Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lent 4 A (March 26): You are Special/Looking on the Inside

Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

About the image:
Upper Left: From Wikipedia Commons and therefore free (indexed under "love") .
Upper Right: This is microsoft free clip art with my text.

Lower Left: This is microsoft free clip art with my text.
Lower Right: This is a free Heartlight image - see my link column at left.

Listening Song: Looking on the Outside
By the Allies on their album, Shoulder to Shoulder (pictured at right). This song goes very well with the 1 Samuel reading and is based on the verse about God looking at our hearts more than anything else.

 Listening Song: Into You
By Jennifer Knapp on her album Lay It Down (pictured at left) or on WOW 2001. This also goes very well with the Samuel reading.

Kid's (Adult) Story: You Are Special
By Max Lucado, Christian Art Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1868525791 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Samuel reading. There is also a DVD of this story available.

Activity Related to Above Story

I included all the adults in this activity as well and they loved it. Before the service, make business cards with the words "You are special" printed on one side. Fold each one in half so that the words are on the inside and fix the cards shut with small stickers of stars and dots. Before I read the above story I gave out the cards and I asked everyone to write on the blank outside a couple of words to represent how they thought the world judges/sees them and the way they judge/see themselves. I took pains to explain that nobody else would see these words. After the story, I read the meditation below.

Meditation related to Above story by Rosemary Broadstock c.2002
God is blind…..

To outward appearance
To what seems to be
To labels
To judgement by prejudices
God looks on the heart.
There, God has eyes wide open.

Are our eyes wide shut?
When I look at God’s creation every day,
The stars, the hills, a blue sky, fresh rain
Do I se

When I look at another
Do I take the time
to see?
to listen?
to appreciate?

to marvel? 

When I look at the people of other countries
When I look at an immigrant, a refugee
Do I see God’s child?

When I look at the cross
Do I see the courage, the power
In the face o
f God

When I look at the cross
Do I see
the message
"For You

God sees beyond all fault, all mistakes, all past, all facades.
He sees the child He made.
And God says
“For you are beautiful, Son of Adam
For you are beautiful, daughter of Eve
May we be blind as God is blind
May we be sighted as God is sighted.
And as we learn what really matters, may all our dots fall off.

Take off the stars or dots keeping your card shut and see what God has to say to you.'

Sermon Illustration: A Box of Potential
Found in Case Studies Talk Sheets and Discussion Starters by Jim Burns and Mark Simone, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718842, page 59 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Samuel reading as well.

Drama: How to Install Love
A terrific drama but unfortunately now that we are up to Windows 10 and Mac whatever it is becoming a little dated. It is a great idea and worth modernising if you  have the time. It can be  found at It comes complete with a link to a powerpoint that is necessary for the drama. 

Quote: Paul Tillich
We are free to look at all things unimpeded. But when we are tired of seeing the world in all its disorder, its facades, its hate and separation, its demonic destruction, its adoration of the false, then let us close our eyes. Then we will see someone who looks at us with eyes of infinite human depth and power. And those eyes say to us "come and see".

Offering: Inside Gifts for the Church

During the offering time ask people to think about the person on their right and the person on their left and to think about what inner quality each person has which is a gift to the church. At the conclusion of the offering allow time for people to tell their neighbour what they have been thinking about.

Response Activity: Psalm 23

I first saw a version of this in the MediaCom Whole People of God ( theme conversation for this week in 1999 and have used it in varying ways with psalms ever since. The easiest way to do this activity with a whole congregation is to give everyone (or a groups of people) a printed copy of the psalm with blank spaces where significant words should be. In this case for instance leave out the word "shepherd" and in small brackets or with a verbal explanation ask people to fill in the space with an image they think of as appropriate as a protector and carer. A small child used "father". a mad keen sailing teenager used "captain' and a bushwalker used "guide". Continue through the psalm in the same manner. You will discover that not only do people proudly write amazingly personal psalms , they also write thematic psalms connected to the things they are interested in or hold in high regard. It makes the psalm very applicable and understandable.


Kids: Cecil and Psalm 23
This is another brilliant book  by Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2006. This goes with the Psalm 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.

Opening and Closing Responses for Lent
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 82. 

No comments: