Sunday, September 27, 2015

Proper 23 Ordinary 28 B (October 11): Let God do it!!

Bible Readings: Job 23: 1-9, 16-17, Psalm 22:1-15, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31

About the images:
Upper Left:
The needle image comes from Wickimedia Commons, and the camel from Microsoft free clipart.

Upper Right: This is my photo - please feel free to use it for worship and related activities. I see this as a choices picture - the world often reflected in the window of our faith. 
Lower Left:  This is a free image from Church Galleries - see my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my link column at left.

Listening Song: What Good
By Third Day on their album, Time (pictured at left). This songs matches in well with the gospel reading.

Film Clip: Home Movie
Make a home movie of random people in your local area - not necessarily church people but mix a few in.
Ask them all the same questions:
1. What does being rich mean to you? and
2. How do you get to have eternal life?
Ask the congregation to then discuss these same two questions.

Film Clip: Schindler's List

Show the scene near the end of the film  when Schindler is leaving and all the people he has saved crowd around to thank him, however, all he can think about is the ones he didn't save and he looks at his wealth with new and despairing eyes. If you can watch this without weeping, you are tougher than me.  I suggest you watch it a few times before showing it in church so you don't end up a crying mess in the pulpit.

Quotes: Millionaires:
Andrew Carnegie: Millionaires seldom smile.
John Jacob: I am the most miserable man on earth .
John Rockefeller: I have made many millions but they have brought me no happiness.
W.H. Vanderbilt: The care of $200 million is too great a load to bear. There is no pleasure in it.

Discussion Questions: Millionaires

In pairs or threes:
• What do you like to think is in your treasure chest?
• Evaluate what Jesus would think of your treasure.

Meditation: Four Changed Lives
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 183, (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Prayer for Others

Make a powerpoint presentation of pictures from your local newspaper of war, famine, accident, murder, ... (the hard and sad things that we read about) to some contemplative music and allow people to pray either during or after the presentation.

Prayer: Child, I am Here
By Michel Quoist in
Prayers of Life, Macmillan, 1965, ISBN: 0717101584 (pictured at right). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Proper 22 Ordinary 27 (October 4th): Sticking up for Others.

Bible Readings: Job 1:1; 2:1-10, Psalm 26, Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16.

About the images:
Upper Left: This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: I took this photo of my kids about thirty years ago. I wanted to take a photo of Kate without the teddy bear (which had the odd name of "Winter") and, as you can see if you look closely or click on the image to enlarge it, her eyes filled with tears at the very thought. Her big brother, Jared, immediately sprang to her defence and insisted Winter be part of the photo as he comforted Kate. Naturally, I photographed them all :-) Please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: A free image from Cerezo Barredo -see my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is my image so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.  It reminded me of the words in the blessing song from Together in Song 779, May the Feet of God Walk with You because the last two lines fit beautifully with the gospel reading - May the child of God grow in you and his love bring you home.
Listening Song: People Putting People Down
By Bob Dylan on his Hardest To Find album, 1996 (pictured at right)

Psalm 26: The Prayer of the Innocent Believer
Often called the above name for obvious reasons - works well if you ask different people to read a verse or two each. Get them to read from where they are sitting in the congregation and choose the readers from a variety of ages and gender, different ethnic backgrounds and various abilities/disabilities etc etc.

Kid's Story: Jesus loves kids
I can't source the original idea for the story about James, but it pops up in various places and in various forms when Googled eg
where Moira Laidlaw uses it for a similar purpose.
Take along a large photograph of one of your children or a child who is special to you and, if possible, take a photo of the kids as they come and sit around the front. Discuss with them about how photographs are a good (sometimes!) record of what a person looks like. Hold up your photo - say that its not a bad likeness of the child you love. Tell them that even though the child's face is imprinted on your heart you still like to have a few photo's around as well. 

Then tell the following little story (from the internet).
Three years old James was visiting his grandparents and he was playing in the garden just outside the back door whilst his grandmother was making tea. It was getting pretty dark and stormy and she was just going to call James indoors when there was a flash of lightning.
Thinking that James would be afraid, she rushed to the back door just as he came running in, filled with excitement - "Guess what, Gran," he shouted "God just took my photo!"
Well, we know that lightning is not really God taking photos of James or anyone else. Do you know why? Because God doesn't need to take our photo because God is with us all the time. And we know what God is like because we know from the Bible what Jesus is like. So, that's almost as good as a photo. And while we haven't any photos of Jesus either, we have enough words written about him to know what he was like. 

Tell the gospel story for today of the children coming to him.

Then ask the kids to put on badges that say "I am one of God's beloved children" and if there is time and availability of badges, ask them to distribute one to every member of the congregation - alternatively, they could make the badges during the service to distribute to everyone just before the benediction.

Kid's Story: Jesus and the Children
By Andrew McDonough, Lost Sheep Resources, 2007, ISBN 9781921229091 (pictured at right).  This is one of a brilliant set of books and each can be downloaded for a small cost from the web as a slide show.

Discussion on the Gospel Reading: Mark 10:13-16
1. Who is being hurt or put down or rejected?
2. Who is doing the hurting? - why?
3. How does Jesus respond to those doing the hurting?
4. How does Jesus respond to those who have been hurt?

Film Clip: A Colour Purple
(pictured at left) Show the clip where Shug Avery comes back to reconcile with her father and he walks out on her. Ask the same four questions as above replacing the word "does" with "would". 

Film Clip: The Preacher's Wife
(pictured at right) Show the clip where the Rev. Henry Biggs prays for help and Dudley, the angel, arrives in answer to his prayer. Unfortunately, Biggs puts the angel (God’s help) down by thinking it’s all a bit of a joke and drives off.

Drama: Out of the Mouths of Babes
In Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (Ed.) Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859100186, page 58 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.

Further Discussion: Our Community
1. What sections of our community here in .....(put in the name of your own community) do you think our church may hurt or put down or reject?
2. How?
3. How would Jesus respond to these sections of the community?
4. How would Jesus respond to us?

Response Activity:
Give everyone a business card with a clip art drawing or sketch of two people hugging - this works best if one person is larger than the other.
Also give everyone a pencil. Encourage everyone to use this card and the pencil as a conversation starter with God.

Ask: Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Do you need to put your arms around someone who you have hurt? Then colour in the larger figure?

Or do you need a hug this morning, do you need Jesus arms around you today? Sometimes we sit on the other side of the fence like David in Psalm 26. Sometimes it is us who are hurt, sometimes it is us who suffer some sort of put down or rejection. Then colour in the smaller figure?

Either way, don't show it to anyone - it is for you and God alone.

Listening song: I Am
By Jill Phillips on her self titled album (pictured at right). I have suggested this song before but it fits beautifully as something that can be listened to either after or during the above activity.

Response Activity: Meditation and Symbolic Action: Testimony and Prayer of Three Anonymous Children
From Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 111 (pictured in an earlier blog). I put images with the third testimony and backed it with music: Searching from the Past by Secret Garden on their album, Earth Songs.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Proper 21 Ordinary 26 B (September 27): God's Possibilities

Bible Reading: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22, Psalm 124, James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50

About the images:
Upper Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left
Upper Right: This image, among hundreds of others, comes from, a wonderful site which provides both free and subscription powerpoint images and backgrounds connected to the lectionary readings each week.
Lower Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart image.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my link column at left.

Listening Song: Shine
By Newsboys on their album, Shine The Hits (pictured at left) or on WOW 1996. This song goes well with the gospel reading.

Kid's Story:
The Esther reading makes a great kid's story provided you use a good story teller

Film Clip: Legally Blonde
Watch the scene where California sorority girl Elle Woods arrives at Harvard. She clearly doesn't fit the picture of a Harvard Law student - and she is treated like it! Film cover pictured at right.

Film Clip: Thunderpants 
Show the clip where Alan tells Patrick that he could not possibly ever be a spaceman. This is a clip with the same idea as the one above but with film (see picture at left) appeal to primary aged kids. This clip is available from

Discussion: For Legally Blonde
or Thunderpants
Ask: What is going on in whatever film clip you used?
Then read Bible reading: Mark 9:38-50.
Read verses 38-42 verses again.
Ask: What is going on with the disciples in this reading?
Ask people to compare the two situations.
When do you think we act like the disciples or the Harvard students/Alan?
According to the disciples, why doesn’t the man casting out demons belong?
Put yourself in their shoes - how would you feel?
What makes us critical of others?
Would the man, or those witnessing what happened, feel that they could join the community of disciples after what the disciples had just said?
How does our church today send similar messages to those who might wish to join us?

Poem: Blessed Be these Hands
by Diann Neu and found in  Imaging the Word Volume 1, United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 23 (pictured at right). This is based on the gospel reading. I put images with this beautiful poem and backed it musically with Leaving Behind by Robert Miles on his album, 23am (pictured at left).
Response Activity:
Give each person a key card (pictured above).
Encourage people to use the cards as a reminder that God opens up all kinds of possibilities for us to see in others when we work with him.
Give everyone a piece of self hardening clay and ask them to make a small goblet as a reminder of Mark 9:41 (which you could simultaneously project while people are working).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Proper 20 Ordinary 25 B (September 20):

Bible Readings: Proverbs 31:10-31, Psalm 1, James 3:13-4:3,7-8a, Mark

About the images:
Upper Left: The Bundarra river in the Victorian (Australian) High country. It is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities. If you want to know more info about this beautiful, isolated part of the world visit
Upper Right: This images comes from and permission is given on the site for the use of the image for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - se  my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is my image and you are free to use it for worship and related activities.  It is the remains (with good provenance) of Peter's mother in law's house in Capernaum.

Resources for the Mark Reading:

Film: Spotswood
There are a number of scenes in this film where Russell Crowe's character, Kim, tries to make Carey (Ben Mendelsohn) look inferior, appear silly or look like a loser. This is a really good film with lots of useful clips (pictured at right).

Drama: Waiter, Waiter.
Found in Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson, Open books, 2002, ISBN 0859109186, page 20 (pictured at left)
Drama: My Church is Better Than Your Church
Found in 40 Devotions That Work With Youth by Geraldine Anderson (Ed.), JBCE, 1983, ISBN 0858194147, page 40 (pictured at right). This adapts easily and well for adults.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, When You Took a Child
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group,Wild Goose, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 86 (pictured at left).

Resources for the Psalm Reading:
Listening Song: Like a Tree
By Christ Falsen on his album, A Tree By The Water (pictured at right).

Kid's Time: A Real Success
Found in Fun Group Devotions for Children's Ministry by various authors, Group Publishing, 1993, ISBN 1559451610, page 61 (pictured at left).

Youth: Cable Surfing All Alone
Found in Could Someone Wake Me Up Before I Drool on the Desk by Kevin Johnson, Bethany House,1995, ISBN 1556614160, page 55.

Response Activity: A Leaf from God's Book
Found in Multi-Sensory Together by Ian Birkinshaw, Scripture Union, 2005, ISBN 1844271641, page 15.

Resources for Season of Creation: Isaiah 65:17-25

Film Clip: All Things New
From the Work of the People - see my link column at left



Lots to be found in The Abingdon Worship Annual 2013 by Mary J. Scifres and B. J. Beu (Eds). Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2012, ISBN 9781426746796, pages 267-272

Illustration: Forgiveness and Forgetting
Story No. 520 in 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Michael P. Green,(Ed.) Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1989, ISBN 0801063302.

Lots to be found in Resources for Preaching and Worship Year C compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003, ISBN 066422508, pages 286-289

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Proper 19 Ordinary 24 B (September 12): Finding Wisdom

Bible Readings: Proverbs 1:20-33, Psalm 19, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38

About the Images:
Upper Left:
This is a free Microsoft clipart image with my text added to it.

Upper Right:
This is my photo, my hand, pen, lamp, desk etc so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is a free image from Scripture Pics - the site seems to have disappeared off the web - can anybody can tell me where it has gone
Lower Right: This is a free image from Church Galleries - see my link column at left.
Listening Song: Edge of the World
By Iona on their album, Beyond These Shores (pictured at left). This goes well with the Proverbs reading.

Kids Story: God's Greatness
Have a quick discussion about what proverbs are and what the word "wisdom" might mean and then ask them where wisdom comes from. Conclude by using Story 250 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 1993, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right).

Dramatic Illustrated Reading:
This can be used as an introduction to the sermon or the reading or you can use the last line as the start of a discussion. Use two readers and illustrate what they are saying either with projected images or mimes. Make sure the readers read smoothly but with enough time for people to take in the image or mime action.
1. Think for a minute about wisdom
2. And foolishness.
1. Wisdom outshines foolishness
2. As light outshines darkness
1. The wise man has his eyes in his head
2. But the foolish man walks in darkness.
1. A wise man listens to advice.
2. But the way of the fool is right in his own eyes
1. The wise man trusts God.
2. The foolish man trusts only himself and takes pleasure in his own opinion
1. The wise man quietly holds back when he is annoyed and irritated
2. The foolish man lets everybody know about it.
1. So...
2. Tell us…..
Both: Where do we find true wisdom?

"Wisdom consists of all God's ideas about how the world should be and how we should treat one another" - Carolyn Brown in Forbid Them Not: Year B, page 151 (pictured at left). Thanks for the info and source of this quote, Sandra.

Quotes, Cartoons and Film Clips by Leunig
Just about anything from the pen and mind and heart of Michael Leunig works well for this theme - particularly when you think of how we can recognise wisdom. If you don't know where to start, I suggest you look at the DVD Leunig Animated, Fruitcup Films, 2001 (pictured at right) or trawl through A Common Prayer: A Cartoonist Talks to God by Michael Leunig, Harper Collins, 1990, ISBN 1863717404 (pictured at left). Enjoy!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Proper 18 Ordinary 23 B (September 6): Crossing Boundaries

Bible Readings: Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37

About the images:
Upper Left: Found at Cerezo Barredo's weekly gospel illustration page at These are brilliant free illustrations - and there is one for each week of the lectionary.
Upper Right: I thought it was interesting to see this kangaroo in our garden crossing a boundary to drink from the bird bath because water is scarce in this part of the country - and the birds, who can be quite aggressive when they want to be, allowed the kangaroo to share their water.
Lower Left: This is a free image from the Heartlight site - see my link column at left.
Lower Right: This is a free image from the Hermano Leon site - see my link column at left.

Kids Story: Who Are You?
By Pamala Egan, Benjamin Books, ISBN 0715103490 (pictured at right).A lovely little story about crossing boundaries.

Introduction to the Gospel: Who Am I Game
Read one clue at a time and wait a second after each clue in case somebody has worked out the answer and is prepared to have a go at identifying the person:
When I was born, I was named Agnes.
I was the youngest of three children
I was born in Macedonia.
At the age of 18 I went to Ireland to further my education.
I left Ireland and in 1928 I began to teach at a school for girls.
In 1946, on a long train ride on the way to a retreat and to recover from suspected tuberculosis, I had a life-changing encounter with the Living God.
I realized that I had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless - to be God's love in action to the poorest of the poor.
In 1952 I received permission from city officials to use a portion of the abandoned temple to Kali, the Hindu goddess of transition and destroyer of demons.
It was here that I established a Home for the Dying.
I and my fellow workers gathered dying people off the streets and brought them to this home to care for them during the days before they died.
In 1953 I opened our first orphanage.
In 1957 I and my workers began working with lepers.
Ever since then, more that 42,000 have been taken from the streets.
Approximately 19,000 of those have had the opportunity to die in an environment of kindness and love could feel that they also were children of God.
For those who didn't die, we tried to find jobs for them or they were sent to homes where they could live happily some more years in a caring home.
My homes (I called them "tabernacles") have been established in hundreds of locations in the world.
My main centre is still in Calcutta, India.
I am Mother Teresa.
Rearrange the clues to make it harder if you want to. After the Who Am I is solved read out the remainder of the clues and conclude by saying that Mother Teresa is a 20th C example/picture of this week's gospel reading.

Discussion Question
What do the stories of Jesus and the woman from Syria, Jesus and the deaf man from Tyre and Mother Teresa and the poor and dying in India have in common?

Listening Song: Psalm 125: Like Mt Zion
By Sons of Korah on their album, Resurrection.

Drama: Racist or Redeemer
Found in Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 2002, ISBN 0901557642, page 99 (pictured at left). This drama is based on the gospel reading.
Story: Who's Who?
Found in When You Walk by Adrian Plass, The Bible Fellowship, 1997, ISBN 0745935524, page 56 (pictured at right).This story is based on the James reading.

Sermon interruption: In Pairs
To get everybody going I found that it was easiest for me to share my most enbarrassing moment first - a traumatic incident with a wrap around skirt, a farm gate and three car loads of picnickers :-) - however I acknowledge that in some cultures the first question may not work at all or may be inappropriate - it works very well in Australian congregations:
1. Share your most embarrassing moment with the person sitting next to you?
2. Now share the most exciting thing to you about being a Christian.
3. Now talk about which was the easier thing to talk about.

Poem: And You Said
by Jan L. Richardson, In Wisdom's Path, Pilgrim Press, 2000, ISBN 0829813241 page 41.This goes well with both the James reading and the gospel.

Poem: Ephphatha

By Wayne Saffon in Imaging the Word Volume 1, United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 23 (pictured at left). This is based on the gospel reading.

Prayer/Listening Song: Sorrowing Song
By Robin and Dorothy Mann on their album, Let's Sing It Again (pictured at right). This can be easily used as a community song for your congregation but it is lovely to just listen to while projecting a few relevant images.

Response Activity:
In the silence read last verse of the above song out loud and ask people to pray, thinking about the following:
Think of a boundary you need to cross, a group or a person who God is calling you to reach out to.
Ask God to show you the way to cross this boundary.
Ask God to be with you .
Ask God to help you to be open to his leading.
Silence for prayer.

Response Activity:
Give everyone a Publisher classic paper aeroplane plan (or equivilent)on a sheet of A4 (decals replaced with world globes and the words on one wing saying “The thing that excites me about Jesus is……. “ and the words on the other wing saying “What is it about my relationship with Jesus that my community cannot live without?”) Ask the congregation to fill in their answers and then make the aeroplane. When everybody is finished, altogether, on the count of three, encourage everybody to launch their aeroplane. Ask everyone to retrieve one areoplane - but not their own. Ask them to have a look at the thing which excites people on their new aeroplane and the thing that the community cannot live without. Explain that these words and beliefs shared now in this church, can be shared again and again.

Lord, take our lips and speak through them;
take our minds and think through them;
take our hearts and set them on fire. Amen.
by W.H. Aitken in Little Book of Prayers (I can't source this benediction any further than the information above - if I had the book, I have lost it! I would appreciate any help or comment.)