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 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 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.