Saturday, October 08, 2016

Proper 25 Ordinary 30 C (October 23): Either/Or

Bible Readings: Joel 2:23-32, Psalm 65, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14.

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is free and comes from
Upper Right:
This is a Microsoft free clipart.
Lower Left:  This image goes well with the line from the Jars of Clay song below: All said and done, I stand alone amongst the remains of a life I should not own. This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at

Listening Song: Follow the Word
By Maire Brennan on her album, Whisper to the Wild Water (pictured at left). This song goes very well with the Joel reading.

Listening Song: Worlds Apart
By Jars of Clay on their album, Jars of Clay (pictured at right).
This song is the prayer of the tax collector but it is also the prayer of the repentant pharisee.

Film Clip: Mr Deeds
I showed the clip where John Deeds goes out to dinner with New York's influential businessmen. I found this clip at Wingclips (see my link to their site at left).  This goes really well with the gospel reading - see service idea below. 
Watch this clip at:

Film Clip: Mapoon Appeal
The story behind this appeal is a great story reminiscent of the Joel locust story.  The people of Mapoon always dreamed and hoped to return and they have lived up to their dreams and visions. And if your church could help them out a little, that would be even better.

Mapoon Appeal from Uniting Church in Australia on Vimeo.

Discussion Question: For Luke
1. If we transferred the Pharisee into the twenty first century, who would he be?
2. If we transferred the tax collector into the twenty first century, who would he be?
3. When have we unconsciously uttered the prayer "Thank God, I am not like the Pharisee"?

Drama: Judging From Appearances
Found in Red Letter Days by Paul Burbridge and Murray Watts, Hodder and Stoughton, 1986, ISBN 034038347X, page 59 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: Two Boys

This is the Pharisee and the Tax Collector transferred into the school yard. It works well with two adults acting as little kids or with two teenagers - you may have to adapt some of the dialogue depending on which of those above options you choose. Feel free to adapt it in any way which suits your congregation.

Narrator: Hi. I'll be telling you all a story today. This story is usually about two men - one is a pharisee and one is a tax collector, but today the pharisee is going to be a school kid who thinks he's really good. His name is Gordon (Gordon enters). And the tax collector is going to be the school bully. His name is Leroy and he is really mean. (Enter Leroy).
Leroy: Here, take that ya little wimp! (Biffs Gordon across his head).
Gordon: Ohhhh....that hurt! Leave me alone you big bully. I'm gunna dob on you!!!
Leroy: Keep ya mouth shut or you'll get another one!
Narrator: One day Gordon and Leroy both went to church. Gordon sat down all by himself and started to pray in a really loud voice.
Gordon: I thank you, God, that I don’t ever cheat or lie or bash kids up like everybody else does. I'm glad I'm not like Leroy over there. He steals my lunch and hits me all the time. I always read my reader and sometimes Leroy makes me read his as well. And I always put my collection in the plate on Sunday morning!
Narrator: Well, as you can see Gordon thought he was pretty good and he really wanted to impress God. However, Leroy, the bully, sat all by himself in church too but he prayed very sadly and very differently.
Leroy: Oh dear, Lord, I don't know what to say. I feel really terrible. I am very sorry for all the bad things that I have done. Please help me.
Narrator: God would have liked Leroy's prayer because Leroy knew he'd done bad things and he wasn't afraid to tell God that he was sorry. He knew it was OK to tell God the truth. (Leroy leaves). Gordon, on the other hand, was just out to impress God. (Gordon flounces off with his nose in the air). See ya later kids.
c. Ann Scull

Poem: God's Spirit Poured Out
By Hildegard of Bingen
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 54. (pictured  at right). This poem fits well with Joel reading.

Verse: Great Soaring Spirit

By Brian Wren 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 57. (pictured  at right). This verse fits well with the Joel reading.

Responsive Prayer: Litany

From the Iona Community Worship Book
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 57. (pictured  above right). This prayer fits well with the Joel reading.

Service idea:
I used the gospel reading, the film clip above, both the dramas above and a couple of stories and presented them one by one. After each one, I asked the congregation:
1. Who is the Pharisee?
2. Who is the tax collector?
3. Who am I most like?
I got them to talk about the first two questions and think about the third with the aim of helping people understand that in different situations we can be either the pharisee or the tax collector.
I then asked them to walk around and look at a collection of advertising postcards and pictures which I have collected over the years and which I laid out all over the worship space before the service began. I asked everyone to select six cards - three which they thought best described themselves when they are pharisee-like and three which best described themselves when they are tax collector-like - and to arrange them either on the floor or somewhere they could look at them easily.
I concluded by playing the Jars of Clay song (see above)


Responsive Reading:
By Jim Burns and Robin Dugall in Worship Experiences, Gospel Light, 1999, ISBN, 0830724044, page 25.  This is based on Psalm 65.

Drama/Reflection: God hears all kinds of prayers
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 116.

Worship Resources: Where Are God's Fingerprints?
Found in Multi-Sensory World by Craig Borlase, Scripture Union/Tear Fund, 2008, ISBN 9781844272662, page 18. This goes with the Psalm reading.

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