Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent 2 A (December 4): God's Bigger Picture

Bible readings: Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12.

About the Images:

Upper left:  This is my photo so please feel free to use this one for worship and related activities also. It is of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I liked the way the rainbow is seen through the framework of our world - i.e., there is a bigger picture greater than the one we see.
Upper right: This is also my photo with text. I did some work in one of the areas devastated by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (when 173 people lost their lives). This is the amazing regrowth which occurs in the Australian bush weeks after a fire. Trees which seem dead grow leaves close along their trunks - epicormic growth- and ferns pop out of layers of ash. Please feel free to use this photos for worship and related activities. For more information about the fires, wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive and coherent report of what happened at
Lower Left: This illustration is by Cerezo Barredo.  Unless you speak Spanish, the easiest way to access his lovely line drawings is to go through Textweek (see my link at left) and scroll down to the Graphics and Multimedia section. There is a new one each week.

Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website. These images are very reasonably priced,  however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at

Listening Song: Prepare ye the Way of the Lord
From the soundtrack of Godspell (pictured at left).

Who Am I?
I was born in 1931.

My father was a school teacher.
I spent three years as a high school teacher before I
was ordained.
I am a small person with a huge laugh.
I bounce into room full of joy and delight.
I can put people at ease easily.
I catch people's attention.
I use my hands when I speak.
My eyes twinkle behind gold rimmed spectacles.
I am passionate about God, Christianity and my country.
I have spent my life fighting against injustice and racism.
I have shared my vision with kings, presidents and all sorts of world leaders.
I believe in a world where black and white can go hand in hand into a glorious future.

I believe each person in the world is a creature of infinite value made in the image of God.
I am confident of the future because I believe in God's faithfulness and p
ower to deliver those who ask for help.
I am Desmond Tutu.

Story: Get a Bigger Frying Pan
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 67 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the Isaiah reading.

Discussion Questions:
1. What is God's picture of our church?
2. What is God's picture of our community?
3. What do you think is God's picture of the world?
4. How can we help to make that vision a reality?

Poem: The Stump
Found in In Due Season by Herbert F Brokering, Augsburg Publishing, 1966 (pictured at left) in the Summer section under Isaiah 11:1. I put images with this poem and used backing music. I used UK by Burial on their CD, Untrue (pictured at right).

Poem: Warning
By Jenny Joseph and often know by its first line "when I am an old woman I shall wear purple". Easily found by googling. It is a poem about not being dictated to by the expectations of our society.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Advert 1 A (November 27): Waiting! Anticipation! Celebration

Bible readings: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

About the images:
Upper Left: This is a free microsoft clip art.
Upper Right: This is a free microsoft clip art. The text is the last line of Judyth Hill's poem (see below).
Lower Left : This is my image and is copyright free for use in worship and related activities. The text comes from Judyth Hill's poem (see below).

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

Well!  Here it is, the start of another church year!  Happy New Year folks and a big thankyou to all 1500+ of you who visit this page weekly.  It is your visits which keep me sitting down each Sunday arvo to write another post.  Grace and peace, love and laughter to you all.

 Listening Song: I Wish We'd all Been Ready
By Cliff Richard on his album, Yesterday, Today, Forever (pictured at right) or by dc Talk on the WOW 1998 music collection.

Prayer: Open Our Eyes
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 35 (pictured below left).

Advent Response: Behind the Corridors of Space
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 19. (pictured at left).

Meditation: Waiting
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 20 (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Are You Smarter Than a Fly 1: Christmas Pudding
This comes from a lovely little site called Max 7 . To save you time the exact address for this clip is: The clip is for kids but is equally useful for adults.

Discussion: Are You Smarter Than a Fly 1: Christmas Pudding
Have a go at answering the blowies question: What are you supposed to do when God comes to visit?

Film Clip: What is Advent Again?
Made by De La Salle - an excellent youtube clip

Drama: Asleep
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 29 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the Romans reading.

Drama: Waiting
Found in Let 's Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 70. This goes really well with the gospel reading.

Story: Unarmed Officers
Index 3894-3899
from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990 or go to and look at the illustration under Romans 13:12.

Story: Blind Mules
Index 503-506 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990 or go to and scroll about half way down the page. This story is also based on Romans 13:12.

Story: St Augustine's Conversion
This story is found on the web everywhere and is a good one to use. The verses he read are said to be Roman 13:11-14.

Story: Evangelism: Presence

Found as story No 56 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at right). This story fits well with the Romans reading.

Poem: Wage Peace
By Judyth Hill. You can find this poem all over the web by googling the title and author. Written in response to 9/11 it fits well with the readings for today. Try putting music
and pictures behind the words via powerpoint or similar software. Don't necessarily use 9/11 pictures - people are at war in all kinds of ways everywhere. Use pictures conjured up by Paul's words ("quarrels and jealousy") in the Romans reading. I used the music "The Journey Home" by Joan Doan on the CD Celtic Twilight Volume 2 (pictured at left).

Poem: All Earth is Waiting
by Alberto Taule and found 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 82. I matched the words with images and music from Incantation by Lorema McKennet on her album, An Ancient Muse.

Response Activity: Pinning Our Hopes on Jesus (i) and (ii)
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 54 and 56 (see picture above).

Response Activity: Advent Angels
I have done this on the first Sunday of Advent at any congregation where I have not done it before; irrespective of the lectionary year. Ask everybody in the congregation to write their name on a small card as they come in the door at the start of the service. Collect these all in a collection plate or whatever. At a given point in the service, explain that everybody is to have an anonymous advent angel who will pray for them for the duration of Advent (and may do other stuff as well such as sending an anonymous note of encouragement - but at the very least they will pray). Send the plate around and ask everyone to take one of the cards - they will become an advent angel to the person on the card they selected. NB Someone always pulls out their own name so make sure that they swap with somebody else or with you. This idea has been around for years but a good description of it can be found in Seasons of Celebrations by Patricia Mathson, Ave Marie Press, 1995, ISBN 0877935661, page 32 (pictured at right).

Response Activity: Complacency
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2010, ISBN 9780949656911, page 12. This works well with the gospel reading.

Response Activity: Three Doctrines
I printed a quote out from Barnabas (early second century) in large hollow print as follows: "The doctrines of the Lord are three: the hope of life is the beginning and the end of our faith; righteousness is the beginning and end of judgement; and glad and joyful loveis the evidence of the works of righteousness." I asked people to sit with the quote and then to colour in the phrase which spoke to them most and which helped them to connect with God. I found the quote in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year A by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild (Eds.) Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 066422507, page 5.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Christ the King C (November 20): Servant Power

Bible readings: Jeremiah 23:1-6, Luke 1:68-79, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:27-38

About the image:
Upper Left:
This image comes from It makes a great backround slide and comes in three languages: english, spanish and portuguese (I think).
Upper Right: I found this image on It is one of the earliest photos ever taken of lightning. The copyright has expired because it was taken in 1902. As human beings we tend to think we are pretty powerful and can do/build just about anything but compared with nature's power we look a tad insignificant and compared to God's power .....well........
Lower Left: A free image from the Hearlight site - see my link column at left.

Kid's Story: I'm the Boss of You

Tell a story - preferably from your own life if you have one (not a life - you all have one of those - a story :) )  where you suffered some sort of bullying as a child or a situation where another child took an unfair advantage of "I'm the boss of you" sort of story. Use this to lead into a discussion of good and bad power and how we recognise and deal with both sorts of power.

Listening Song: Boss Of Me
By They Might Be Giants on their album, Malcolm in the Middle (pictured at left)
. This song relates to the activity above but it is also a good song to introduce a discussion/sermon/whatever on the type of power which necessitates that there is always a winner and a loser. You can compare this sort of power with God's power where everybody ends up a winner.

Listening Song: Thief
By Third Day on their album, Third Day (pictured at right).
This song gives an interesting take on the Luke 23 reading.

Listening Song: He Reigns
 By the Newsboys and found on their album, Adoration (pictured at left), Sparrow Records. This goes well with the Colossians reading.

Film Clip: Ben Hur
The last scene, where Jesus' blood trickles down the cross and mixes with the rain in a puddle, which runs down to a creek, and then to a river and then out to sea, is a good example of the implications of Jesus' death and kingship.

You probably only need the first minute of this clip.

Prayer: Christ the King Prayer

Found in Seasons of Celebration: Prayers, Plays and Projects for the Church Year by Patricia Mathson, Ave Marie Press, 1995, ISBN 0877935661, page 162 (pictured at right).

Responsive Reading: Colossians 1:15-20
Use two versions of this reading - (I used NRSV and Laughing Bird) and have the congregation read it verse by verse, translation by translation, to each other as you would in a normal responsive reading.

Introductory Activity: What Sort of King Was Jesus?
Have as many pictures as you can find of Jesus and pin them up all over the worship space. In one
church, I pinned them to the end of each pew, at another I put them on the walls and at yet another i spread them out on the floor around the communion table. Ask people to walk all around and look at them all. After a few minutes ask people to stand near the one that they like the most and ask them to talk to any body else who likes the same picture. depending on the size of your congregation, you may alternatively ask everybody to share why they chose a particular picture.

Word Association Game:
Read out a list of kingly qualities(eg power, justice, ruler etc) and ask people to write the first word that comes into their heads each time. Then read out a list of words describing
Jesus and his death (eg cross, servant, death etc) and ask people to do the same again. This is a game that will lead well into the anticipated style of King people thought Jesus should have been and what he was actually like.

Drama: Guides for all Occasions
Found in Mega Drama 6 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book Publishers, 2002, ISBN 0859109208, page 13 (pictured at left). This drama is based on Colossians 1:13,14.

Story: Stronger Than Hatred
Found in The New Century Version Youth Bible, Word, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 191 (pictured at right). This is a story about God's power.

Story: Lasting Impact

Found in The New Century Version Youth Bible, Word, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 1054 (pictured at right). This story is based on the Luke 23 reading.

Story: Do Something
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks Book 4 by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 2001, ISBN 0310236193, page 45. (pictured at left). This is story about God's power realised in us.

Response Activity: Praying With Icons
Found in Prayer: Heart of the Pilgrimage by Jenny Youngman, Upper Room Books, 2007, ISBN 0835898369, page 58. I adapted this slightly by having numerous and various business size pictures of Jesus available at the start of the service for people to choose from. This meant that everyone for the duration of the service, and not just for this activity, had a small picture to hold on to. It also meant that they could repeat the activity again at home if they wanted to.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Proper 28 Ordinary 33 C (November 13): Following God/Perseverance

Bible Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19

About the Images:
Upper Left and right :Free clipart from - see my link column at left)
Lower Left: Free clip art from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left

Kid's Story: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Judith Vorst and Ray Cruz, Angus and Robertson, 1972, ISBN 0207151375 (pictured at right). Finish with an assurance that God is always with us.

Listening Song: Legacy
By Nichole Nordeman on her album, Woven and Spun or WOW 2004 (pictured at left).
This song goes very well with the Thessalonians reading.

Exercise: Fake Money
Ask all the youth to come forward for free money. Give them Monolopy money and then have a discussion on how you tell the difference between real money and fake money. Relate this to "who do we listen to" below and the Luke reading.

Film Clip: Ice Age
Show the scenes at the very beginning of this film where Scrat holds on to his nut no matter what happens. (pictured at right and seen below). This clip goes very well with the Thessalonians reading.

Film Clip Group Discussion: Ice Age
1. How is Scrat a picture of perseverence?
2. Make a list together of some of the things in life you think are worth persevering with?

Film Clip: Titanic
(pictured at left )The scene near the beginning when everybody is on the wharf just before boarding the Titanic and all the claims are made about how strong and beautiful - and unsinkable - the Titanic is. This fits well with "Who do you depend on" below and the Luke reading.

Discussion: On the Thessalonians reading
How an we encourage each other not to be discouraged, to never give up, to persist?

Story: Leadership

Found as story No 147 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at right). This fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.

Story: Sewing the Sheets
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 68
(pictured at left). This fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.

Story: Prophecy/Harper's Weekly
Index 2889-2894 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Who do you turn to?" below and the Luke reading.

Story: Fear

Index 856-859 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Where do you get Your words?" below and the Luke reading

Drama: Who Do You Depend on
This drama is based on the Luke reading for this week. Use hymns, the film clip, poems, stories and prayers between the sections and do not have a sermon.

Reader: Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God.

A: (looking around) Isn’t this just the most beautiful church, you’ve ever seen?

B: Yes, we definitely have the nicest one in ........... (put your own town here).

A: We dedicated it to God, and he certainly has blessed us!

B: I’m sure the others in town would love to have what we’ve got.

Reader: But Jesus said: As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.

Reader: They asked Jesus:
A and B: Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?

Reader: He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming,

A: I am the One!

B: The time is near!

A: Follow me

B: Listen to me!

Reader: But Jesus said: Do not follow them.

Reader: Jesus said: When you hear of wars and revolutions.....
A: The war in
Syria reached a new intensity today as missiles landed.........
B: The residents of the city continue to live in fear. Police have been unable to withstand rioters and looters.....

Reader: Jesus said: Do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

A: Military exercises continued today in foreign waters. Response was swift with ....

B: Planes carried out a surprise bombing attack before daybreak today .....

Reader: Jesus said: There will be great earthquakes

A: More than one hundred thousand people lost their lives in a devastating earthquake. Authorities say the quake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale ....
Reader: ......sickness.......

B: These virus’s continue to spread our the community. Health authorities claim they are in epidemic proportions and show no signs of letting up ....
Reader: .........famines in various places,.............

A: Two more shipments of food reached port but never made it to the starving masses. Warlords continue to control .......

Reader: Jesus continued: Fearful events and great signs will come from heaven.

B: Scientists claim two asteroids are on a collision course...

A: How much science fiction can become actual reality?


Reader: Jesus said: But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you.
A: You’re under arrest!

B: Take that!

A: No video tape so lets give ‘em a good thumping!

B: Teach them a lesson!

Reader: Jesus said: They will deliver you to synagogues

A: Don’t you know the stories about Jesus aren’t really true?

B: If your Christianity really worked you wouldn’t be suffering like this.....

Reader: ... and put you in jail

A: We’ll put you away for good!

Reader: ......and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.

B: Why do you believe when it is against the law?

A: You are going against the very things your country stands for. You traitor!


Reader: But this will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry before hand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

B: Well, actually, you make a lot of sense.

A: I think I’ll have to think about this - you have a point.

Reader: You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends.......

B: Come on, I’m your mother. After all I‘ve done for you, how can you waste your life following Jesus.

A: I’ve been your best friend since kinder. You’re too smart for all this. You’ve been brainwashed.

Reader: and they will put some of you to death. All people will hate you because of me.

A and B: Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!

Reader: But Jesus said: "But not a hair of your head will perish.
By standing firm you will gain life.”
c. R. Broadstock and A. Scull (please feel free to adapt)

Response Activity:
For the Thessalonians reading
Have a large mural sized piece of paper that all your congregation can fit around (or multiples thereof)  and have lots of felt markers (textas) available. In the middle of the paper have the three main points from the Thessalonians reading written in very large letters: Follow Instructions, Do Your Bit, Never Give up. Ask people to visualise in turn their lives, their families, their workplace and their church community. Allow a little time for them to think about their contribution to each of these areas - what they contribute to make each of these areas a place of worship and service and places imbued with God's love and understanding. Encourage them to write unsigned responses on the paper (encourage people to use it like a graffiti board).

N.B. I used this idea in 2004 and I am not sure (forgotten) if this idea is mine or somebody gave it to me. I am happy to acknowledge a source if someone can enlighten me.

Benediction: Breathe
Based on Isaiah 65 and from the excellent Work of the People site (see my links at left).