mediative Listening Song: Dies Irae
By Libera on their CD, Libera (pictured in an earlier blog).
Meditation: The Good Samaritan
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 75. This goes well with the gospel reading.
Kids: The Good Samaritan
By Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2006. This goes with the Matthew reading. Absolutely the best story series around for kids and adults. My whole congregation is delighted every time we use one of these wonderful books.