Sunday, October 22, 2017

Proper 25 Ordinary 30 (October 29): Being at Home with God

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

Bible readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, Matthew 22:34-46

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is a microsoft free clipart background with the Biblical text.
Upper Right: This is my image taken from the summit of Mt Nebo (biblical Moab, present day Jordan) with the Biblical text. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower left and right: These are free cliparts from Heartlight (see my links column at left).

Listening Song: Gather At The River
By Point of Grace on their album, The Whole Truth (pictured at left) or on the WOW 2001 album. This song is about loving
one another.

Film Clip: Liar Liar
This clip can be found at the excellent Wingclips site - see my links column at left or go to the following address:
Grown Ups Lie - Movie Clip from Liar Liar at

Discussion: Liar Liar
1. Do you agree that adults have to lie sometimes to be kind?
2. How transparent should we be to those around us?
3. Where does God fit into this discussion?

Drama: We are a Family
Found in Let's Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 31 (pictured at left). A drama about not being at home with God.

Story: Sharing the Gospel
Found at the following address:
Type the name of the author, Cecil Northcott, in to find the story.

Poem: The Real Problem
By Ad
rian Plass in Clearing Away the Rubbish, Minstral, 1988, ISBN 1854240250, page 142 (pictured at right). A poem about not being at home with each other.

Quote: Robert Frost
"Home is where
when you go there they have to take you in." Found in Death of a Hired Man.

Prayer for Others: Based on the Gospel reading
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2010, ISBN 9780949656911, page 152 (pictured at left). This is a beautiful "hands on" prayer.

Sermon: DIY
Have three stations for people to visit in any order - each with input and response activities as follows
Station 1:
Have the poem, The Real Problem (above), printed on the other side of the adult response frames (below). Ask people to read the poem first and then respond with the frames in the same way as I have described in the Response Activity below. Provide pens or pencils so that they can do this.
Station 2:
Have a poster of the story, Sharing the Gospel (above), pinned up and in large print - it is a small story so it will be easy to do this. Ask people to read the story and then respond as per the prayer for others (above).

Station 3:
Have pens or pencils and a pile of A5 sheets of paper with 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8 on the B side with the question
"How does your list compare with Paul's?" beneath the reading. On the A side, which they will look at first, have the following:
1. Write a list, in order of priority, of those you wish to please the most.
2. Turn the sheet over and read the other side.

Response Activity:
Give each person a small folded card (three fitted on an A4 for me) with two empty frames printed on the inside. Reassure everybody that this is an activity between themselves and God - that no one will see what they write or draw. Ask people to write or draw their public image in the left hand frame,
and the real person in the right hand frame. Play some nice thinking music while they are doing this. To conclude, either pray a prayer about committing/giving all of ourselves to God and/or challenge people to put their cards in with their offering as an act of commitment.

Kids Talk: The Greatest Commandment
Found in Saving the Ants by Ruth Gilmore, Augsburg, 2001, ISBN 0806640804, page 116 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading.

Prayer of Confession: Based on Psalm 90
By Rachel C. Hackenburg and found in Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship by Marin C and Maria I Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, pages 200 (pictured at left).

Meditation: Two Visions of the Future
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 59. This goes well with the Old Testament reading.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Proper 24 Ordinary 29 A (October 22): On Being the Message

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

Bible Readings: Exodus 33, 12-23, Psalm 99, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22

About the Images:
Upper Left: A copyright free wikimedia commons image on to which I put the text.
Upper Right: My photo, so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: A Microsoft free clipart image with words from Bill Easum's book, Leadership on the Other Side (see Adult Response below).
Lower Right: A Microsoft free clipart with my text

Listening Song: The Message
By 4 Him on their album, The Message (pictured at left) or on WOW 1997 or on Nothing But Pop. This song is a great introduction for the Thessalonians reading.

Kid's Story: An Important Message

Tell the kids about Paul - about how he left the Thessalonians an important message. Have 1 Thessalonians 1:4 printed out on a large sheet of cardboard and then cut it up as a jigsaw puzzle and have the kids help you put the message back together again.

Psalm 99
Divide it up to be read in four or five sections and sing the Taize response: The Lord is my Song in between as a response.

Discussion: Matthew reading

What are some of the things which can make us afraid?

Drama: Church? What Church?
Interviewer: Tell me what you think of the church?
1: I think it's just a money making concern.
2: People who go are just hypocrites. They should practice what they preach.
3: Teaches you good morals, I suppose, but I've got a business to run.
4: It helps us Christians look after each other.
Interviewer: What sort of Christian do you think you are?
1: I've got a Bible at home and I'll use it if I have to!
3: Pretty good actually - I never miss going to church at Christmas and Easter.
2: I think it's fun to go to church but don't tell my friends that. They'll think I am a loser.
4: I'm the sort of Christian who is sure that God loves me.
Interviewer: Why do you go to church?
3; Oh, that's check out the girls/boys.
2: My family make me!
1: To pick up the latest gossip around town.
4; To tell God he's terrific.
Interviewer: What do you do in church?
1: Count the bricks.
2: Read who wrote the hymns and work out how old they are.
3: Check out what everyone's wearing.
4; Get involved!
Interviewer: Why do you belong to church?

Copyright: Ann Scull

Discussion: For
the drama: Church? What Church?
1. Why do you belong to a church?
2. Why do you belong to this church?
3. The Thessalonians reading tells us that faith, loving work and hope are all gifts from God. Which gift do you want most at the moment?
4. What is it about our relationship with Jesus that the world cannot live without knowing.

Drama: Caesar

A; Did you see the paper today?
B: (hopelessly) I know, Jesus on the front page again
A: Did you read what he said?
B: Some rubbish about how you shouldn’t worry about what anybody thinks of you! What kind of person says that!
A: Someone stuck in the 70’s man!
B: Well we know he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him – you can tell that by his fashion sense…… and his friends.
A: Hippy fishermen!
B: and how only what God wants, counts!
A: What sort of citizen says that? What about what the Prime minister wants!
B; What about what the Queen wants!
A: What about what the taxman wants!
B: He’s a traitor!
A: He should be arrested
B: Yes! I tried to make him admit that he’s a traitor
A: DID you!
B: I got a HUGE crowd together and I said “OK Jesus, should we use everything we have for God, or should we pay it all in taxes to the government?
A: I thought - If he says “give everything to God” we can arrest him for telling people to be naughty to the government. If he says “we should pay our taxes” then all his followers will see that he doesn’t give everything to God at all!
B: Brilliant! What did he say?
A: Well, first I THINK he called me an idiot, and then he asked me for a coin. Then he said “whose face is on it? I said “The King’s! Then he said Well, it must belong to him then – give him what belongs to him, but give God what belongs to God…you know the difference don’t you? He said.
B: That was a good answer – a very good answer.
Copyright: Rosie Broadstock (free use for worship and related activities).
Story: Sermons versus Witness
Index 4173 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Based on 1 Thessalonians 1:8. This story can also be found at

Story: Tested by the Lord.

Index 2149 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. Based on 1 Thessalonians 1:8. This story can also be found at
. Scroll down or search the site for the author: G. Campbell Morgan

Story: Belonging
Found in Stories From the Heart by Alice Gray (compiler), Vision House, 1996, ISBN 1885305419, page 25 (pictured at right).This story fits in really well with gospel reading.

Quote: Jim Elliot (one of the five missionaries killed in south America in the 1950's)

God is on his throne and man is on his footstool. But there is only a knee's distance between.
Adult Response: Handout
Give everyone a business card ((pictured at top) with the question "What is it about my relationship with Jesus that the world cannot live without knowing?" This is a Bill Easum question found in his book Leadership On The Other Side, Abingdon Press 2000, ISBN  0687085888.  Encourage people to take the card home and think about their answer and how they could share their answer with others. 


Prayer Exercise: Singing our Prayers
Found in Prayer: Heart of the Pilgrimage by Jenny Youngman, Upper Room Books, Nashville, 2007, ISBN 0835898369, page 68.  This is based on the Psalm reading.

Prayer: What should we render Ceasar
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 121. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Proper 23 Ordinary 28 A (October 15): Invitation/True Worship

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

Bible Readings: Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is a free Imagebank image with a quote from William H. Willimon. You can find more great images from the Imagebank site by visiting them through my links column at left.

Upper Right:
This is a free Microsoft clipart image with my text.
Lower Left: This is a free clipart from Cerezo Barredo - see my link Column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with my text

Listening Song: Douchas (Hope)
By The Crossing on their album, Douchas (pictured at left)

Kids' Story: The Golden Calf
Tell the story in your own words and illustrate it with images from the Brick Testament - You have no idea how much enjoyment the adults derive from this as well!!

Film Clip: Meet the Parents
Show the clip (below) where Jack (father) asks Greg to say grace.

Discussion: Meet the Parents
1. Why do you think that Greg is uncomfortable praying?

2. What does it mean to be religious?
3. What does it mean to have a relationship with God?
4. What is the difference between the two?

Film Clip: The Almighty Exodus
Found at Max 7 website, this is a great short summary of the Exodus which can be used for any part of the story as an overview or as an introduction for either children or adults. Go to

Film Clip: The Parable of the Great Banquet
Also found at the brilliant Max 7 site: A Bollywood version of the Parable.  The congregation - not just the kids - loved it.

Drama: The Mystery of the Missing Ath
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 58 (pictured at left). This is the gospel story with athletes replacing the wedding guests.

Drama: The Feast
Found in Let's Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 20 (pictured at right). This is a conversation between two of the King's servants.

Story: Choosing Mary
Found in Hot Illus
trations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties Inc, 1994, ISBN 031040261, page 64 (pictured at left). This story is based on the idea that God chooses/invites us.

Group Activity: Matthew 22:1-14
Give everyone a copy of the gospel reading. Divide the congregation into six groups. Give each of the groups a character or a group of characters out of the Matthew story: the king, the son, the servants, the first guests, the second guests, the people who were not dressed properly. Give each group the same questions to discuss:
1. Who are you? (just to make sure everybody in the group is on the same page)
2. What part do you play in the story?
3. Who do you think you might represent?
4. Why do you do what you do in the story?
5. How do you think you might feel about what happens in the story?
N.B. If you have heaps of people you may have to have multiples of each group.

Prayer for Others:
Ask everyone to think of a person or a place that God wants to invite to his party. Then have a time of silence when people can pray for that person or place.

Adult Response: Change

Screen the words of the poem Change by Charles Singer. I found it in in Imaging the Word Volume 3 by Susan A Blain, Sharon Iverson Gouwens, Catherine O'Callagan and Grant Spradling, (Eds.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829801862, page 49 (pictured at right). I put images with each line and played reflective music in the background. I used Missing by Vangelis on his album, Odyssey for the music (pictured at left). Towards the end, I projected the following words: "Which piece of clothing do you have in short supply?" and passed around cards with the various lines from the poem printed on them. People were asked to take the card they needed the most. This was followed by a time of silent prayer.


Story Plus Other Stuff: Big Al's Banquet

Found in Wally the Dodgy Trolley and other Stories of Faith and Humour by Ian Johnson, Scripture Union Australia, Lidcombe, 2000, ISBN 0949720984, page 85.

Kids: Let the Celebrations Begin

By Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Box Press,  with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 55. This goes well with the Philipians reading.

Taize Service: Don't Worry, Have Peace
Found in Worship Feast by Taize, Abingdon Press, 2004, page 12. This is based on the Philippians reading.

Prayer Exercise: Centering Prayer
Found in Prayer: Heart of the Pilgrimage by Jenny Youngman, Upper Room Books, Nashville, 2007, ISBN 0835898369, page 60.  This is based on the Philippians reading.
All Sorts of Useful Stuff: Party People
By Ian Birkinshaw in Multi-Sensory Parables, Scripture Union, 2006, ISBN 9781844272310, page 36.  This is based on the Gospel.