Monday, December 27, 2010

Epiphany ABC (January 6): Sharing the Light

NB There is an updated 2021 version of this post with more stuff.

Bible Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

About the Images:

Upper: This is a microsoft free clipart image with text from the Isiaiah via
Lower: Found at
Listening Song: Wise Man
By David Rob
ertson on his album Soul Embrace (pictured at left).
Listening Song; On Earth as It is in Heaven
From the so
undtrack of The Mission (pictured at right).

Reading; Isaiah 60:1-6
I used the words of the paraphrase of this reading on a powerpoint slide show of images of light and backed them with the music of Psalmas Ode by Vangelis.

Drama: The Gate Keeper From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 127 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel story.
Poem: The Wise Man's JourneyFrom Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 125 (pictured at left)

Poem: Isaiah 60:1a
Found in In Due Season by Herbert F Brokering, Augsburg Publishing, 1966 (pictured at right) in the Spring section under Isaiah 60:1a.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Proper 21 Ordinary 26 Pentecost 18 C (September 26): The Secret of Contentment/Seeing the Bigger picture

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, Psalm 91:1-6,14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

About the images:
A microsoft free clipart image with Nathan Nettleton's text (see for wonderful Australian paraphrases of the lectionary readings)
Lower: Copyright (C) 2001, Free Software Foundation, Inc. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this image under the terms found at

Prayer: A
Litany of Confession
Found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, page 255 (pictured at left).

Kids: Jeremiah
The Jeremiah story is full of emotion - sadness, fear, contempt, ridicule, anger, hope. Tell the story and ask the kids, at set points in the story, to reflect the emotion you have mentioned, either through their facial expressions or through their hands. Do it with them. You may need to practice first at home, so you have an idea of what to encourage the shyer kids to do. I have discovered that it doesn't take much to involve the whole congregation in this type of activity - and you will find that if you do it before the Bible reading, the adults develop a far better understanding of the reading than they would have if you had not done it.

Listening Song: Whomsoever Dwells
By Sinead O'Connor on her album, Theology (pictured at right). This is basically a sung version of Psalm 91.

Listening Song: The Power of the Gospel
By Ben Harper on his album, Fight for Your Mind (this CD is pictured in an earlier blog)

Video Clip: Chariots of Fire
Chapter 19: The conversation between the discont
ented Harold and his friend, Aubrey (this dvd is pictured in an earlier blog). This goes well with the Timothy reading.

Discussion Questions: Chariots of Fire
1. Describe a time when you felt contentment.
2. How often do you feel this way?

3. How do you find contentment?
4. What desires, besides the desire for more money or more possessions, keeps a person from feeling contented?

Video Clip: Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Show the clip where Walter Raleigh explains to Elizabeth how he lives out his hope when he is sailing unchartered waters. I found this clip at Wingclips (see my links column at left). This goes really well with the jeremiah reading.

Discussion: Elizabeth: The Golden Age
1. How does Raleigh live his faith and hope while at sea? What tools does he use?
2. How do we live our faith and hope? What tools can we use?

Drama: Sunbaking
Found in Mega Drama 6 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109208, page 16 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Timothy reading.

Story: Money
Found as story No 175 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003 . This is a very funny story about a wallet eating train toilet (book is pictured in an earlier blog). This goes well with the Timothy reading.

Story: Courage
Index 849-852 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. This can also be found at - scroll down to section 2E. This fits well with the psalm or with the Jeremiah reading.

Story: What are You Afraid of?
Index 856-859 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990 or it can be found at
This goes well with either the psalm or the Jeremiah reading.

Response Activity:
Ask people to form small groups and give each group a few textas and a large sheet of paper with the words: "Real contentment is found......". When they have finished, stick the sheets up around the worship space and give people time to walk around and read all the sheets.

Response Activity:
Ask: If you had a chance to tell somebody how to find real contentment in this life, what would you say? give people a chance to think about this and then ask them to tell three other people what their answer would be.

Response Activity: For the Jeremiah reading
Set up three stations so that people can move around from station to station. Allow at least ten minutes for this activity. My three stations based on my service and what I said were:
1. There is a bigger picture - at this station put out coloured bookmarks for people to take and read to themselves. Each one should have Bruce Prewer's A Creed printed on it. This lovely poem/creed can be found at
2. Grasp hold of and trust God now - I used the art space in our church (but any space and pin board of some sort will do) for this station. Lay out lots of pictures, postcards and prints. Ask people to choose an image which symbolises for them grasping hold of and trusting God and ask them to pin their chosen image on the display board.
3. Living your faith and hope - at this station set out pens, envelopes and paper and a small clay jar which can be sealed (try an Op shop for one of these - there is sure to be something like it). Ask people to write a hope that they intend to live for a) themselves b) their church and c) their community or the world. Then ask them to seal their note in an envelope, put their name on the front and put it in the jar. After everybody has finished, seal up the be opened in a year or so.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Proper 8 Ordinary 13 Pentecost 5 C (June 27): 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

About the images:
Upper: A microsoft free clip art image with my text.
Lower: My photo - please feel free to use it for worship purposes.

Listening Song: Edge of the World
By Iona on their CD, Beyond These Shores (pictured at right). 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: Wilfre
d Gordon McDonald Partridge
Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas Omnibus Books, 1984, ISBN 1862913471. (pictured at left) It is about memory so goes well with Psalm 77.

Video Clip: Home Alone

The scene where Kev
in 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 fre
edom mean to you?
Does physical freedom necessarily mean true freedom? Why or why not?

Film Clip: Noelle
Show the clip where the two priests discuss praying - I found this clip at Wingcips (see my links at left).

Discussion: Noelle
1.What does this clip tell us about praying, priorities, fellowship and judging others?
2. What do you think about these things?
3. What does Jesus say about these things?

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 (pictured at right). A poem about discipleship. Give a copy of this poem to each person in the congregation together with a coloured pencil and encourage them to find a place by themselves to read the poem and colour over the words that mean the most to them.

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?)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Proper 7 Ordinary 12 Pentecost 4 C (June 20): Time Out

Bible Readings
: 1 Kings 19:1-15a, Psalm 42 and 43, Galatians 3:23-24, Luke 8:26-39.

About the Images:
Upper: Microsoft free clip art with my text.
Lower: My image - please feel free to user it for worship purposes.

Call To Worship:Elijah Meditation
Found in "Meeting God" in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 67 (pictured at left)

Opening Response: In Quietness and Darkness
Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 32 (pictured at right)

Listening song: Deep Calling Deep
By Margaret Becker (and Charlie Peacock) on her album Grace or on WOW 1996
(pictured in an earlier blog)

Prayer: Psalm 42 or 43
Have Psalm 42 or 43 on a screen or on a handout for everybody. Ask people to work in groups of three or four and write a two sentence prayer together. Have the first sentence describe
something that makes our hearts seethe in turmoil (43:5 and a number of other verses in both psalms) and the second sentence ask God for forgiveness or help with this. Depending on the size of your congregation, either ask one person from each group to read out their prayer for the benefit of all or ask for five or six groups to volunteer to share their prayers.

Poem: Listening
by Brian Wren 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 194 (pictured in an earlier blog). This works really well with projected images and music.

I Kings Reading:
The verses of the old chorus Be Still and Know That I am God fit well with this reading. Have pauses in the reading where the relevant verse is sung.

Theme Idea: Time Out: God Restores Us...

1. When Others Hurt Us: Use the story of Elijah found in 1 Kings 19.

2. When We Hurt Ourselves: Use the story of Johnny Cash
in the Nickajack Cave found in Spiritual Journeys by Jason Boyett, Relevant Books, 2003, ISBN 0972927603, page 13 (pictured at right)
3. When We Hurt for No Apparent Reason: Use the Luke story.

Quote: Mother Teresa
"We all long for heaven where God is but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now - to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with him now means: loving as He loves, helping as He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with him for all the twenty four hours, touching Him in His distressing disguise. (A Gift For God)

Adult Response: Time Out
This will only work in places where you have available a sweet/lolly/candy (whatever your word is) called a Time Out. They come in two sizes here in Australia and I bought enough of the small ones so that everyone in the congregation could have one. Then I said something alone the lines of:
These readings challenge us in two ways;
1. They encourage us to take time out to spend time with G
od. God wants us to know that time spent seeking God, saying what is on our minds and revealing how we are feeling is not time wasted. The challenge for us is to make the time. Take the Time Out home, find a space in your day, and as you eat the Time Out, spend time with God. Make sure you put the empty wrapper somewhere where it will remind to take time out for God.
2. In each story the person is encouraged to go back into their communities to share their experience of god with others. When you sit at home in your small quiet space with God and your Time Out, remember to listen to God and discover where God is calling you to share your particular experiences.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pentecost C (May 23) ; Led by the Spirit/contagious Christianity

Bible Readings: Acts 2:1-21, Genesis 11:1-9, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-17, 25-27.

About the Photos:
This photo was taken by David Husted when he was taken hot air ballooning over Melbourne by his kids for his 60th birthday. Balloons have always been a symbol for me of the Holy Spirit. Just as a balloon filled with air shows great promise so do we when we are filled with God's Spirit. Hot air balloons, flames and all, over a city are a sign of promise and challenge. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
This image is free and come from ImageBank (see their address in my Links section).

Whole Service Idea: Spread it Around
Found in
Multi-Sensory Seasons by Wendy Raynor and Annie Slade, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271757, page 47 (pictured in an earlier blog). These ideas are based primarily on the Acts reading.

Listening Song: Hands and Feet By Audio Adenalin on WOW 2001 or their album, Underdog (pictured at right). This works well with the Romans reading.

Listening Song Holy Spirit
By Third Day on their self titled album (pictured in an earlier blog).

Listening Song:Burning like Fire.

By Iona on their album Beyond these Shores (pictured in an earlier blog)

Prayer: Feathers
In Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668, page 34. Based primarily on the Acts reading.

Drama: Verbal Symphony for Pentecost
By M Preugschat in Drama Resources 2 by Lutheran Publishing House, 2000, page 55 (pictured at left).

Drama: But It's Only 9 O'clock.
Found in Mega Drama 5 by Verena Johnson (Ed), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 109 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the Acts reading.

Quote: Hitler

Hitler used fear to drive his attack on Europe. He said
"If the Jews did not exist we would have had to invent them" .

Film: The Legend of Bagger Vance
Show the clip where Bagger Vance teaches Junuh how to find his "one truly authentic swing"

Discussion: The Legend of Bagger Vance
1. What do you think our "one truly authentic swing" could be?
. If Bagger Vance represents the Holy Spirit, how does the Holy Spirit help us to find our "one truly authentic swing"?
3. Have you found your "one truly authentic swing"?

(thanks to someone for this idea - unfortunately I can't remember who).

Film: Dead Poets Society
(pictured at right) Use your discretion as to how much you show of this clip depending on the age and emotional resilience of your congregation. Show the clip prior to the student's suicide when the student, who is a talented actor, is stopped from realising his dreams by his father who thinks that acting is a waste of time. The student tries to explain his fear of a future which does not include acting and which will therefore be devoid pf the things that he loves doing best.


What sort of things do we fear today?

What sort of things do we fear for our church?

What sort of things do we fear for ourselves?

Story: Your Own Experience
Display digitally or have with you some of the more fear evoking headlines which we often see today or relate an experience you have had recently where you came across actions taken by others as a result of fear. eg on our last trip to Tasmania we were intrigued by the official who wanted to look under the bonnet of our car as we waited to drive on to the ferry at Port Melbourne. We were quite amused when he told us he was looking for bombs.... until we realised he was fair dinkum.

Story: The Big Rock
Found in
Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 36 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Response Activity:
Give everyone a sparkler. Light the front row and allow people to touch the ends to light others. Use them as a reminder of the first Pentecost (fire and wind) - they fire up best when they are waved about.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter 3 C (April 18): Resurrection Impact

Bible Readings: Acts 9:1-20, Psalm 30, Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19.

About the Images:
Upper image: This is my photo of our middle eastern bread cooking at our Easter dawn service when we re-enacted the brekky Jesus cooked for his disciples on the beach.
Lower image: The Australian church still likes to meet around an open fire from time to time. This is a Uniting Church Presbytery area meeting at Wulgulmerang in Far East Gippsland.
Both photos are mine and can be used for worship and related activities.

Kid's Time: Believing is Seeing
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 60 (pictured in an earlier blog). This goes well with the Acts reading.

Poem: Come Share a Damper With Me
Found in A Bloke Called Jesus by Norman Habel and Pro Hart, Rigby, 1982, ISBN 0727017586, page 46 (pictured at right). As the title suggests, this goes with the gospel reading.

Story: The Cliff
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 60 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story is about trusting God.

Story: Jump
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 98 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story is about trusting God and fits well with the Acts reading.

Listening Song:Hands of God
By Rex Carroll on his album, The Rex Carroll Sessions (pictured at left).

Discussion Questions:
1. Can you relate to the way the disciples felt after Jesus' death and resurrection?
2.What do you do when life is tough?
3. Have you ever given up on God or thought about giving up on God?
4. How does God call us back?

Monologue: Peter
I've made some big mistakes in my time! ........ but nothing like the ones I made on the night when Jesus was arrested. It all started to go wrong when the soldiers came to arrest him. I couldn't believe it was happening! I jumped in like a real life rambo and took a swipe at one of the arresting soldiers - but I only managed to remove his ear and before I could have another go, Jesus reached out and healed him. I was astounded. And as the crowd started to snigger, I felt big and stupid and clumsy. So I stood and watched them lead him away as it hit me that after three years I still didn't really understand what he was on about. But I couldn't abandon him. I followed the soldiers at a distance till they reached a courtyard. I tried my best to blend in but it was difficult. They all recognised me. The servant girl. The gatekeeper. And a big bloke who was a relative of the soldier whose ear I had removed! He recognised me in a flash!! And if they didn't recognise my face then my Galilean accent gave me away. They were all having a go at me - trying to make me admit I was one of his friends. But I couldn't do it. Three times I denied that I even knew him! I was so scared of what they would do to me. I caved in like a house of cards.
But that's not the worst of it. Jesus knew what I was doing! As the soldiers led him away he looked straight at me, our eyes locked through an open doorway.... and I could tell. He knew all right. And ....and there was nothing I could do! And I remember his words telling me I would do this awful thing. I felt ill just thinking about it. I ran outside and cried like a baby. It was as if my heart was breaking. In a matter of minutes, my whole world was in shatters.

After he was crucified, strange things happened. I was one of the first to see his empty tomb. He appeared to us all one Sunday when we met together in secret. But for me, life became even more difficult as the dark cloud of my denial of him spoilt any of the joy. It was as if there was a wall between us - a wall which I had built - which I didn't know how to remove. I was dying
to speak to him but it was also the thing I dreaded most.
So I went back to my boats and the fishing. What else could I do? I didn't have the heart for it any more but it kept my hands busy. I conned a few of the others into fishing with me. And one morning as we returned home, there was Jesus - on the beach. I was so intent on speaking to him that I couldn't wait for the boat - instead I dived straight in and swam to shore. But I was tongue- tied. I couldn't say all the things that were on my heart. Instead I ran around doing everything he asked with all the enthusiasm I possessed. And my business and eagerness hid the wall between us - but could not break it down.

After brekky, he took me for a bit of a walk along the beach. I didn't know what he was going to say. The weight of my guilt blotted out any other thought. I couldn't think how to even start to say all the things I wanted to say. If I had tried to
say that I loved him it would have sounded trite and hypercritical after all that had happened. But I didn't have to. Instead he asked me if I loved him! Three times I had said he was not my friend on that terrible night. Three times on the beach he asked me if I loved him. Three times I said yes with my whole heart. And I knew he believed me because he gave me a job to do - to look after his followers for him - a job that proved to me that he trusted me and that the past was forgotten and that the wall between us was gone.
© Ann Scull


Response Activity:Choose two (or one or three or four depending on the time you have - each station takes about five minutes) of the following stations. Ask:
What do you need?
Who are you like?
Are you like .......:

Station 1. Paul and his need for a new direction:
Think about how God has grabbed your attention in the past.
Think about your current directions.
Are you travelling in the direction God wants you to go?

As you think about these questions fill in the picture (as artistically or as unartistically as you want to) and mark the top pointer with the direction you think God is calling you and the bottom three with the directions you sometimes would rather go.
Pray as you work.

Station 2. Ananias and his need for courage:
Read together the CS Lewis quote from Mere Christianity found in
Imaging the Word Volume 1 by Kenneth T Lawrence (ed.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 195 (pictured in an earlier blog).

Who has ever played the role of Ananias for you?
What do you do when it looks like God is going to ask you to do something really hard?
Has it ever seemed so hard that you walked away from Jesus or thought about doing so?
How does Jesus call us back?

Station 3.The disciples and their need for a new perspective:
Smell Trail Script 9 found in Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668, page 67

Station 4. Peter and his need for forgiveness:
Find a quiet place and become aware of the gentle rhythm of your breathing. Read Not...Do You Promise to be Good prayer slowly – as many times as will fit in the time you have. Leave a space between each reading to sit and listen to what God is saying to you. This prayer can be found in Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 199 (pictured in an earlier blog)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter day C (April 4): Easter dreaming

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

About the Images
Lower: Buds shoot from the bark (epicormic shoots) of eucalyptus (more commonly known as gum) tree devastated and defoliated by bush fires in the Australian High country. For more info on this area visit
Upper:The beach at dawn where we hold our dawn service. For more info on this area visit

Some Particularly Useful Stuff for a Dawn/Sunrise 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.

Call to Worship or.....:When The Inevitable is no Longer Sure
Found at These words could be used in all sorts of ways. This site can also be found in my links (above left) and is well worth a look. Cheryl Lawrie regularly blogs and her writing s excellent, relevant and creative.

Easter candle:
Have a camp fire or a fire pot instead.

Prayer: Jesus We Great 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)

Meditation: I Have Seen Jesus
Found in Mucky Paws Volume 4 or in the April 2007 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left - Rodddy Hamilton writes excellent stuff)

Response Activity
Cook fish and middle eastern bread over an open fire or on a plough disc. A great pita bread recipe can be found at

Easter Services at a More Reasonable Hour

Call to Wo
Silence. Then play Anthem Part 3 from the album, powaqqatsi, (1988) (pictured at left) while showing six 20 second Good Friday images. When the music reaches the fanfare, show an Easter Day image. Then fade the music enough so that a reader can read Isaiah 65:17-25.

Call to Worship: King of Glory

Play King of Glory by Third Day found on their album, Carry Me Hom
e (pictured at right) or on WOW 2001. For each verse, show an image of the crucifixion and for each chorus show an image of the resurrection. Show a resurrection image for the last verse and then as the choir on the CD begins to back the Third Day singer, fade the music and have somebody read Psalm.

Call to Worship: Change
Found in Mucky Paws Volume 4 or in the April 2007 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left)

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 2000
(pictured almost - it's not 2000 - at right) The segment in the Firebird Suite after the fire when everything greens up.

Discussion: Fantasia
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.

Prayer: Yes/No
Found in the 21st March 2008 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left)

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 07, 2010

Lent 4 C (March 14): Unlimited love/Welcome home

Bible Readings: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5;16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

About the images:
This image comes from
Abandoned cars in the Australian Outback are a bit like the Prodigal son. They sit there for years and then some car enthusiast comes along, takes them away and lovingly restores them to their former glory. The odd thing is that sometimes out in the outback you see the other son too. It is the car that looks all shiny and new on the outside but is pretty much wrecked on the inside. Even worse - sometimes there is nothing at all under the bonnet.

Listening Song: Always Have, Always Will
By Avalon on their album, In a Different Light or on WOW 2001 (pictured at right) This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Prodigal Son
By Steve Grace on his album, Children of the Western World.

Kids' Story: Candelo
One hundred years ago, Candelo, New South Wales, was a major wagon stop be
tween the Monaro high country and the coastal shipping ports. The town's river crossing could be disastrous for heavily loaded wagons because river levels and the sandy river bottom were forever changing and there were often patches of quick sand. Crossing the river was particularly dangerous towards evening and in the dark. The town and bullockies together devised a system whereby when the bullockies arrived at the last rise before the town they would shout out candle-o. In response, the whole town would run down to the river with lights and line the sides of the safest place to cross and thus guide the bullock wagons safely into town for the night.
Link this story with the way we leave a veranda light on when we are expecting visitors and the way God is always waiting with anticipation to welcome us.

Film Clip:Martian Child
I used the trailer for this film (2007) which is readily available on the web and which has a great line linked with the gospel reading for this week (see discussion questions below).

Discussion: Martian Child
"There's nothing you can do that will make me change the way I feel about you"
1. How would you feel if someone said that to you?
2. Do you think God says that to us? Why?

Drama: The Prodigal's Mum

Ask a mum of adult children to read the parable through a few times before the service and ask her to put herself into the role of the prodigal son's mother. This works better than having a script.
During the service an interviewer asks her the following questions:
1. Who are you?
2. Your family has been in the news lately. What's the real story here?
3. What a drop kick of a son!! I bet you and your husband gave him the rounds of the kitchen when he came skulking back home?
4. So you followed your husband out to greet him!!!??? But at a more decorous pace as befitted a woman of your standing.
5. So what was with the party? Who threw that for him?
6. What a wonderful family! I suppose his older brother was just as pleased as you both were?
7. Well, did you finally convince him?
c. Ann Scull - permission given for use in worship.

Drama: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards.
We don't?
Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so.
What's made the difference?
When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being;........
A new being? A new being? Can I be a new being too?
..............the old is gone, the new has come.
2: Who could possibly make me into a new being?
All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends............
It'd be great to have God as a friend!
.............and gave us the task of making others his friends also.
2: So this isn't something I keep to myself, then?
Our message is that God was making all people his friends through Christ.
2: What about if people think they're not quite good enough to be God's friends?
God did not keep an account of their sins,..........
That's a relief!
................ and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us.
It is a serious responsibility which we have been given.
We plead on Christ's behalf:........
So what should we actually say?
............let God change you from enemies into his friends!
Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
C. Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull - permission given for use in worship.

Sermon: The Welcoming Church
Found at A call to church communities to be like the welcoming father in the parable.

Illustration: The Flushpools.
Read about the Flushpools in Adrian Plass's Sacred Diary quadrilogy (Volume 1 pictured at left) and you will find a modern example of the older brother from the Prodigal son story (and wet yourself laughing - these are very, very funny books which help us to truthfully reflect on what it is to be a follower of Jesus today).

Story: Sheep
Found at
This story goes with the gospel reading.

Story: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
By Henri J.M. Nouwen, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1994, ISBN 02
3252078X. There is lots of useful stuff in this book but I found the Prologue very helpful for this weeks preaching (pictured at right)

Poem/Meditation: Listen To What God Is Saying To Us.
By Henri J. M. Nouwen and found in Imaging the Word Volume 1 (pictured in an earlier post) by Kenneth T. Lawrence (ed.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 165. I projected these words with multiple images of art works of the prodigal son story. There are plenty of free images of this story on the web. While the slides played through I backed them with the following piece of music: Monastery of Rabida by Vangelis on his album, Reprise.

Quote: Meister Eckhardt
We search for God in a far country whils God waits for us at home.

Response Activity
Time of silence.
Ask in the silence with spaces between each question or statement:
Are you like the older or the younger son?
What is the message and the challenge of the parable for you?
Allow the Holy Spirit to read your heart and speak to you.

Time of silence.
NB: I have used these questions more than once over the years. Sometimes it does not hurt to use something more than once; because, at various times in our lives we will be like the younger son and at other times we will be more like the older son.

Response Activity:
Put out as many postcard size pictures, advertising cards, whatever as you can find - I put mine around the communion table and I tried to put out about ten for every person present so that there were heaps to chose from (I am an avid collector of cards etc). I projected the following questions and left people to it for about five minutes.
  • Choose a picture that represents the Good News of this parable for you.
  • Choose a picture that represents the challenge of this parable for you.
  • As you choose, allow the Holy Spirit to read your heart and to speak to you.
At the end, encourage people to share their cards in groups of three and to share the reason why they chose the cards they did. I concluded this activity with the Nouwen poem/meditation above.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lent 3 C (March 7): The God of Second Chances/The Generosity of God/Keeping in Touch

Bible Readings
Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9.

About the images:
They are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship purposes. The landscape is of sunrise near my place across Lake Victoria, part of the Gippsland Lakes in East Gippsaland, Victoria Australia.

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 at right).

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.

Kid's Story: Dead Plant
A bit like the one above but less involved and can also be used to introduce the gospel reading. Have a nearly dead plant - somebody sees it and says "that's no good, chuck it out!". Another person comes along and says they will feed it and nurture it, re-pot it and give it another chance etc etc.

Kid's Stor
y: The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992 (renewed from 1964), ISBN 0060256656 (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Pay It Forward
Show the clip at the very start of the film where the man who loses his car is given a brand new car to replace it.

Questions for the Film Clip: Pay It Forward
1. Have you ever helped a stranger? What happened?
2. How can we tell if God is generous?
3. How can we be generous with 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. Google them.

Questions for the Telecom Commercials
1. Why is it important to keep in touch with each other?
2. Why is it important to keep in touch with God?
3. 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

Story: Wrong Way Reigels
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 228 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading or the psalm.

Story: Brandon's Mess
As above, page 58. This also goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: The Whisper Test
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal.. Baker Books, 2002,
(pictured in an earlier blog). Story No 259 goes with the gospel reading.

Story: God's Nickel (change nickel to whatever is relevant in your country)
Found in Stilll More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1999, ISBN 1310224640, page 144 (pictured in an earlier blog). Another story that matches up well with the gospel reading.

Story: Letter to Father Dudko

Found in High Mountains Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Tomlinson (Eds.) Albatross Books, 1992, ISBN 086760090X, page 213 (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading and the psalm.

Story: Gratitude
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story No. 112 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Found in Stories, Illustrations and Quotes by Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson, 2000, ISBN 0785244793, page 356. It is a story of God's care for us.

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?

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 (based on the gospel reading).
Give everyone a paper fig tree shaped leaf. Ask them to think about the following question and write the answer on their leaf.
1. If you had one more year, what would you need to help you turn your life around? or
2. What sort of fruit would you like your life to be producing by this time next year?
3. 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 contemplative 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/sermon) and space to experience the discipline they have chosen. Encourage them to choose only one. The disciplines I used were: