Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lent 3 C (March 24): The God of Second Chances/Keeping in Touch/The Generosity of God

Bible Readings: Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9.

About the images: 
Upper Left and Right: They are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship purposes and related activities. The landscape is of sunrise near our place across Lake Victoria, part of the Gippsland Lakes in East Gippsland, Victoria Australia (for more info visit
Middle Left: This image reminds me of Psalm 63 - You've let me see you in the sanctuary. This  images is also mine.  Please feel free to use all three for worship and related activities.
Middle Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website. Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at 
Lower Left: This image comes from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left. 

Listening Song: I Am Carried 
By Geoff Bullock on his Hands of Grace album, C.1997, Watershed Productions (pictured at left). This song goes particularly well with Gospel reading - we usually sing it but sometimes it is nice to sit and listen to it as well.  

Listening Song: You're My God

by Delirious? on their Glo album (pictured at right). This song goes well with the psalm.

Kid's Story: The Second Chance.

You need to word up the actors for this beforehand, but make it all look fairly natural in that it looks like part of your normal service. Have the congregation start to sing a kid's song led by your choir or musicians or band or whatever. Have one of the choir or band sing or play so badly that everyone can hear their mistakes and then have that person spit the dummy! (translation for non Aussies: throw a tantrum, get angry at themselves, yell out "Oh, I can't do it" etc etc). You stop the singing and inform the person making the mistakes that you are fed up with their mistakes and that you no longer want them to participate in the music in church. They look crestfallen and a couple of the other musicians speak up for them and beg you to tell the kids a story while they give the mistake maker some help. You say its not really worth their effort and the mistake maker might as well quit now. The other musicians persist and you give in - if they are willing to give the mistake maker a second chance, maybe you can too. You tell the kids the gospel story about the fig tree. Ask the kids how they think the fig tree will go with the extra care. Then ask them how they think the mistake maker will go now that he/she has had some help from the others. Check with the musicians who all assure you that everything will be fine now. Sing the song through all together successfully. Conclude by linking what has just happened with the gospel story. 

Kid's Story: Dead Plant
A bit like the one above but less involved and can also be used to introduce the gospel reading. Have a nearly dead plant - somebody sees it and says "that's no good, chuck it out!". Another person comes along and says they will feed it and nurture it, re-pot it and give it another chance etc etc.

Kid's Stor
y: The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992 (renewed from 1964), ISBN 0060256656 (pictured at left).

Film Clip: Pay It Forward
(pictured at right) Show the clip at the very start of the film where the man who loses his car is given a brand new car to replace it. This clip goes very well with the gospel reading.

Questions for the Film Clip: Pay It Forward
1. Have you ever helped a stranger? What happened?
2. How can we tell if God is generous?
3. How can we be generous with each other?

Film Clip: Keep in Touch
Any one of the series of New Zealand Telecom Commercials with the slogan "Keep in Touch" is terrific for this topic. Google them.

Questions for the Telecom Commercials
1. Why is it important to keep in touch with each other?
2. Why is it important to keep in touch with God?
3. How can we do this?

Illustration: The Intimacy of Prayer. 
Found in Life at Its Best: A Guide Book For The Pilgrim Life by Eugene H Peterson, Zondervan, ISBN 0007111193, page 267 (pictured at left).

Story: Letter to Father Dudko
Found in High Mountains Deep Valleys by Rowland Croucher and Grace Tomlinson (Eds.) Albatross Books, 1992, ISBN 086760090X, page 213 (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading and the psalm.

Story: Wrong Way Reigels
Found in Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialities, 1994, ISBN 0310402611, page 228 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading or the psalm.

Story: Brandon's Mess
As above, page 58. This also goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: The Whisper Test

Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal.. Baker Books, 2002,(pictured at right). Story No 259 goes with the gospel reading.

Story: God's Nickel 

(change nickel to whatever is relevant in your country).  Found in Still More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Youth Specialties, 1999, ISBN 1310224640, page 144 (pictured at left). Another story that matches up well with the gospel reading.

Story: Gratitude
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story No. 112 (pictured in an earlier blog). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Found in Stories, Illustrations and Quotes by Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson, 2000, ISBN 0785244793, page 356. It is a story of God's care for us.

Story: Remembering
Found in Resources for Preaching and Worship - Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 066422508X, Page 107.  This story is based on the psalm.

Quote: Brother Laurence
Those whose spirits are stirred by the breath of the Spirit of God, go forward even in sleep.

Discussion Questions:
Think of a time when somebody has given you a second chance.
"Well, he/she had it coming"...Why do we say this? Is it true?
What is the point of the fig tree story and why does it follow the story of the men who dies and a call to repentance?
What is God's grace?

Homework??!!: St John Chrysostom
St John Chrysostom told people to read psalm 63 everyday. Encourage people to try doing so for a while and report back.

Response Activity: Leaves (based on the gospel reading).
Give everyone a paper fig tree shaped leaf. Ask them to think about the following question and write the answer on their leaf.
1. If you had one more year, what would you need to help you turn your life around? or
2. What sort of fruit would you like your life to be producing by this time next year?
3. What help will you need to realise this dream?
Either attach the leaves to a real branch or a sketch of fig tree. This activity should give you some idea of what your congregational needs are for the coming year.

Response Activity:
Have about a half a dozen contemplative practices/spiritual exercises around the church for people to try - base each on the Bible reading you are concentrating on (I used the psalm) and give people plenty of time (maybe a VERY short reflection/sermon) and space to experience the discipline they have chosen. Encourage them to choose only one. The disciplines I used were: Mandalas, meditation, walking meditation, contemplating a work of art or a photo, journaling, and singing.


Prayers and Poems:The Fig Tree

Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 145.

Response Activity: Cutting Remarks
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 52ff. This works well with all the gospel reading.

Meditation: Togetherness Around the Table
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 90 (pictured at right). This goes well with the 1 Corinthians reading.

Meditation: Unity of the Family of God
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 93 (pictured at right). This goes well with the 1 Corinthians reading.

Taize Service: Thirsting for God

Found in Worship Feast by Taize, Abingdon Press, 2004, page 20. This is based on the Psalm reading.

Opening and Closing Responses for Lent

By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 82.

Service Outline: Come Close to God
Based on the Psalm reading, this is found in The All-Age Service Annual Volume 4, published by Scripture Union, 2010, ISBN 9781844275199, page 102 (pictured at right).

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