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.

Lent 2 B (March 4): Discipleship

Bible readings
:Genesis 17:1-7,15-16, Psalm 22:23-31,
Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-18

About the images:
Left: A smoky sunset Lake Tyers Beach ( Looking out across an empty ocean is a good reminder that discipleship does not always have a perceived outcome. We must faithfully step out not always knowing what is to come or where we will end up. It is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Right: I just love this verse. The image is from Microsoft free clipart.

Listening Song: Edge of the World

On Beyond These Shores by Iona, 1993 (pictured at left) The cover insert has some good info on St Brendon, who sailed away across the sea trusting that God would lead him into new places. This song is about discipleship.

Story: The Chicken and the Pig
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice (ed.) Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 63 (pictured at right). This story illustrates the cost of true discipleship.

Story: Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Go to to find an amazing story of discipleship.

Story: Life of St Brendan
See and for more info on St Brendan.

Discussion Questions:
What scares you most about being a disciple?
What are the characteristics of a disciple?

Useful Quote:
tians in the west have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of Western Christians are church members, pew fillers, hymn singers, sermon tasters, Bible readers, even born again believers or spirit filled charismatics - but not true disciples of Jesus". Found in Discipleship by David Watson, Hodder and Stoughton, 1981, ISBN 0340265728, page 16 (pictured at left).

Another Useful Quote:
"For countless Christians in the West 'Discipleship' means little more than going to church regularly, giving a proportion of one's income -usually at best one tenth and often below that figure - and getting involved in a limited number of church activities". Also found in Discipleship by David Watson.

N.B. A BIG thank you to Karen from California for replacing my lost copy of this book :)

Poem/Prayer: When I Became a Christian
Found in Cleaning Away the Rubbish by Adrian Plass, Minstral, 1988, ISBN 1854240250, page 173 (pictured at right). A great modern poem about discipleship.

Poem/Prayer: St Brendan's Prayer

Found at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Epiphany 6 B (February 12): Healing/Are We Rocks or Diamonds?

Bible Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1:40-45

About the images:
Left: This is a free image from A really great site - see my links column at left.
Right: This is a photo from my church. It shows the healing found in community. I love looking at their faces. Please feel free to use this photo for worship or related activities.

Listening Song: Never Alone
by Barlow Girl on their CD, Never Alone (pictured at left) or on WOW Hits 2005. As well as fitting in nicely with the Bible readings, this song is also very useful in areas suffering from disasters of any kind. This song is a beauty if accompanied by images of the disaster you may be focussing on.

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

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

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

Drama: Look at Me
in Mega Drama 3,Open Book 2002, ISBN 0859109178 (v.3), pp 54-55 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

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

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


Kids: The Man with Leprosy
This is another brilliant book  by Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2006. This goes with the Mark reading.  The great thing about these books is that they only around $A5 and for a further $A10 (or instead of) you can buy on line the story in any format you need to project the pictures in church.  There are also free activity sheets and for a cost activity books for both teachers and children.  Visit to check out all the excellent resources.