Bible Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45
About the Images:
Upper Left: Just an image of surprise - it is mine so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is a Microsoft free clipart image. I liked the way it portrays God's new life as something that we discover and find in unexpected places and that all of that is part of a reality bigger than the one we see in front of us.
Lower Left: Another excellent free image from the Heartlight site - see my link in the column at the left.
Lower Right: Another excellent free image from Church Galleries - see my link column to the left. This site is one of the few I subscribe to.
Listening Song: Panis Angelicus
By Russel Watson on his album, The Voice (pictured at left). Great song to use for the introduction or during a communion service.
Listening Song: You Raise Me Up
By Selah on their album, Hiding Place, (pictured at right) and on WOW 2005.. This goes well with pretty much all the readings.
Kids: Emotion Faces
As I have mentioned in earlier blogs I have a set of large cards with dinner plate sized round faces drawn upon them. Each face depicts a different emotion; happy, sad, puzzled, angry, surpised etc etc. The gospel story this week really lends itself to these emotion cards. Tell the story (or get a good story teller to tell the story) and either have kids pick the face which goes with a particular part of the story or hold up the appropriate card and get the kids (and the congregation) to mimic the face or act out the emotion.
Give everyone (I am giving one to all the adults as well - why should they be left out of the fun) a small bottle of bubble solution and ask them to blow bubbles without opening their mouths. Have some fun with this before encouraging everybody to blow bubbles. Link: Just as we breathe life into the bubbles so God breathed life into the dry bones, and so God's Spirit breathes life in to us.
Film Clip: The Shawshank Redemption
(pictured at left) After Brooks kills himself after being released from prison and Andy has just completed two weeks in solitary confinement for playing Mozart over the prison speaker system, Red and Andy have a fascinating conversation about hope. Show the conversation.
Discussion: On The Shawshank Redemption film clip
1. What is Red's attitude to hope?
2. What is Andy's opinion of hope?
3. What value is hope for us?
Film Clip: The Hurricane
(pictured at right) Show the scene where Rubin quotes Genesis 49 and tells Lesera (another version of the name Lazarus) that it is Lesera's love that has raised/saved him and given him new life.
Film Clip: Castaway
Discussion: On Castaway Film Clip
What sort of situations cause us to grieve and make us sad?
How can we survive grief?
Artwork: The Raising of Lazarus, 1990
By Pro Hart. Ask people to look at the different expressions on the people surrounding Lazarus. Relate this to the responses some people may have had to Ezekiel's life giving vision. Then ask people to think about how they respond to the Good News of the gospel and mention that, depending on our circumstances at different times, we are not always overjoyed. Ask them to look at the painting to see if they can see their present response somewhere in it.
Bible Reading: John 11:1-45
This is a very long reading for any church service despite being a great story. Try it as a Good News Bible reading via the relevant film clip from the Vision Bible film of The Gospel of John (pictured at left) or read it as a beautiful and moving story from Walter Wangerin Junior's book The Book of God, Zondervan, 1996, ISBN 0310200059, page 756 ff (pictured at right).
Found as story No 31 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at left). Fits well with the gospel reading.
Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 77.
Meditation: Prayers That Jesus Hears
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 93.
Prayer for Others/Response Activity
This one needs a bit of work on your part before the service. Boil the meat off one or two chooks (translate "chicken" for the non Australians) and then dry the bones in an oven (at least you get a good feed for your efforts :-) ) Give everyone a chicken bone before or during the Ezekiel reading. During the prayer for others or response activity project or give out the words of the Bishop Oscar Romaro quote (below). Encourage people in a time of silence to talk to God about a situation they consider to be hopeless or beyond them to solve. Ask them to give the situation to God to deal with by placing their dried bone at the foot of the cross.
Quote: Bishop Oscar Romero"We are living in a black night but Christianity discerns that beyond the night the dawn already glows. The hope that does not fail is carried in the heart. Christ goes with us."
Response Activity: Three Choices
Let people choose between:
1. Watch a powerpoint meditation. I put images and music to Bruce Prewer's From Death to Life found at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~nigel/DocA/24LENT5.htm
2. Group Discussion:
a) How does Jesus' response to Lazarus' death and Mary's weeping help you to trust him more?
b) What have you found helpful when you are called upon to help a friend who is undergoing a hard time?
3. Make cards for people who are sad.
Poem and prayer: shouting at stones
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 24. These are based on the gospel reading.
Response Activity: A matter of life and death
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year A by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2010, ISBN 9780949656919, page 61ff. This is based on the Gospel reading and the old Testament reading.
Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2013, page 79ff.