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.