Sunday, October 30, 2016

Proper 27 Ordinary 32 C (November 6): Fighting Discouragement/New Life





Bible readings: Haggai 1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145 :1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20,27-38.

About the Image:
Upper Left: This image comes from http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa276/crb6498/myspace%20graphics/christian/worshipslide28_659.jpg. I put a line from Josh Groban's song on it.
Upper Right: This image is made with two microsoft free clipart images.

Lower Left: This is a free Microsoft clip art image.
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: Don't Give Up
By Josh Groban on his album, Awake (2006) (pictured at right). You can use this song as a response activity for the Thessalonians reading exactly in the same way as you can use the Susan Aston song (next)  - see the response activity below.

Listening Song: You Move Me
By Susan Ashton from her album, A Distant Call (pictured at left). See below for a way to use this song as a reflective response for the Thessalonians reading.

Kid's Story: The Day It Rained Colours
By Roy Etherton and Leon Baxter, Lion Publishing, ISBN 0856481734 (pictured at right). I us
ed this story with the Haggai reading.

Video Clip: The Trueman Show
(pictured at left) One of the last scenes, where Trueman discovers that the world he had always thought was real was nothing more than an enormous TV set. The scene below, where he discovers the door in the wall at the end of the lake which leads to the real world, relates well to the basic question that the Sadducees ask Jesus in the Luke reading - Is there more to life than just what we see?


Video Clip: Snow Dogs
(pictured at right) Show the scene about an hour in, where Ted meets the grizzly bear and things go from bad to worse. In desperation, he eventually rings the emergency number, but gets a recorded message. You can follow this with a discussion on what sort of measures we take when everything seems to be going wrong , and about what causes discouragement in our lives. This is a good lead in to the Haggai reading or the last verses of the Thessalonians reading.


Discussion Questions: For the Haggai Reading
1. Why are the people in this reading discouraged?

2. How are they encouraged?

3. What is the immediate promise that they are given?

4. What is the long term promise that they are given?

5. What is there in this reading for us?


Poem: Be Like the Bird
By Victor Hugo in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain, Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 66 (pictured at left). This poem fits in well with the Thessalonians reading.

 Response Activity: For the Thessalonians reading
The Josh Groban song is more up to date  but the Susan Ashton song has more than a minute of instrumental music at the end - they both work well so you choose :). Ask people to read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 during this time and pinpoint the words or phrases they think God wants them to concentrate on. Alternatively, instead of asking them to read these verses, give each person a business cards with verse 17 printed on it.

Response Activity: The Church of the Future
Through Haggai, God told the people to keep building their temple. Through Paul, God promised the Thessalonians a fresh heart to keep working at their faith and their new Christian community. Have lots of model making materials available eg; pipe cleaners, paper, cardboard, balloons, glue, string, pencils, ribbon, modelling clay, boxes etc etc. Have people get in groups and ask each group to make a model of their church which portrays they way they think God wants their church to be in the future. N.B. I have done this with numerous groups and I have never yet seen a group make a model of their church building and I have never yet seen a model even remotely similar to another. The combined creativity of a bunch of ordinary people is truly inspiring.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Proper 26 Ordinary 31 C (October 30): Come on Down








Bible Readings: Habakkuk 1:1-4,2:1-4, Psalm 119:137-144, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12, Luke 19:1-10


About the Images:
Upper Left:
Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen found on Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain.
Upper Right:
A free image from Hermano Leon (see my links at left)
Lower Left: A free image from the Heartlight site - 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.

Kid's Story:
The Magpie's Story
by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen, 1988, ISBN 0551015799 (pictured at left).

Drama: Up a Tree
This is a drama which can be used with puppets or two people. You need an old grumpy person or puppet and a young or teenage person or puppet. I think I have written this with a sort of inbuilt Australian accent so if you are not Australian just adapt it or change it as you see fit.

          
Oldie: G'day there young fella!
Kid: Hi Gramps! Did ya hear all about Zacchaeus?
Oldie: Is he that short fat bloke who lives in the huge house on the corner? I hate him. He collects our taxes and he rips off everybody by making us all pay heaps more than we should and keeping most of our money for himself.
Kid: Yeah, that's the man alright.
Oldie: There's al ot of stories going around about him at the moment. Tell us what you know.
Kid: Well....you know the other day when Jesus came to town?
Oldie: I certainly do! I went down to see him myself. By golly, it was a big crowd, wasn't it? It took me all my time to elbow my way to the front of the crowd. I'm glad I took me walking stick! It's an advantage being as old as me sometimes. He, he, he!
Kid: Well, ole Zac had even more trouble than you did! Because he's so short he couldn't see over the crowd so he tried to push and squeeze his way through near where me and my mates were standing. But we all jammed up so that he couldn't get past us. Then we all pretended he wasn't there. It was great fun - me and my mates don't like him any more than you do.
Oldie: Gee, I wish I'd been near you lads. I'd 've helped by giving him a good poke with my walking stick. Accidently, of course.
Kid: Well, Zacchaeus had us beaten in the end because he climbed this big sycamore tree growing by the edge of the road..........just as everybody starts yelling out and cheering because Jesus was coming.
Oldie: Hmmp! Ole Zac sure is cunning. Why didn't you young blokes accidently just shake him out of his tree?
Kid: But Gramps!! You haven't heard the really awesome part of this story yet. Jesus walks right up to the sycamore tree, stops and looks up at Zacchaeus .......... and says "Zacchaeus! Come on down!!!!! I want to come round to your place for tea."
Oldie: Well ! The idea !!
Kid: Zacchaeus nearly falls of his tree......he's so surprised. The rest of us just couldn't believe what we were hearing. Who'd want to stay with a cheat like him?
Oldie: If I'd been there I'd have given Jesus a piece of my mind. It'll only encourage the that little cheat to be even meaner to the rest of us!
Kid: NO! but it didn't. That's the amazing thing! Do you know what Zac said when he climbed down out of that tree? He said he was going to give a half of his stuff away and pay back everyone he's cheated by giving 'em four times as much as he pinched in the first place!
Oldie: I don't believe it!
Kid: Walk around to Zac's place with me now. You'll soon see that it's amazing but it's true!
Oldie: I think I will. Come on
c. Ann Scull

Story: Behind the Shower Curtain
Found in When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado, Word, 1996, ISBN 0849913241, page 51 (pictured at right). This story is based on the gospel reading and the idea of grace.



Communion Invitation: I Did Not know His Name
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 30 (pictured at left).  This is particularly useful if you are using the gospel reading.

Film Clip: The Apostles Creed
From the excellent The Work of the People - see my link at left

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Proper 25 Ordinary 30 C (October 23): Either/Or

























Bible Readings: Joel 2:23-32, Psalm 65, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14.

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is free and comes from www.sundaygraphx.blogspot.com
Upper Right:
This is a Microsoft free clipart.
Lower Left:  This image goes well with the line from the Jars of Clay song below: All said and done, I stand alone amongst the remains of a life I should not own. This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
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: Follow the Word
By Maire Brennan on her album, Whisper to the Wild Water (pictured at left). This song goes very well with the Joel reading.

Listening Song: Worlds Apart
By Jars of Clay on their album, Jars of Clay (pictured at right).
This song is the prayer of the tax collector but it is also the prayer of the repentant pharisee.

Film Clip: Mr Deeds
I showed the clip where John Deeds goes out to dinner with New York's influential businessmen. I found this clip at Wingclips (see my link to their site at left).  This goes really well with the gospel reading - see service idea below. 
Watch this clip at:
http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/mr-deeds/good-manners



Film Clip: Mapoon Appeal
The story behind this appeal is a great story reminiscent of the Joel locust story.  The people of Mapoon always dreamed and hoped to return and they have lived up to their dreams and visions. And if your church could help them out a little, that would be even better.

Mapoon Appeal from Uniting Church in Australia on Vimeo.

Discussion Question: For Luke
1. If we transferred the Pharisee into the twenty first century, who would he be?
2. If we transferred the tax collector into the twenty first century, who would he be?
3. When have we unconsciously uttered the prayer "Thank God, I am not like the Pharisee"?


Drama: Judging From Appearances
Found in Red Letter Days by Paul Burbridge and Murray Watts, Hodder and Stoughton, 1986, ISBN 034038347X, page 59 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: Two Boys

This is the Pharisee and the Tax Collector transferred into the school yard. It works well with two adults acting as little kids or with two teenagers - you may have to adapt some of the dialogue depending on which of those above options you choose. Feel free to adapt it in any way which suits your congregation.


Narrator: Hi. I'll be telling you all a story today. This story is usually about two men - one is a pharisee and one is a tax collector, but today the pharisee is going to be a school kid who thinks he's really good. His name is Gordon (Gordon enters). And the tax collector is going to be the school bully. His name is Leroy and he is really mean. (Enter Leroy).
Leroy: Here, take that ya little wimp! (Biffs Gordon across his head).
Gordon: Ohhhh....that hurt! Leave me alone you big bully. I'm gunna dob on you!!!
Leroy: Keep ya mouth shut or you'll get another one!
Narrator: One day Gordon and Leroy both went to church. Gordon sat down all by himself and started to pray in a really loud voice.
Gordon: I thank you, God, that I don’t ever cheat or lie or bash kids up like everybody else does. I'm glad I'm not like Leroy over there. He steals my lunch and hits me all the time. I always read my reader and sometimes Leroy makes me read his as well. And I always put my collection in the plate on Sunday morning!
Narrator: Well, as you can see Gordon thought he was pretty good and he really wanted to impress God. However, Leroy, the bully, sat all by himself in church too but he prayed very sadly and very differently.
Leroy: Oh dear, Lord, I don't know what to say. I feel really terrible. I am very sorry for all the bad things that I have done. Please help me.
Narrator: God would have liked Leroy's prayer because Leroy knew he'd done bad things and he wasn't afraid to tell God that he was sorry. He knew it was OK to tell God the truth. (Leroy leaves). Gordon, on the other hand, was just out to impress God. (Gordon flounces off with his nose in the air). See ya later kids.
c. Ann Scull

Poem: God's Spirit Poured Out
By Hildegard of Bingen
in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 54. (pictured  at right). This poem fits well with Joel reading.

Verse: Great Soaring Spirit

By Brian Wren in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 57. (pictured  at right). This verse fits well with the Joel reading.

Responsive Prayer: Litany

From the Iona Community Worship Book
in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 57. (pictured  above right). This prayer fits well with the Joel reading.

Service idea:
I used the gospel reading, the film clip above, both the dramas above and a couple of stories and presented them one by one. After each one, I asked the congregation:
1. Who is the Pharisee?
2. Who is the tax collector?
3. Who am I most like?
I got them to talk about the first two questions and think about the third with the aim of helping people understand that in different situations we can be either the pharisee or the tax collector.
I then asked them to walk around and look at a collection of advertising postcards and pictures which I have collected over the years and which I laid out all over the worship space before the service began. I asked everyone to select six cards - three which they thought best described themselves when they are pharisee-like and three which best described themselves when they are tax collector-like - and to arrange them either on the floor or somewhere they could look at them easily.
I concluded by playing the Jars of Clay song (see above)


Proper 24 Ordinary 29 C (October 16): Never Give Up












Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31:27-34, Psalm 119: 97-104, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8

About the Image:
Upper Left:
This image comes from the Sunday Graphx site (http://sundaygraphx.blogspot.com/) and makes a good thematic background for your digital slides if you are concentrating on the Jeremiah reading.
Upper Right: The quill is from free Microsoft Clip art so feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This image is free from the the Heartlight site - see my link colum 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: Written on My Heart
By Plus One on their album. The Promise or WOW 2001 (pictured at right). The words of this song are inspired by the Jeremiah reading.

Film Clip: Psalm 121 (an alternative Psalm for the day).
Found at http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/visual-liturgy

Film Clip: It's Not Your Fault
This clip is found in the film Good Will Hunting (pictured at left) and on YouTube under the above heading.  I hesitate to suggest this clip because you would have to be very careful where you showed it and how you showed it in the context of worship.  It has very many expletives - nevertheless if you have a bleeping system or whatever, maybe it would be a possibility. Be that as it may, I have never seen a clip which so obviously illustrates Jeremiah 31:29-30 and which has the ability to reduce me to tears every time I see it.

Discussion Questions: For the 2 Timothy reading                      
1. What should we persist with in our own personal faith?
2.What sort of things is Timothy encouraged to persist with?
3. What sort of things should we persist with together?
4. Are people fighting battles we know nothing about?
5. How deep does our commitment to each other go?
6. What scripture do you have written on your heart?
7. What does it mean for our congregation to live in confidence and hope?


Story: The Horse Trader
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth by Wayne Rice, Zondervan 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 86 (pictured at right). I think this is a good introduction or a good youth story for the 2 Timothy reading.

Story:Forgiveness                                            
Found as story No 75 in
Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at left). This story matches up well with the Jeremiah reading.

Story: God, the Recreator.
I have a beautiful clock made by a man who makes all his clocks out of wood from houses which have been pulled down. For God, nothing is too far gone to be restored or recreated into something of beauty - God's promise in the Jeremiah reading.

Quote: Harold Kushner
"I read the Torah as Jews have read it and loved it for centuries. For example, I can tell you what is the middle word in the Torah. I can tell you what is the middle letter in the Torah. Over the generations Jewish scholars have read the Torah not as a novel to see how it ends, but as a love letter. For instance, ‘Why did he use this word instead of that word?’ ‘Why is there a space here?’ ‘Why a comma here instead of a period?’ That’s the way you read a love letter and wonder, ‘What did he or she mean by this word?’ We Jews have seen the Torah as not just a book of stories or law codes, but as a love letter from God." Comment by Rabbi Harold Kushner on VISN TV or in Questions of Faith.  Sorry I cannot source this any better as I have neither seen the TV program or read the book.  When I procure a copy of the book I may be able to give you more information. Nevertheless, it is a lovely quote to introduce today's Psalm 119 reading.

Response Activity:
Give everybody a red heart cut out of paper or cardboard and a pencil. Ask people to write a short prayer about faith and persistence.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Proper 23 Ordinary 28 C (October 9): Living in the present







































Bible readings: Jeremiah 29:1,4-7, Psalm 66:1-12, 2 Timothy 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19

About the image:
Upper Left:
This comes from a great free lectionary based image site: Hermano Leon Clipart. You will find a link to this site in my link column at left. Well worth a visit.
Upper Right: The image comes from a now defunct free worship image site. I put the text onto it.
 
Lower Left: This is a free image from Cerrezo Barredo - see his site in 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.

Prayer Brighten My Heart
Found in Celtic Prayers by Robert Van de Weyer, Hunt and Thorpe, 1997, ISBN 1856082814 page 43 (pictured at left). This makes a lovely opening prayer.

Listening Song: Speechless

By Steve Curtis Chapman on his album, Speechless or on WOW 2000 (pictured at right). This goes very well with the Psalm reading.

 Listening Song: Unspoken
By Jaci Valasquez on her album Unspoken or on WOW 2005 (pictured at left).  This song fits in very well with the Jeremiah reading.


 Listening Song: From a Distance
By Bette Midler on her album, Some People's Lives (pictured at right). This makes a great introduction to the following discussion linked with the Luke reading.

Discussion:
How do/What happens when we keep people at a distance?
How do/What happens when we keep God at a distance?

Video Clip: As Good As It Gets
(pictured at right). Play the restaurant scene which is about 1:35-40 minutes in.

Discussion: As Good As It Gets
1. Think of examples where Jesus met somebody and their whole life was transformed.
2. How does this happen?

Drama: Unclean, Unclean.
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 227 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: I'm At The Synagogue
Found in Let's Make a Scene by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, page 27 (pictured at right) . This drama is based on the gospel reading,

Story: Attitude of Gratitude
Found in The New Century Version Youth Bible, Word, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 1040. This story is based on the gospel reading.

 
Story: Faithfulness of God
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993. Story No. 200. This story is based on the gospel reading.

Who Am I? John Newton
Play a who am I game with John Newton as the subject: a man who came face to face with God.

Response Activity:

Ask:
1. What is it about your relationship with Jesus that the world cannot live without? (a Bill Easum question)
2. How can you share it this week....without words?!

Response Activity:
1. Project the poem Falling In love by Father Pedro Arrupe (attributed) line by line on a screen accompanied by images and music. You can find this poem at http://www.arrupe.org/pl/sentence.html
2. Hand out the poem printed on a sheet of paper and allow people time to sit and absorb the words.
3. Finally project the following questions at thirty second or one minute intervals.
a. Who are you in love with?
b. What fills your heart and your head and your time?
c. What seizes your imagination?
d. If God the Creator, Saviour, and Enabler does not figure largely in your answers, maybe it's time to return, like the Samaritan leper, to deepen your relationship with Jesus?
(I have lost the acknowledgements for this activity - not sure if it is mine or belongs to someone else. Let me know if you can source it).

Response Activity: For the Jeremiah reading

How do we work for the peace and consequent prosperity of the communities where we are?
Give everyone a piece of A4 paper folded into three with each section labelled as follows: my church, my community, my world.
Encourage people to either discuss together or work alone in order to jot down practical ways they can work for peace in each of these three areas.