Sunday, November 25, 2018

Advent 2 C (December 9): Preparing a Road in the Wilderness

Bible Readings: Luke 1:68-79, Baruch 5:1-9, Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6, Philippians 1:3-11

About the images:
Upper Left: This is the Australian version of the annunciation found in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth in Israel. It is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is some of the brilliant clipart from Church Galleries - a site which has had an eventful life recently due to the mindless and vandalistic nature of hackers.  It is back up and running now and well worth the slight expense required to download the excellent slides.
Middle Right: Another slide from Church Galleries - you can access the site via my link column at left.
Middle Left: John Bell says that in many ways we have handed the Nativity story over to children. Using adults for the Nativity plays gives a more realistic and true perception of the story to everyone. Alma (may she rest in peace), a wonderful lady who belonged to a church I once served in, made a fantastic Gabriel. It is my photo.  Alma was, and I am, very happy for you to use this photo for worship and related activities. 
Lower Left: A free image from Cerezo Barredo - see my link column at left

Responsive reading:
he Luke 1:68-79 makes a good responsive reading

Film Clip: Sting - The Angel Gabriel

Film Clip: Little Women
Show the scene from this film (pictured at left) near the beginning where the girls share their breakfast with the poor family and the lady of the house calls them angels (messengers) from God.

Drama: Lucky Day
Found in Cloth For the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Group Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 38, (pictured at right).  This drama is a great introduction to the Luke 1 reading.

Discussion and Activity: Bible study
Print the latter four bible readings above onto A4/letter sized paper - a different colour for each reading - and have enough printed so that each person receives one page only, not all four. Project the four questions below or have the questions printed on the bottom of each reading:
1.What is the good news in this reading?
2. How is this message helpful to christians/believers?
3. How is this message helpful to those with little or no knowledge of Jesus?

4. The name "Malachi" (one of the readings) means messenger - do you see yourself or this congregation as a messenger? How?
Get people to sort themselves into same paper colour groups of five or six, maybe more, and encourage them to discuss the questions in the light of their particular reading. Ask each group to present to the congregation the thing that impacted on them the most as they discussed the
questions. Encourage them to present their finding via a homemade poster, a skit, a song, a poem, a diagram, a clay sculpture etc etc. They will be limited only by the resources and spaces you provide for them to work in. Allow at least 20 - 30 minutes for this whole process.

Provide/project some images of the world and your local area. Ask the Bill Easum question from Leadership on the Other Side, Abingdon, 2000, ISBN 0687085888 (pictured at left) :
What is it about your relationship with Jesus that the world cannot live without knowing?
Give people a quiet space to think about this question.

Poem: Zechariah's Pride
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran
Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0859105628, page 18 (pictured at right).

Poem: Maggie's Poem
Not sure how to acknowledge this poem properly but thank you to a visitor to this site who gave me some background to this lovely poem as follows:
'The poem was apparently written by a member of a group that Lee Strobel was leading or who was part of his church in the US. I heard him read and quote this when he was in the UK some years ago talking about "Building a contagious church". I got the text from him.'

Do you know,
do you understand
that you represent
Jesus to me?

Do you know,
do you understand
that when you
treat me with gentleness,
it raises the question in my mind
that maybe he is gentle, too?
Maybe he isn't someone
who laughs when I am hurt.

Do you know,
do you understand
that when you listen to my questions
and you don't laugh,
I think,
"What if Jesus is interested in me, too?"

Do you know,
do you understand
that when I hear you talk about arguments
and conflict and scars from your past
that I think, "Maybe I am just a regular person
instead of a bad, no-good, little girl who deserves abuse?"

If you care,
I think maybe he cares --
and then there's this flame of hope
that burns inside of me,
and for a while,
I am afraid to breathe
because it might go out.

Do you know,
do you understand
that your words are his words?
Your face,
his face
to someone like me?

Please be who you say you are.
Please, God, don't let this be another trick.
Please let this be real.

Do you know,
do you understand
that you represent
Jesus to me?

Adult Response: Two meditations
Found in Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 16 (pictured at right) .   This is based on the gospel reading.

Blessing: Commitment to Each Other
Found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, page 7 (pictured at left). This is based on the Gospel reading and would be lovely said together and to each other.


Creative Ideas: Malachi: The Prophet of Diversion and Distraction
Found in Multi-Sensory Prophets by Mike Law, Scripture Union, 2007, ISBN 9781844272587, page 50 (pictured at left). This is based on the Malachi reading.

Creative Ideas: John the Baptist: The Prophet from the Wilderness

Found in Multi-Sensory Prophets by Mike Law, Scripture Union, 2007, ISBN 9781844272587, page 50 (pictured at left). This is based on the Luke reading.

Advent 1 C (December 2nd): Hope/Waiting/Watching

Bible readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-46

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is a photo I took on Norfolk Island which I overwrote with a Bible text. Please feel free to us it for worship and related activities. If you are interested in seeing more of beautiful Norfolk Island visit 
Upper Right: This watch tower was built on the south east coast of Australia at Boydtown near Eden by Benjamin Boyd in the 1840's as a lighthouse and as a whale lookout. It was never completed and was never used as an official lighthouse, however generations of whalers used it for spotting whales. If you want to know more about Boydtown visit The photo is mine so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Middle Left and Right: I took both of these photos in the old city of Jerusalem - one along  street (the little indented box in the wall) and the other at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, They both reminded me of hope - things growing in hard and unexpected places. Please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: A free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left. 

Opening Prayer: Blessing Prayer
Found in Seasons of Celebration by Patricia Mathson, Ave Maria press, 1995, ISBN 0877935661, page 19 (pictured at right). This prayer is useful for the entire advent season.

Use bits of the Jeremiah reading and the psalm.

Film Clip: The Man in the Egg
Found on Leunig Animated, Madman, 2001 (pictured at right).  This clip goes well with both the Gospel and the Thessalonians reading.

Film Clips: Paperless Christmas has the greatest set of short films for use in church based on a modern look at the christmas story. A brilliant effort! 

Kids: Hope 
Ask the kids if they have ever planned something that didn't work out the way they intended it to. Share a story from your own life which will illustrate this and show them if possible (mine is a quilt which went horribly wrong between the planning and the completing!!!)
Tell them that Advent is the time when we remember all of God's terrific promises to us that everything will work out because Jesus is the one who brings us ......
Have huge letters H O P E stuck up in random order around the worship space. Ask the kids to help you sort them into a word they know.
Discuss with them what the word means and how it relates to Christmas.

Discussion: In pairs or threes.
What do you think has gone wrong with the world? How do you think it should be?
What do you think has gone wrong with our local community? How do you think it should be?
What do you think has gone wrong with our church? how do you think it should be?
Talk about waiting for change and about changing back or changing forward.
Then discuss:
What are you waiting for?
What are we as a church waiting for?

What is this particular congregation waiting for?

Story: Goodness and Mercy Will Win
By Erskine White in Together in Christ, CCS Publishing Co. or find it at illustrations@CLERGY.NET This goes well with the Jeremiah reading.

Story: Some Things are Immovable
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and greg Mckinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 47 (pictured at right). This story firs well with both the gospel and the Thessalonians reading.

Accept surprises
that upset your plans

shatter your dreams,
give a completely
different turn
to your day
and - who knows? -

to your life.
It is not chance.

Leave the Father free
himself to weave
the pattern of your days.
By Dom Helder Camara in A Thousand Reasons For Living, ISBN 0800606647.

Prayer/poem: The Coming Bushman
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing House, 1981, ISBN 0859105628 (pictured at left).  This fits in well with the gospel reading.

Meditation: And This Shall Be A Sign to You 
By Robert A Raines in Imaging the Word Volume 1 by Kenneth T Lawrence, Jann Cather Weaver and Roger Wedell (Eds.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 78 (pictured at right). This fits in well with the gospel reading.  I put these words with a series of images of babies and used the 11th commandment by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys from Alabama on their album, Let there Be Light, (pictured at left) as backing music.

Meditation: Waiting
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 20 (pictured at left). This fits well with all the readings.

Response Activity: Advent Angels: 
This is an advent version of secret buddies. Encourage or organise people (in the sense that you pair people up somehow without them knowing - like you do for secret buddies or Chris Kringles) to be advent angels ie where people do unexpected favours or give unexpected encouragement or praise anonymously to others in the congregation.

Response Activity: Fridge magnets:
Give everyone a small (laminated maybe) card with the words of Psalm 25:4-5 on it attached to a small fridge magnet (see above image)

Prayer for Others; Pinning Our Hopes on Jesus (i)
Found in Cloth For The Cradle, page 54 - see above

Response Activity: Pinning Our Hopes on Jesus (ii)
Found in Cloth For the Cradle, page 56 - see above


Kids: Oi Get Off Our Train
By John Burningham, Random House,  with lots of ideas for a whole worship service found in Worship is For Everyone by Julie Pinazza, Openbook Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0859109259, page 42 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Thessalonians  reading.

Creative Ideas: Jeremiah: The Prophet of Hope
Found in Multi-Sensory Prophets by Mike Law, Scripture Union, 2007, ISBN 9781844272587, page 37. This is based on the Jeremiah reading.

Four Advent Mediations:
Found in In this Hour by Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Desbooks, 2001, ISBN 094982433X, page 46ff. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Christ the King B ( November 25): Who IS in Charge?

Bible readings: 2 Samuel 23:1-7, Psalm 132: 1-12 (13-18), Revelation 1:4-8, John 18:33-37

About the Images:
Above Right and Left
Both Upper images are Microsoft free clipart with my text added.
Middle Left: This comes free from a site called Scripture Pics which seems to have disappeared.
Middle Right: This comes, with permission, from the site of one of my favourite artists of all time, James B Janknegt.  If you want to use this image please visit his awesome site and ask for permission for yourself:
Lower Left:  This is a free image from Heartlight.  See my link column on the left.

Listening Song: For the Glory of Your Name
By Michelle Tumes on her album, Very Best of Michelle Tumes
or on WOW 2000.  This song matches in well with all of the readings for today.

Film Clip: Chariots of Fire
Show the clip in the film (pictured at left) where Eric Liddell talks with the Prince of Wales en route to the Olympic Games. Eric had a God space in his week that he was not prepared to give up. His allegiance to Jesus and his heavenly kingdom was more important than his allegiance to King and country. This clip is a little long but.....

Discussion Questions:
1. What are Eric's top priorities?
2. Who or what do we give our allegiance to?
Don't let this discussion degenerate into an argument about a particular day.  Concentrate on encouraging people to talk about God spaces.

Story: The Kingdom of God
Story No 363 in 750 Engaging illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right). I used this story with the 1 Samuel reading.

Sermon Help Notes and Response Activity: Revelation by Song
Give everyone a strip of paper with the words of Revelation I:8 printed across it. Under these words, print three pictures entitled as follows:
Picture 1: a cradle and the words "who is"
Picture 2: a spider and the words "who was"
Picture 3: music notes and the words: "who is to come".  
1. The God who Is.
Sing Rock a Bye Baby together. Note that the song does not say "if" but "when the bough breaks". Life is full of surprises - not all of them good - but God is acting and moving in our world. Ask them to talk to the person next to them about how they see God at work in the world today.
2. The God Who Was.
Ask people to sing Ipsy Whipsy Spider together. Note that the song is very like human kind - we repeat our mistakes as nations, as communities, as families and
as individuals but we keep plugging away. And "out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain". God repeatedly over history heals, restores, loves and forgives us.
3. The God who is to come
Sing the hymn "Joyful, joyful we adore you" to Beethoven's Ode To Joy. Note that because God is yet to come, the way we live makes a difference.
I couldn't remember where I got this idea from - but a reader has suggested
Homiletics, November 23, 1997 (see comments for Christ the King Sunday 2009). Thankyou

Adult Response
In verse 6 of the Revelation reading we are all called to be ministers. Ask people:
In order to be a minister, where do you need God the most:
healing your past,
with you in your present,
or being your future?
Fold your strip of paper in three so that the one you need is uppermost and take it home that way.

Prayer: Multi-Sensory Prayer:
There are some useful bits for this Sunday in
in Multi- Sensory Church by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2002, ISBN 1859996671, page 15 (pictured at left).

A Now For Something Completely Different: A Short Taize Style service.
Decorate your communion table with pieces of white and gold material and cover it all with heaps of small lit tea lights. For the service have an opening prayer only and maybe a song or two. Then have about a half an hour of reflective music which suits the Bible readings - I used music from The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias (pictured at right), Immortal Memory by Lisa Gerard and Patrick Cassidy(pictured at left), an untitled album by Doros (pictured at right), and A Feather on the Breath of God by Hildegaard of Bingen (pictured at left). At the same time I projected Christ the King images - about thirty in all timed for a minute each. I gave each person an envelope filled with the bible readings and relevant quotes - about 20 in all. People could then chose to read some or all of the quotes, watch the pictures, listen to the music, watch the candles or do
a mixture of all. I finished the service with the prayer for others, another song and the benediction.


For Children and Families: God is Faithful
Found in Rewind by Beth Barnett, SUVictoria, 2011, ISBN987098710035, navigate from page 5. This is based on the gospel reading. 

For Children and Families: God is Life (for All Saints)
Found in Rewind by Beth Barnett, SUVictoria, 2011, ISBN987098710035, navigate from page 5. This is based on the gospel reading. 

Beautiful Illustrations of John's Gospel  connected to the Australian Outback
Found in The Gospel According to John Illuminated by Fiona Pfennigwerth, Tien Wah Press, Singapore, 2013, ISBN 9780646912462, page 54-59.