Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2 A(January 5): Special Children


There is an 2020 updated version of this post with more stuff - see archive at left.

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-14, Psalm 147 12-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1: (1-9), 10-18.

About the images:
Upper Left: This is a free image from Heartlight. T o visit their site, go to my links column on the left hand side of this page.
Upper Right: This is a free clipart image from Hermano Leon with my text. To find his clipart, go to my links column on the left hand side of this page.
Lower Left: This is an image from Church Galleries.  See my link column at left.

Listening Song: Dies Irae
By Robert Prizeman on his album, Libera (pict
ured at left). This song uses some of the gospel words.

Kids' Story: Our Granny
By Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Omnibus Books, 1993, ISBN 1862913501 (pictured at right). This story develops the idea of family and therefore relates to how we are all children of God.

Film Clip: The Cider House Rules
(pictured at left) Show the clip (around 13 minutes in) where Curley is told he is special. This goes very well with the part in the John reading and the Ephesians reading that tells us that we are God's special children.

 Quote: Madeleine L'Engle
It starts with "cribb'd, cabined and confined" and can be found in in Imaging the Word Volume 2 by Susan A. Blain Sharon Iverson Glouwens, Catherine O'Callaghan, Grant Spradling (Eds.), United Church Press, 1995, ISBN 0829810331, page 105.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Proper 11 Ordinary 16 C (July 21): Priorities and Distractions

Bible Readings: Amos 8:1-12, Psalm 52, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42

About the Images:
This image comes from the excellent Heartlight site (see my links at left)
Right: This is a combination of two free Microsoft cliparts.

Listening Song: Goodbye to Me

By David Robertson on his album, Soul Embrace (pictured at right)

Mediative Listening Song: Dies IraeBy Libera on their CD, Libera (pictured at left). I suggested this last week but it also fits this week.

Individual Introductory Activity: Priorities
Give everyone a pencil and a scrap of paper. Ask them to make a list of the things that are important to them in order of priority. After they have finished, ask them to note where getting to know God and serving God featured on their list. Let them know they will not be sharing their answers with anyone so they are not inhibited by what they think they may have to share.

Film Clip: Jesus of Montreal
(pictured at left).There are plenty of clips in this film in which Daniel, an actor who is to portray Jesus in a passion play, begins to mirror Jesus' life in his own life

Drama: One Thing Needed
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too,, by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 13 (pictured at right)  This drama is particularly useful for the gospel reading.

Discussion: On the Luke Reading
1. Who do you relate to more - Mary or Martha?
2. Why does Jesus think Mary has made a good choice? What is his point?
3. What is Martha's problem?
4. Should we try to balance the Mary and Martha activities in our lives?

Discussion: On the Amos Reading
1. What do you think the job description of a prophet would include?
2. What are some of the method's God uses to speak to people in the Old Testament?

Story: Saul Kills the Priests of the Lord

1 Samuel 22: 6-23 is considered to be the background for psalm 52. The story is about one of the biggest dobbers in history - it is about treachery, anger, and fear.

Story: First Letter Home
Found in The New Century Version Youth Bible, Word, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 1024 (pictured at left). This is useful with the gospel reading.

Story: The Boat in the Window
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 44 (pictured at right). This is useful for the Colossians reading.

Story: Listen Slowly
Found in Bits and Pieces, June 24, 1993, page 13.

Visual Analogy: Pot Bound Plant
Have a pot bound plant and a healthy pot plant with plenty of room to grow. Relate these to the Colossians reading where Paul talks about the things which prevent him from becoming complacent about his faith. Talk about how complacency and our comfort zones can wall us in and prevent us from growing the way we should.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Easter 6 C (May 5): No Fear/About Face!


Bible Readings: Acts 16:9-15, Psalm 67, Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:5, John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9.

About the images:
This is my image taken on the Gordon River, a world heritage area on the west coat of Tasmania - the beautiful island state south of mainland Australia. If you want to know more about this area please visit http://www.discovertasmania.com/activities__and__attractions/wilderness_areas/tasmanias_world_heritage_area

Right: This is my image also. Note how the two small boys on the ride - one in the middle, one near the back - both instinctively lean into their fathers for protection and/or comfort.
Please feel free to use both these images for worship and related activities.
 Listening Song: Psalm 67
By Sons of Korah on their album, Resurrection (pictured at right).

Listening Song: Song of David (Psalm67)
By Maire Brennan on her album, Perfect Time (pictured at left).

Listening Song: Breathe
By Sixpence None the Richer on their album, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer (pictured at right).

Film Clip: Shawshank Redemption
(pictured at left) The scene where Red first meets Andy in the prison yard and in a voice over tells us that Andy seems to have a an invisible coat (or peace?) which enables him to withstand the rigours of prison life. At about the 28 minute mark depending on whether you are using a DVD or video.

Questions on the Film Clip:
How can we be like Andy?
How is or can God be an invisible coat for us?

Drama: Do You PromiseFound in Mega Drama 5 by Verena Johnson (Ed), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109194, page 52 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the John 14 reading.

Illustration: The Holy SpiritFound in Living Stones: The All Age Resource for the Common Worship Lectionary Year C by Susan Sayers, Kevin Mayhew Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1840030097, page 110 (pictured at left). This all-age talk is a great reflection on the Acts reading.

Story: The Holy SpiritFound in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story No. 134 . This story goes well with the Acts reading.

Story: ObedienceStory 463 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551. This story goes very well with the John 14 reading.

Response Activity: The Holy Spirit
Display a list of words and phrases which describe the Holy Spirit (based on the John 14 reading). Ask people to select the one that they think is most useful to them right now and then talk about it with a neighbour.

Response Activity: Preparing For Worship
I know this sounds like a bit of a contradiction but I think this little exercise, although well suited to the start of worship, also could introduce a time of contemplation in response to the John 14 reading or sermon or whatever. Found in
Multi-Sensory Prayer by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2001, ISBN 1859994652, page 55.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Easter 3 C (April 14): The Impact of the Resurrection

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

About the Images:
Left: 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.
Right: 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.

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

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

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

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?

Story: The Cliff
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 60 (pictured at left). 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 at right). This story is about trusting God and fits 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 left). As the title suggests, this goes with the gospel reading.

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)

Listening Song:Garments of Joy
By Songs of Korah on their Shelter album, Wordsong Artists, Belmont, Victoria, 2002.  This song uses the words of Psalm 30.

Kid's Story: Paul Believes in Jesus (or The Man who Changed His Name)
by Loyal Kobrek and Don Kuecker, Arch Books, St Loius, Missouri, 1972 or 1987, ISBN 0570060664 or 0570090083 (depending on the edition you can get hold of). This is one of those tried and tested books which appeals to each generation of kids.

Poem: Breakfast
Also a great prayer and collect based on the gospel reading included on the same page.  Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 152. To order a copy of this excellent book email jennie.gordon@billanook.vic.edu.au

Film Clip: Saul's Conversion:


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Palm Sunday C (March 24): In and out of season


Bible Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11, John 12:9-12, 16-19, Luke 19:29-40.

About the images:
This comes from http://www.scripturepics.org/ A free site well worth a visit but not always up to date particularly for those of us a day or so ahead of most of the world. Use the site search engine if you find the site is a bit behind.
This is a photo of mine which I have fiddled with a bit. It makes a useful background. Please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.

Listening Song or Film Clip: Hosanna

From the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar

Listening Song: Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, Birdwing Music, 1994.  This fits really well with the gospel reading (pictured at left).

Kid's Story: Paradise of Saints/Who Am I?
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 54 (pictured at right). This prettu much goes with all the readings but is based to some degree in the Old Testament reading.

Youth: Fashions and Fads
Bring some odd very dated clothes from your youth (I took witches britches and my husband's platform shoes from the late 60's/early 70's). Talk about how things go in and out of fashion. Discuss which celebrities are "in" at the moment. Talk about Jesus' popularity on Palm Sunday compared with later on in the week. Challenge them to follow Jesus whether he is in or out of fashion and not to let him go out of style. Pick an example of a place where people follow Jesus where it is not popular to do so. There is a great picture taken by John Leongard of the Polish people celebrating Easter in 1982 (when public faith gatherings were still banned) in Life Classic Photographs, 1988, ISBN 0821217143, page 70 (pictured at right).

Drama: Palm Sunday Interviews
The complete drama is below however the answers for each character are not written word for word; instead the general idea only is given so that a real interview feeling is realised. Interviewer's questions are in bold print.Interviewer:
Today we are at the scene of a major rally. Something really big is happening here. I haven't seen so many people gathered in the streets for a long, long time. Let's ask a few of the crowd just what this is all about.

Rally Follower:
Excuse me, Sir/Madam/Miss, would you mind telling our viewers what you're doing out here on the street waving around that large palm branch?

Swept along with the branch wavers. Joined in for the thrill of it all.
What's this all about then? Why are all these people here?

Don't really know and don't really care - as long as its lots of fun and I feel involved. Think the bloke on a donkey is supposed to be a king or something.
On a donkey!!!! What happens if he's not? Won't you feel a little silly?

Hadn't really thought about that. I'm not really sure......trails off.
Friend of Lazarus:
Excuse me Sir/Madam/Miss, why are you attending this demo?

I saw Lazarus rise from the dead and I'm really excited about Jesus power. It was a fair dinkum miracle and gives everybody great hope for even bigger and better things to come. At last someone has come that can solve all our problems and fix everything up for us.
But have you heard the rumour that there is a price on his head?

Oh no, that's not possible is it? There can't be. That would change everything if anything happened to him. It's not possible.
Mugwump: [the person who sits on the fence with his mug (face) on one side and his wump on the other]
Excuse me, why are you attending this major gathering?

Just come to have a look.
How do you feel about becoming an integral part of this rally?

No way. We've all been warned. If we take part, there is a strong possibility that the chief priests will take down our names and then there's no telling what will happen.
What do you think of Jesus, the man on the donkey?

No comment. Don't get me involved.
There's a man who people seem to be making rather a fuss of?
Excuse me, Sir, can I have a word with you? Why do you seem to be attracting a bit of the attention away from Jesus?
Tells about his resurrection.
I've heard rumours that there's a price on your head.
Yes, the Pharisees have done that etc etc.
Well, you seem to be the meat in the sandwich, don't you?

Yes, it's very confusing. I'm losing the point of my miracle if I'm only going to die anyway.
Yes , if you follow Jesus then you may pay the ultimate cost. Do you think a man who they say is a King, yet rides on a donkey, is going to be of much use to you?

Ah I see one of the our town's leading Pharisees over there. Tell me, Your Grace......

Today's a great success.....How do you feel about the number of people who h
ave turned up today?
Not particularly pleased. Crowds are pretty fickle and easily swayed.
Do you think you're losing it with the common man... you know, losing control?
No not at all....Jesus and Lazarus are obviously trouble makers whose activities will be nipped in the bud.
Ah, so you have plans to get rid of these two, have you?

No comment except to say that we have ways and means of ending little disturbances like these!
Ah, I see one of Jesus' very good friends - a disciple. Could you please tell me ...... Do you feel that this day has been a real success?

Yes, heaps of people (very enthusiastic)
Well then, what's with the donkey. Hardly a kingly mode of transport is it?

Not sure about the donkey - but knows that Jesus is going to fix the world still .....only not sure how He's going to do it. Maybe the donkey is an ancient sign of a miracle worker.
Well folks, there you have it. These are the facts. There is far more to this rally today than meets the eye. It is a far more complex situation than we first anticipated. Is this Jesus the man we thought he was? He can perform astounding miracles: yet he came in to our city riding on a donkey - a small, unbroken colt, in fact. Has He given people false hopes - a man on a donkey doesn't look too promising. Is it time to restore order with the Pharisees or could you follow this mysterious man? Is Jesus the conquering King who will save the world? Can He solve all our problems? Can He save us from ourselves? What you will all have to decide is - has He really got something to offer? Could you, and would you, follow this man? Thankyou for watching.
c. Ann Scull and Rosemary Broadstock. Permission granted for use in worship.

Discussion: On the above drama.
Explain how we can all be like those who were interviewed at different times in our lives. Number everybody off from one to eight, ask people to get into the eight groups and then give each group one of the characters in the dram to discuss using the following questions:
1. Who is this person today?
2. What role can we play in their faith journey?

Story: Jesus, the Leader
Found in Ruth Daugherty, "Issues of Leadership in the 21st Century.' in Viewpoint, Summer, 1991,2.

Meditation: Three Stone Meditations
Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 92 (pictured at right).  

Prayer: You Called Us Your Disciples
Found in Stages on the Way
by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 59 (pictured at left).  This goes well with the gospel reading.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Lent 5 C (March 17): What Really Matters/Looking to the Future/There is a Pool in the Desert

Bible readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-11

About the Images:

 I thought these photos went well with the "rivers in a dry land" bit of Isaiah. The top one is Glen Helen Gorge near Alice Springs, Northern Territory and the lower image is the Murchison river near Kalbarri in Western Australia. For more info on Glen Helen Gorge visit http://www.about-australia.com/travel-guides/northern-territory/alice-springs/attractions/natural/glen-helen-gorge/ and for more info on the Murchison River area visit http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Murchison_River_(Western_Australia) These images are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship or related church activities. 

Worship Space: Decor 

Have lots of incense and aromatic oil lamps burning (as long as there is not a vulnerable asthmatic or two in your congregation - it is worth checking first).

Listening Song: Because You Loved Me

By Celine Dion on her album, All The Way: A Decade of Song, EMI (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Flowing Over Me
by Derri Daugherty on his album, Flap Your Wings, Resolve Records, 2000 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Isaiah reading.

Listening Song:Psalm 126: Men who Dream
By Sons of Korah on their album, Redemption Songs.(pictured at left) 

Prayer of Confession.
Found in Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill (Eds.)l, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 107
(pictured at right)

Film Clip: Moulin Rouge
(pictured at right). Start approximately one minute in - with the words "Paris 1900". End at approximately at 2:15 minutes as Christian types the words "Moulin Rouge". 

Drama: Get Your Perfumes Here
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 0859109151, page 68 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Discussion: On Get Your Perfumes Here and Moulin Rouge Film Clip.
What really matters to the people in the drama and in the film clip?
What do you think really matters?

Film Clip: The Legend of Bagger Vance  
This works well with the Isaiah reading if you are talking about looking backwards and forwards, God doing new things and God making a way for us. The scene is found at the end of Chapter 13 or around 1hr 35 minutes in. In the scene Junuh goes to retrieve a golf ball from a wooded area and ends when his caddie, Bagger, promises to be with him always.

Discussion: The Legend of Bagger Vance.
1. What does Junuh have to do to play good golf?
2. Who does Junuh have to trust?
3. Why do people often tend to look backwards instead of forwards when things get tough?

Film Clip: The Merton Prayer

Drama: What Really Matters.
Word up a few people to be interviewed as one of the other characters in the story. To prepare their part just ask them to read the story and any other gospel story which involves their character. During the service walk to where each character is sitting and ask them what they thought about the whole incident. People to be interviewed: Martha, Lazarus, Judas

When has someone's generous act surprised you? 

Discussion: Philippians Reading.
What really matters to Paul?
What things really matter so much to us that they can shift Jesus our of the centre of our attention?
What did Paul give?
What is the most important thing that we can give?

Story: A Diet For Losers. 
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 21 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the Philippians reading.

Story: Giving

Story No. 238 found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: Ragman.

Found in Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walter Wangerin Jr, Spire, 1984, ISBN 0340592729, page 3. This is a great Easter story and could really be used any time in the next couple of weeks.

Group Activity:
Divide into six working groups - double up or even triple for a large congregation.
Each of the six groups takes on one character or group of characters
out of the gospel story.
1. Martha: serving
2. Lazarus: listening, being a friend
3. Mary: something extravagant and special
4. Judas: more concerned about money than the action
5. People in verse 9: trying to find out more
6. Chief priests: eradicate the problem.
Ask each group to discuss the following questions:
a. What is/are your subjects doing?
b. What do they think of Jesus?
c. How do they show how they feel about Jesus?
d. What really matters to them?
Ask each group to report back - give them a few alternate ways (and the materials to do so) of doing this - a poster, a short speech, a song etc etc.

Response Activity: Goes with Group Activity Above.

Have a gift box full of small sachets of bath salts and give everyone a sachet. As they hold it, smell it, feel it, ask them which group they fit into. Maybe they are already serving God like Martha, maybe they are hanging around Jesus like Lazarus, maybe they have things they want to give like Mary, maybe, like Judas, other things are getting in the way, maybe like the crowd, they are still searching, maybe like the chief priests, they feel uncomfortable in God's presence. Whatever - encourage them to take the salts home and as they relax and use them, encourage them to have a chat with God about their relationship with God.
NB. I put the kids in the Mary discussion group and they made the sachets while they talked- however the sachets are not hard to make beforehand.
3 parts Epsom salts
2 Baking Soda
1 Table salt or borax
Food dye - as you want - the colour makes it look a bit more spiffy.
Scented oil - as you like - according to your nose.
Mix in a large bowl with your hands - you'll smell good for days!
Each person only needs a few tablespoons of bath salts for a bath (and water, of course :-) ).

Response Activity:

Have a gift box lying open at the foot of a cross. Give everyone a pencil and a piece of paper. Give them some thinking time while they consider and pray about their response to Jesus - project some ideas eg., spending more time with him like Mary, doing something for him like Martha, listening to him like Lazarus, rearranging priorities like Paul. Whatever they discover as they listen to God, encourage them to write it down and put it in the gift box.

Response Activity for the Isaiah reading:
Give everyone a small beach or river pebble - the sort that look pretty dull out of water but have lovely colours show up when they are wet (opal tailings are brilliant for this but other pebbles will do). Have a clear bowl of water out the front. Encourage people to hold their pebble and think of things that are desert like or wilderness like in their lives. Ask them to pray about these things and, when they are ready, bring out their pebble and drop it in to the bowl of water. Just as the water transforms the pebbles so God transforms our deserts and wildernesses and does a new thing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lent 4 C (March 10): 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 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son.jpg
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 (pictured at left). Obviously this fits well with the gospel reading :)

Kids' Story: Candelo
One hundred years ago, Candelo, New South Wales, was a major wagon stop between 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

(pictured at right) 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!

2: OK......how?
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 http://petercorney.com/2009/09/01/being-a-welcoming-church/. 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 http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/sheep.htm
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 023252078X. 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 at left) 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 while 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.

Listening Song: Forgiven
By Sons of Korah on their album, Redemption Songs.  This song uses the words of Psalm 32.

Prayers and Poems: Prodigal
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 146. To order a copy of this excellent book email jennie.gordon@billanook.vic.edu.au

Response Activity: Love is a Relationship
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 54ff. This works well with all the gospel reading.