Sunday, December 02, 2012

Advent 4 C (December 23): Expect the Unexpected

Bible Readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:47-55,or Psalm 80:107, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45 (46-55).

About the images:
This image comes from which is an excellent free clipart site (there is a link at left) and the text is mine. Please feel free to use this image - don't forget to acknowledge the clipart site. 
Lower: This photo is mine so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.

Listening Song: A Strange Way to Save the World
By 4Him on their album The Season of Love (pictured at right) or on the WOW Christmas album. This is a Christmas song from Joseph's perspective. It is a rarer take than most on the Christmas story and all the more important because of that.  Make sure people hear or see the words clearly.

Kid's Story: One Little Angel
By Ruth Brown, Red Fox, 1998, ISBN 0099404362 (pictured at left). This is a delightful Christmas story with an unexpected ending.

Kid's Story: email: Jesus@Bethlehem
By Hilary Robinson and Anthony Lewis, MacDonald Young Books, 1999, ISBN 075002688X (pictured at right).This is an unexpected take on the Christmas story.

Drama: Mary and Lizzie
Found in Cloth for the Cradle by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 190557014, page 48ff (pictured at left).This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Introduction to Sermon/Adult Imput: What am I?
Read one sentence at a time until somebody in the congregation guesses the answer; then link it with the idea of a key being small and insignificant to look at but able to do great things just as the people in the Christmas story were average pretty insignificant human beings but with God they were able to do great things.
I am usually quite small?
I can fit in the palm of your hand.
With my help people can literally move mountains.
I am seldom alone - usually I am found with others of my kind.
I can encourage great power from dormancy.
When I am lost, chaos and panic erupts.
I am often made of metal but these days i am also likely to have plastic and electronic components.
I can prevent or allow people to pass from one place to another.
I fit specifically into certain places.
I am often part of a security system.
I am a key.

Poem: The Joy of Elizabeth
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing house, 1990, ISBN 0859105628, page 16 (pictured at right).

Meditation: The Magnificat
Found in Cloth for the Cradle (as above), page 45.

Meditation: I Sang For Him
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group. Wild Goose Publications, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 78 (pictured at left). This too is based on the gospel reading.

Response Activity: Cloth For the Cradle
Found in Cloth For the Cradle (as above), page 74.

Response Activity: The Promise
List all the promises out of Mary's song and ask people to choose the one which gives them the most hope and to share that hope with someone sitting near them.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Proper 5 B (June 10)


Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 8:4-11 (12-15) 16-20) (11:14-15), Psalm 138, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3: 20-35.

About the Images:
Both these images are from Heartlight.  You can access them and many other great images via my links column at left.

Listening Song: Always and Forever
By Raze on their album, Power (pictured at left).  This song goes well with the 1 Samuel reading. 

Listening Song: Only the World
By Mandisa on the album, True Beauty (pictured at right) . This song goes well with the Corinthians reading.

Drama: A Little Lawn Story
By Verena Johnson (Ed.), Mega Drama 3, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, 2002, ISBN 0859109178, page 41ff (pictured at left). This is based on the 2 Corinthians reading.

Stories, Poems and Lots of Other Good Stuff: Proper 5
Mainly based on the gospel reading and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, pages 162-165 (pictured at right).

Story:Temporary Things
Story 706 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at left).  This story is based on the Corinthians reading.

Story: Guidance
Found as story No 118 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929. This story frits well with  Psalm 138:7 about listening to God.

Response Activity/Adult Input: Who Has Authority
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2010, ISBN 9780949656911, page 92-3. This works well with all the readings.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pentecost B (May 27)


Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27

About the images:
Left: A free Corel background with my text so please feel free to use it for worship and realted activities.
Right: This is a photo of the inside of my kitchen stove so you are free to use it for worship and related activities.

Have a birthday cake 
big enough for everybody to share - after all, it is the church's birthday.

Listening Song: Burning Like Fire
By Iona on their album, Beyond These Shores, 1993 (pictured at left).

Kids Story: Unknown
By C
olin Thompson and Anna Pignataro, published by Hodder Headline in Australia and Walker Books in the U.S.A, 2002. ISBN 0733613551 (Aust) or ISBN 0802787304 (U.S.A.) The left picture is the Australian cover and the right picture is the American cover - both found at Colin Thompson's site. (Thanks to Rev Andrew Donnelly for this book suggestion).

Kids Story: Popcorn Disciples
Retell the Acts story using pop corn and a popcorn maker by comparing the unpopped corn in the container with the disciples in the room beforehand – all small and shriveled and hard and contained in a small space. Then turn on the popcorn maker and compare the heat and the hot air in the maker with the Holy Spirit. When the corn pops compare the corn with the disciples afterwards – all big and soft, open and fluffy - and popping up everywhere!!


Film clip: Pentecost Acts 2 The message

Film Clip : The Dripping Tap
On Leunig Animated, Fruitcup Films, 2001 (pictured at left) This clip is a great introduction to the first part of the Ezekiel reading as is the Keith Green song/poem (below) and the discussion questions (below).

Poem or Listening Song: My Eyes Are Dry
by Keith Green, Ears to Hear Music.

 Discussion Questions based on the Ezekiel reading:
When can there be dryness in our lives?
When can our lives be disconnected and scattered?

Story: Holy Spirit Holes in Medieval Churches
Google "Holy Spirit Holes" and you will find heaps of descriptions of these - a great illustration for encouraging people to open up their lives to God's power.

Response activity:
Give everyone a birthday cake candle. Project the words "Holy Spirit come into my life and.....". Ask people to mentally fill in the rest of the sentence and then come forward and light their candle as they pray the whole sentence.

Response Activity: Balloons
As a symbol of the gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to us, give everybody a balloon and ask them to write their particular gift on it. They can talk about it and help each other as they go. Then blow up the balloons and decorate the church with them (or have them blown up and decorating the church when people arrive and take them down to write on and take home). Please do not let balloons go outside - balloons are a choking hazard for wild life in rural and marine areas and make a mess in cities.

Story: The Sea Breeze Hotel
Great for kids and adults alike, the details of this book and heaps of ideas for a Pentecost service based on the Acts reading are found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 13ff (pictured at right). 

Church Decor and Prayer Idea: Rushing Wind
Found in Worship Feast: 100 Awesome Ideas for Postmodern Youth, Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2003, ISBN 139780687063574, page 73 (pictured at left).  This idea is based on the Acts reading, and I cannot for the life of me, work out why this book is aimed at postmodern youth when the majority of the ideas apply to postmodern anybody.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Easter 6 B (May 13)

There is 2021 updated version of this resource with lots more stuff - see my archive at left

Bible Readings: Acts 10:44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17

About the Images:
This is the business card I made for everyone (see Response Activity: Postcards below). I used a Publisher template and changed the decoration colour to match the font colour.
This is a Microsoft free clipart with my text.

Listening Song: I've Always Loved You
By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at left)

Call to Worship: Friendship Quotes 
Portray a series of images and quotes about friendship.

Call to Worship: The Lost Parcel
Linked with the John reading, this skit is found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnson (Ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109178, page 17ff (pictured at right. When I used this skit, I used Part 2 before the confession and Part 3 between the kids talk and the sermon or whatever.

Prayer of Confession: Who am I?
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison, Macmillan, 1953, p.222

Kids Talk: God's Love in Our Heart
Linked to the John reading and found in Fun Group Devotions For Children's Ministry, Group Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1559451610, page 27 (pictured at left).

Kids Story Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, Walker
Books, 1994, ISBN 1844281086 (pictured at right).

Film Clip: Crocodile Dundee
(pictured at left) Based on the John reading: Mick says: Of course it took me a week to get this far. I thought I was a goner. I said to meself, "Mick old son, find yourself a nice comfortable spot and lay down and die". Journalist woman: Weren't you afraid ? Mick:Of dying ? Nah. I read The Bible once. You know God and Jesus and all them apostles? They were all fishermen, just like me. Yeah, straight to heaven for Mick Dundee. Yep, me and God, we'd be mates.

Discussion: Crocodile Dundee
What difference would/does it make if you and God were/are best mates?

Film Clip: The Castle
This film has any amount of scenes about change. If you are Australian and mindful that Sorry Day is around now, then the scene where Daryl Kerrigan realises his family are in much the same boat as indigenous Australians is also a good one

Discussion: Linked to the Gospel Reading
What makes you happy?
Think of a time when you have been joyful.
What is the difference between being happy and being joyful?
What makes a good friend a best mate?
How differently would we see ourselves if we viewed ourselves as "the one Jesus loves"?
How would our lives change if we really believed the words of Jesus: "You are my friends .... You didn't choose me. I chose you".

Story: Real Friends
Found in Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 031040261, page 169.  This story belongs with the gospel reading.

Story: I am the One Jesus Loves.
Found in What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey, Zondervan Publishing House, 1997,
ISBN 0310218624, page 68. This story goes well with the gospel reading. 

Story: He's Very Fond of Me.
Found in What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey, Zondervan Publishing House, 1997,
ISBN 0310218624, page 69. This story also goes well with the gospel reading.

Useful Quote: C.S. Lewis
"It's like waking up in the morning and suddenly realising that the term is over and the holidays have begun".
From (I think) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Last Battle by C.S.Lewis.
NB. I haven't seen the film yet, so I do not know if this quote was included or not - if it was, then it would probably make a useful film clip. Somebody may be able to email me some help here..... The quote is stuck in my head (but, unfortunately not the accurate source) because I want "the term is over and the holidays have begun" engraved on my tomb stone when I die :-)

This would probably take the place of the sermon or whatever. Invite two or three members of your congregation to share a story of how the Holy Spirit surprised them and helped them change their minds about something. This is better not done on the spot - give the people you ask enough time to prepare, however reassure them that it is their story that your congregation wants to hear (not a finely crafted sermon) and that each person need only speak from three to five minutes.

Response Activity:
Divide people up into groups of four or five, give them a large piece of paper (if you worship around tables, then make the paper the tablecloth for this week) and marker pens. Ask them to individually and together in their small group, brainstorm practical answers to the question:
Jesus calls us to be a new community - how can we be that new and welcoming community inside and outside our church?
At the conclusion, stick up the sheets of paper around the walls, give everyone two sticker dots and two sticker stars and encourage them to stick the dots beside the two best ideas for being a new and welcoming church community and the two stars beside the two best ideas for being a part of a new and welcoming wider community.

Response Activity: Postcards
This is linked to the two Philip Yancey stories and some of the questions relating to the Gospel (above). Give everyone a business card/postcard/bookmark with the words "I am the one Jesus loves" (see above) printed upon it.


Communion Invitation:
Based on the gospel reading, this invitation can be found in Before the Amen by Maren C. Tirabassi and Maria I. Tirabassi, The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 131.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easter 5 B (May 6)


Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

About the Images:
Left: This image is mine so please feel free to use it as you wish for worship and related activities. This obviously suits the John reading.
Right: Microsoft free clip art and words by Eugene Peterson which are acknowledged on the image. I used this with the Acts reading.

If you are using the Acts reading, have the baptismal font with coloured lengths of cloth or arrows spread out in all directions from its base.

Illustration: Hampton Court Grapevine
Pictures are available by visiting Hampton Court on the web. Sandy has added some useful info in the comment attached to this blog.  Thanks, Sandy:)

Listening Song: Power of the Gospel
by Ben Harper on his Fight for Your Mind album (pictured at right). I used this song with the Acts reading in respect to verse 35.

Film Clip: Horton Hears a Who
(pictured at left) Show the clip where the Mayor of Whoville tries to explain to his wife that there is someone much bigger than them who is looking out for them. I have now used this film three times  - it has some very useful stuff in it and not only engages the kids but engages the adults as well and makes it easy to have a multi-aged discussion. I once again used a clip from (see my links at left) - they do it so well!

Discussion: Horton Hears a Who
1. What is the Good News which we have to share?
2. How difficult is it for us to share the Good News?
3. What makes it difficult?

Drama: The Search
Based on the Acts reading and found in Mega Drama 3 by Verona Johnson (ed) Openbook, 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), page 13, (pictured at right).

Choose Your Own Adventure
The Acts story turns into a great choose your own adventure. I thought the easiest way to explain this was to print the whole thing below and you should get the picture. It can be done on overheads or as a powerpoint or printed on separate pages and worked on in groups. Adults enjoy this as much as kids and teenagers.
The Lord’s angel said to Philip, “Get ready and go south along the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This road is not used nowadays).
So Philip
(a) got ready and went (go to page 7)
(b) realised that a desert road was a hot and probably dangerous place, was a little doubtful whether God would really want him to use that road instead of the freeway and decided that he could serve God better at home. (go to page 3)
Philip heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The official answered: “How can I understand unless someone helps me?” He then invited Philip to come and sit beside him. Philip
(a) climbed up into the chariot (go to page 5)
(b) refused because he was too nervous to speak with such a high official and anyway he might be asked a question he couldn’t answer. Besides, he had forgotten to have his quiet time that morning and he was feeling a little out of sorts. (go to page 3)
So the Philip never did what God asked him to do and the Ethiopian official never heard about Jesus and never shared the good news with the people of Africa.
After they had come out of the water the Lord’s Spirit took Philip away. The official never saw him again, but he was very happy as he went on his way. Philip later appeared in Azotus. He went from town to town, all the way to Caesarea, telling people about Jesus.
The man was reading the passage that said,
‘He was led like a sheep on its way to be killed. He was as silent as a lamb whose wool is being shorn, and he didn’t say a word. He was treated like a nobody and didn’t receive a fair trial. How can he have children, if his life is snatched away.’ The official said to Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or about someone else”.
So Philip
(a) began at this place in the Scriptures and explained the good news about Jesus. (go to page 6)
(b) said that he was a little embarrassed talking about God
because it was such a personal thing and could he please be dropped of at the next oasis. (go to page 3)
As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water. The official said, “Look! Here’s some water. Why can’t I be baptised?” He ordered the chariot to stop. Then they both went down into the water and
(a) explained that he wasn’t sure whether this was the proper time and place or whether he was qualified to do it (go to page 3)
(b) baptised him. (go to page 4)
An important Ethiopian official happened to be going along that road in his chariot. He was the chief treasurer for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. The official had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was now on his way home. He was sitting in his chariot reading the book of the prophet Isaiah.The Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot.
(a) couldn’t think how he could possibly start a conversation while simultaneously running beside a chariot. He might even be arrested for stalking! Anyway the Ethiopian official was already reading his Bible so he probably didn’t need anybody telling him anything about God. So instead of trying to catch up with the chariot Philip took a well deserved break. (go to page 3)
(b) Philip ran up close (go to page 2)

Discussion Questions for the Acts Reading:
What does this story tell us about the way Phillip followed God?
What would help us to speak when we have the chance?
How can we take action?
How can we be involved in the world?
How can we know the message better?

Story: High VoltageFrom Could Someone Wake Me Up Before I Drool On the Desk by Kevin Johnson, Bethany House, 1995, ISBN 1556614160, page 83, (pictured at left). This is a youth story about sharing the gospel.

Interesting Quote: Eugene Peterson
No life of faith can be lived privately. There must be overflow into the lives of others.

Response Activity: Prayer Stations
Station 1:
Have a prayer of confession written in such a way that people can read it to themselves and fill in the gaps.
Station 2: Put the quote above and the Acts discussion questions on a business card and provide a pen or pencil for people to write the answer to one of the questions on the back of the card.
Station 3: Have pens and pencils and copies of the Acts reading available for people to read and sit with, including instructions as follows: In your imagination, be present in the story as you slowly read it. On the back of the reading, write/draw any thoughts, feelings, discoveries, images or resolves that come to you.

Response Activity:
Give each person a card with a grapevine printed on it or a piece of paper cut into the shape of a vine leaf. Ask them to write a response to one of the final four questions from the discussion questions for the Acts reading (see above) on the back and then lay their leaf at the foot of a cross. While they do this, have some quiet music playing in the background.

Response Activity:
If you have a good sized grapevine or other vine, know some one who does or live in a wine growing area give everyone a vine clipping to take home and plant. If you live in Australia, please don't substitute don't an English ivy clipping because people don't seem to be terribly happy when it takes over their whole garden and kills off every other living plant!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good Friday B (April 6)


Bible readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9, John 18:1 -19:42 About the Images: Left: This is is my photo of an evening in the Victorian High country. The cross is a digital addition. If you want to see more of our beautiful high country, then visit Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Right: This image comes from This site no longer updates (you will see the sad reason why when you visit) however the artist, Don da Silva, has left a legacy of wonderful images and templates via the site archives. N.B. Good Friday needs to be treated rather differently from many services. It is a special time. I usually divide the Easter story up (i.e. some of the stations of the cross) and separate each section with the solemn sound of a gong that has the capacity to reverberate through the silence of the worship space. I use a home made tubular bell which is excellent (email me if you would like instructions on how to make one). At the very least I use a Bible reading, an image either projected or placed in a prominent position and a symbol for each section of the story. A responsive song such as "Jesus, remember me" works well too at the end of each section. Have a large wooden cross at the front of the church. This year: I am going to place the cross in the middle of the church where the coffin usually sits at a funeral. I will place the Christ candle on it and people will be encouraged to come out and light a candle as a response to any of the stations/sections. Various options specific to each section are as follows: 1. Jesus is arrested. Symbol: Chains or rope Prayer: What do You Say? By Dom Helder Camara and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, page 115 (pictured at left). 2. Jesus is Questioned Symbol: Gavel Biblical Reflection: The Pharisee From Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 193 (pictured at right). Biblical Reflection: The Priest From Eggs and Ashes (as above) page 192. 3. Peter denies Jesus Symbol: Smashed alarm clock or feathers. Listening Song: I Can't Take the Pain By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at left). Story: Crucifix By G. A. Studdert-Kennedy and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B, as above, page 114. 4. Peter Denies Jesus Symbol: whip or bowl of water Meditation: Stations of the Cross (part of it) From Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166. All fifteen stations are dealt with in this book and can be used as a whole, however can also be used in "stand alone" situations; for example, I used the meditation and prayer from Station 1 for this part of my service. Sermon based on The Death of Innocence Found in The Song of Jesus: Reflections on the Life of Jesus of Nazareth by Ron O'Grady, JBCE, Melbourne, 1984, page 70. 5. The Death Sentence Symbol: Crown of Thorns or a scarlet/purple robe. Reading: Why is he Getting Wrong? By Ruth Burgess and Kirsty Langlands (aged 10) in Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166 Silent Responsive Prayer: Based on section 5 of The Easter Labyrinth in Multi- Sensory Church by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2002, ISBN 1859996671, page 53 (pictured at right). Sue Wallace has at least seven of these multi-sensory books and they are excellent. 6. Jesus is nailed to the Cross Symbols: hammer and nails, dice, sponge. Listening Song: Our God Who Weeps By Kate Scull on the compilation album, Tune In (pictured at left). This album can be ordered from and is well worth getting with the song book. There are some really new, refreshing and wonderful congregational songs in this book and on this CD. Meditation: When Jesus Died In Stages on the Way by Wild Goose Worship Group, 1998 (pictured in an earlier blog) page 168. This is quite long but can be broken up or only used in part. Symbolic prayer: Touch the items as you pray. Here are dice,Lord, to remind us that you lost everything for us. Help us to be generous with our lives as well as with our belongings. Help us to see need. Here is a sponge, Lord, to remind us of your thirst. Help us to thirst for justice and peace and freedom and for your kingdom here in earth. Here are nails, Lord, to remind us of your forgiveness given to the men who nailed you to the cross. Help us to forgive those who hurt us as generously as you forgave them. Amen. 7. The Death of Christ Symbol: Blow out the Christ candle Film clip: Play the crucifixion scene from any good quality film about Jesus, however turn off the sound and instead play Everything I Do, I Do It For You by Bryan Adams on his album, The Best of Me (pictured at left). 8. Jesus is buried Symbol: cover communion table with a black cloth. Symbolic action: Place one very small but exquisite flower on the black cloth and say: This flower is not a symbol of grief or death, it is not part of a funeral wreath. It is a symbol of hope. This story is not yet over. It is indeed Friday today But Sunday is coming. This small beautiful flower will stay here as a symbol of hope until we return. Not sure where I got this idea - if somebody owns it, please let me know so I can acknowledge you. You can do the same thing with a tiny candle and talk about the darkness never putting out the light. 9. Conclusion Drama and Response Activity: Guilty as Sin Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnnson, Open Book, 2002 (pictured in an earlier blog). Use as a lead in to everyone coming forward and hammering a nail into the large wooden cross. Permission is given in this book to adapt the dramas to fit the circumstances and so I left out the narrator at the beginning and had the people in the drama say their words from their seats, come forward to hammer in their nail and then return to their seats. This gave the rest of the people permission to come forward when they were asked to do so. Listening Song: Barber's Adagio for String By William Orbit on the Open Space album (pictured at right).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lent 4 B (March18): Unconditional Love


Bible readings: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, John 3: 14-21, Ephesians 2:1-10 About the images: Right: Mediacom free clipart with my text. Left: My photo - feel free to use it for worship and related activities. Listening Song:: Speechless By Steven Curtis Chapman on his album, Speechless, or on WOW 2000 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Ephesians reading. Listening Song: Call My Name By Third Day on their album, Revelation, or on WOW 2009 (pictured at right). This song matches well with the Gospel reading. Prayer of Confession: In this World Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Resource Group, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 55 (pictured at left).
Kid's Time: Learning John 3:16
Put the individual (or pairs or phrases) words of john 3:16 on big red hearts and distribute these to various members of the congregation before the service. Ask them to hold the hearts in front of their faces at the start of the kid's time. Ask the kids to come out and look at the congregation and see if they can see anything odd. Tell them it is a secret message from God to them and ask themn to find all the people with hearts, bring them forward and then try to arrange them so that the message makes sense. The adults always help out if it gets a little difficult :) Kid's Story: The Sneeches The first story in The Sneeches and Other Stories by Dr Seuss, Dr Suess Enterprises, 1957, ISBN 0007158505 (pictured at right). This story can lead to a discussion about whether we need to do anything to be loved by God.
Kids Story: I Love You, Stinky Face By Lisa McCourt, illustrations by Cyd Moore, Hinckler Books, 2002. (pictured at left) Previously published by BridgeWater Paperback, 1998 Thanks to Marion Latham for this suggestion. Marion says it is a good illustraltion of God's grace.
Film Clip: Les Miserables From the end of the credits (the first scene) startiong with the convict walking the streets and ending with the priest blessing him and giving him a second chance Film Clip: Walking Across Egypt (pictured at left).Show the clip where Mattie argues with her children about when she should stop loving and caring for Wesley. I got this clip from in their "unconditional love" section. This site is well worth the subscription. Discussion: Walking Across Egypt 1. When does God stop loving us? 2. When should we stop loving others? Film Clip: Aladdin Show one of the clips where Aladdin tries to impress Princess Jasmine by pretending he is some thing that he is not - there is one particularly useful clip where his friends encourage him to tell her the truth but he can't do it. Discussion: Aladdin 1. Why was Aladdin pretending to be someone he was not? 2. Who was Aladdin trying to impress? 3. How do we sometimes try to find favour with God and with each other? Drama: The Tune Based on a puppet play (but no longer using as many people or puppets) found in Drama Resources One from the South Australian Lutheran Youth Office. My version makes use of a fairly astute musician. I do hope I have not offended copyright but the book is no longer in print - if an Adelaide Lutheran reads and recognises this beautiful little play please email me so that I can give credit where is is due. More: Thanks to Kevin (see comment below) I now have more information on the history of this drama. Kevin says that "The Tune" is by Larry Norman (now deceased) and can be viewed at : Interestingly, I think that the Drama Resource version predates the Norman version. .....And so, the mystery thickens!!!???

Tune is played twice brightly…. Third time harsh at the end and stops bluntly.

Narrator: Once there was a tune and everyone knew how it went. However as time went by people began to forget it, until at last nobody could remember it.

And there was sadness…. Tune differs

And war… tune differs

And death… tune changes and fades out.

And then someone said: How did that tune go?

And the scoffers said:

Scoffer: (loudly) There is no tune, there never was. It’s just a fairy story! (Harsh chord)

N. And the people said: What!? No tune at all??

And the religious people said:

Religious person: Well now, it doesn’t really matter what tune you play as long as you play something and don’t hurt anybody. (Harsh Chord)

N. So the world just played on and on. (Tune played out of tune).

And there was sadness…. And hatred…. And war… and death. (Tune gets louder and bolder and more out of key)

And one day the world became tired of it (tune fades)

(Long pause)

Suddenly they heard a strange … noise. (Tune begins again slowly)

And someone said, “What is that?”

It was then that they saw the kind man. His name was Jesus. He had a smile on his face … and a kind of sad look too. They all started to listen but they were a little puzzled… Suddenly the scoffers and the religious people shouted:

Scoffer: (loudly) There is no tune, there never was, and there never will be. It’s just a fairy story!

Religious person: Well now, it doesn’t really matter what tune you play as long as you play something and don’t hurt anybody.

N: Jesus just looked at them … rather sadly … when some of them began to sing.

Scoffer and religious person: la la la la la la la la la la la (badly and out of tune)

N: Then they began to fight and argue. Those who didn’t like Jesus decided to kill him … and they did (Tense chord and then silence for a few seconds)

(Tune begins again)

But he came back (Tune played joyfully)

They wondered how to stop him but he disappeared. (Tune is played dreamily)

Instead there are just a lot of people smiling, and enjoying being with their friends…. And these people knew the tune (tune is loud and happy)

Not only that, but they noticed that there was something different. When the people made a mistake, they stopped (tune stops, pause, begins again)

That’s how they knew the tune. They listened.

If you stop and listen, you will hear the tune too (tune continues)

But you have to listen quietly … and you have to listen every day

(Tune played confidently as intro to congregation sing in the song)

Drama: That's Not Fair Based on John 3:16-17 and written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull.

A: 'For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everybody who believes in him may not die but have eternal life'.

B: But that's not fair!!! What about the likes of Hitler and Stalin - the people who start terrible wars and cause the death of millions of innocent people and cause the destruction of whole countries which take decades to rebuild.

A: But God has shown us how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.

B: But that's not fair either!!! Does that include the people who dominate powerless people? What about those who rip off the system and make us all pay more? What about people who are cruel?

A: This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.

B: Hey, come on, this really isn't fair!! That can't possibly include the thieves and the murderers, the people in our jails, the criminals, the liars and the cheats, the ones who abandon and mistreat their children and families, the ones who fight and drink too much.

A: Absolutely nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.

B: But its still not fair!!!! What about the people who are self satisfied and thoughtless? What about those who gossip and are jealous, the ones who are selfish and lack compassion, the ones who break promises, the ones who are always critical, the ones who carelessly hurt other people's feelings..... Come to think of it - it's all of us really, isn't it?

A: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

Story: Too Late Based on the Ephesians reading this story is found at You need to scroll down the page to find it. Story: The Kiss In Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1194, ISBN 0310402611, page 131 . This links well with the Gospel reading. Story: The First Shall be Last In Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks Book 4 by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 2001, ISBN 0310236193, page 160. This links well to the Ephesians reading. Response Activity: Unity In 40 Devotions that Work with Youth, by Geraldine Anderson (ed).,JBCE, 1983, ISBN 0858194147, page 58. In the book this was intended to be a youth group devotion for the Ephesians reading however it can be quite easily adapted to suit a congregation and used as part of the sermon or as a conclusion. Try using post-it notes and a small portable cross instead of paper and the floor. Response Activity: Loving as God Loves Hand out pencils and A5 sheets or business cards (it's better to do this bit when people are arriving for the service) with the following words: God loved me and ………………. so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God did not sent Jesus into the world to condemn me or ………….. God sent Jesus to save us. John 3:16-17. Give everyone a minute or two to talk to God and to fill in the blanks. Response Activity: Forgiven by God Found in Multi-Sensory Scripture by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271668, page 73 (pictured in an earlier blog). Response Activity: John 3:14-21 In response to this reading, I used three of the above activities: vv. 14-15: Forgiven By God vv. 16-17: Loving as God Loves vv. 18-21 The Tune Closing Prayer: You Call your Disciples Found in Stages on the Way, as above, page 59.