Sunday, February 15, 2009

Transfiguration B (February 22): Being a Light in the Darkness/ Staying Close to God

Bushfire Update: Thank you to everyone who has contacted me to reassure us all of your prayers. It has been really heartwarming. Although there are no fires close to where I live at this stage, twelve or so fires continue to burn out of control. My state, Victoria, has so far suffered the loss of 209 lives, 1833 homes and 3 schools as well as heaps of infrastructure. Over 1,021,000 acres of land has been burnt to a crisp. Despite all this, there are signs of hope - arson has been discounted as the reason for a number of the fires, we had our first rain around here in two months, flood victims from the state of Queensland (up in the tropical north of Australia) have been seen sending their government assistance pay outs to fire victims, over 100 million dollars has been raised for fire relief (and we only have a total Aussie population of just over 20 million people), and relief agencies have have been sent more than enough clothing and offers of accommodation. However, the news each day is grim and the total impact continues to grow - a small population means a minimal degree of separation. We still very much need and value your prayers. To be informed as you pray, please visit the Australian Broadcasting Commission web site or If you want to help financially, visit


Bible Readings: Psalm 50:1-6, Mark 9:2-9, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, 2 Kings 2:1-12 Theme: Being a Light in the Darkness/Staying Close to God About the Images: These are both copyright free and from I thought they were both great examples of 2 Corinthians 4:6b - God, who said, "Let light shine out of the darkness" has shone in our hearts. Kids Story: Make some flash cards with different emotions (eg smily face, sad face etc). Give each flash card to a different child and then tell the story of the 2 Kings or Mark reading. Ask the kids to listen carefully as you tell the story and to hold up their card when they think one of the characters feels like their card. Everybody then has to use their face to reflect that card. Youth Idea: Get a few kids to play a short game of the theatre sport Space Jump (if you don't know how to play this find out at and then connect it to our lives and to the gospel story in that we are often so busy going from thing to thing that life often feels like a game of Space Jump and the disciples must have felt very much like they were playing a game of Space Jump with Jesus on the day of the transfiguration. Discussion Questions: Alone: When has God's glory touched you? Brainstorm Together: How did it make you feel? Together: How does this effect you in your daily life? Film Clip: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Show the part where Dumbledore, in his welcome address, talks about turning on the light - pictured at right. Discussion: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 1. What does Dumbledore mean when he says "Turn on the light" ? 2. How do we, as Christians, turn on the light in a dark world? Drama: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verona Johnson (ed) Openbook, 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), page 92, (pictured in an earlier post). Based on the Gospel reading. Story: A Candle in the Darkness Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story connects particularly with the 2 Corinthians reading but also with the others. Prop (for above story): Use a self igniting candle and explain: Daniel’s light shone very brightly (light candle) - sometime ours does too and at other times it is just a tiny glow. But, no matter what happens, once we have met God, there is no reason why our light should ever go out (blow out self lighting candle and then pause while candle reignites). The trick is to stay close to God. Story: Life Story No 148 in Your Point Being by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (UK), (pictured at left). This also fits well with the Corinthians reading. Listening Song: Go Light Your Candle by Kathy Troccoli on Sounds of Heaven 1995, Greatest Hits 2003, or WOW 1996. Action/Response: Ask kids to hand out a small birthday candle to each member of the congregation. Encourage everybody to light their candle each dinner time this week to remind them of the light of God.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Epiphany 6 B (February 15): Healing/Are We Rocks or Diamonds

Bushfires: Yesterday, Victoria, the state in which I live, had the hottest day (46-low 50'sC) with the lowest humidity (4%) on record - this weather was accompanied by hot and dry storm force winds. Always a part of Australia prone to bush fires, this was the recipe for a disaster. Fires broke out all over the state and the present death toll stands at 181 and still counting and the housing loss stands at 1830 and still counting. The fires have burnt vast areas. Many, many people, farms and towns have been impacted in all sorts of ways and it is not over yet. The bushfires are far from out. If you want to help, visit If you would like to see what the day was like, visit the Australian Broadcasting Commission web site (or CNN or BBC) and watch a few of the videos or listen to some of the audios. We would very much value your prayers.


Bible Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45
Themes: 1. Healing. 2. Are We Rocks or Diamonds? 

  About the images: Left: This is a free image from A really great site. Right: This is a photo from my church. It shows the healing found in community. I love looking at their faces. Feel free to use it. 
Listening Song; Never Alone by Barlow Girl on their CD, Never Alone or on WOW Hits 2005 For those in areas suffering from the above bushfires, this song is a beauty if accompanied by images of the recent fires. 

Video Clip: Star Trek V: The Last Frontier Copyright 1989: Paramount Pictures. Show first scene straight after Paramount promo and before credits – stop where J’onn rests his head on the rider’s chest. 

Discussion: Star Trek V: The Last Frontier How does the caped horseman help J'onn? How can we be helpers for each other? What are the risks?

Kids Story: The Man Who Took Seven Baths by Joann Schek, Arch Books, 1970.(pictured at right) 

  Drama: Look at Me in Mega Drama 3,Open Book 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), pp 54-55 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Story: Jimmy and the Genie Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995 ISBN 0310207681,(pictured at left), page 96-97. The Naaman story is a Jimmy and the Genie story because the rocks turn out to be diamonds and the diamonds turn out to be rocks.

Give each member of the congregation a heart with a bandaid sized tear in it and mention that all of us require the healing touch of God all of the time. Invite each member of the congregation to silently write in tiny writing around the tear on their paper heart, the healing that they are looking for.Play A Day Without Rain by Enya on A Day Without Rain whilst they are doing this. Then read Pethla in He Was in the World: Meditations for Public Worship by John Bell, Wild Goose, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, pp 30-33 (pictured in an earlier blog). Finally, distribute bandaides to everyone, and invite them to place the bandaid over the tear and the words on their torn heart. Let the mended hearts be a reminder both of the healing they have received from God, and the healing that they can bring to others. \