Saturday, November 10, 2007

Proper 28 Ordinary 33 Pentecost 25 C(November 18): Following God/Perseverance

Bible Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Isaiah 12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19
Theme: Following God/Perseverance

About the Image:
Free from
Kid's Story: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Judith Vorst and Ray Cruz, Angus and Robertson, 1972, ISBN 0207151375 (pictured at right)
Listening Song: Legacy
By Nichole Nordeman on her album, Woven and Spun or WOW 2004.
Exercise: Fake Money
Ask all the youth to come forward for free money. Give them Monolopy money and then have a discussion on how you tell the difference between real money and fake money. Relate this to "who do we listen to" below.

Film Clip: Ice Age
Show the scenes at the very beginning of this film where Scrat holds on to his nut no matter what happens. (pictured at left)
Film Clip Group Discussion: Ice Age
How is Scrat a picture of perserverence?
Make a list together of some of the things in life you think are worth persevering with?
Film Clip: Titanic
The scene near the begin as they are all the wharf just before boarding the Titanic and all the claims are made about how strong and beautiful - and unsinkable - it is. fits well with "Who do you depend on" below.
Discussion: On the Thessalonians reading
How an we encourage each other not to be discouraged, to never give up, to persist?
Story: Leadership
Found as story No 147 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured in an earlier blog). Fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.
Story: Sewing the Sheets
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 68
(pictured in an earlier blog). Fits well with the Thessalonians reading about following instructions.
Story: Prophecy/Harper's Weekly
Index 2889-2894 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Who do you turn to?" below.
Story: Fear
Index 856-859 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Fits well with "Where do you get Your words?" below.
Drama: Who Do You Depend on
This drama is based on the Luke reading for this week. Use hymns, film clip, poems, stories and prayers between the sections and do not have a sermon. Please accept my apologies for the format glitches in a few places - they are beyond my control,


Reader: Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God.

A: (looking around) Isn’t this just the most beautiful church, you’ve ever seen?

B: Yes, we definitely have the nicest one in Paynesville (put your own town here).

A: We dedicated it to God, and he certainly has blessed us!

B: I’m sure the others in town would love to have what we’ve got.

Reader: But Jesus said: As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.

Reader: They asked Jesus:
A & B: Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?

Reader: He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming,

A: I am the One!

B: The time is near!

A: Follow me

B: Listen to me!

Reader: But Jesus said: Do not follow them.

Reader: Jesus said: When you hear of wars and revolutions.....
A: The war in
Afghanistan reached a new intensity today as missiles landed.........
B: The residents of the city continue to live in fear. Police have been unable to withstand rioters and looters.....

Reader: Jesus said: Do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

A: Military exercises continued today in foreign waters. Response was swift with ....

B: Planes carried out a surprise bombing attack before daybreak today .....

Reader: Jesus said: There will be great earthquakes

A: More than one hundred thousand people lost their lives in a devastating earthquake. Authorities say the quake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale ....
Reader: ......sickness.......

B: These virus’s continue to spread our the community. Health authorities claim they are in epidemic proportions and show no signs of letting up ....
Reader: .........famines in various places,.............

A: Two more shipments of food reached port but never made it to the starving masses. Warlords continue to control .......

Reader: Jesus continued: Fearful events and great signs will come from heaven.

B: Scientists claim two asteroids are on a collision course...

A: How much science fiction can become actual reality?


Reader: Jesus said: But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you.
A: You’re under arrest!

B: Take that!

A: No video tape so lets give ‘em a good thumping!

B: Teach them a lesson!

Reader: Jesus said: They will deliver you to synagogues

A: Don’t you know the stories about Jesus aren’t really true?

B: If your Christianity really worked you wouldn’t be suffering like this.....

Reader: ... and put you in jail

A: We’ll put you away for good!

Reader: ......and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.

B: Why do you believe when it is against the law?

A: You are going against the very things your country stands for. You traitor!


Reader: But this will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry before hand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

B: Well, actually, you make a lot of sense.

A: I think I’ll have to think about this - you have a point.

Reader: You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends.......

B: Come on, I’m your mother. After all I‘ve done for you, how can you waste your life following Jesus.

A: I’ve been your best friend since kinder. You’re too smart for all this. You’ve been brainwashed.

Reader: and they will put some of you to death. All people will hate you because of me.

A & B: Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!

Reader: But Jesus said: But not a hair of your head will perish.
By standing firm you will gain life.”
c. R. Broadstock and A. Scull (please feel free to adapt)

Response Activity:

Have a large mural sized piece of paper that all your congregation can fit around and have lots of felt markers (texta) available. In the middle of the paper have the three main points from the Thessalonians reading written in very large letters: Follow Instructions, Do Your Bit, Never Give up. Ask people to visualise in turn their lives, their families, their workplace and their church community. Allow a little time for them to think about their contribution to each of these areas - what they contribute to make each of these areas a place of worship and service and places imbued with God's love and understanding. Encourage them to write unsigned responses on the mural (encourage people to use it like a graffiti board). I used this idea in 2004 and I am not sure (forgotten) if this idea is mine or somebody gave it to me. I am happy to acknowledge a source if someone can enlighten me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Proper 27 Ordinary 32 Pentecost 24 C (November 11): Fighting Discouragement/New Life

Bible readings: Haggai1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145 :1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20,27-38.
Fighting Discouragement/New Life

About the Image:
This one is made with two microsoft free clipart images
Kid's Story: The Day It Rained Colours
By Roy Etherton and Leon Baxter, Lion Publishing, ISBN 0856481734 (pictured at left).
Poem: Be Like the Bird
By Victor Hugo in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain, Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 66. (pictured in an earlier blog)
Video Clip: The Trueman Show

One of the last scenes, where Trueman discovers the door in the wall at then end of the lake, relates well to the basic question that the Sadducees ask Jesus in the Luke reading - Is there more to life than just what we see? (pictured at right)
Video Clip: Snow Dogs
Show the scene about an hour in, where Ted meets the grizzly bear and things go from bad to worse. In desperation, he eventually rings the emergency number, but gets a recorded message. You can follow this with a discussion on what sort of measures we take when everything seems to be going wrong , and about what causes discouragement in our lives. This is a good lead in to the Haggai reading or the last verses of the Thessalonians reading.
Discussion Questions: For the Haggai Reading
1. Why are the people in this reading discouraged?

2. How are they encouraged?

3. What is the immediate promise that they are given?

4. What is the long term promise that they are given?

5. What is there in this reading for us?
Listening Song: You Move Me
By Susan Ashton from her album, A Distant Call

Listening Song: Don't Give Up
By Josh Groban on his album, Awake (2006)

Response Activity: For You Move Me by Susan Ashton
This song has more than a minute of instrumental music at the end. Ask people to read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 during this time and pinpoint the words or phrases they think God wants them to concentrate on. Alternatively, instead of asking them to read these verses, give each person a business cards with verse 17 printed on it.
Response Activity: The Church of the Future
Have lots of model making materials available eg; pipe cleaners, paper, cardboard, balloons, glue, string, pencils, ribbon, modelling clay, boxes etc etc. Have people get in groups and ask each group to make a model of their church which portrays they way they think God wants their church to be in the future. N.B. I have done this with numerous groups and I have never yet seen a group make a model of their church building and I have never yet seen a model even remotely similar to another. The combined creativity of a bunch of ordinary people is truly inspiring.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Proper 24 Ordinary 29 Pentacost 21 C (21 October): Never Give Up

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31:27-34, Psalm 119: 97-104, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8 Theme: Never Give Up

About the Image:
Quill is from Microsoft Clip art so feel free to use.
Listening Song: Written on My Heart
By Plus One on their album. The Promise or WOW 2001.
Discussion Questions:
What should we persist with in our own personal faith?
What sort of things is Timothy encouraged to persist with? What sort of things should we persist with together? Are people fighting battles we know nothing about? How deep does our commitment to each other go?
What scripture do you have written on your heart?
What does it mean for our congregation to live in confidence and hope?
Story: Never Give Up
Found at

Story: The Horse Trader
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth by Wayne Rice, Zondervan 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 86.
Story: Forgiveness
Found as story No 75 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: God, the Recreator.
I have a beautiful clock made by a man who makes all his clocks out of wood from houses which have been pulled down. For God, nothing is too far gone to be restored or recreated into something of beauty.
Response Activity:
Give everybody a red heart cut out of paper or cardboard and a pencil. Ask people to write a short prayer about faith and persistence.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Proper 19 Ordinary 24 Pentecost 16 C (September 16): In the Shadow of God's Wings

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10
Theme: In the Shadow of God's Wings

About the image:
Microsoft free clipart
Skit: The Lost Coin
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 22
Listening Song: Your Love O Lord
By Third Day on their album, Time
(pictured in an earlier blog)
Film Clip: The Holy Man Show the clip where G tells everybody that even making a difference in one person's life is a big deal. Start at around 1hr 1 -2 minutes with the words "ok, ok, here's the teleprompter....when the red light goes on. .." Discussion Questions for the Film Clip:
When you hear the starfish story, how does it make you feel?
How does the story relate to you?
Describe someone who has made a difference to you. What did he/she do?
What could we do together to make a difference?
What does it mean to be connected to God?
Story: It's a Big Ocean to be Lost in
Found in the Parables of Jesus by H.H. Staton
Adult Response:
Give everyone a coin (I used chocolate ones) and ask:
Do you believe that there are parties thrown in heaven just for you?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Proper 17 Ordinary 22 Pentecost 14 C (September 2):Hospitality

Bible Readings:Jeremiah 2:4-13, Psalm 81:10-16, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14:1, 7-14.
Theme: Hospitality

About the photo:
My daughter Kate and her friend Adrian from Singapore giving each other cross cultural cooking tips.
Listening Song: Come to the Table
by Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, 1984.
Story: Take As Much As You Can
Index 1602 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990
Story: Robert Coles meets Dorothy Day
A great story which explains the gospel reading beautifully. Found in Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles, Addison-Wesley, 1987, ISBN-10: 0201079747
History: The Early Church in Rome
A story about the generosity of the early Roman church written by William Willimon and found in Pulpit Resources, July September, 2001, page 41.
Film Clip: Les Miserables
The clip at the very beginning of the film where the bishop invites Valjean in and treats him as an honoured guest.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Proper 9 Ordinary 14 Pentecost 6 C (July 8):Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Bible Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, Galatians 6:1-16, Luke 10:1-11,16-20.
Theme: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

About the photo:
After a ten year drought and the worst bushfires in history, the heavens opened this week and the rain came down. Because of the extended dry, trees could not cope,crashed to the ground and blocked roads everywhere, roads disintegrated and the flood water rose until whole towns were inundated. The floods are at record levels and the water is contaminated with forest debris, ash from the fires and soil from the burnt ground which has not yet recovered because of the drought. But these readings this week have come to life in the extraordinary efforts of ordinary people. We had a tiny congregation yesterday - people were either flooded in or exhausted from long hours sandbagging, red crossing, cooking for volunteers, clearing roads or helping in a thousand other little ways. The photo above was taken at 8:30 at night; it was freezing cold, very windy, and drizzling but this little girl begged her Mum "just one more bag" each time they filled one. Two of the primary school kids from our Church Adventure Club told me they bagged 120 bags of sand in one afternoon - that is a lot of sand for two little people!
Just for interest: the photo below is of the town: Paynesville, population 3500, where the church is located. It is one of many Gippsland towns (area:
13600 square miles 0r 35200 square km) affected by floods.

Film Clip: The Long Walk Home
Miriam Thompson is a proper Southern lady, wife to a socially ambitious husband. Odessa Cotter is Miriam's black housekeeper. They both know their place - and they both speak out and change their society forever. There are heaps of good clips in this movie that exemplify ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Quote: Helmut Thielicke

A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the night club and the toastmasters.
Kid's Story: Giraffes Can't Dance
By Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, Orchard Books, 2000, ISBN 1841215651 (pictured)
Story: The Little Girl and the Piano

Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 143 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: Sharing Faith
Found in The New Century Version Youth Bible, Word, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 1022.
Discussion: On the 2 Kings Reading
Divide your congregation into five groups. Each group will represent one of the following characters in the story: the slave Girl, Naaman's wife, Elisha's servants, Naaman, the King of Israel.
Ask each group to discuss the following questions:
1. Describe the person according to their accepted job role.
2. How has this/these persons acted out of character.
Adult Response:
Give everyone a business card sized sketch of a candle. Ask them to write on the candle the name of someone that in the world's eyes is quite insignificant but who has helped them on their faith journey. On the other side write what they think God is calling them to do despite their feelings of inadequacy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Proper 8 Ordinary 13 Pentecost 5 C (July 1): Freedom, Discipleship, Memory

Bible Readings: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14, Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62
Theme: Freedom, Discipleship, Memory.

Listening Song: Edge of the World
By Iona on their CD, Beyond These Shores (pictured in an earlier blog). A song about discipleship.
Listening Song: Libera
By Libera on their CD,
Libera. A song about God's presence.
Listening Song: Free
By Ginny Owens on Without Condition, 1999 or WOW 2001.

Kid's Story: Wilfred Gordon McDonald
Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas Omnibus Books, 1984, ISBN 1862913471. (pictured) It is about memory so goes well with Psalm 77.
Video Clip: Home Alone
The scene where Kevin discovers that he is home alone - the freedom he discovers is his and his celebration of that.
Discussion: On "Home Alone".
What does freedom mean to Kevin?
What does freedom mean to you?
Does physical freedom necessarily mean true freedom? Why or why not?

Quote: Karl Barth
To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
Quote: John Ruskin
He who offers God second place offers God no place.
Drama: The Robbery
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 44 (pictured in an earlier blog). Based on Galatians 5:22.
Discussion: On Luke reading

What are the things that distract us today from following Jesus?

Poem: When I Became a Christian

Found in Clearing Away the Rubbish by Adrian Plass, Minstral, 1989, ISBN 1854240250, page 175ff. A poem about discipleship.
Story: The Testimony of Wing Commander Edward Howell

Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 270 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Adult Response:
Have enough fruit shaped lollies (candy) or stickers with fruit on them for everybody in the congregation to have one. Put them in easy reach of people but do not give them out. Ask everybody to look at the list of the fruit of the Spirit again. Ask them to chose the one from the list that they most need in their life at the moment. Read out the list one more time but with long pauses between each fruit of the Spirit. Ask people to take a fruit lolly or a sticker when you get to the one they want. Ask the rest of the congregation to pray for those people as they eat their lolly or stick their sticker somewhere obvious (lapel? forehead? cheek? whatever?)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Proper 6 C (June 17): God's Generous Love

Bible Readings: 1 Kings 21: 1-21a, Psalm 5:1-8, Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3
Theme: God's Generous Love

About the image:
Re permission for use: I used Microsoft free clip art to make this image.
Listening Song: His Love Was Reaching
By David Meece on his album, Odyssey.
Listening Song: Gather at the River
By Point of Grace on their album, The Whole Truth and WOW 2001 (pictured)
Listening Song: Dr Jekyll and Mr Christian

By Whiteheart on their album, Souvenirs.
Discussion Questions: For Dr Jekyll and Mr Christian
What groups in society do we find it hard to accept and to love?
Which groups do we condemn?
Which groups do we avoid?
What is the challenge for us in both the gospel reading and this song?
Listening Song: Fat Boy
By Jewel on her album, Spirit (pictured on an earlier blog)
Discussion Questions: For Fat Boy (above).
Are we as loving to the outcasts in our society as we are to our friends and family?
Who are the outcasts?
Who do we include in our circles and who do we leave out?

In the song, the fat boy tries to make out everything is OK and that he is not hurt. How does he do that?
Why do you think Jewel finishes the song where she does?
What do you think she is asking us to consider?
Kid's Story: A Party For Jesus
Found in The Picture Strip Bible by Felicity Henderson and Chris Saunderson, Scripture Union, 2001, ISBN 1859994970, page 72(pictured in an earlier blog).
Ask the Kids:
What did Simon think of the lady?
What did Jesus think of the lady?
What does the story tell us about what Jesus thinks of us?
Kid's Activity: Welcome Gifts

You can often buy very cheap key rings (with little wooden cut out shapes attached) in reject shops and craft shops. Allow the kids to paint or colour these and give them as welcome gifts to new people who come to church.
Film Clip: Shadowlands
Show the part where C.S. Lewis and an anglican priest have a discussion about prayer.
Lewis says: "I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time - waking and sleeping." How hard is it to ask each other for help when we need it and how hard is it to ask God for help when we need it?
Bookmark Prayers:
Give everyone a bookmark with the words of Psalm 5:1-3 printed on it. Read the whole psalm and then invite people to write on the back of the bookmark, two prayers which are close to their hearts at the present time: one a thank you for a recently answered prayer, and one a prayer that is still in need of answer.
How do you feel when a prayer does not seem to be answered?
What was a Pharisee?
Who are most like Pharisees today?
To Think About:
When do you find yourself acting like Simon in the gospel story?
Like Simon, what do we need to ask God to forgive us for?
Quotes: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
1. We must turn our struggle into surrender and then prayer becomes the starting point for action.
2. From the moment we awake until we fall asleep, we must commend other people wholly and unreservedly to God and leave then in his hands, transformming our anxiety for them into prayer on their behalf.
(From Letters From Prison I think)
Dramatic Reading: A Glutton and a Drunkard
Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 17 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Story: Barefoot Bill
Found in Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the Salt Shaker, Inter Varsity Press, 1979, ISBN 0830822208, page 177.
Story: Cruise Control
Index 1002-1005 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990
Story: Christ Knocking
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 81. (pictured in an earlier blog).
Poem: The Sinful Woman
By Ranjini Rebera in The Bible Through Asian Eyes by Maseo Takenaka and Ron O'Grady, Pace Publishing, ISBN 0959797106, page 102 (pictured).
Poem: Anointing
By J. Barrie Shepherd in
Imaging the Word Volume 1 by Kenneth T. Lawrence, Jann Cather Weaver and Roger Wedell (Eds.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 221. (pictured in an earlier blog)
Work of Art: Her Sins Are Forgiven
By Wu Yuen-kwei in The Bible Through Asian Eyes, as above, page 103 or in
Imaging the Word Volume 1 (as above), page 219.
Adult Response:
Have a bowl of salty water, a jar of scented oil and a packet of hand wipes set out at the front of your worship space on three separate tables.
Ask people to think about where they think they best relate to the gospel reading today:-
Is there something you need to ask God for today? (Go to the salty water and
as you pray, trace a cross on your cheek with a finger dipped in the water ).
Is there something you would like to thank God for? (Go to the scented oil and
as you pray, trace a cross on the back of your hand with a finger dipped in the oil ).
Is there some way that God is calling you to serve in the church or in the community? (Go to the hand wipes and as you pray, wipe your hands with a hand wipes.

Brilliant Comments on the Gospel
Found in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey, SPCK, 2008, ISBN 9780281059751, pages 239-260.

Blessing: A Benediction
By J. Danson Smith and found in High Mountains, Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Thomlinson (Eds.) Albatross, 1990, ISBN 086760090X, page 239.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Proper 5 Ordinary 10 Pentecost 2: Dare to Make a Difference

Bible Readings: 1 Kings 17:8-16,(17-24), Psalm 146, Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17 Theme:Dare to Make a Difference

Kids story: Elijah and the Widow of Nain Stories
Make up a number of white posters with dinner plate sized round faces. Make each face a different emotion - sad, happy, confused or puzzled, delighted, amazed, etc. Tell either story and use the faces to help the children reflect or guess the emotions involved in the story.
Kids Story: Elijah
Found in The Picture Strip Bible
by Felicity Henderson and Chris Saunderson, Scripture Union, 2001, ISBN 1859994970, page 48 (pictured)
Drama: Paul Called by God
A monologue by God found in Mega Drama 5 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 68 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Film Clip: Mr Holland's Opus
Show the clip very close to the end where Mr Holland is taken to the gym for his surprise celebration which honours the difference he has made in hundreds of students lives. If you have time run this clip until the credits begin (it is not all that long) but at least make sure you include the speech given by one of his students.
Story: God - His Care
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 99 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: No Funerals

Index 2407-2416
from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990.
Poem: This Time
by Giles David and found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, Page 184. This works really well with projected images and music.
Meditation Stations: Elijah and the Widow

This mediation is based very roughly on a suggestion made
on page 35 of a really beaut book called Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668.
Have five separate stations around your worship space and some meditative music playing. Each station will be decorated differently (see below) and will have a short reading to contemplate and some suggestions for prayer and action. Arrange stations and people so that not everybody goes to Station 1 first - although the stations are chronological as far as the story goes, they can be visited in any order without losing a sense of what is happening. Allow around 3-5 minutes for each station and encourage people to visit them all at least once. However, also make it clear that they can revisit some if they wish to.
Station 1:
Have a map of the world, a lit candle and enough tea lights for everybody.
On small cards or note paper, print the following:
1 Kings 17:8-9. Note that the woman is not one of God's chosen people, is a widow, a woman (duh!) and has a son. Both she and the boy are marginalised.
To think and pray about:
Who are the marginalised people in our lives?
Who are the people we assume may be outside God's love because of their lifestyle, occupation, beliefs or ethnicity?
How can we make a difference and reflect God's love?
Light a candle and place it on a part of the world that needs Gods transforming love and life?
Station 2:
Have a simple bowl filled to overflowing with small loaves of (if possible, hot) bread
On small cards or note paper, print the following:
1 Kings 17:10-15 (or summary).

The widow gives away
her very last meal to a man she has never met before who she meets at the town gate.
Think of a time when you have mistrusted a request from a stranger.
Think of times when you have been generous to strangers.
What were the results?
Think of the difficulties you face as you try to balance requests for your time and/or money.
As you eat one of the small loaves, pray for the wisdom to know when to say "yes", when to say "no" and how to make a difference.
Station 3:
Have a number of postcards, photos, works of art, mounted magazine pictures of deserts, dry creek beds, angry or hurting faces, dry bones etc - anything that represents hard times, anger, and sadness.
On small cards or note paper, print the following:
1 Kings 17:17-18

Think of a time in your life when you have been fearful, depressed or angry with God.
Choose a picture from the collection that represents your feelings best.
How do you think God can or has make a difference to these feelings.
If you are feeling like this now, tell God about it.
If you know someone who may feel like this, pray for them.
Station 4:
Have a simple bowl filled with tiny bulbs or seeds (depending on the season)
On small cards or note paper, print the following:
1 Kings 17:19-23
Take a seed/bulb.
Look at the seed and think about what your life be like if God was not a part of it?
Imagine the potential of your seed, what it will grow in to, and imagine what God is doing with your potential.
If God is continually transforming you, how can you share that with others?
Station 5:
Have this station near a brightly illuminated pertinent painting, window or banner - I am going to use our pentecost bannner and arrange chairs around it.
On small cards or note paper, print the following:
1 Kings 17:24
Think of a time when God has used somebody to enable you to "see the light".
How has it helped your faith?
Thank God for the people who have made a difference to your faith.
Ask God to enable you share your faith with others - pray for specific people and/or communities.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Easter Day C: Easter Dreaming

Readings: Isaiah 65: 17-25, Psalm 118, Luke 24:1-12
Theme: Easter dreaming

About the photo: Buds shoot from the bark (epicormic shoots) of eucalypt (more commonly known as gum) trees devastated and defoliated by the 2003 bushfires in the Australian High Country.

Some Particularly Useful Stuff for a Dawn/Sunrise Easter Service
Have this service near a lake or beach if possible - if you live inland, then choose a high point - if you live inland on a plain then find a nice river -if you live inland on a plain in a desert (most of Australia) then you will have plenty of beautiful places to choose from.
Easter candle:
Have a camp fire or a fire pot instead.
Prayer: Jesus We Greet You
Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 188 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Prayer: Lord God, Early in the Morning
Found in Stages on the Way as above, page 184 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Meditation: Prayers That Jesus Hears
Found in Present on Earth
by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 95 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Response Activity
Cook fish over the fire and serve with warm bread

Easter services at a More Reasonable hour;
Call to Worship:

Then play Anthem Part 3 from the album, Powaqqatsi, (1988) while showing six 20 second Good Friday images. When the music reaches the fanfare show an Easter day image. Then dim the music enough so a reader can read Isaiah 65: 17-25
Call to Worship: King of Glory
Play King of Glory by Third Day found n their album, or on WOW 2001. For each verse show an image of the crucifixion and for each chorus show a picture of the resurrection. show a resurrection picture for the last verse and then as the choir begins to back the Third day singer, dim the music to a background level and have somebody read the Psalm.
Call to Worship Activity:
If you had an old wooden cross in the church for Good Friday, give everybody a streamer or coloured ribbon as they enter and ask them to decorate the cross before sitting down.

Kids: Butterflies and Flowers
Tell the Easter story using the cocoon and butterfly, seed and flower analogies. Have a dead branch at the front of the church and either have them make paper flowers or butterflies to decorate the branch with. This works very well as a congregational activity. Alternately have the kids give everyone in the congregation a tiny butterfly or flower sticker - people really run with this and wear them immediately putting them on lapels, collars, watch faces, spectacle frames etc etc.
Drama: What's Easter All About
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109178, page 87 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Video Clip: Fantasia
The segment in the Firebird Suite after the fire when everything greens up again.
Discussion on video clip:
How does Easter bring new life to the world?
Story: Stephen's Egg
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 159 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story; Nikolai Church and the fall of the Berlin wall

This story can be found often and easily by googling.
Story: Easter
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, page 51 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Listening Song: Early in the Morning
By David Meece on his album, Once in a Lifetime.

Listening Song: Libera

By Robert Prizeman on his album, Libera.

Pass the Peace;

Give every one a balloon to blow up. Toss them, catch a new one and pass the peace using Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Response Activity:

In groups or individually get people to name their easter dreams for the world, for their church, for themselves and to use these as starters for a prayer time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lent 3 C: The God of Second Chances/The Generosity of God/Keeping in Touch

Bible Readings: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, Luke 13:1-9
Theme: The God of Second Chances, The Generosity of God, Keeping in Touch

Kid's Story: The Second Chance
You need to word up the actors for this beforehand, but make it all look fairly natural in that it looks like part of your normal service. Have the congregation start to sing a kid's song led by your choir or musicians or band or whatever. Have one of the choir or band sing or play so badly that everyone can hear their mistakes and then have that person spit the dummy! (translation for non Aussies: throw a tantrum, get angry at themselves, yell out "Oh, I can't do it" etc etc). You stop the singing and inform the person making the mistakes that you are fed up with their mistakes and that you no longer want them to participate in the music in church. They look crestfallen and a couple of the other musicians speak up for them and beg you to tell the kids a story while they give the mistake maker some help. You say its not really worth their effort and the mistake maker might as well quit now. The other musicians persist and you give in - if they are willing to give the mistake maker a second chance, maybe you can too. You tell the kids the gospel story about the fig tree. Ask the kids how they think the fig tree will go with the extra care. Then ask them how they think the mistake maker will go now that he/she has had some help from the others. Check with the musicians who all assure you that everything will be fine now. Sing the song through all together successfully. Conclude by linking what has just happened with the gospel story.
Drama: Dead Plant
A bit like the one above but less involved and can be used to introduce the reading. Have a nearly dead plant - somebody sees it and says "That's no good, chuck it out". Another person comes along and says that they will feed it, repot it and give it another cha
nce etc etc.
Film Clip: Pay It Forward
Show the start when the man who loses his car is given a brand new car to replace it.
Questions for the Film Clip
Have you ever helped a stranger? What happened?
How can we tell if God is generous?
How can we be generous to each other?
Film Clip: Keep in Touch
Any one of the series of New Zealand Telecom Commercials with the slogan "Keep in touch" is terrific for this topic.
Questions for this Clip:
Why is it important to keep in touch with each other?
Why is it important to keep in touch with God?
How can we do this?
Illustration: The Intimacy of Prayer
Found in Life at Its Best: A Guide Book For The Pilgrim Life by Eugene H Peterson, Zondervan, ISBN 0007111193, page 267
Kid's Story: The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992 (renewed from 1964), ISBN 0060256656 (pictured)

Story: Wrong Way Reigels
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 228 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: Brandon's Mess
As above, page 58
Story: The Whisper Test
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551, story no. 259 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Story: God's Nickel (change nickel for something relevant)
Found in Still More Hot Illustrations
for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1999, ISBN 0310224640, page 144 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: A Letter to Father Dudko
Found in High Mountains, Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Thomlinson (Eds.), Albatross Books, 1992, ISBN 086760090X, page 213 (pictured)
Story: Gratitude
found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 112 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Found in Stories, Illustrations and Quotes by Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson, 2000, ISBN 0785244794, page 356
Story: Remembering
Found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, Page 107
Quote: Brother Laurence
Those whose spirits are stirred by the breath of the Spirit of God, go forward even in sleep.
Discussion Questions:
Think of a time when somebody has given you a second chance.
"Well, he/she had it coming"...Why do we say this? Is it true?
What is the point of the fig tree story and why does it follow the story of the men who dies and a call to repentance?
What is God's grace?
Listening song; I Am Carried
By Geoff Bullock on his Hands of Grace album, C. 1997 Watershed Productions

Listening Song: You're My God
By Delirious? on their Glo album. (pictured)
Homework?!: St John Chrysostom
St John Chrysostom told people to read psalm 63 everyday. Encourage people to try doing so for a while and report back.
Response Activity: Leaves
Give everyone a paper fig tree shaped leaf. Ask them to think about the following question and write the answer on their leaf.
If you had one more year, what would you need to help you turn your life around? or
What sort of fruit would you like your life to be producing by this time next year? What help will you need to realise this dream.
Either attach the leaves to a real branch or a sketch of fig tree. This activity should give you some idea of what your congregational needs are for the coming year.
Response Activity:
Have about a half a dozen comtemplative practices/spiritual exercises around the church for people to try - base each on the Bible reading you are concentrating on (I am going to use the psalm) and give people plenty of time (maybe a VERY short reflection) and space to
experience the discipline they have chosen. Encourage them to choose only one.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lent 2 C: Risking Everything/God's Wings

Bible readings: Genesis 15:1-12,17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35
Theme: Risking Everything/God's Wings

Listening Song: Why
y Tracy Chapman on her self titled album; 1998.
Discussion: On the Genesis reading

1. What do we learn about God in this reading?
2. What do we learn about Abram?
Drama: Don't You Get It?

4: God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

1: Yes, but I don’t know if my money is going to out-last me. If I can just do a good job with my investments I know everything will turn out all right.

2: And if we could only get some extra money - the kids will be going off to uni soon and at the moment I can't see how we'll manage. With a little more money I know everything will turn out all right.

4:But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

3: If only I could get my hands on that hotted up Torana everybody's being eyeing off down the street. Everyone would look up to me, envy me ..... then I know everything will turn out all right.

1: And I am so frightened of the future. All my family live a long way away. If I could work out some way to be near them then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

2: Yes, but if only we could get the house paid off and the renovations finished then I know everything will turn out all right.

3: If only I could get the results I really want at school then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward.

1: Yes, but what if I get sick – what if I can’t look after myself any more. I’m going to find my self the best health specialists in the world… then I know everything will turn out all right.

2: And if I could only make sure than I have the best time possible for as much of the time as possible then I know everything will turn out all right.

3: If only I could convince myself and everybody else that I'm not nearly as much of a dork as I seem to be then I know everything will turn out all right.

4: But God says: Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your great reward .......
You know, don’t think any of you get it!
Written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull: Permission granted for use and adaption however it would be nice if you could let us know, via this blog, that
you are using it
Discussion on the Drama:
1. How do we stop becoming like persons 1,2 and 3?
2. How do we put our faith in God into action?
Story: The Tightrope and the Wheelbarrow
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 206 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story, featuring Blondin the famous tightrope walker, can also be found in numerous books and by Googling.
Story: Personal
Ask someone in your congregation to share a story from their own life where they had to trust God when they did not know what the final outcome was going to be. Ask the person before hand so that they can prepare what they are going to say.
Story: An Antidote for Fear
Found in The Youth Bible, Word Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 497 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Quote: Darren Beadman, Leading Australian Jockey
"It's all about relationship and what lies within your heart.....Some people are at a stage in their life where they feel secure in their environment and don't want to step out because they don't know what the future holds. But if you've got the relationship with the Lord, and you believe that he is your provider and that this is what he wants you to do, well - do it" This is part of an interview found in Alive Magazine 1998 can't source the month, sorry.
Quote: Old Scandinavian Proverb
Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.
Response Activity:
Give everyone a coloured feather (found in craft shops).
While they concentrate on the feather ask:
1. Where in your life at the moment do you need to hear God say; " Do not be afraid. I am your shield and your very great reward"?
2. What situation are you in at present which should make you seek shelter under God's wings?
3. Are you trusting God or are you looking in other places for shelter and reward?
Have a time of silence.