Monday, December 18, 2017

Baptism of Jesus B (January 7)

Bible Readings: Genesis 1 1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7 Mark 1:4-11

About the Images:
Upper Left: In rural (and increasingly suburban) Australia, when the water pours out of the top of our rainwater tanks like this, there is cause for rejoicing. It means the dust is gone and all around us everything is washed clean - the very leaves and blades of grass sparkle. It also means that we don't have to worry about our household water supply for a while. This is my photo, and our tank, so feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is my photo from the front of our place at dawn (for more info visit with a line from the song below by Caedmon's Call. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Middle Left: A free Heartlight image - see my links column at left
Middle Right: Beaches never fail to remind me of God's creative power.  This is Hervey Bay in NSW ( This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities. 
Lower Left: This is a free Heartlight image - see my link column at left. 

Listening Song: Who You Are
By Caedmon's Call on their album, In the Company of Angels (pictured at left) or on WOW 2003 .

Children's activity during the service: Rainsticks
Have the children quietly make rainsticks as you worship - use them towards the end of the service
during a reaffirmation of baptismal vows or the benediction or during a hymn or song. A rainstick is made from a tube of cardboard with a handful of rice inside with both ends sealed with sticky tape. They can be decorated any way the kids wish.
Film Clip: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
(pictured at right) There is a great scene in this film where Zachary and one of the boys discusses the meaning of baptism.

Discussion: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
1. Is Zachary Beaver right about baptism?
2. What does it mean for you to be baptised?
3. Do we change when we are baptised? If so, how?

Drama: In the Beginning
Found in Lets Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 7ff (pictured at left
).This voice/reader drama is based on Genesis 1.

Drama: Someone Really Great
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), page 50-51 (pictured at right). This puppet or people drama matches up very well with the gospel reading.

Discussion Questions:

1.When did you first realise that the life God has given you was good and valuable, that God was pleased with you.
2. What changed for Jesus when he was baptised?
3. What changed fro the world when jesus was baptised.
4. What is the blessing for us in baptism?
5. How are we changed in baptism?
6. What is the significance of baptism for us?

Instead of having everyone discuss the above questions, ask one or two people beforehand to prepare a three minute answer to one or a couple of the questions as part of the sermon or teaching time. An added bonus to this exercise is that it is a great way to encourage people to discover their preaching and leadership gifts within the congregation.

Story: Baptism
A modern story about baptism found at - scroll down to Case 2.

Meditation: The Creator's Meditation
By Grace Krag and found in Building Worship Together by Martha Keys Barker and the Fisherfolk, Celebration, 1983, ISBN 0906309212, page 92ff (pictured at left). This goes very well with the Genesis reading. This reading goes very well with selected images and the following music: Grace by Moby from his album, Songs (pictured at right).

Response Activity:
Set up three stations around your worship space. Encourage people to visit all three stations but in any order they wish.
Station 1: Have a stack of printed creeds or affirmations of baptism or your church's baptism service available. Encourage people to softly say the reading aloud at their own pace. Reassure people ahead of time that they will not be a distraction to others - they will make a gentle worshipful hum. If you really think people will be bothered, either play soft music in the background or encourage them to go outside to read it.

Station 2:
Have a sand bowl, the Christ candle and tapers available and a note of instruction in a dim part of the worship space. Ask people to light a taper from the Christ candle and sit and watch the flame for awhile remembering that just as the flame is a light in the dark, so too, they can, with God's help, be lights of hope, peace and justice in a dark world.
Station 3:
This station is very similar to the benediction activity below. Stand beside the baptismal font and as each person comes up to you, mark their foreheads with a cross and say..."Name (whatever it is) God is pleased with you." After doing this, ask them to sit in a quiet space and think about/pray about what these words mean to them.


Have the font near the exit (if a movable font) or have the congregation exit past the font and as each one passes, pour a little water over their hands and say their name and the words "God is pleased with you".
Alternatively have people do this to each other as they leave.


Poem and prayer: by the Jordon
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 68 (pictured at left).  These are based on the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2014, page 5ff (pictured at right).  

Poem/Meditation: The Cheerful Unrepentant Weeds
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 13 (pictured at left).

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Epiphany B (January 6): Gifts/New Directions

Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

About the images:
Upper Left: This image is available from Hermano Leon (see my links at left). There is a lovely collection of "king" clipart and works of art available for us all to use.
Upper Right: This is a free microsoft clipart with my text.
Middle Left, Middle Right and Lower Left: These are free images from Imagebank - see my links column at left

Listening Song: On Earth as it is in Heaven
From The Mission soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (pictured at left). This makes a lovely call to worship. I just put lots of magi paintings and good clip art with it.

Kid's Story: The Story of Baboushka
This is a Russian folktale available everyone and in all sorts of publications. It reminds us not to get distracted from the call of God in our lives.

Poem: The Three Gamblers
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0859105628, page 36 (pictured at right).

Poem: Gold rush
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0859105628, page 38 (pictured at right).

What sort of things distract us today from following God?
What are the gifts God gives us?
What are the gifts which we can give to God?
What are the gifts we can offer to others?

Response Activity:
Give everyone a cut out star. Invite people to write on the star a gift that they wish to give the Christ child. Invite people to place their star near the Christ candle.


Meditation: The Outsiders
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 30.

Kids: The Three Wise Camels
This is another brilliant book  by Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2012. This goes with the Matthew 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.

Worship Activity: Giving to the Lord
By Jim Burns and Robin Dugall in Worship Experiences, Gospel Light, 1999, ISBN, 0830724044, page 38.  This is based on the gospel reading.