Monday, January 25, 2016

Easter Day (March 27): A Dawn Service and a later Celebration

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Readings: Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 118, John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
About the Images:
Upper Left: Buds shoot from the bark (epicormic shoots) of eucalyptus (more commonly known as gum) tree devastated and defoliated by bush fires in the Australian High country. For more info on this area visit http://www.visitvictoria.com/displayobject.cfm/objectid.00034C30-86B8-1ED6-869180C476A90000/ This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Upper Right: The beach at dawn in Paynesville where the Mitchell River Parish hold their dawn service. For more info on this area visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gippsland_Lakes. This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.
Lower Left: This is an image of a replica of Jesus tomb in found in the Garden Tomb complex in Jerusalem.  This is my photo so please feel free to use it for worship and related activities.

Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.

Some Particularly Useful Stuff for a Dawn/Sunrise Service

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 (most of Australia) then you will have plenty of beautiful places to choose from.

Call to Worship or.....:When The Inevitable is no Longer Sure
Found at http://holdthisspace.org.au/when-the-inevitable-is-no-longer-sure/ These words could be used in all sorts of ways. This site can also be found in my links (above left) and is well worth a look. Cheryl Lawrie regularly blogs and her writing is excellent, relevant and creative.


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 left)

Prayer: Lord God, Early in the Morning
Found in Stages on the Way as above, page 184 (pictured at left)

Meditation: I Have Seen Jesus

Found in Mucky Paws Volume 4 or in the April 2007 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left - Roddy Hamilton writes excellent stuff)

Meditation: Prayers That Jesus Hears
Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 20028, ISBN 0901557642, page 95 (pictured at right)


Response Activity 
Cook fish and middle eastern bread over an open fire or on a plough disc. A great pita bread recipe can be found at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/pitabread

Easter Services at a More Reasonable Hour

Call to Wo
rship:

A time of silence. Then play Anthem Part 3 from the album, Powaqqatsi, (1988) (pictured at left) while showing six 20 second Good Friday images. When the music reaches the fanfare, show an Easter Day image. Then fade the music enough so that a reader can read Isaiah 65:17-25.

Call to Worship: King of Glory

Play King of Glory by Third Day found on their album, Carry Me Home (pictured at right) or on WOW 2001. For each verse, show an image of the crucifixion and for each chorus show an image of the resurrection. Show a resurrection image for the last verse and then as the choir on the CD begins to back the Third Day singer, fade the music and have somebody read the Psalm.

Call to Worship: Change
Found in Mucky Paws Volume 4 or in the April 2007 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left).


Call to Worship Activity:
If you had an old wooden cross in the church for Good Friday, give everybody a streamer or coloured ribbon as they enter and ask them to decorate the cross before sitting down.


Kids: Butterflies and Flowers
Tell the Easter story using the cocoon and butterfly, seed and flower analogies. Have a dead branch at the front of the church and either have them make paper flowers or butterflies to decorate the branch with. This works very well as a congregational activity. Alternately have the kids give everyone in the congregation a tiny butterfly or flower sticker - people really run with this and wear them immediately putting them on lapels, collars, watch faces, spectacle frames etc etc.

Drama: What's Easter All About:
Found in Mega Drama 3 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0859109178, page 87 (pictured at left).
This drama goes with any of the readings.


Video Clip: Fantasia 2000
Show the Firebird Suite segment after the fire when everything greens up. In the clip below which I have embedded so you can see how it works. You could easily start at around anywhere from the 4 or5 or 6 minute mark depending on how much time you have and how much you want to show. 



Discussion: Fantasia
How does Easter bring new life to the world?


Story: Stephen's Egg
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 159 (pictured at right).

Story: Nikolai Church and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
This story can be found often and easily by googling.


Story: Easter
Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, page 51 (pictured at left).


Listening Song: Early in the Morning
By David Meece on his album, Once in a Lifetime.

Listening Song: Libera
By Robert Prizeman on his album, Libera.


Prayer: Yes/No 

Found in the 21st March 2008 Mucky Paws archives (see my link above left)
 

Pass the Peace:
Give every one a balloon to blow up. Toss them, catch a new one and pass the peace using Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Response Activity:
In groups or individually get people to name their easter dreams for the world, for their church, for themselves and to use these as starters for a prayer time.


Also:
Poem: Risen
Also a great prayer and collect included on the same page.  Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 150. To order a copy of this excellent book email jennie.gordon@billanook.vic.edu.au
 
Sermon Thought: Forgiveness has Risen from the Grave
 

Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 64ff.

Words For Easter
Found in Before the Amen by Maren C Tirabassians Maria I. Tirabassi (Eds), The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 2007, ISBN 9780829817508, page 78-81. 

Good Friday C (March 25)



















UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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 images is one of a set put out by Image Bank (see my links at left); an excellent free site.
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 a free Heartlight image - see my links column at left.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.

Bible Readings: John 18 and 19 
This service needs to be a more sombre occasion than usual , not just because Jesus died - we celebrate his resurrection on Sunday when it is all said and done - but because of the immensity and the implications of what God has done for us through and in Jesus.
 
Introduct
ory Meditation: Now I Let Go 

Show about a dozen images depicting Jesus' life and ministry, Use Now I Let Go by Moby on his album Songs (pictured at left) as backing music - you may have to play it through twice because the track is quite short. An alternative track could be Barber's Adagio for Strings by William Orbit on Open Space 1.

A Note of Explanation:
I have listed the resources for Good Friday below under story/Scripture/station headings. Please don't use them all or you will be at church all day. One option is to use the symbolic actions as station activities if you don't mint people moving around from station to station. I would provide the readings on printouts and some visual media to go with each station if I was doing it that way. If people are seated I often use a tubular bell and/or a Taize sung response to divide the readings. 


1. John 18:1-14 The Arrest
Symbolic Action

Light a lantern or a candle 


2. John 18:19-23 The Questioning/The Trials
Symbolic Action
Place a crown of thorns on the cross


Poem: My Baby
Found in Clearing Away the Rubbish by Adrian Plass, Minstral, 1989, ISBN 1854240250, page 93 (pictured at right). If you are going to use all or part of this, read it over a few times first because it emotionally difficult to read. (I should have put the same warning on The Ragman story two weeks ago).

3. John 18:15-18, 25-27 The Denial.

Symbolic Action
Give everyone a feather


Poem: A Prayer at Burger King
By John Shea. Can't source this any further - I have a copy somebody gave me.


Story: The Death of Bishop Romero
Found in numerous books and on the web

4. John 18:28-40 Pilate
 
Story: Gerry Conlan
Found in A Hell of a Life by John Dickson, Matthias Media, 1997, ISBN 1875245626, page 85ff (pictured at left).

5: John 19:1-16 Death Sentence
Symbolic Action:
Throw a purple or black cloth over the cross.
 

Symbolic Action:
Pass around a bowl of horse shoe nail crosses and ask everyone to take one.

 
6. John 19:17-27 Crucifixion
Symbolic Action:
Give everyone two pieces of white ribbon, a pencil and two twigs. Ask people to write a prayer on the ribbons and use them to make the twigs into a cross. 


Reflection Idea: Three Crosses

Can't remember where this comes from but it goes like this Rebellion: the mocking thief Repentence: the other thief Rescue: Jesus 


Story: Freedom

Found in Your Point Being? by Graham H. Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929, story no. 88 (pictured at right).


Story: Back to the Future
By Adrian Plass in Cabbages For The King, Fount, 1993, ISBN 0006276687, page 158 (pictured at left).


7. John 19:28-37 Death
Symbolic Action

Have the communion table set up before hand with a white cloth, bread and wine. Rip (and I mean rip!) the bread in half and knock over or pour out the wine on to the white cloth.

Symbolic Action:
This can be done here or for the burial. Pass around a shallow dish/es of salt water and ask people to trace a cross on their own cheek or on that of the person sitting next to them.


Symbolic Action:
Snuff out the candle


Prayer for Others: When Jesus Died

Found in Stages on the Way by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 168 (pictured at right)

Poem: Jesus Dies on the Cross
By Michel Quoist in Prayers, Sheed and Ward, 1985, ISBN 0934134464.

8. John 19:38-42
Symbolic Action:
Hang the stained communion cloth over the black or purple cloth already hanging on the cross. Alternately, rip the white cloth in half.

 
Prayer: Lord Where Are You Now
Found in Stages on the Way, as above, page 166

Conclusion of the Service:
Play a piece of quiet music and encourage people to sit and think/pray and to leave when they are ready to. You could provide small blank cards for people to write or draw their response to Good Friday - encourage people to take these home with them. Suitable music: Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, Pachabels Canon (particularly the Cleo Laine/James Galway version because the words fit the mood exceptionally well)

Maundy Thursday C (March 24)



















UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Bible readings: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10) 11-14, Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35.

About the Images:

Upper Left: This image comes from Heartlight - a very useful free slide site (see my links in the left column)
Upper Right: This image comes from an equally helpful free slide site: Image Bank (see my links in the left column)
Lower Left: This is another Heartlight image.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.

Introductory Activity:
Have a small laminated footwashing picture for each person to hold throughout the service and take home afterwards. Either image above would work well or visit www.paulajolly.com for a couple of great pencil sketches on this theme. Please abide by all copyright rules.

Response Activity:
This works well as a change from foot washing or when there are congregational members who have mobility difficulties. It also takes a while to do so have some meditative music playing in the background.  Pass a peeled onion around and talk about how raw onions leave a nasty reminder behind. As each person takes a turn to hold the onion ask them to think of a disappointment, a hurt or an action that they have suffered or caused.  Then pass a box of scented disposable towelettes around and ask each person to wash the hands of the person on their right. As they do so, ask them to pray for that person asking God to remove the pain or disappointment or hurt in that person's life. I am fairly sure this is my idea but lots of other people have had e a similar idea and there are numerous variations on this theme.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Palm Sunday (March 20): In and Out of Season















UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Bible Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11, John 12:9-12, 16-19, Luke 19:29-40
About the images:
Upper Left:
This comes from http://www.scripturepics.org/ A free site well worth a visit but not always up to date particularly for those of us a day or so ahead of most of the world. Use the site search engine if you find the site is a bit behind.
Upper Right:
This is a photo of mine which I have fiddled with a bit. It makes a useful background. Please feel free to use it for worship or related activities.

Lower Left:  Jesus followers were a mixed bunch!  This image is of Gamla where the Zealots hailed from - a hill top fort-like town overlooking the Sea of Galilee where many of their arms were manufactured. Please feel free to use this image for worship and related activities.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.

Listening Song or Film Clip: Hosanna

From the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar


Listening Song: Chorus of Faith
By Michael Card on his album, Joy in the Journey, Birdwing Music, 1994.  This fits really well with the gospel reading (pictured at left).

Kid's Story: Paradise of Saints/Who Am I?
Found in Object Lessons by Edward C. Grube, CPH St Louis, 1994, ISBN 0570046483, page 54 (pictured at right). This prettu much goes with all the readings but is based to some degree in the Old Testament reading.

Youth: Fashions and Fads
Bring some odd very dated clothes from your youth (I took witches britches and my husband's platform shoes from the late 60's/early 70's). Talk about how things go in and out of fashion. Discuss which celebrities are "in" at the moment. Talk about Jesus' popularity on Palm Sunday compared with later on in the week. Challenge them to follow Jesus whether he is in or out of fashion and not to let him go out of style. Pick an example of a place where people follow Jesus where it is not popular to do so. There is a great picture taken by John Leongard of the Polish people celebrating Easter in 1982 (when public faith gatherings were still banned) in Life Classic Photographs, 1988, ISBN 0821217143, page 70 (pictured at right).

Drama: Palm Sunday Interviews
The complete drama is below however the answers for each character are not written word for word; instead the general idea only is given so that a real interview feeling is realised. Interviewer's questions are in bold print.

Interviewer:
Today we are at the scene of a major rally. Something really big is happening here. I haven't seen so many people gathered in the streets for a long, long time. Let's ask a few of the crowd just what this is all about.

Rally Follower:
Excuse me, Sir/Madam/Miss, would you mind telling our viewers what you're doing out here on the street waving around that large palm branch?

Swept along with the branch wavers. Joined in for the thrill of it all.
What's this all about then? Why are all these people here?

Don't really know and don't really care - as long as its lots of fun and I feel involved. Think the bloke on a donkey is supposed to be a king or something.
On a donkey!!!! What happens if he's not? Won't you feel a little silly?

Hadn't really thought about that. I'm not really sure......trails off.
Friend of Lazarus:
Excuse me Sir/Madam/Miss, why are you attending this demo?

I saw Lazarus rise from the dead and I'm really excited about Jesus power. It was a fair dinkum miracle and gives everybody great hope for even bigger and better things to come. At last someone has come that can solve all our problems and fix everything up for us.
But have you heard the rumour that there is a price on his head?

Oh no, that's not possible is it? There can't be. That would change everything if anything happened to him. It's not possible.
Mugwump: [the person who sits on the fence with his mug (face) on one side and his wump on the other]
Excuse me, why are you attending this major gathering?

Just come to have a look.
How do you feel about becoming an integral part of this rally?

No way. We've all been warned. If we take part, there is a strong possibility that the chief priests will take down our names and then there's no telling what will happen.
What do you think of Jesus, the man on the donkey?

No comment. Don't get me involved.
Lazarus:
There's a man who people seem to be making rather a fuss of?
Excuse me, Sir, can I have a word with you? Why do you seem to be attracting a bit of the attention away from Jesus?
Tells about his resurrection.
I've heard rumours that there's a price on your head.
'
Yes, the Pharisees have done that etc etc.
Well, you seem to be the meat in the sandwich, don't you?

Yes, it's very confusing. I'm losing the point of my miracle if I'm only going to die anyway.
Yes , if you follow Jesus then you may pay the ultimate cost. Do you think a man who they say is a King, yet rides on a donkey, is going to be of much use to you?

.............
Pharisee:
Ah I see one of the our town's leading Pharisees over there. Tell me, Your Grace......

Today's a great success.....How do you feel about the number of people who h
ave turned up today?
Not particularly pleased. Crowds are pretty fickle and easily swayed.
Do you think you're losing it with the common man... you know, losing control?
No not at all....Jesus and Lazarus are obviously trouble makers whose activities will be nipped in the bud.
Ah, so you have plans to get rid of these two, have you?

No comment except to say that we have ways and means of ending little disturbances like these!
Disciple:
Ah, I see one of Jesus' very good friends - a disciple. Could you please tell me ...... Do you feel that this day has been a real success?

Yes, heaps of people (very enthusiastic)
Well then, what's with the donkey. Hardly a kingly mode of transport is it?

Not sure about the donkey - but knows that Jesus is going to fix the world still .....only not sure how He's going to do it. Maybe the donkey is an ancient sign of a miracle worker.
Interviewer:
Well folks, there you have it. These are the facts. There is far more to this rally today than meets the eye. It is a far more complex situation than we first anticipated. Is this Jesus the man we thought he was? He can perform astounding miracles: yet he came in to our city riding on a donkey - a small, unbroken colt, in fact. Has He given people false hopes - a man on a donkey doesn't look too promising. Is it time to restore order with the Pharisees or could you follow this mysterious man? Is Jesus the conquering King who will save the world? Can He solve all our problems? Can He save us from ourselves? What you will all have to decide is - has He really got something to offer? Could you, and would you, follow this man? Thankyou for watching.
c. Ann Scull and Rosemary Broadstock. Permission granted for use in worship.

Discussion: On the above drama.
Explain how we can all be like those who were interviewed at different times in our lives. Number everybody off from one to eight, ask people to get into the eight groups and then give each group one of the characters in the dram to discuss using the following questions:
1. Who is this person today?
2. What role can we play in their faith journey?

Story: Jesus, the Leader
Found in Ruth Daugherty, "Issues of Leadership in the 21st Century.' in Viewpoint, Summer, 1991,2.


Meditation: Three Stone Meditations
Found in He Was in the World by John L. Bell, Wild Goose Publications, 1995, ISBN 094798870X, page 92 (pictured at right).  


Prayer: You Called Us Your Disciples
Found in Stages on the Way
by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1998, ISBN 1876357363, page 59 (pictured at left).  This goes well with the gospel reading.


Also:
Prayers and Poems: gloria
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 148 (pictured at right).

Response Activity: Holy Passion
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 59ff (pictured at left).  This works well with the gospel reading.  

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 54ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.

Lent 5 C (March 13): What Really Matters/Looking to the Future/There is a Pool in the Desert











UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Bible readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-11

About the Images:

Upper Left and Right: I thought these photos went well with the "rivers in a dry land" bit of Isaiah. The top one is Glen Helen Gorge near Alice Springs, Northern Territory and the lower image is the Murchison river near Kalbarri in Western Australia. For more info on Glen Helen Gorge visit http://www.about-australia.com/travel-guides/northern-territory/alice-springs/attractions/natural/glen-helen-gorge/ and for more info on the Murchison River area visit http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Murchison_River_(Western_Australia) These images are both mine so please feel free to use them for worship or related church activities. 
Lower Left: This is a free Microsoft clipart which I thought when very well with the Psalm reading about dreaming.
Lower Right: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.

Worship Space: Decor 

Have lots of incense and aromatic oil lamps burning (as long as there is not a vulnerable asthmatic or two in your congregation - it is worth checking first).

Listening Song: Because You Loved Me

By Celine Dion on her album, All The Way: A Decade of Song, EMI (pictured at left). This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Flowing Over Me
by Derri Daugherty on his album, Flap Your Wings, Resolve Records, 2000 (pictured at right). This goes well with the Isaiah reading.


Listening Song: Psalm 126: Men who Dream
By Sons of Korah on their album, Redemption Songs.(pictured at left) 

Prayer of Confession.
Found in Eggs and Ashes by Ruth Burgess and Chris Polhill (Eds.)l, Wild Goose Publications, 2004, ISBN 1901557871, page 107
(pictured at right)


Film Clip: Moulin Rouge
Start approximately one minute in - with the words "Paris 1900". End at approximately at 2:15 minutes as Christian types the words "Moulin Rouge". 




Drama: Get Your Perfumes Here
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2001, ISBN 0859109151, page 68 (pictured at right). This drama is based on the gospel reading.


Discussion: On Get Your Perfumes Here and Moulin Rouge Film Clip.
What really matters to the people in the drama and in the film clip?
What do you think really matters?


Film Clip: The Legend of Bagger Vance  
This works well with the Isaiah reading if you are talking about looking backwards and forwards, God doing new things and God making a way for us. The scene is found at the end of Chapter 13 or around 1hr 35 minutes in. In the scene Junuh goes to retrieve a golf ball from a wooded area and ends when his caddie, Bagger, promises to be with him always.

Discussion: The Legend of Bagger Vance.
1. What does Junuh have to do to play good golf?
2. Who does Junuh have to trust?
3. Why do people often tend to look backwards instead of forwards when things get tough?
 


Film Clip: The Merton Prayer


This comes from The Work of the People site -an excellent site with a relatively cheap subscription rate. See my link column at left.

Drama: What Really Matters.
Word up a few people to be interviewed as one of the other characters in the story. To prepare their part just ask them to read the story and any other gospel story which involves their character. During the service walk to where each character is sitting and ask them what they thought about the whole incident. People to be interviewed: Martha, Lazarus, Judas


Discussion
When has someone's generous act surprised you? 

Discussion: Philippians Reading.
What really matters to Paul?
What things really matter so much to us that they can shift Jesus our of the centre of our attention?
What did Paul give?
What is the most important thing that we can give?


Story: A Diet For Losers. 
Found in More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice, Zondervan, 1995, ISBN 0310207681, page 21 (pictured at left). This story goes well with the Philippians reading.

Story: Giving

Story No. 238 found in 750 Engaging Illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured at right). This story goes well with the gospel reading.

Story: Ragman.

Found in Ragman and Other Cries of Faith by Walter Wangerin Jr, Spire, 1984, ISBN 0340592729, page 3. This is a great Easter story and could really be used any time in the next couple of weeks.

Group Activity:
Divide into six working groups - double up or even triple for a large congregation.
Each of the six groups takes on one character or group of characters
out of the gospel story.
1. Martha: serving
2. Lazarus: listening, being a friend
3. Mary: something extravagant and special
4. Judas: more concerned about money than the action
5. People in verse 9: trying to find out more
6. Chief priests: eradicate the problem.
Ask each group to discuss the following questions:
a. What is/are your subjects doing?
b. What do they think of Jesus?
c. How do they show how they feel about Jesus?
d. What really matters to them?
Ask each group to report back - give them a few alternate ways (and the materials to do so) of doing this - a poster, a short speech, a song etc etc.

Response Activity: Goes with Group Activity Above.

Have a gift box full of small sachets of bath salts and give everyone a sachet. As they hold it, smell it, feel it, ask them which group they fit into. Maybe they are already serving God like Martha, maybe they are hanging around Jesus like Lazarus, maybe they have things they want to give like Mary, maybe, like Judas, other things are getting in the way, maybe like the crowd, they are still searching, maybe like the chief priests, they feel uncomfortable in God's presence. Whatever - encourage them to take the salts home and as they relax and use them, encourage them to have a chat with God about their relationship with God.
NB. I put the kids in the Mary discussion group and they made the sachets while they talked- however the sachets are not hard to make beforehand.
Recipe:
3 parts Epsom salts
2 Baking Soda
1 Table salt or borax
Food dye - as you want - the colour makes it look a bit more spiffy.
Scented oil - as you like - according to your nose.
Mix in a large bowl with your hands - you'll smell good for days!
Each person only needs a few tablespoons of bath salts for a bath (and water, of course :-) ).

Response Activity:

Have a gift box lying open at the foot of a cross. Give everyone a pencil and a piece of paper. Give them some thinking time while they consider and pray about their response to Jesus - project some ideas eg., spending more time with him like Mary, doing something for him like Martha, listening to him like Lazarus, rearranging priorities like Paul. Whatever they discover as they listen to God, encourage them to write it down and put it in the gift box.

Response Activity for the Isaiah reading:
Give everyone a small beach or river pebble - the sort that look pretty dull out of water but have lovely colours show up when they are wet (opal tailings are brilliant for this but other pebbles will do). Have a clear bowl of water out the front. Encourage people to hold their pebble and think of things that are desert like or wilderness like in their lives. Ask them to pray about these things and, when they are ready, bring out their pebble and drop it in to the bowl of water. Just as the water transforms the pebbles so God transforms our deserts and wildernesses and does a new thing.


Also:
Prayers and Poems: while you are here
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 147.

Response Activity: You have poor people with you always
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 56ff. This works well with all the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 51ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.

Lent 4 C (March 6):Unlimited Love/Welcome Home
















UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Bible Readings: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5;16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

About the images:
Upper Left:
This image comes from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son.jpg
Upper Right:
Abandoned cars in the Australian Outback are a bit like the Prodigal son. They sit there for years and then some car enthusiast comes along, takes them away and lovingly restores them to their former glory. The odd thing is that sometimes out in the outback you see the other son too. It is the car that looks all shiny and new on the outside but is pretty much wrecked on the inside. Even worse - sometimes there is nothing at all under the bonnet.

Lower Left: This image comes from the awesome Church Galleries website which was decimated by hackers last year. At present it is possible to buy these images very cheaply - however this particular one is free on the site this week.  Well worth the subscription!!! Visit the website at www.churchgalleries.com.
Lower Right: A free image from the Hermano Leon site.

Listening Song: Always Have, Always Will

By Avalon on their album, In a Different Light or on WOW 2001 (pictured at right) This goes well with the gospel reading.

Listening Song: Prodigal Son
By Steve Grace on his album, Children of the Western World (pictured at left). Obviously this fits well with the gospel reading :)

Kids' Story: Candelo
One hundred years ago, Candelo, New South Wales, was a major wagon stop between the Monaro high country and the coastal shipping ports. The town's river crossing could be disastrous for heavily loaded wagons because river levels and the sandy river bottom were forever changing and there were often patches of quick sand. Crossing the river was particularly dangerous towards evening and in the dark. The town and bullockies together devised a system whereby when the bullockies arrived at the last rise before the town they would shout out candle-o. In response, the whole town would run down to the river with lights and line the sides of the safest place to cross and thus guide the bullock wagons safely into town for the night.
Link this story with the way we leave a veranda light on when we are expecting visitors and the way God is always waiting with anticipation to welcome us.

Film Clip: Martian Child

I used the trailer for this film (2007) which is readily available on the web and which has a great line linked with the gospel reading for this week (see discussion questions below).



Discussion: Martian Child

 "There's nothing you can do that will make me change the way I feel about you"
1. How would you feel if someone said that to you?
2. Do you think God says that to us? Why?

Drama: The Prodigal's Mum

Ask a mum of adult children to read the parable through a few times before the service and ask her to put herself into the role of the prodigal son's mother. This works better than having a script.
During the service an interviewer asks her the following questions:
1. Who are you?
2. Your family has been in the news lately. What's the real story here?
3. What a drop kick of a son!! I bet you and your husband gave him the rounds of the kitchen when he came skulking back home?
4. So you followed your husband out to greet him!!!??? But at a more decorous pace as befitted a woman of your standing.
5. So what was with the party? Who threw that for him?
6. What a wonderful family! I suppose his older brother was just as pleased as you both were?
7. Well, did you finally convince him?
c. Ann Scull - permission given for use in worship.

Drama: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
1:
No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards.
2.
We don't?
3:
Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so.
2:
What's made the difference?
1:
When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being;........
2:
A new being? A new being? Can I be a new being too?
1:
..............the old is gone, the new has come.

2: Who could possibly make me into a new being?
3:
All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends............
2:
It'd be great to have God as a friend!
3:
.............and gave us the task of making others his friends also.
2: So this isn't something I keep to myself, then?
1:
Our message is that God was making all people his friends through Christ.

2: What about if people think they're not quite good enough to be God's friends?
3:
God did not keep an account of their sins,..........
2:
That's a relief!
3:
................ and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
1:
Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us.
2:
It is a serious responsibility which we have been given.
3:
We plead on Christ's behalf:........
2:
So what should we actually say?
3:
............let God change you from enemies into his friends!

2: OK......how?
1:
Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
2:
Wow!

C. Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull - permission given for use in worship.

Sermon: The Welcoming Church
Found at http://petercorney.com/2009/09/01/being-a-welcoming-church/. A call to church communities to be like the welcoming father in the parable.


Illustration: The Flushpools. 
Read about the Flushpools in Adrian Plass's Sacred Diary quadrilogy (Volume 1 pictured at left) and you will find a modern example of the older brother from the Prodigal son story (and wet yourself laughing! - these are very, very funny books which help us to truthfully reflect on what it is to be a follower of Jesus today).

Story: Sheep 

Found at http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/sheep.htm
This story goes with the gospel reading.

Story: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
By Henri J.M. Nouwen, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1994, ISBN 023252078X. There is lots of useful stuff in this book but I found the Prologue very helpful for this weeks preaching (pictured at right).



Poem/Meditation: Listen To What God Is Saying To Us.
By Henri J. M. Nouwen and found in Imaging the Word Volume 1 (pictured at left) by Kenneth T. Lawrence (ed.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 165. I projected these words with multiple images of art works of the prodigal son story. There are plenty of free images of this story on the web. While the slides played through I backed them with the following piece of music: Monastery of Rabida by Vangelis on his album, Reprise (pictured at right).


Quote: Meister Eckhardt
We search for God in a far country while God waits for us at home.


Response Activity
Time of silence.
Ask in the silence with spaces between each question or statement:
Are you like the older or the younger son?
What is the message and the challenge of the parable for you?
Allow the Holy Spirit to read your heart and speak to you.

Time of silence.
NB: I have used these questions more than once over the years. Sometimes it does not hurt to use something more than once; because, at various times in our lives we will be like the younger son and at other times we will be more like the older son.

Response Activity:
Put out as many postcard size pictures, advertising cards, whatever as you can find - I put mine around the communion table and I tried to put out about ten for every person present so that there were heaps to chose from (I am an avid collector of cards etc). I projected the following questions and left people to it for about five minutes.

  • Choose a picture that represents the Good News of this parable for you.
  • Choose a picture that represents the challenge of this parable for you.
  • As you choose, allow the Holy Spirit to read your heart and to speak to you.
At the end, encourage people to share their cards in groups of three and to share the reason why they chose the cards they did. I concluded this activity with the Nouwen poem/meditation above.

Also:
Listening Song: Forgiven
By Sons of Korah on their album, Redemption Songs.  This song uses the words of Psalm 32(pictured at left).

Prayers and Poems: Prodigal
Found in Dad and Daughter by Ron Gordon and Jennie Gordon, 2012, ISBN 9780646586601, page 146.

Response Activity: Love is a Relationship
Found in Bringing the Word To Life Together: Year C by Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Mediacom, Adelaide, 2012, ISBN 9781921945083, page 54ff. This works well with all the gospel reading.

Lots of Useful Stuff
Found in The Abingdon Creative Preaching Annual 2016 by Jenee Woodard (Ed.), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015, page 46ff. These ideas are based on all of the readings.