Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Proper 28 B (November 14): What Lasts and What Doesn't/Finding Strength When We Are Weak


Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 1:4-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8,

About the images:
Upper Left: A free microsoft image with my text.
Upper Right: Uluru with words from 1 Samuel 2:2. This is my image so please feel free to use this image for worship or related activities.
Middle Left: Another piece of street art from one of the laneways of inner city Melbourne, Australia. For more info on the laneways, Google Melbourne and see the page on "Melbourne laneways" under "About Melbourne" or "Welcome to Melbourne". This is my image so please feel free to use this image for worship or related activities.
Middle Right: A free heartlight image - please see my link column at left.
Lower Left: This is my image so please feel free to use for worship and related activities - it is an image from Beit Shean in Israel. 
Lower Right:  Pretty sure this is a microsoft free clipart with my text - please let me know if it is not

Listening Song: Bearers of the Light
by Michael Card on his album Poiema (pictured at right). This song enhances the Hebrews reading.

Kid's Story: Won't You Help Me
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 35. (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Nottinghill
Show the scene in Nottinghill (pictured at right) where the characters, in the intimacy and safety of their shared meal together, all share their secret fears and insecurities to illustrate Hebrews 10:25.

Film Clip: 2018 Social Revolution
Produced by The Social Media College and available on Youtube this is three years out of date; nevertheless, this is a great way to introduce the helpful hints contained in the Hebrews reading for living in our fast paced world

Drama: The End of the World is Coming
Found in Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0959109186, page 51 (pictured at left). This drama fits with the gospel reading.

Introduction: The Challenge of Our Times
Can't remember the source of the following info - probably the web :-)
"Did you know that....
There is more than one mobile phone per head of population in Finland.
My ordinary car has more computer power than the rocket that took Neil Armstrong to the moon.

Our computers
 at home are out of date the moment we buy them.
The World Wide Web puts people in touch with each other like never before … and simultaneously isolates them.

The miracles of modern science have not eliminated pain and grief and loss and family breakdowns."
Link this to the Hebrews reading.

Discussion Questions:
Do you think we are in times of turmoil and collapse today – in the world, in our society, in our churc
At such times, what sort of things do people place their faith in?

Story: God's
Story 593 in 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching
 by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 1989, ISBN 0801063302 (pictured at left). This story fits well with the Samuel reading.

Story: The Power of Our Words
Found in 
Illustrations, Stories, and Quotes to Hang Your Message On, (as above) page 169 to illustrate Hebrews 10:24.

Story: God's Care
Story 98 in Your Point Being by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at left).  The story sits well with the Samuel reading. 

Adult Response:
nsure that everyone has a small candle and is standing and that you have a lit a large Christ candle that everyone can see. 
Read Hebrews 10:24-25 and explain that we are now going to live out these verses by giving each other the light and hope and encouragement. Light your candle from the Christ candle. Explain that you are going to light one person's candle and at the same time tell them something encouraging. That person will do the same to someone else until everyone in the room has a lighted candle. Tell them that when their candle is alight and when they have lit someone else's and encouraged them, they should sit down with their lighted candle.

Adult Response:
Make tiny (20 will fit on an A4 or letter size) cards/photos/drawings/whatever of the symbols of God found in the Samuel reading - make a total of three times as many as there are people in your congregation. Ask people to select one for themselves and one to give somebody else.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Proper 27 B ( November 07): What's Really Important?

Bible Reading: Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17. Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44

About the above images:
Upper Left: My text on an free image from
Upper Right: This a my photo  of Aussie money - you might prefer to take a photo of your own currency, however the face on the $20 note is that of John Flynn, missionary to the Outback, Australian pioneer, early aviator, explorer and founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This is my image so please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Middle Left:  This is a scale model of the Temple where the gospel reading is set today. This is my image so please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Middle Right: This is my image with words from the Psalm.
Lower Left: Free photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Lower Right: A free clipart from Cerezo Barredo. See my link column at left.

Listening Song: Psalm 127: Unless the Lord Builds the House
By Sons of Korah on their album Shelter (pictured at right).

Kid's Story: A Penny is Everything
This story, based on the Gospel reading is by Walter Wangerin Jr, (one of my all time favourite authors - if you can find anything by him, either for children or adult, it is well worth the read) and Jack Glover, Arch Books, 1074, ISBN 0570060842 (pictured at left).

For Youth or as an Introduction to the Gospel Theme:
"Mr. Bagwell dropped a check into the plate and thought, Boy, I hope next week when they announce the promotions, God remembers that I gave this money.
Mrs. Bagwell watched their hard-earned money go into the plate and prayed silently: God; thanks for blessing us like you have. Please use this gift to reach more people with the gospel.
Andrew Bagwell reluctantly contributed fifty cents out of his five-dollar pocket money and thought, Why does Mum make me do this? I need this more than the church does!
Little Jessica waited until the plate was right in front of her, then she got out her coin purse and dropped in her five cents. Looking around, she noticed several people staring at her. She got all embarrassed because she just knew she had put in the smallest amount."
From Life Application Family Devotions by Len Woods, Tyndale House, 1997, ISBN 0842337504, page 272 (pictured at right).

Encourage people to answer the following question:
What is important to each of these people?
A discussion on this question goes particularly well if you divide the groups into ages that are roughly the same as the four people in the story - in our case, I divided people up into men, women, teenagers, and kids. To free child carers up, I sat in with the kids. 

Film Clip: Hook
(pictured at left) Show the scenes at the beginning when the father (Robin Williams) is too busy to spend time properly with his kids. This clip goes very well with the Gospel reading. 

Discussion: Hook
What is important to the various characters in the clip?
What is important to you?

Film Clip: 39 Pounds of Love
(pictured at right) Show the scene where Ami talks about his weight being equivalent to that of a large turkey and how he uses just a finger on his left hand to make beautiful animations. I found this clip at and I found some really thought provoking comments about the film, and this clip in particular, at It links well with the gospel reading.

Discussion: 39 Pounds of Love
1. What is important to Ami?
2. How does he make the most with what he has?

Film Clip: Two Copper Coins
By Work of the People - see my link at left

Drama: The Shirt off Your Back
In Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (Ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859100186, page 25 (pictured at left). This story is based on the gospel reading. 

When Bart Cummings' horse was scratched in a Melbourne Cup around the time of the Bali bombing, his words were: “Bali is a tragedy, this is just a disappointment”.

Poem: His Widow Complex
By Joseph G Donders in Imaging the Word, Volume 1, Uniting Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809708, page 64 (pictured at right). I have put various images related to the gospel reading with this poem and backed it with Look Back In by Moby on his album, 18.

Mention that it is not only money that we can give to God and the church. Talk about our time and talents .... Encourage people to hold the collection plate for a little while longer than they usually do (you may need to use more plates for this if your congregation is large and you want to finish in a reasonable time) and name in their minds something other than money or material possessions that they have that they can give to God and share with their community.

Communion: Nano- Communion
Roddy Hamilton's nano-communion for the 12 November 2006 is excellent and links in with the gospel reading beautifully. You will find it in his Mucky Paws archives (see link above left).


Kids: Let the Celebrations Begin
By Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Box Press (pictured at left) with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 55 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Ruth reading.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Proper 26 B (October 31): Feeling like an Alien/ Choosing to Love


Bible Readings: Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34

About the Images: 
Upper Left: It is so natural to turn to your Father when things go pear-shaped. This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is a free powerpoint background with words I took from one of those emails which does the rounds of all our computers from time to time (see Useful Quotes below).
Middle Left: The land of Moab today (part of present day Jordan). This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Middle Right: This is a Microsoft free clipart image with my text.
Lower LeftPhoto by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Lower Right: A free clipart from Cerezo Barredo. See my link column at left. 

Listening song: Alien
By Third Day on their album, Conspiracy No 5 (pictured at right) This song fits in well with the Ruth reading.

Kid's Story:
Tell story of Ruth and Naomi as an example of Mark 12:30-31 in that Ruth loves God enough to follow God, and loves Naomi enough to follow and be with her,
Hide the individual words of Mark 12: 30-31 in the congregation on big individual red hearts. Get the kids to find them, and put them in order to work out what the verse says.

Kid's Story: The Runaway Hug
By Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood, Scholastic Australia, 2011, ISBN 9781865044057 (pictured at left).  A delightful story-book which fits in beautifully with the gospel reading.  Thanks to Miranda Walker for suggesting this book.

Youth Time: When you don't fit in.
Do you ever feel like an alien – like a misfit, like you don’t belong?
Tell a story from your own teen years when you felt like you didn't fit in (we all have at least one!). Relate it to Ruth and Naomi and how hard it must have been to live in a strange place and amongst foreigners/strangers.

Voice drama for congregation: Not enough
One: I am a good Christian.
Many: What do you mean?
One: Well, I go to church every Sunday.
Many: That is not enough.
One: I visit my parents.
Many: That is not enough.
One: Well, I’ve never stolen anything, and I’ve certainly never killed anyone.
Many: That is still not enough.
One: What then? What is enough?
Many: You must love God. We must love God. With our hearts. With our minds. With our bodies. With our souls. We must love our neighbors. We must love ourselves.
ALL: Let us put our love into motion as we worship the One who’s taught us to love.
Written by Crystal Sygeel-Lystlund, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Richmond, Virginia. Excerpted from Homiletics, Nov. 2, 1997: Mark 12:28-34.

Useful Quotes: About Love:
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your chips without making them give you any of theirs."
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."
"Love is when you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you any more. But then you get surprised because they love you even more."
"Love is when you tell a boy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."
"God could have said some words to make the nails fall off the cross, but .............. He didn't. That's love."
"Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love others as much as you love yourself." -Jesus
"Love God and do as you like" - St Augustine

Pew Discussion:
Would you rather be known for your goodness or your love? Share your answer with the people on each side of you.

Benediction: Based on an African Version
Project the following words:
The Good News: You are loved
The Challenge: To love
The Invitation: To follow 
Ask everybody to choose the line that means the most to them.
Stand at the door and have the first person who leaves tell you what line they chose and you then tell them what you chose. Ask that person to stand beside you. Have the second person to leave tell you which line they chose and you tell them which you chose, and then have them do the same with the person standing next to you. The second person then stands next to the person standing next to you. Have the third person to leave .......and so on.
When you do this with a whole congregation it takes a bit of time and you end up with a sort of human snake spilling out the door of your worship space; but it is a great end to a service and has literally everyone talking to everyone!


Kids: Let the Celebrations Begin
By Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Box Press,  with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 55 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Ruth reading.

All Sorts of Useful Stuff: Grape Expectations
By Ian Birkinshaw in Multi-Sensory Parables, Scripture Union, 2006, ISBN 9781844272310, page 56 (pictured at right).  This is based on the Gospel.
Drama: Just a Load of Garbage
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verona Johnson (ed) Openbook, 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), page 11 (pictured at left) . This drama is based on the Hebrews reading.