Sunday, April 19, 2015

Easter 4 B (April 26): Love is a Doing Word/Comfort for a Troubled World



















Bible Readings: Acts 4:5-13, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
 
About the images:
Upper Left: Another excellent image from www.imagebank.com
Upper Right: A grandfather and grandson from my last church working on fire recovery in the Victorian High country. Love is a doing word.
Lower Left: A free image from Heartlight images.  See my links column at left.
Lower Right: A free image from Heartlight images.  See my links column at left.
 
Listening Song: Love is a Verb
By dc Talk on their Free at Last album (pictured at left).  This song goes very well with the Acts reading.
 
Film Clip: Pleasantville
Show the scene where the girl asks the boy what it is like outside Pleasantville. He tells her that it is a lot noisier, kind of scary, and a lot more dangerous. She replies that it sounds wonderful and she smiles and you can see the wonder and the yearning in her eyes. This scene is optional. I would definitely show the court scene where everybody starts changing from being black and white to full and living colour.....
 

Discussion: Pleasantville
1. What made the difference so that the people changed from black and white to colour?
2. The disciples life was very black and white during the crucifixion and very colourful in the Acts story today. What made the difference?
3. What does our Christianity look like to the outside world? Is black and white or in colour ?

Film Clip: Horton Hears a Who
(pictured at left) Show the clip where Horton argues with kangaroo about whether there is anybody bigger than us looking out for us. It goes for about a minute and I got the clip from www.wingclips.com This goes well with the Acts reading, the Psalm and the Acts reading.

Discussion: Horton Hears a Who
1. Who wants to look out for us and love us?
2. What difference will it make to our lives?


Drama: Give Me a J
Based on Acts 12 and found in Let's Make a Scene for..... by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 1998, ISBN 0859108937, page 15 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Acts reading.

Story: The Praying Hands
The story behind the famous Praying Hands picture which is found, among many other places, in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, page 163 (pictured at left). This goes well with Acts reading.

I am a little late with my resource searching this week - there will be more as I work on my service for next Sunday.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Easter 3 B (April 19): Never alone




























Bible Readings: Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36b-48.

About the Images:
Upper Left: This is part of the card I give out (see below in the Response Activity). I cannot remember where I got this image or whether I made it. If anybody could shed light on its copyright or source, I would be very pleased.
Upper Right: This was supposed to be an ordinary red hibiscus - what an a -hah moment when it blossomed into red, orange and yellow. I also like the fact that it has flowered through the wire. This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne and reminded me of the line in the Newsboys song below: "Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals". This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This is the underground church in Coober Pedy and reminded me of the line in the Newsboys song below: "To the faithful gathered underground". This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
 
Try dividing the service into four sections based on the Luke readings:
1.The Joy: Luke 24: 36-43
2. The Cross: Luke 24:44-46

3. The Need: Luke 24:47-48

4. The Power: Luke 24:49

Listening Song: Jubilate
By Robert Prizeman on Libera (pictured at right).

Listening Song
: He Reigns
By Newsboys on their album, Adoration, or WOW 2004 (pictured at left)

Kids: New Perspectives
Show kids a number of images of things taken from unrecognisable angles. Have a bit of a guessing game as to what they are. Then talk about how Easter helps us see things from a new perspective.

Film Clip: Can't Keep Me Down
I went to www.wingclips for this clip (as usual - an excellent site). It can be found in their transformation section. I used it to illustrate that true happiness can only be found when you know/accept that you are a child of God (pictured at right)

Introductory Plenary or Pew Discussion

When you were growing up, what was one thing that was difficult for you to believe in?

Drama: Dial A Prayer
Found in Let's
Make A Scene 4 by Verena Johnson, Openbook Publishers, 1198, ISBN 0859108937, page 12 (pictured at left). This fits in well with the Acts reading and the 1 John reading or as an introduction to the prayer of confession.

Story: Luiqi Tariso and the Violins
Found in James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Wheaton Tyndale, 1988, page 492. You can also find this story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Tarisio.


These next four stories all match up well with the 1 John reading:

Story: Heaven
Found in 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 1989, ISBN 0801063302, story no. 640 (pictured at right).

Story: Children of God

Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 61 (pictured at left).

Story: Success
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 693

Story: Worth
Found in 750 Engaging Illustrations from Craig Brian Larson and leadership Journal, Barker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551, Story No. 775.

Creed: Creed from Nicaraguan Mass
Found in Imaging the Word, Volume 3 by Susan A Blain(Ed.), United Church Press, 1996, ISBN 0829810862, page 202 .

Response Activity: Handprint Creed
Found in Multi-Sensory Church by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2002, ISBN 1859996671, page 20. Fits with the first few verses of the 1 John reading.

Response Activity:Give out
business cards with an icthus fish printed on each in colours of red and yellow. Underneath the fish print the words: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour (the card is pictured at the beginning of this blog). Ask people to contemplate the card for a time noticing that the fish symbol reminds us that Jesus is always with us and that the colours remind us that the Holy Spirit is always with us.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter 2 B (April 12): On a Mission from God






































Bible readings: Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 133, 1 John 1:1-2:2, John 20:19-31.

About the images:

Upper Left: Doubting Thomas by Michelangelo Caravaggio (1602-3) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caravaggio_Doubting_Thomas.jpg
Upper Right: My photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower left: A free Heartlight image - see my link column at left.
Lower Right: A free Imagebank image - see my link column at left - which I thought went well with the Psalm for today.

Call to Worship:
Bits of Psalm 133 make a good call to worship if you use a modern translation or paraphrase.

Listening Song: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
By U2 on their album, The Joshua Tree or The Best of 1980-1990 (pictured at right) or by The Sensitive New Age Cowboys on Tim Winton: Dirt Music. This makes a good starting point for Thomas' story in the gospel reading.

Prayer of Confession and Assurance:
Bits of the 1 John reading are useful here as long as you use a modern translation or paraphrase.


Introduction to the theme: What am I?I was created in the 1970’s.
People go to see me all of the time all over the world.
Often they go to see me late at night and they see me more than once.
People often dress up when they go to see me.
I have recently had a revival.
People wear dark sunglasses when they see me.
People, both men and women of all ages from children to the elderly, wear dark suits, white shirts and narrow black ties.
People wear small pork pie hats when they see me.

I am.....the Blues Brothers film.
This can lead in to a discussion/sermon about what it means to be on a mission from God.

Film Clip: The Blues Brothers
The part early on in the film where Jake and Elwood believe that God has spoken to them and that they are now on a mission from God. (pictured at left)

Pew Discussion:
One of the signs of "delusions of grandeur" on various psychological tests is the positive answer to the question "Do you believe you are a special agent of the Lord?"
What would you write if you had to do such a test?
Could you seriously say that you are on a mission for God?
Do you believe that other people are?


Drama: Who Me?
Found in Let's Make a Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing, 1991, page 41 (pictured at right). This goes well with the John reading where Jesus talks about sending his disciples out into the world.


Response Activity:
Ask: what do you need to do today to be God’s special agent. Is it just a matter of saying OK, I’ll do it. Is it a matter of discovering what God wants you to do. Is there something else? Give each person a small business card and encourage people to think about their response to what is written on it (as follows):
My challenge: To be God sent
My authority: God’s say so
My help: the Holy Spirit
My response:...........................

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter Day B (April 5)





































Bible Readings: Acts 10:34-43, Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, John 20:1-18, Mark 16:1-8

About the Images:

Upper Left: This is The Angel of the Lord painted in 1990 by Jacek Andrzej Rossakiewicz (b.1956). I love it! I obtained it from Wikimedia Commons, The permission for use of this work has been verified and archived in the Wikimedia OTRS system.
Upper Right: It never ceases to amaze me how new life arises from the devastation of an Australian bushfire. Because of the nature of our trees and the dense undergrowth, our fires can be amazingly hot and many cases even the dirt seems to be burnt - an absolute wasteland ensues. Yet before too long, the bush begins to regenerate. Life out of death! This photo shows first growth leaves in a burnt out area of the Australian High country.
Lower Left: This is a free image from Imagebank - please see my link column to the left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from Hermano Leon - please see my link column at left.  This is a great image for Easter for those who use colouring as an aid to prayer. 

Decor and Preparation
As for Good Friday - black cloth over communion table and unlit Christ candle. Get enough musical instruments eg bells, shakers, clackers etc etc for everyone - or at least for all your kids. Cheap toys are fine.

Call to Worship: We Will Unfold
By Roddy Hamilton, April 2006, available via his site -see Mucky Paws link at left (he will send you out monthly liturgies if you freely subscribe). Awesome stuff!!!


Call to Worship
Project a series of pictures about Good Friday whilst playing Grac
e by Moby from his album Songs (pictured at left). Move straight into the following....

Opening Drama: The Three Woman
Found in Stages on the Way by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998 ISBN 1876357363 pages 192-4(pictured at right). As the three woman say their final lines together, "He is Risen" , project their words. Woman 1 then removes the black cloth, woman 2 lights the candle and woman 3 gives out the musical instruments and announces the first song. Then make enthusiastic music!!

OR

Opening Drama: The Message
In Let's Make Another Scene by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 1995, ISBN 0859107620, page 66 (pictured at left). This is based on the gospels.

Listening Song: Beautiful Day
By U2 on their album, All That You Can't Leave Behind (pictured at right).

Easter Celebration: Easter is......
Another ripper from Roddy Hamilton (as above).

Absolution for Prayer of confession and/or passing of the Peace: This is the Good News
Found in Stages on the Way (see above)


Kid's Talk: Cut the Tie
Found at http://talks2children.itsforministry.org/t2c/view.asp?ID=59
I used this one three years ago and people still talk about it. They were astounded and the elderly gentleman who had his tie cut was just wonderful!

Kid's Talk: Faith and Belief
Found at http://talks2children.itsforministry.org/t2c/view.asp?ID=29

Drama: Easter Eggcitement
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (ed), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 0859109151, page 94 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the John reading.

Pew and Plenary Discussion
Tell your neighbour what your best celebration ever was.
Share with the congregation the age you were for this event.
Just as birthdays can become a little more ordinary as we grow older, I wonder if we can sometimes lose the intense meaning and significance of Easter as each year adds another celebration.
Share as a congregation: What is the significance of Easter?
Tell your neighbour how you think Easter will make a difference to your week.


Story: On The River of Death
Found at http://www.sermoncentral.com/article.asp?article=a-TopFiveEaster
A story about the significance of Jesus' death.

Sermon Idea: The Visit

Found in The Final Boundary by Adrian Plass, Minstrel, 1987, ISBN 1854240935. Too long to use completely but a lovely story that modernises the Easter story beautifully.

Response Activity: Christ Has Died, Christ Has Risen
Found in Stages on the Way (again!!!), page 196.

Benediction: Here Are your Disciples
Found in Stages on the Way (you can tell I like this book!!), page 198.

Also
from http://www.puppetunes.com/



Easter Dawn Service B (5 April)





















Bible Reading: John 21:1-23

About the Image:
Upper Left
: Dawn on the Gippsland Lakes - taken from my front yard actually. Feel free to use this image and if you want to see more of the area, visit www.gippslandlakes.com. Paynesville is my closest town.
Upper Right: our dawn service cooking. Please feel free to use either of these images for worship or related activities.

Lower Left: A free image from church galleries - see my links column at left
Lower Right: a free image from Imagebank -see my links column at left.

Note:
Most of the resources here come from services from other years. This is such an intimate service linked so much to what we are seeing and experiencing around us that I feel it is unnecessary to change much from year to year. I usually only change the bible reading, the meditation and the reflection - the rest stays as is.

Location:
Have this service near a lake or beach if possible - if you live inland, then choose a high point - if you live inland on a plain then find a nice river - if you live inland on a plain in a desert (much of Australia) then you will have plenty of beautiful places to choose from.


Easter candle:Have a camp fire or a fire pot instead.
Prayer: Jesus We Greet You
Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 188 (pictured at right).Prayer: Lord God, Early in the MorningFound in Stages on the Way, as above, page 184.

Poem/Meditation: Come Share a Damper With Me
Found in A Bloke called Jesus by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Rigby, 1982, ISBN 0727017586, page 46 (pictured at left)

Response Activity: Cook enough fish and damper or middle eastern flat bread for everyone over your open fire .

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Good friday B (April 3)





















Bible readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9, John 18:1 -19:42

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is my photo of an evening in the Victorian High country. The cross is a digital addition. If you want to see more of our beautiful high country, then visit http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/High-Country.  Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: This image comes from www.sundaygraphx.blogspot.com. This site no longer updates (you will see the sad reason why when you visit) however the artist, Don da Silva, has left a legacy of wonderful images and templates via the site archives.
Lower Left: This is my photo of the Garden of Gethsemane as it is today.  Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This is my photo of a painting inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.

N.B. Good Friday needs to be treated rather differently from many services. It is a special time. I usually divide the Easter story up (i.e. some of the stations of the cross) and separate each section with the solemn sound of a gong that has the capacity to reverberate through the silence of the worship space. I use a home made tubular bell which is excellent. At the very least I use a Bible reading, an image either projected or placed in a prominent position and a symbol for each section of the story. A responsive song such as "Jesus, remember me" works well too at the end of each section. Have a large wooden cross at the front of the church.

This year:
I might place the cross in the middle of the church where the coffin usually sits at a funeral. I will place the Christ candle on it and people will be encouraged to come out and light a candle as a response to any of the stations/sections.

Various options specific to each section are as follows:

1. Jesus is arrested.
Symbol: Chains or rope
Prayer: What do You Say?
By Dom Helder Camara
and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, ISBN 100664224776, page 115 (pictured at left).

2. Jesus is Questioned
Symbol: Gavel
Biblical Reflection: The Pharisee
From Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 193 (pictured at right).
Biblical Reflection: The Priest
From Eggs and Ashes (as above) page 192.

3. Peter denies Jesus
Symbol:
Smashed alarm clock or feathers.
Listening Song: I Can't Take the PainBy Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at left).
Story: Crucifix
By G. A. Studdert-Kennedy and found in Resources For Preaching and Worship Year B, as above, page 114.

4. Pilate
Symbol: whip or bowl of water
Meditation: Stations of the Cross (part of it)
From Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166. All fifteen stations are dealt with in this book and can be used as a whole, however can also be used in "stand alone" situations; for example, I used the meditation and prayer from Station 1 for this part of my service.
Sermon based on The Death of Innocence
Found in The Song of Jesus: Reflections on the Life of Jesus of Nazareth by Ron O'Grady, JBCE, Melbourne, 1984, page 70 (pictured at right).

5. The Death Sentence
Symbol:
Crown of Thorns or a scarlet/purple robe.

Reading: Why is he Getting Wrong?
By Ruth Burgess and Kirsty Langlands (aged 10) in Eggs and Ashes (as above), page 166
Silent Responsive Prayer:
Based on section 5 of The Easter Labyrinth in Multi- Sensory Church by Sue Wallace, Scripture Union, 2002, ISBN 1859996671, page 53 (pictured at left). Sue Wallace has at least seven of these multi-sensory books and they are excellent.

6. Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Symbols: hammer and nails, dice, sponge.
Listening Song: Our God Who Weeps
By Kate Scull on the compilation album, Tune In (pictured at right). Hear this song at http://www.wholenote.com.au/songs/ourgodwhoweeps.html. This album can be ordered from http://www.wholenote.com.au/publications/buc.html and is well worth getting with the song book. There are some really new, refreshing and wonderful congregational songs in this book and on this CD.
Meditation: When Jesus Died
In Stages on the Way by Wild Goose Worship Group, 1998 (pictured in an earlier blog) page 168. This is quite long but can be broken up or only used in part.

Symbolic prayer:
Touch the items as you pray.
Here are dice, Lord, to remind us that you lost everything for us. Help us to be generous with our lives as well as with our belongings. Help us to see need.

Here is a sponge, Lord, to remind us of your thirst. Help us to thirst for justice and peace and freedom and for your kingdom here in earth.
Here are nails, Lord, to remind us of your forgiveness given to the men who nailed you to the cross. Help us to forgive those who hurt us as generously as you forgave them.
Amen.


7. The Death of Christ
Symbol
: Blow out the Christ candle

Film clip:

Play the crucifixion scene from any good quality film about Jesus, however turn off the sound and instead play Everything I Do, I Do It For You b
y Bryan Adams on his album, The Best of Me (pictured at left).

8. Jesus is buried
Symbol: cover communion table with a black cloth.
Symbolic action:
Place one very small but exquisite flower on the black cloth and say:
This flower is not a symbol of grief or death,
it is not part of a funeral wreath.

It is a symbol of hope.
This story is not yet over.
It is indeed Friday today
But Sunday is coming.
This small beautiful flower will stay here as a symbol of hope
until we return.

Not sure where I got this idea - if somebody owns it, please let me know so I can acknowledge you. You can do the same thing with a tiny candle and talk about the darkness never putting out the light.

9. Conclusion
Drama and Response Activity:
Guilty as Sin
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnnson, Open Book, 2002 (pictured in an earlier blog). Use as a lead in to everyone coming forward and hammering a nail into the large wooden cross. Permission is given in this book to adapt the dramas to fit the circumstances and so I left out the narrator at the beginning and had the people in the drama say their words from their seats, come forward to hammer in their nail and then return to their seats. This gave the rest of the people permission to come forward when they were asked to do so.

Listening Song: Barber's Adagio for String
By William Orbit on the
Open Space album (pictured at right).


Also:
Response Activity: Yes and No
From Bringing the Word to Life Together Year B by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, 2011, ISBN 9781921945038, page 68ff (pictured at left). This activity is based on the gospel reading and the Psalm.

Poem and prayer: why.
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 88 .These are based on the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2015 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2014, page 63ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.