Friday, March 27, 2020

Palm Sunday A (April 5): What is My Donkey? Passion Sunday and Holy Week resources included)

Bible Readings: Matthew 21:1-11, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11 

About the images:
Upper Left:
This is a photo of an Australian tree fern - it is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right:  I photographed this dear little donkey waiting for his rider in Nablus, Palestine - it is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Middle Left: This is an Imagebank free image - see my link to their site at left - with text from the Philippians reading.
Middle Right: This is a free image from
Lower Left: This a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my link at left. 

Listening Song: The Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Carmen Christi
By Michael Card on his album, The Final Word (pictured at left). It is a sung version of the Philippians reading.

Kid's Story: The Donkey's Tale
By Margaret Gray, Scripture Union, 1984, ISBN 0862012414 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: Look He's Coming
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910915, page 71 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Drama: Not Quite What I Expected
Found in Let's Make Another Scene by Verena Johnson, Open Book Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 56 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Poem: Psalm 118:22
Found in In Due Season by Herbert F Brokering, Augsburg Publishing, 1966 (pictured at left) in the Summer section under Psalm 118:22.

Response Activity: What is my donkey?
The following is a response to a reflection/sermon which concentrates on the gift of the donkey owner and what sort of gifts we have which we have the option of using to further God's work in the world.  Give everyone a small business card with a Palm Sunday illustration on it together with the words: What is my donkey?  Give people time to think about their gifts and talents and how they use them to further God's kingdom. 

Response Activity: Towards the Cross
Found in  Multi-Sensory Seasons by Wendy Rayner and Annie Slade, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271757, page 78 (pictured at right).  Heaps of great stuff based on the gospel reading.  I will be using this book a fair bit this year as I prepare DIY services for people stuck at home.

Prayer for Others: Ride on, Ride on.
From Stages on the Way by the Wild Goose Worship Group, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 78 (pictured at left).  This prayer is linked with the gospel reading.


Story Plus Other Stuff: Roxsanne Makes Good

Found in Wally and the Dodgy Trolley and Other Stories of Faith and Humour by Ian Johnson, Scripture Union Australia, Lidcombe, 2000, ISBN 0949720984, page 37 (pictured at right).  This story is based on a verse in the Psalm.

Resources for Psalm/Passion Sunday
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, pages 124-135 (pictured at left).

Complete at Home Service written for those in Covid19  lock down using some of the above resources:!ArWFF7A3pipHqXNusxO0gfb45zAd?e=i8rlR3


Passion Sunday:

Drama: This Signal
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book Publishers, 2001, ISBN 0859109151, page 27 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Lent 5 A (March 29) The Power of God/God's Big Surprise

Bible Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45
About the Images:
Upper Left: Just an image of surprise - it is mine so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This is a Microsoft free clipart image. I liked the way it portrays God's new life as something that we discover and find in unexpected places and that all of that is part of a reality bigger than the one we see in front of us.

Middle Left: Another excellent free image from the Heartlight site - see my link in the column at the left.
Middle Right: Another excellent free image from Church Galleries - see my link column to the left. This site is doen at the moment. 
Lower Left: This is a Sundaygraphics image (see my link column at left) with a quote from Bishop Oscar Romero - not only is this relevent to the readings but also for the world and the Covid 19 situation. 

Listening Song: Panis Angelicus
By Russel Watson on his album, The Voice (pictured at left). Great song to use for the introduction or during a communion service.

Listening Song: You Raise Me Up
By Selah on their album, Hiding Place, (pictured at right) and on WOW 2005.. This goes well with pretty much all the readings.

Listening Song: Out of the Depths
By Sinead O'Conner and found on her double album Theology - (pictured at left and where you get two versions - Dublin and London).  This is based on Psalm 130.  I love it.

Kids: Emotion Faces
As I have mentioned in earlier blogs I have a set of large cards with dinner plate sized round faces drawn upon them. Each face depicts a different emotion; happy, sad, puzzled, angry, surpised etc etc. The gospel story this week really lends itself to these emotion cards. Tell the story (or get a good story teller to tell the story) and either have kids pick the face which goes with a particular part of the story or hold up the appropriate card and get the kids (and the congregation) to mimic the face or act out the emotion.

Kids: Bubbles
Give everyone (I am giving one to all the adults as well - why should they be left out of the fun) a small bottle of bubble solution and ask them to blow bubbles without opening their mouths. Have some fun with this before encouraging everybody to blow bubbles. Link: Just as we breathe life into the bubbles so God breathed life into the dry bones, and so God's Spirit breathes life in to us.

Film Clip: The Shawshank Redemption
(pictured at left) After Brooks kills himself after being released from prison and Andy has just completed two weeks in solitary confinement for playing Mozart over the prison speaker system, Red and Andy have a fascinating conversation about hope. Show the conversation.

Discussion: On The Shawshank Redemption film clip

1. What is Red's attitude to hope?
2. What is Andy's opinion of hope?
3. What value is hope for us? 

Film Clip: The Hurricane
(pictured at right) Show the scene where Rubin quotes Genesis 49 and tells Lesera (another version of the name Lazarus) that it is Lesera's love that has raised/saved him and given him new life.

Film Clip: Castaway
(pictured at right) Show the clip which is about 1hour 40 minutes in from the credits where Wilson, the volley ball which Chuck becomes so attached to in his loneliness that he treats it as real person, falls loose. Chuck repeats "I'm sorry, Wilson" over and over again.

Discussion: On Castaway Film Clip
What sort of situations cause us to grieve and make us sad?
How can we survive grief?

Artwork: The Raising of Lazarus, 1990

By Pro Hart. Ask people to look at the different expressions on the people surrounding Lazarus. Relate this to the responses some people may have had to Ezekiel's life giving vision. Then ask people to think about how they respond to the Good News of the gospel and mention that, depending on our circumstances at different times, we are not always overjoyed. Ask them to look at the painting to see if they can see their present response somewhere in it.

Bible Reading: John 11:1-45
This is a very long reading for any church service despite being a great story. Try it as a Good News Bible reading via the relevant film clip from the Vision Bible film of The Gospel of John (pictured at left) or read it as a beautiful and moving story from Walter Wangerin Junior's book The Book of God, Zondervan, 1996, ISBN 0310200059, page 756 ff (pictured at right).

Story: Comfort
Found as story No 31 in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (pictured at left). Fits well with the gospel reading.

Reflection: Dry Bones
A brilliant reflective piece by Carlynne Nunn and found at I will be giving out a copy of this to each person so that as well as using it in the service, people will be able to use it for personal reflection during the week. 

Meditation: Lazarus

Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 77 (pictured at right).

Meditation: Prayers That Jesus Hears
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 93.

Prayer for Others/Response Activity
This one needs a bit of work on your part before the service. Boil the meat off one or two chooks (translate "chicken" for the non Australians) and then dry the bones in an oven (at least you get a good feed for your efforts :-) ) Give everyone a chicken bone before or during the Ezekiel reading. During the prayer for others or response activity project or give out the words of the Bishop Oscar Romaro quote (below). Encourage people in a time of silence to talk to God about a situation they consider to be hopeless or beyond them to solve. Ask them to give the situation to God to deal with by placing their dried bone at the foot of the cross.   

Quote: Bishop Oscar Romero
"We are living in a black night but Christianity discerns that beyond the night the dawn already glows. The hope that does not fail is carried in the heart. Christ goes with us."

Response Activity: Three Choices
Let people choose between:
1. Watch a powerpoint meditation. I put images and music to Bruce Prewer's From Death to Life found at
2. Group Discussion:
a) How does Jesus' response to Lazarus' death and Mary's weeping help you to trust him more?
b) What have you found helpful when you are called upon to help a friend who is undergoing a hard time?
3. Make cards for people who are sad.


Poem and prayer: shouting at stones

Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 24. These are based on the gospel reading.

Response Activity: A matter of life and death

Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year A by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2010, ISBN 9780949656919, page 61ff. This is based on the Gospel reading and the old Testament reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2013, page 79ff.

Meditation: Watching
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 36. This is linked to the Psalm.

Meditation: The Valley of Dry Bones
Found in Meditations from the Iona Community by Ian Reid, Wild Goose Publications, Trowbridge, 1998, ISBN 1901557022, page 88. This goes well with the Ezekiel reading.

Opening and Closing Responses for Lent
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 85. 

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

Prayers On the Emmaus Road
By Ruth Burgess in Fire and Bread, Wild Goose Publications, 2006, ISBN 9781905010301, pages 94ff (linked to the Ezekiel reading).

Song/Prayer: Song of the Lord's Reviving
By Ruth Burgess in Fire and Bread, Wild Goose Publications, 2006, ISBN 9781905010301, pages 243  (linked to the Ezekiel reading).

Drama: Ezekiel Speaks
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 0859109151v1, page 103. This has been written for the Ezekiel 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 36-37.