Saturday, October 14, 2006

Proper 24 Ordinary 29 Pentecost 20 B: Looking at the Bigger picture

Bible Readings: Job 38:1-7, 34-41, Mark 10:35-45
Theme: Looking at the Bigger Picture

About the photo: This is Australia Rock near Narooma in New South Wales, Australia. Unless you stand in front of the Australia shaped hole you cannot see the bigger picture -the sea beyond. From the side, one can mostly see just a rock wall. Nobody is quite sure how the hole was made but it is known that ships used to tie up here in the early days. For more info about Narooma visit
Kid's talk: God is Here
Have each letter of the words "God is Here" on separate cards and scatter them about the worship space. Get a couple of people to adlib a conversation about the whereabouts of God and their difficultly working out just where God is - especially when things go wrong. Have a third person join the conversation by noticing the scattered cards. Together, with the help of children in the congregation, sort out the cards so that they spell out the words "God is here" and then work out how these words apply to the conversation about the whereabouts of God in difficult times.
Story: True Greatness
Found at
Story: A Lesson in Servanthood
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, Page 151 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Listening Song: You Then Me
by Rebecca St James on her album, God, 1996.(pictured)
God does not always give us all the answers ... God gives us himself.
- Frederich Buechner.
Response Activity:
Ask people to form inward looking circles of around eight to ten people. Tell them that each circle represents the church. Get each circle group to discuss and reform in any way and in any shape that they like in a way which they think, as a group, best represents the way the church should be.
Closing Prayer:
By Michel Quiost in Gentle Darkness by Rowland Croucher(Ed.), Albatross Books, 1994, ISBN 073241007X, pages 421-422. (pictured).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Proper 22 Ordinary 27 Pentecost 18 B: Sticking up for Others

Bible readings: Psalm 26, Mark 10:2-16
Theme: Sticking up for Others

About the Photo:
I took this photo of my kids 20 years ago. I wanted to take a photo of Kate without the teddy bear (oddly named "Winter") and, as you can see if you look closely or click on the photo to enlarge it, her eyes filled with tears at the very thought. Jared, her big brother, flew to the defense of Winter being included and to comfort Kate. So I photographed them all :-)
Listening song: People Putting People Down
By Bob Dylan on his Hardest to Find album, 1996
Psalm 26: The Prayer of the Innocent Believer
Often called the above name for obvious reasons - works well if you ask different people to read a verse or two each. Get them to read from where they are sitting in the congregation and choose the readers from a variety of ages and gender, different ethnic backgrounds and various disabilities etc etc.
Kid's Story: Jesus loves kids
I can't source the original idea for the story about James, but it pops up in various places and in various forms when Googled eg
where Moira Laidlaw uses it for a similar purpose.
Take along a large photograph of one of your children or a child who is special to you and, if possible, take a camera and take a photo of the kids as they come and sit around the front. Discuss with them about how photographs are a good (sometimes!) record of what a person looks like. Hold up your photo - say that its not a bad likeness of the child you love. Tell them that even though the child's face is imprinted on your heart you still like to have a few photo's around as well. Then tell the following little story (from the internet).
Three years old James was visiting his grandparents and he was playing in the garden just outside the back door whilst his grandmother was making tea. It was getting pretty dark and stormy and she was just going to call James indoors when there was a flash of lightning.
Thinking that James would be afraid, she rushed to the back door just as he came running in, filled with excitement - "Guess what, Gran," he shouted "God just took my photo!"
Well, we know that lightning is not really God taking photos of James or anyone else. Do you know why? Because God doesn't need to take our photo because God is with us all the time. And we know what God is like because we know from the Bible what Jesus is like. So, that's almost as good as a photo. And while we haven't any photos of Jesus either, we have enough words written about him to know what he was like. Tell the gospel story for today of the children coming to him.

Then ask the kids to put on badges that say "I am one of God's beloved children" and if there is time and availability of badges, ask them to distribute one to every member of the congregation - alternatively, they could make the badges during the service to distribute to everyone just before the benediction.
Discussion: Mark 10:13-16:
Who is being hurt or put down or rejected?
Who is doing the hurting? - why?

How does Jesus respond to those doing the hurting?
How does Jesus respond to those who have been hurt?
Film Clip: A Colour Purple
Show the clip where Shug Avery comes back to reconcile with her father and he walks out on her. Ask the same four questions as above replacing the word "does" with "would".
Film Clip: The Preacher's Wife
Show the clip where the Rev. Henry Biggs prays for help and Dudley, the angel, arrives in answer to his prayer. Unfortunately, Biggs puts the angel (God’s help) down by thinking it’s all a bit of a joke and drives off.
Drama: Out of the Mouths of Babes
In Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (Ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859100186, page 58 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Further Discussion: Our Community
What sections of our community here in .....(put in the name of your own community) do you think our church may hurt or put down or reject?
How would Jesus respond to these sections of the community?
How would Jesus respond to us?

Response Activity:
Give everyone a business card with a clip art drawing or sketch of two people hugging - this works best if one person is larger than the other.
Also give everyone a pencil. Encourage everyone to use this card and the pencil as a conversation starter with God.
Ask: Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Do you need to put your arms around someone who you have hurt? Then colour in the larger figure?
Or do you need a hug this morning, do you need Jesus arms around you today? Sometimes we sit on the other side of the fence like David in Psalm 26. Sometimes it is us who are hurt, sometimes it is us who suffer some sort of put down or rejection. Then colour in the smaller figure?
Either way, don't show it to anyone - it is for you and God alone.

Listening song: I Am
By Jill Phillips on her self titled album. I have suggested this song before but it fits beautifully as something that can be listened to either after or during the above activity.
Meditation and symbolic action: Testimony and Prayer of Three Anonymous Children
From Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 111 (pictured in an earlier blog)