Monday, August 05, 2019

Proper 15 C (August 18): Restoration/Sticking with God


Bible Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19, Hebrews 11:29-12:2, Luke 12:49-56

About the Images:
Upper left  This is a free background powerpoint template from
Upper right:This is a free image from
Middle Left: Psalm 80 talks about God "enthroned above the cherubim".  This is a reminder to the people reading/singing the Psalm of the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden box with golden carvings of heavenly beings (cherubim), which led the people out of Israel.  This is my photo of a replica which I saw in Timna, Israel a few years back.
Middle Right:This is a free image from Heartlight - see my link column at left. 
Lower Right: This is a free image from Heartlight - see my link column at left. 

Listening Song: Standing Outside the Fire
By Garth Brooke on his album, In Pieces (pictured at right). This song goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Witness
By Nicole C Mullen on her album, Talk About It.
(pictured at left).  This song goes well with the Hebrews reading.

Listening Song: Psalm 80: Restore Us
By Sons of Korah on their album, Resurrection (pictured at right).

Confession Prayer Based on The Balloon Man Story (below):
Give everyone a balloon.
Pray along the following lines leaving spaces for people to pray by themselves: Are you hanging on to a handful of balloons that keep you from sticking with God. Are they friends? Bad Habits? Possessions? your pride? Your career? A complacent faith? A self indulgent faith?

Assurance of Pardon:
Maybe it is time to let go of those balloons so you can stick close to God.
Take home the balloon, find a place to be alone with God, blow up your balloon and, as you let it go, let go of what it represents to you - the things which come between you and God. And remind yourself that God loves you, God wants to be with you and God gives you strength and courage.

Story: The Balloon Man
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 39 (pictured at left). This story goes really well with the Hebrews reading.

Psalm: Psalm 80
A great version to be found in Psalms Now by Leslie F Brandt, Concordia, (3rd Ed.) 2004, ISBN 0758606486 (pictured at right).

Children's Drama: Stick with God
Have a roll of paper and large cut out individual letters for the words "Stick with God" nearby. As you tell the children that they are going to make a banner with the words "stick with God" on it, walk across and pick up the roll of paper and letters. As you return, trip over and drop the lot all over the floor. Make a bit of a drama of the whole thing and wail, 'oh no!! Look at the mess I've made. It's all spoilt!! What am I going to do now?!!". Have a few people in the congregation worded up to offer you advice:
eg., Pray about it.
Yell at God for not helping enough.
Figure it out for yourself.
Give up and do something else.
Ask for help.
Ask the kids what you should do. You will be amazed how astute they will be. Finish by giving them the roll of paper, the letters, glue, scissors and magazines. Ask them to sort the letters, make the banner and put pictures that show situations which we could pray for as we stick with God.

Adult Discussion:
If you were sinking in quick sand (or get them to make suggestions) would you
Pray about it.
Yell at God for not helping enough.
Figure it out for yourself.
Give up and do something else.

Ask for help.

Film Clip: How To Make An American Quilt
Show the clip which shows the making of the laundry wall covered in broken crockery. You will have to introduce this clip by explaining how the sister in law and husband have betrayed the woman very badly.

Discussion: How To Make An American Quilt
What are the obstacles that hinder our faith and prevent us sticking close to God.

Film Clip: Despicable Me
I found this at the Wingclip site (see my links) and I used the clip where Gru lays down the house rules. I think it goes well with the Psalm for this week.

Discussion: Despicable Me
These questions were aimed mainly at the children with adult help.
1. Have you ever found it difficult to work out what the rules are?
2. What happens when you get it wrong?
3. How do you think the people in the psalm were feeling?
4. How do you think God was feeling?

Film Clip: Amazing Grace
(pictured at right). Use the clip where Newton and Wilberforce are talking together in the church. This is one of the film's free clips available from the film's web page. This goes well with the Hebrews reading.

Discussion Questions: Amazing Grace
1. Share what you know about Newton and Wilberforce.
2. What do you think drove each man to persevere for so long for the abolition of the slave trade?
3. How important do you think our determination and our perseverance are to our faith?

Drama: I've Got the Faith
Found in Mega Drama 6 by Verena Johnston (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109208, page 28 (pictured at left). This drama fits in well with the Hebrews reading.

Story: Hindrances
Story No. 302 in in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551. This goes well with the Hebrew reading.

Meditation Stations based on the Hebrews reading:
Encourage people to visit these stations in any order and allow about 5 minutes per station.
Station 1:
Have a large Christ candle burning beside tea lights, a bowl of sand and some pens. On enough small slips of paper for everyone, print the following:
The Cloud of Witnesses: Have a think about the people who have influenced your faith and helped you focus on Jesus. They may be biblical characters, they may be figures from history, they maybe past or present friends, workmates, teachers or family members. Think of the one or two who have influenced and encouraged you the most. Write their initials on the bottom of a tea light and then light it and place it on the tray. Spend some time thanking God for that person/s. Also think of the people who you could be encouraging in their faith journey. Pray for them as well.

Station 2:
Print the following on enough slips of paper for everyone:
1. Become aware of the gentle rhythm of your breathing.
2. Remind yourself that God is present here tonight.
3. Read these words from Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
4. What are the things that slow you down and stop you focusing on Jesus? Have a chat with God about them.
5. Which are the phrases or words or feelings in these verses that speak to you. Think about them for awhile and be open to what God is saying to you.
6. Turn the verses into a prayer.
Station 3.
Have a large collection of photos or pictures of people running in all sorts of places, passing batons, resting, puffing, running together and alone. I used all the Microsoft photo clip art using the search word "running", but use any resources you have at your disposal - as long as there is a big enough selection for about a third of your people to choose one each at any given time.
Also print the following on enough slips of paper for everyone:
1. Spend some time looking at all the photos.
2. What kind of a race are you running?
3. How is your determination and perseverance?
4. Are you running with friends?
5. Are you focussed on Jesus?
6. Choose the photo you think best describes how you feel at the moment and then talk to God about it.
7. Return the photo before you move on to the next station.

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