Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Proper 27 A (November 08): Choose/Be Prepared


Bible Readings:
 Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25, Psalm 78:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13.

About the Images:

Upper Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image with my text.
Upper Right: This is my photo taken in a Byzantine cave church in Avdat, Israel. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities. 
Middle Left: This is a free clipart image from the wonderful Hermano Leon site - see my links column at left.
Middle Right: This is a free image from the brilliant Heartlight site - see  my link column at left

Lower Left: The Ten Young Women

Attribution: JESUS MAFA. The Ten Young Women, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved October 30, 2017]. Original source: (contact page: at the

Listening Song: Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
By Jim Fisher and the White Pointers on the compilation album, Tim Winton: Dirt Music: Music For a Novel, 2001 (pictured at left). This song is based on the Matthew reading. 

Listening Song: Got To Serve Somebody 
By Bob Dylan and found on various CD's and on line. This goes very well with the Joshua reading and with the gospel reading. 

Discussion: Based on the Psalm
What is one thing about God you think the kids (in Sunday School, Youth Group, your family, whatever is appropriate in your congregation) should know above all else. It might be a Bible verse, a Bible story, a personal story, a verse from a song, a prayer or ......... When people have had a bit of time to talk it through, ask them to individually write down what they each think is the most important thing that they want the kids to know about God. I collected all of these, printed them on to A4's folded as A5 cards and gave them to the kids in our kid's club the following week. It was like a gift from the adults to the children and everybody enjoyed the experience.

Discussion: On Joshua reading
1. What sort of things in our past can hinder our relationship with God?
2. What sort of things in our culture hinder our relationship with God?
NB: I divided the congregation into age groups for this discussion becau
se the answers differ between generations more so than usual. 

Drama: What should I Do? 
Found in Let's Make Another Scene by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 26 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the Joshua reading. 

Story: Testimony
Index 4173 from Bible Illustrator for Windows Version 1.0d, Parsons Technology Inc., 1990. This story makes a good introduction to the psalm.

Quote: Tho
mas Bandy and Bill Easum from their book Growing Spiritual Redwoods.
(Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1997, ISBN-10: 0687336007; pictured at left)
"It is a pre Christian world. 
It is a world similar to the first century after Jesus.
It is a world of technological change and population migration;
a world of systemic injustice and apocalyptic longing;
it is a world of excessive materialism and spiritual yearning;
it is a world of deep anxiety and utter cynicism towards the religious institutions of the past."
Ask people to suggest examples for each of these and then link these examples of modern society with the Matthew reading concentrating on the "be prepared" aspects of the parable more than the "keep watch" aspects.

Poem: The Zode 
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 75 (pictured at right).   This is a Dr Seuss poem which fits with the choice issue in the Joshua reading.

Poems, Prayers and Images: Choose This Day.
All the resources (which include the words to the Dylan song above) set dowfor the Joshua reading 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 66ff (pictured at left) are absolutely brilliant!!!!

Adult Response:
When the people decided to choose God, Joshua put a stone in the meeting place to be a witness to the people's intentions. Ask the congregation to write down on a piece of paper one of the things that hinders their relationship with God. Collect them all in a dish or a basket and bury them under a big stone (literally or figuratively).


All Sorts of Useful Stuff: Ready or Not
By Ian Birkinshaw in Multi-Sensory Parables, Scripture Union, 2006, ISBN 9781844272310, page 60 (pictured at right).  This is based on the Gospel. 

Drama: Champagne Blond
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 13. This is based on the Joshua reading.

Brilliant Comments on the Gospel
Found in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey, SPCK, 2008, ISBN 9780281059751, pages 269-278.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Proper 26 A (November 1): Mainly About Saints.


Bible re
adings: Joshua 3:7-17, Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, Matthew 23:1-12

About the Images: 
Upper Left: This is my image of Eringa Waterhole ( north of the Oodnadatta Track ( near Hamilton Station (or ranch or farm or homestead or whatever you call them in your part of the world) ( This really is a pool in the desert. Please feel free to use the image for worship and related activities. 
Upper Right: This is a free Corel clipart with my text.
Middle Left:  This is a free image from Hermano Leon- see my link column at left.
Middle Right: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.
Lower Left: This photo, by an unknown author, is licensed by CC-BY-NC-ND.

Listening Song: Go Light Your World 
By Kathy Trocolli on her album, Greatest Hits, or on WOW 1996 (pictured at left)

Kids Story: Gertrude McFuzz
Found in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr Seuss, Collins, 1950, ISBN 0001717588 (pictured at left). This fits well with the Matthew reading because it talks about how we often act to impress.

Quiz: Who Am I?
Play this with the congregation as per usual - one line at a time until somebody gets it.
I was born on the 16th January 1902 in Tientsin, China.
My parents were missionaries for the London Missionary Society.
My baptismal names were reversed on the way to my baptism when my parents realised my initials would spell a rude word.
My grandfather was a grocer who often got into trouble for sing Moody and Sankey hymns which were considered far too modern and evangelical.
I enrolled at the School for the Sons of Missionaries in London when I was six years old,
My lasting school comment was " I don't think much of lessons, but I can run".
I started a Science degree at Edinburgh University in 1920.
I committed my life to Jesus when I was at university.
I played international Rugby for Scotland but I retired early.
In 1921 I lost the only race I ever lost in Scotland.
I was known as the only athlete to speak to a black athlete at one track meeting.
I always shook hands with all those I was running against.
I would often dig the starting holes for my opponents.
I would give less experienced runners the inside lanes.
I was once pushed over and off the track - but got up, gained the twenty yards I had lost, and still won.
I was selected for the 1924 British Olympic team to race in the 100 meters.
When I discovered that the heats were on Sunday I refused to compete.
I ran the 400 meters which I had not trained for - and won!
I am Eric Liddell (Chariots or Fire)

Film Clip: Chariots of Fire
(pictured at left) There are heaps of clips which fit this theme. Two which come to mind are the one of him telling the Prince he will not run on Sunday and the one of him winning the race at the Paris Olympics.

Story: What is a Saint
Find this story at

Story: What was Eric Liddell's Secret
Find the answer at

Story: Hudson Taylor

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a  biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Saviour. Whether we realise it or not, our example leaves an impression on others. Source unknown. Also found at

Story: Saints Depend on God
A young theology college graduate came up to the pulpit, very self confident and smug. He was immaculately dressed. He knew he had what it took. He began to deliver his first sermon to his first church but when he started to speak, the words simply wouldn’t come out. Humiliated, he burst into tears and ended up leaving the pulpit, obviously humbled. There were two old ladies sitting in the front row and one remarked to the oth
er, "If he'd come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in." Source unknown (but let me know if you know). 

Discussion: Matthew 23:1-12
1. In verses 1-7 what are the things which prevent God's light from shining through us.
2. In verses 8-12, what are the things that allow God's light to shine through us?
3. Think of a saint you have known or still know. Describe that saint to the person next to you and explain the influence they have had on you.

Book: Hope is an Open Heart 
By Lauren Thompson, Scholastic Press, 2008, ISBN 1397817416922
28. This beautiful book fits anywhere in this service - call to worship, children's talk, sermon, or response (pictured at left). 

Response Activity:
Light a candle in memory of:
1. A saint you have known who has died, or
2. In thankfulness for a saint who still has the light of God shining through them, or
3. As a symbolic statement of your own intent to live as a saint.


Drama: The First Shall Be Last
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 63. This is based on the gospel story.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Proper 25 A (October 25): Being at Home with God


Bible readings
: Deuteron
omy 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. 
Middle left and right: These are free cliparts from Heartlight (see my links column at left).
Lower Left: This is a free image is by Samuel Zeller from the awesome Unsplash site....with my words

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.

Drama: How Much do You Love Yourself
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page23. This is based on the gospel story.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Proper 24 A (October 18th): On Being the Message


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. 
Middle Left: A Microsoft free clipart image with words from Bill Easum's book, Leadership on the Other Side (see Adult Response below).
Middle Right: A Microsoft free clipart with my text
Lower Left: This is a free clip art from Misioneros Del Sagrado Corazón en el Perú. You can access their site via Textweek.  See my link column at the left.

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 (pictured at right). This is based on the Psalm reading.

Drama: A Chocoate Story
Found in Mega Drama 2 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 085910916Xv2, page 51(pictured at left). This is based on the gospel story. 

Prayer: What should we render Ceasar
By Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill in Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, page 121 (pictured at right)