Friday, September 15, 2017

Proper 20 Ordinary 25 A (September 24): The Generosity of God/Focus and Purpose


Bible Readings: Exodus 16:2-15, Psalm 105:1-6,37-45, Philippians 1:21-30, Matthew 20:1-16

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a microsoft free clipart with my text. This image matches the Philippians reading.
Upper Right:
This is my image with text as acknowledged. I took this image in central Australia and you can see what a battle this tree has had to survive by the way it has grown. It seemed to illustrate Pauk Harvey's quote very well. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities. This images match the Philippians reading.

Lower left and right: Free images from the excellent Heartlight site - see my link column at left.

For Kids: Fair Wages

Found in Saving the Ants by Ruth Gilmore, Augsburg, 2001, ISBN 0806640804, page 106. This is based on the gospel reading (pictured at right).

Discussion questions:
How does God help us cope with the uncomfortable things in our lives?
How does God give us hope and strength?

Story: The Greyhound Races
Found in Hot Illus
trations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties Inc, 1994, ISBN 031040261, page 106 (pictured at left). This story illustrates the Philippian words about purpose.

Story: Last Supper Story 2
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties Inc, 1994, ISBN 031040261, page 162 (pictured at left).
This story illustrates the Philippian words about focus.

Story: Bad Tyre, Good Business

In Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks Book 4 by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 2001, ISBN 0310236193, page 33 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the  gospel reading.

Reading: Letter From A Communist
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 105 (pictured at left). This reading challenges our commitment - when you read it, don't tell the congregation who wrote it - let them try to guess.

Poem/Prayer: Realigned Again
A revelation, poem and prayer by Kelly Hall. Music by Tracy Howe Wispelwey/The Restoration Project. This comes from The Work of the People (see my link at left) . This poem prayer is about renewal, surrender, transformation, rethinking and realigning one's life.


Response Activity:
Ask or project: What would you have to change in your lifestyle and in the way you deal with the harder parts of your life in order to live the life God has called you to?
Give out business cards with the words from Psalm 105:3-4: Be glad that we belong to God. Go to God for help. Seek God's presence continually.

Heaps of Service Ideas: All Worked Up
Found in Multi-Sensory Parables by Ian Birkinshaw, Scripture Union, 2006, ISBN 9781844272310, page 50ff (pictured at right). Lots of good stuff here relevant to the gospel reading.
Poem and prayer: working to rule.
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 52(pictured at left). These are based on the gospel reading.

Response Activity: The Generosity of God

Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year A by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2010, ISBN 9780949656919, page 139ff (pictured at right). This is based on the Gospel reading .

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2013, page 198ff.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Proper 19 Ordinary 24 A (September 17): Coping with Difference/Forgiveness/Rescue

Bible Readings: Exodus 14:19-31, Psalm 114, Exodus 15: 1b-11,20-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35.
About th
e Images:
Upper Left: Sign seen in a Lygon Street coffee house in Melbourne, Australia. It says to me that it is not so hard to work with differences - everybody just needs to have a bit of a go.
Upper Right: This is a mediacom free clipart with text from the Matthew West song below.

Lower Left: This is a Bing image - see the copyright details lower left in the image - with my text.
Lower Right: This is a free Microsoft image with a line from the song Only Grace (see below).

Listening Song: What If I Stumble
By dc
Talk on their album, Jesus Freak (pictured at left) This song goes well with the Romans reading and to a lesser extent with the Exodus reading.

Listening Song: Only Grace
By Matthew West on his album, History or on WOW 2007 (pictured at right). This goes very well with the Gospel reading.

Kid's Story; Soundscape
This can be done with a heap of Bible stories but it works very well with this one. It is an old , old idea that has been about in Sunday school and beach mission resources for years and years but it is an oldie that's a goodie! Tell the story of the Exodus using a bucket of w
ater and a wooden spoon or hands to make the sound of the sea, a saucepan and a wooden spoon or a drum or banging feet for the Egyptians, the congregation or a group of children for the crowd and complaining voices, sand in a large flat tin dish and a pair of hands in sneakers or hands patting thighs for marching feet, and a tin whistle or flute played softly or any sort of God noise you can think of for God. Give out the sound effects to a few kids and tell them to use their sound effect every time they hear their key word eg sea, Egyptian, marching, complaining, God. Then tell the story! Make sure you emphasis the key word so that you give the sound effects kids a good warning as to when they are to employ their particular sound effect. It's great fun. Adults like it too!

Kid's Story: Rescue
Found in The Lion's Book of Bible Stories and Prayers by Mary Batchelor, Lion, 1980, ISBN 0867602058, page 8 (pictured at left). This is a lovely kid's version of the Exodus story and it has two prayers for kids as well. I used it with the above soundscape.

Film Clip: Changing Lanes
(pictured at right). This clip fits in nicely with the gospel reading. You will have to give a quick summary of this film because the clip comes from quite near the end when Gavin's boss explains how he has justified an injustice and Gavin then finds Doyle waiting for him in his office. The two men discuss what the day has taught them.

Discussion: Changing Lanes
Gavin and Doyle tell each other that they are sorry for their actions that day.
1. Why can we say sorry for the little things but find it really difficult to say sorry for the things which effect us and others deeply?
2. What is the relationship between our experiences of being forgiven by God and our ability to let go of what others owe us? 
Film Clip: End of the Spear
If you are able to remember the 60's and 70's (all power to you if you can!) you will remember the book and film Through the Gates of Splendour about the five American missionaries who were killed in South America by the indigenous inhabitants. This film (pictured at left) is about the wives and children of the missionaries. They return to evangelise these same indians. I found the clip at (a brilliant site - see my links column at left) under the heading forgiveness. 

Drama ; You Call That Prayer?
Leader: Thank you for all coming today. We welcome you (looks at 2) to your first meeting with us today. We will now close in prayer. Just jump in if you feel like it and I’ll close at the end.
1: Dear God, thanks for bringing us here today and learning more about you.

2. Yes, Lord!
3: Help us to spread the Good News in Bairnsdale (or wherever you live).
Help us to know what to say and do.
2; Oh Yes Lord. Be with us Lord!
4: Help us to grow closer to you. ….

2: Ha
llelujah!! Yes, Lord.
4. AND (slightly frustrated) to grow closer to one another.

2: Yes
Lord, Yes Lord, Amen, Thank you Lord for this group. Thank you Lord that I am able to worship in your holy name. Father, here in this place. Lord, send your Spirit to be with us and guide us. Open our hearts to the leading of your Spirit as we share together. Father, in Jesus wonderful name we praise you. Thank you Lord, Amen.
Leader: (after awkward pause) Um, hear all our prayers spoken and unspo
ken. Amen . Thanks everyone. Before we go any further (looks at 2) I think you should know a few things about our group
1: We don’t go in for all that weird superspiritual stuff.
3: If
you are going to fit in with us you’d better learn a few things.
As each person disagrees in the following dialogue have them step away from the group – by the end they should be against the walls and shouting at each other.

4: Yeah, and we don’t believe in dancing! It leads to all kinds of sinful tho
ughts and lewd behaviour.
1: That’s funny! I don’t have a problem with dancing. Its R rated movies we don’t agree with.

3: Excuse
me? R rated movies? There’s some great R rated’s around at the moment. The censors are just a little over careful. What we really don’t like is people who believe in all that healing miracle stuff.
4: Of course we believe in miracles. My Nana was healed by a miracle. She’s a living
, breathing example! But if you speak in tongues – now that’s another story.
1: Hang on a minute. I speak in tongues. (Sharp intake of breath from other two) You know, you are most likely not going to fit in with us unless you like pop music. We do not believe in COUNTRY music!!!!!
3: He means techno.

4. No… dubstep!

1: The main thing is opposition to R Rated movies.

4: No!!!! It’s the tongues thing

3: It’s the healing miracle stuff
4: Dancing!

1: R
Rated movies!
4: Tongues!

Leader: Welcome to our church!
Copyright Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull ( I am pretty sure this is ours :-) Somebody let me know if you have seen something like it somewhere else).

Drama: The Unforgiving Servant

Found in Lets Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 27 (pictured at right). This is a sort of mine/dramatic reading of the gospel with a chorus. I am going to make the whole congregation the chorus because I think it will be more fun that way and easier to organise.

Drama: What Seems to Be the Problem?
d in Lets Make Another Scene by Verena Johnson, Open Book Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 19 (pictured at left). This is a funny modern-day take on the gospel.

Discussion Questions:
1. Why is it important to concentrate on the basics of faith rather than on those things which separate us?

2. What are some practical ways we can reach out to people who express themselves differently than we do? 
Quote: Meister Eckhardt
"God does not ask anything of you other than for you to let yourself go and let God be God in you".

Response Activity: Pass It On
Found in Multi-Sensory Parables by Ian Birkinshaw, Scripture Union, 2006, ISBN 9781844272310, page 20. This book is really written for small groups but plenty of the activities translate well into worship services. Under this heading there is a brilliant introduction to the gospel and a response that could be used after watching either of the above film clips or after a sermon.


Multi Ag
e Resources: Take a Load Off
Found in Welcome Mat by Beth Barnett, Scripture Union (pictured at left). The whole of session 3 - teaching, activities for children, discussion questions, drama and photocopyable resources - is devoted to the gospel reading. Each session is easily adaptable to worship. Welcome Mat is available from and is worth buying as the other eight sessions are also based on Matthew readings.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Proper 18 Ordinary 23 A (September 10): Extravagant Love/New Beginnings/Second Chances

Bible readings: Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 149, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20

About the Image:
Upper Left:
This is a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my links column at left.
Upper Right: This is a free Imagebank image from their excellent, although slightly disorganised, site. See my link column at left.
Lower Left and Right: This is a free Heartlight image from their site which you can access through my links column at left.

Listening Song: Just Like You
By Keb Mo on his album, Just Like You (pictured a
t left).This goes well with the gospel reading.

Call to Worship: All God's People
Found in Crafts For Creative Worship by Jan Brind and Tessa Wilkinson, Canturbury Press, 2009, page 205 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Romans reading. 

Drama: No Thumping Whatsoever
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 21 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Film Clip: The Day is Near
This goes really well with the Romans reading - it's from the Work of the People (see more excellent clips from their site which you can find via my links column - the clips cost but they are well worth it)


Story: Don't Hire a Hit Man
d in Could Someone Wake Me up Before I Drool on the Desk by Kevin Johnson, Bethany House Publishers, 1995, ISBN 1556614160, page 49 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading.

After read
ing the Romans reading and the gospel reading, divide into groups to discuss together and make a list together of the means by which a Christian community can live in harmony.

Quote: Do It Anyway
Probably written originally by Dr Kent M. Keith and adapted by Mother Teresa. Find the original and the adapted words at

Adult Response:
Give everybody a piece of spring blossom. Tell everyone that the blossom is a sign of spring, new life and new growth. In the silence, encourage people to think of a broken relationship in their lives and encourage them to ask God to show them how to repair it.

Adult Response:
Give everyone a small piece of self hardening modelling clay (1cm cube is big enough for this) and
1. Ask people to mould their feelings about someone they disagree with in their faith community.
2. Ask them to mould the clay back into a ball
3. Ask them to mould the clay into a symbol of Jesus' love for them.
4. Encourage them to take home their symbol as an example of relationship.

Response Activity: Love Your Neighbour  Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year A by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2010, ISBN 9780949656919, page 134ff (pictured at left). This is based on the Gospel reading. 

Poem and prayer: wherever two.
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 52 (pictured at right). These are based on the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2013, page 188ff (pictured at left).

Friday, August 25, 2017

Proper 17 Ordinary 22 A (September 3): Living God's Call

Bible readings; Exodus 3:1-5, Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is made up of two free microsoft clip art images with my text.
Upper right: This is a free microsoft clip art image with my text.
Lower left: This is a fee image from the Heartlight collection - see my links at left.
Lower Right: My image - feel free to use it for worship and related activities.

Film Clip: The Prince of Egypt
Show the burning bush scene from the film The Prince of Egypt (pictured at left)

Discussion: The Prince of Egypt
Where are some places we may meet God?
What do you think God might say to us as a church?

Quiz: Who Am I?

In line with the Exodus reading which points to God using ordinary people to achieve great things, choose a well known ordinary (and lay) person in your congregation who has a significant ministry, and, with their permission, turn their life and ministry into a game of Who Am I?

Discussion: In pairs or fours

1. How does our relationship with God show up in our relationships

a. with outsiders
b. with those we don't get on with, and
c. with those who suffer?
2. Talk together about dreams for our congregation and how we could put our dreams into practice.

Drama: The Sheep
(dressed very simply as a sheep eg. woolly ears wanders up the centre aisle of the church calling out): Hey, where is everybody? Is this Mt Horeb?

Barbara (dressed similarly, at lectern): Yeah, here we are, Bartholomew. Come over here. Did you get lost coming over the desert again?

Yeah, I stopped too long at that first rest area. I'll never be anything but a straggler. (sighs)

Barbara: My word, you certainly missed out on all the excitement today anyway.

Bartholomew: Why, what ever happened?

Barbara: Well, just as Moses was about to have a bit of a smoko after getting us all here he stopped dead in his tracks because right in front of him was this great big humungous burning bush.

Bartholomew: A bush fire - out here?

Barbara: No, no…. not a bush fire just a bush on fire and it didn't burn away like you'd expect it too and .......(whispered loudly) it had an angel of the Lord in it!

Bartholomew: Fair dinkum - you must have all been scared out of your wits.

Barbara: We all scattered like sheep - but I didn't go too far because I wanted to see what happened.
Bartholomew: What did Moses do?

Barbara: Well, you could see he was interested. He went over to have a closer look and God's voice came out of the bush saying "Moses, Moses.

Bartholomew: Wow (breathed) And then?

Barbara: Moses said " I am..m…m…m

Bartholomew: Huh, he'd be stuttering worse than usual, I bet. I can just imagine!
Barbara: God said " Don’t come any closer. Take off you sandals because the place where you are standing is holy ground." Well, by this stage Moses had both his sandals off and he was face down on the ground. He was just too scared to look at God. Mind you, none of us were looking either but I kept my ears open.

Bartholomew: I dunno if I'd have had the guts to hang around.

Barbara: Well, God spoke again. He said "I‘ve seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I am very concerned about their suffering. So I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land flowing with milk and honey - So now, go, I am sending you to lead my people out of Egypt."

Bartholomew: Well, that's a bit of a promotion for Moses - from a leader of sheep to a leader of a whole nation of people! (Looks around) Is he still here? Did he go?

Barbara: Well, actually he had a bit of crisis in confidence. His actual words were "W..w..who am I, that I should g..g..go to Pharaoh and b..b..bring the Israelites out of Egypt."

Bartholomew: Wow, that's almost like giving cheek. What happened to him? Did God give him a bit of a zap or something?

Barbara: Nuh. Nothing. God understood and said " I’ll be with you and when you bring the people out of Egypt you will worship me right here. That’ll be the proof that I have sent you."

Bartholomew: So... then what.

Barbara: Well then Moses got a little cheeky. He said, Ok then, who will I say sent me. In other words “what’s ya name?”
Bartholomew: Ooooh. God must’ve got mad then?

Barbara: No, not really. He just told him “I AM” ….but in a pretty big voice as you can well imagine. Now look! Its time we stopped talking and got in to a bit of serious grass eating. I think Moses is starting to keep a journal – he’s calling it Exodus or something. You’ll find the rest of the story there.

Copyright Ann Scull 1999 - please feel free to adapt - it has Australian figures of speech that may not translate well into other cultures.

Story: Unbaptised Arms
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties Inc, 1994, ISBN 031040261, page 169 (pictured at right). This story is matched with the Romans reading.

Quote: Brother Roger
In the silence of the heart,
tirelessly God whispers to each of us:

"Do not be afraid. I am here".

Response Activity:
Give everyone a small journal (you can sometimes buy tiny little ones in discount shops very cheaply) and ask them to write a few words to God in the silence (or with quiet music playing) about what they think God has been speaking to them about recently.

Father's Day (Australia - and maybe some other places?) Resources:
Listening song; Butterfly kisses By Bob Carlisle on his album of the same name (pictured at right) 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Proper 16 Ordinary 21 A (August 27): Who is this man?/Five Courageous Women

Bible Readings: Exodus 1:8 -2:10, Psalm 124, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20.

About the Image:
Upper Left: A free microsoft clip art cropped and offset with my text added.
Upper Right: This is an image of reeds along the edge of the Nile river in Egypt. It is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.
Lower Left: This is an image of mud brick walls along the edge of the Nile river in Egypt. It is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.
Lower Right: This is a free clipart from Heartlight - see my link column at left.

Introduction to Gospel reading:
Ask people to turn to the person on their right and say one positive thing about that person; then ask them
to turn to the person on their left and say one positive thing about themselves.

Worship Outline: Women at the Water
By Katherine Low and found in Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship by Marin C and Maria I Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, pages 163ff (pictured at right). This is based on the Exodus reading and includes preparation of the worship space, prayers, and scripted readings. Excellent stuff!

Kids: The Ba
by in the Basket                 
Found in The Picture Strip Bible by Felicity Henderson and Chris Saunderson, Scripture Union, 2001, ISBN 18599964970, page 26 (pictured at left)

Film Clip: If You Had not been with us
This comes from the excellent sight, The Work of the People and can be accessed via my links column at left. It is based directly on the Psalm.

Drama: Wake Up and Shake Up
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 44 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the Romans reading.

Poem/Prayer: Was He Cracked, Crooked or Correct?
Found in God Thoughts by Dick Williams, Falcon Books, 1969, ISBN 854915214, page 48 (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Poem/Prayer: Moses
By Roddy Hamilton and found in his archives under 1st August 2008 on his Mucky Paws site (see my Links column at left). I put images with this poem and backed it with the Lisa Gerrard music mentioned immediately below.

Listening Music: The Promised Womb

By Lisa Gerrard on her album, The Best of Lisa Gerrard (pictured at right).

Quote: CS Lewis
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' This is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else He would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." From his book Mere Christianity, too many editions to list but the front of my copy pictured at left!!

Sermon Ideas: Who Are Our Pharaohs? 
Found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year A by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild (Eds.) Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 066422507, page 224 (pictured at right).


Film Clip:Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
(pictured at left) Show the clip where he escapes from the car crusher. It matches beautifully with the Psalm and goes pretty well with the Exodus reading as well. I found this clip on the Wingclips site - see my links column at left or watch it for yourself: Car Escape - Movie Clip from Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker at

For Australians: Refugee and Migrant Sunday: August 27

Listening Song: I Guess I Get a Little Emotional Sometimes
By Paul Kelly and can be downloaded from his site-

TV Series: Go Back to Where You Came From
Watch one of the episodes of this excellent series instead of a sermon. Talk about it together afterwards.   I would suggest you watch either episode two or three. Please check if there are any copyright issues.

TV Clip: Clark and Dawe on Asylum Seekers
Clarke and Dawe have a few of these - I like this one in particular because you can't be accused of siding with a particular major political party if you use it.

Prayer for Others
Have a large map of the world and tea lights
or flowers or both. Ask people to place a lit tea light or a flower on a part of the world where there are refugees in need of our help and prayers. In the background, play the Moby song mentioned below.

Listening Song: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad
By Moby on his album Play (pictured at right).