Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Bible readings: Luke 2:41-52, Colossians 3:12-17
Theme: Transformation, Going Deeper, Changing Direction
Drama: One Day in the Temple
Found in Let's Make A Scene Too by Verena Johnson, Lutheran Publishing House, 1991, ISBN 085910608X, page 9, (pictured in an earlier blog)
Kid's Discussion: Based on above drama
What is the thing you like doing best?
What new thing have you recently learnt to do?
Point: Because Jesus was a kid growing up and learning new things too, God knows what it is like to be a kid.
To share with your neighbour: What is your earliest understanding or memory of God?
To think about in silence: How much has changed since that earliest memory?
Story: Who Am I?
Found in The Youth Bible, Word Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0849909252, page 1006 (pictured)
Story:What Do We Expect?
Can't source this story - think I found it in an email.....
A ten year old girl went with a group f family and friends to see the Christmas lights at various locations in her tow. At one church they stopped and got out to look at a beautiful nativity scene. "Isn't that beautiful?" said the little girl's grandmother. "Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus." "Yes, Grandma," replied the grand daughter. It's really nice. But there's one thing that bothers me. Isn't baby Jesus ever going to grow up....he's the same size he was last year!"
Poem: Coming of Age
By Bruce Prewer in Beyond Words, Joint Board of Christian Education, 1995, ISBN 1864070722
Prayer: Thank you for the Life of Our Brother
By Bruce Prewer in Brief Prayers for Australians, Open Book Publishers.
Response Activity: Transformation
Ask: How can we respond to God's call to be continually transformed?
The ask people to:
1. come out and light a candle as a symbol of their willingness to be transformed by God, to grow deeper and to continue on their faith journey this coming year,
2. light their candle from the Christ candle to show that this is a journey they make with Jesus beside them, and
3. place the candle with everyone's elses as a sign that this is a journey they make together.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Bible Readings: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Luke 2:1-7, Romans 8
Theme: For Those Who find Rejoicing Hard Work
Gathering Music: Paint the Sky with Stars
by Enya on her album, Paint the Sky with Stars, 1997.
Listening Song: I Still Cry For Baby Jesus
by Kasey Chambers on her album, Barricades and Brick Walls, 2001 (pictured)
Ask people to light a candle in memory of a loved one or a sad situation in their lives or in the lives of those they know.
Leaving Listening Song: Vespers
by Aled Jones on his album, Aled, 2002 (pictured)
Email me if you want a complete Blue Christmas service but PLEASE send me your email address - I cannot respond to emails from anonymous addresses!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Jenee from textweek.com reminded me that advent 3 is about waiting in hope and preparing so I have added this photo as well. I took the photo as the fire front was approaching Omeo three years ago when I was working up there as a pastoral visitor to fire beseiged families.
I think anyone who can put their washing out to dry in the face of an
oncoming fire shows great hope - also the clothes prop shapes a cross in the
middle of the picture.
There is a lull in the proceedings here and I think we (and our house) are ready for any eventuality so.......
Bible Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7
Theme: Sharing the Christmas Message
Listening Song: When You Say Nothing at all
By Ronan Keating on his album, When You Say Nothing At All. This goes very well with the Zephaniah reading where it says that God "silently shows that us his love". (pictured)
Poem: First Coming
by MadeleineL'Engle in Imaging the Word, United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 082980716, page 85 (pictured i an earlier blog)
Kid's Story: Wombat Divine
by Mem Fox and Kerry Argent, Omnibus Books, 1995, ISBN 1862913021. Brilliant!!!! Everybody has a role to play when it comes to Christmas.
Youth Story: Safe Under the Falls
Find this story in the The Youth Bible, Word Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0849909252 on page 631 After telling the story, read Isaiah 12:2-6, and use it to re-asssure them in the times when they are fearful or reluctant to share the Christmas story.
Story: Even Now the Taste
Found in The Speaker's Source Book of New Illustrations by Virgil Hurley, Word Publishing, 1995, ISBN 0849936756, page 38. Fits with Philippians 4:4
Story: Pillsbury Doughboy Wanted for Attempted Murder
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes by Jim Burns and Greg Mckinnon (eds.), Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 41 (pictured in an earlier blog). Fits with Philippians 4:6.
Poem: The Faithful are Fearless
Found In Due Season by Herbert F. Brokering, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966 in the winter section.
Give each person a small card with the words: rejoicing, gentleness, prayer and peace written on one side. Ask people to write the name of a person they would like to share the message of Christmas with on the blank side of the card. Ask them to turn the card over and look at the four words and then ask: How can you share the Good News of Christmas best with the person you named; is it through rejoicing, through gentleness, through prayer, through peaceful words or actions. Give time for silent prayer.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Theme: God's Messengers
The Luke 1:68-79 makes a good responsive reading.
Drama: Lucky Day
Found in Cloth For the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Group Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 38, (pictured in last weeks blog)
Poem: Zechariah's Pride
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0859105628, page 18 (pictured in last week's blog).
Film Clip: Little Women
Show the scene near the beginning where the girls share their breakfast with the poor family and the lady of the house calls them angels (messengers) from God. (pictured)
Discussion and Activity: Bible study
Print the latter four bible readings above onto A4/letter sized paper - a different colour for each reading - and have enough printed so that each person receives one page only, not all four. Project the four questions below or have the questions printed on the bottom of each reading:
1.What is the good news in this reading?
2. How is this message helpful to christians/believers?
3. How is this message helpful to those with little or no knowledge of Jesus?
4. The name "Malachi" (one of the readings) means messenger - do you see yourself or this congregation as a messenger? How?
Get people to sort themselves into same paper colour groups of five or six, maybe more, and encourage them to discuss the questions in the light of their particular reading. Ask each group to present to the congregation the thing that impacted on them the most as they discussed the questions. Encourage them to present their finding via a homemade poster, a skit, a song, a poem, a diagram, a clay sculpture etc etc. They will be limited only by the resources and spaces you provide for them to work in. Allow at least 20 - 30 minutes for this whole process.
Provide/project some images of the world and your local area.
Ask the Bill Easum question from Leadership on the Other Side, Abingdon, 2000, ISBN 0687085888 (pictured) :
What is it about your relationship with Jesus that the world cannot live without knowing?
Give people a quiet space to think about this question.
I don't know where I got this from - either a book or a web site - it would be great if somebody could help me source it.
Do you know,
do you understand
that you represent
Jesus to me?
Do you know,
do you understand
that when you
treat me with gentleness,
it raises the question in my mind
that maybe he is gentle, too?
Maybe he isn't someone
who laughs when I am hurt.
Do you know,
do you understand
that when you listen to my questions
and you don't laugh,
"What if Jesus is interested in me, too?"
Do you know,
do you understand
that when I hear you talk about arguments
and conflict and scars from your past
that I think, "Maybe I am just a regular person
instead of a bad, no-good, little girl who deserves abuse?"
If you care,
I think maybe he cares --
and then there's this flame of hope
that burns inside of me,
and for a while,
I am afraid to breathe
because it might go out.
Do you know,
do you understand
that your words are his words?
to someone like me?
Please be who you say you are.
Please, God, don't let this be another trick.
Please let this be real.
Do you know,
do you understand
that you represent
Jesus to me?
Monday, November 27, 2006
Bible readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-46, ! Thessalonians 3; 9-13, Psalm 25:1-10
Theme: Hope, Waiting and Watching
About the Photo:
This is watch tower built on the south east coast of Australia at Boydtown near Eden by Benjamin Boyd in the 1840s as a lighthouse and as whale lookout. It was never completed and was never used as an official light house, however generations of whalers used it for spotting whales.
Reading: And this Shall Be A Sign to You
By Robert A. Raines in Imaging the Word Volume 1 by Kenneth T. Lawrence, Jann Cather Weaver and Roger Wedell (Eds.), United Church Press, 1994, ISBN 0829809716, page 78. (pictured in an earlier blog)
Prayer: Blessings Prayer
Found in Seasons of Celebrations by Patricia Mathson, Ave Maria Press, 1995, ISBN 0877935661, page 19.
Use bits of the Jeremiah reading and the psalm.
Ask the kids if they have ever planned something that didn't work out the way they intended it to. Share a story from your own life which will illustrate this and show them if possible (mine is a quilt which went horribly wrong between the planning and the completing!!!)
Tell them that Advent is the time when we remember all of God's terrific promises to us that everything will work out because jesus is the one who brings us ......
Have huge letters H O P E stuck up in random order around the worship space. Ask the kids to help you sort them into a word they know.
Discuss with them what the word means and how it relates to Christmas.
Advent Angels: an advent version of secret buddies
Encourage or organise people (in the sense that you pair people up somehow without them knowing - like you do for secret buddies or Chris Kringles) to be advent angels ie where people do unexpected favours or give unexpected encouragement or praise anonymously to others in the congregation.
Story: Some Things are Immovable
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and greg Mckinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 47 (pictured in an earlier blog).
From Cloth for the Cradle by Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications, 1997, ISBN 1901557014, page 20. (pictured)
Discussion: In pairs or threes.
What do you think has gone wrong with the world? How do you think it should be?
What do you think has gone wrong with our local community? How do you think it should be?
What do you think has gone wrong with our church? how do you think it should be?
Talk about waiting for change and about changing back or changing forward. Then discuss:
What are you waiting for?
What are we as a church waiting for?
What is this particular congregation waiting for?
Film Clip: The Man in the Egg
Found on Leunig Animated, Madman, 2001
that upset your plans
shatter your dreams,
give a completely
to your day
and - who knows? -
to your life.
It is not chance.
Leave the Father free
himself to weave
the pattern of your days.
By Dom Helder Camara in A Thousand Reasons For Living, ISBN 0800606647.
Prayer for Others; Pinning Our Hopes on Jesus (i)
Found in Cloth For The Cradle, page 54 - see above
Adult Response: Pinning Our Hopes on Jesus (ii)
Found in Cloth For the Cradle, page 56 - see above
Prayer/poem: The Coming Bushman
Found in Outback Christmas by Pro Hart and Norman Habel, Lutheran Publishing House, 1981, ISBN 0859105628 (pictured)
Give everyone a small (laminated maybe) card with the words of Psalm 25:4-5 on it attached to a small fridge magnet.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Theme:Christ the King, Who's in charge?
Bible readings: Revelation 1:4-8, John 18:33-37, 2 Samuel 23:1-7
About the photo: Photos of sunsets and sunrises always remind me of the power and reign of God - they are so big and awe inspiring and beautiful. They lift me up but also remind me of my insignificance - a bit like looking at the stars at night. I took this photo out the front of our place VERY early one morning. It is a part of Duck Arm (taken from Banksia Peninsula) in the Gippsland Lakes near Paynesville in Australia - Google any of those place names or look them up on Wikapedia if you are interested in this little bit of the world.
Film clip: Chariots of Fire
Show the clip where Eric Liddell talks with the Prince of Wales en route to the Olympic Games. Eric had a God space in his week that he was not prepared to give up. His allegiance to Jesus and his heavenly kingdom was more important than his allegiance to his King and country (pictured).
Story: The Kingdom of God
story No 363 in 750 Engaging illustrations by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker books, 2002, ISBN 0801091551 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Sermon Help Notes and Response Activity: Revelation by Song
Can't remember where I got this idea from - maybe out of my head but I am not sure - please let me know via email if you can source it for me.
Give everyone a strip of paper with the words of Revelation I:8 printed across it. Under these words, print three pictures entitled as follows:
Picture 1: a cradle and the words "who is"
Picture 2: a spider and the words "who was"
Picture 3: music notes and the words: "who is to come".
1. The God who Is.
Sing Rock a Bye Baby together. Note that the song does not say "if" but "when the bough breaks". Life is full of surprises - not all of them good - but God is acting and moving in our world. Ask them to talk to the person next to them about how they see God at work in the world today.
2. The God Who Was.
Ask people to sing Ipsy Whipsy Spider together. Note that the song is very like human kind - we repeat our mistakes as nations, as communities, as families and as individuals but we keep plugging away. And "out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain". God repeatedly over history heals, restores, loves and forgives us.
3. The God who is to come
Sing the hymn "Joyful, joyful we adore you" to Beethoven's Ode To Joy. Note that because God is yet to come, the way we live makes a difference.
In verse 6 we are all called to be ministers. Ask people:
In order to be a minister, where do you need God the most: healing your past, with you in your present, or being your future? Fold your strip of paper in three so that the one you need is uppermost and take it home that way.
Listening Song: For the Glory of Your Name
By Michelle Tumes on her album, Heaven and Earth or on WOW 2000 (pictured)
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Bible Readings: Hebrews 10:13-25, I Samuel 1:4-20, Mark 13:1-8
Theme: God Can Be Trusted, The Challenge of Our Times
About the photo:
Another piece of street art from the laneways of Melbourne, Australia
Kid's Story: Won't You Help Me
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, page 35. (pictured in an earlier blog).
Introduction: The Challenges of our Times
Can't remember the source of the following info - probably the web :-)
"Did you know that....
There is more than one mobile phone per head of population in
My ordinary car has more computer power than the rocket that took Neil Armstrong to the moon.
Our computers at home are out of date the moment we buy them.
The World Wide Web puts people in touch with each other like never before … and simultaneously isolates them.
The miracles of modern science have not eliminated pain and grief and loss and family breakdowns."
Link this to the Hebrews reading.
Skit: The End of the World is Coming
Found in Mega Drama 4 by Verena Johnson (Ed.), Open Book, 2002, ISBN 0959109186, page 51 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Do you think we are in times of turmoil and collapse today – in the world, in our society, in our church?
At such times, what sort of things do people place their faith in?
Story: The Power of our Words
Found in Illustrations, Stories, and Quotes to Hang Your Message On, (as above) page 169 to illustrate Hebrews 10:24.
Story 592 in 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 1989, ISBN 0801063302 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Story: God's Care
Story 98 in Your Point Being by Graham Twelftree, Monarch Books, 2003, ISBN 1854245929 (
Film Clip: Nottinghill
Show the scene in Nottinghill where the characters, in the intimacy and safety of their shared meal together, all share their secret fears and insecurities to illustrate Hebrews 10:25. (pictured)
Ensure that everyone has a small candle and is standing and that you have a lit a large Christ candle that everyone can see. Read Hebrews 10:24-25 and explain that we are now going to live out these verses by giving each other the light and hope and encouragement. Light your candle from the Christ candle. Explain that you are going to light one person's candle and at the same time tell them something encouraging. That person will do the same to someone else until everyone in the room has a lighted candle. Tell them that when their candle is alight and when they have lit someone else's and encouraged them, they should sit down with their lighted candle.
Listening Song; Bearers of the Light
by Michael Card on his album Poiema. (pictured)
Make tiny (20 will fit on an A4 or letter size) cards/photos/drawings/whatever of the symbols of God found in the Samuel reading - make a total of three times as many as there are people in your congregation. Ask people to select one for themselves and one to give somebody else.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Theme: Looking at the Bigger Picture
About the photo: This is Australia Rock near Narooma in New South Wales, Australia. Unless you stand in front of the Australia shaped hole you cannot see the bigger picture -the sea beyond. From the side, one can mostly see just a rock wall. Nobody is quite sure how the hole was made but it is known that ships used to tie up here in the early days. For more info about Narooma visit
Kid's talk: God is Here
Have each letter of the words "God is Here" on separate cards and scatter them about the worship space. Get a couple of people to adlib a conversation about the whereabouts of God and their difficultly working out just where God is - especially when things go wrong. Have a third person join the conversation by noticing the scattered cards. Together, with the help of children in the congregation, sort out the cards so that they spell out the words "God is here" and then work out how these words apply to the conversation about the whereabouts of God in difficult times.
Story: True Greatness
Story: A Lesson in Servanthood
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg McKinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, ISBN 0830718834, Page 151 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Listening Song: You Then Me
by Rebecca St James on her album, God, 1996.(pictured)
God does not always give us all the answers ... God gives us himself.
- Frederich Buechner.
Ask people to form inward looking circles of around eight to ten people. Tell them that each circle represents the church. Get each circle group to discuss and reform in any way and in any shape that they like in a way which they think, as a group, best represents the way the church should be.
By Michel Quiost in Gentle Darkness by Rowland Croucher(Ed.), Albatross Books, 1994, ISBN 073241007X, pages 421-422. (pictured).
Monday, October 02, 2006
Theme: Sticking up for Others
About the Photo:
I took this photo of my kids 20 years ago. I wanted to take a photo of Kate without the teddy bear (oddly named "Winter") and, as you can see if you look closely or click on the photo to enlarge it, her eyes filled with tears at the very thought. Jared, her big brother, flew to the defense of Winter being included and to comfort Kate. So I photographed them all :-)
Listening song: People Putting People Down
By Bob Dylan on his Hardest to Find album, 1996
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 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 camera and 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.
Discussion: Mark 10:13-16:
Who is being hurt or put down or rejected?
Who is doing the hurting? - why?
How does Jesus respond to those doing the hurting?
How does Jesus respond to those who have been hurt?
Film Clip: A Colour Purple
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
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 in an earlier blog)
Further Discussion: Our Community
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?
How would Jesus respond to these sections of the community?
How would Jesus respond to us?
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. I have suggested this song before but it fits beautifully as something that can be listened to either after or during the above 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)
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Bible Readings:Proverbs 1:20-33
Theme: Wisdom's Invitation
Kids's Story:God's Greatness
Have a quick discussion about what proverbs are and what the word "wisdom" might mean and then ask 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).
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.
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 The Not: Year B, p.151 (Thanks for the info on this quote, Sandra)
Quotes, Cartoons and Film Clips: Leunig
Just about anything from the pen and mind 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 video Leunig Animated, Fruitcup Films, 2001 (pictured in an earlier blog) or trawl through A Common Prayer: a Cartoonist talks to God by Michael Leunig, Harper Collins, 1990 - ISBN 1863717404 (pictured). Enjoy!
Listening Song; Edge of the World
By Iona on their album Beyond These Shores (pictured in an earlier blog)
Monday, August 21, 2006
Theme: Grace of God or Prayer or God's armour
Resources for the Psalms Reading:
Story: The Grace of God
Story No 1445 in Parsons Bible Illustrator for Windows.
Dramatic reading of Psalm 84:
I think Rosemary Broadstoack and I wrote this one six years ago and we used three versions to do it. However if the idea is not ours, please let me know and I will duly acknowledge the source.
Psalm 84 as a call to worship:
The readers come from their places in the congregation. As they come to the centre front, they join in the repeated chorus stopping close to the seats:
All: (repeat) Lord God all-powerful, being with you is so lovely. With everything inside me, I long to be here;
1: (moves up to the table as he/she speaks) How I love your church, God! How I like to be here! I go all weak at the very thought of it. My heart and body explode with joy when I’m with you! I want to sing.
2: (joining him/her) Even sparrows find a home here and swallows build nests here to raise their young. You bless everyone who stays close to you.
3-6: (remain near the seats)
3: How privileged are those who live in your house;
4: and they sing your praises.
2: (taking a step towards the other four and beckoning them to join him/her) Lord, Those who have tapped into your strength have got it made. The highway to heaven begins within them; a direct route to your holy presence.
1: (joins in beckoning the others forward) Come and be welcome. He will give you everything you need to come to him – food, drink, faith, strength, endurance. You will get stronger as you come nearer. Come on!
As 3-6 arrive they are welcomed by 1 and 2
1 and 2: They will see God!
All: Lord God all-powerful, tune in to our prayer.
2: You are the shield that protects your people. One day spent in your presence beats a thousand nights in a five star resort.
3: I’d rather scrub floors in your house, O God, than rub shoulders with the rich and famous beneath the flashing lights of greed and corruption.
4: O LORD our God, you are the sun that shines on us
and the shield that keeps us safe.
5: You shower us with generosity and honour,
6: You never refuse any good thing to those who trust you.
All: O LORD, ruler of all, everyone who trusts in you has got it made!
(all look at each other in amazement and shout)
All: We are blessed!!!!! (and run off back to their seats except 1. who hesitates)
1: Thanks God – for everything!!
Bible verses from C.E.V. Living and ©2000 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
Resources for the Kings reading:
Kids Story: Where Does God Live?
Written by August Gold and Matthew J. Perlman, Skylight Paths Publishing, 2001.(pictured)
Resources for the Ephesians Reading:
Kids: Armour Drama:
Be melodromatic about this one and please feel free to change to suit your congregation/culture/whatever.
A person stands all alone looking a bit miserable. One at a time, six people come out of the congregation and hit him/her with a balloon while saying the words below - you could even write the words on the balloon if you like. They then stand back smirking; looking tough and unbeatable.
The person who is hit flinches back each time and, each time, asks the kids to help find a piece of armour that will help him/her. When the kids find the matching piece of armour with the suitable message, he/she puts on the piece of armour, unpins the message and pricks the tough person’s balloon. The tough person shrieks, “Arrrggghhh, Curses! Foiled again!” and runs back to their seat. As the miserable person gains more and more armour and foils more and more tough balloon weilding meanies, he/she becomes increasingly more confident and relaxed and happy.
Nasty balloon weilding meanies enter and are foiled as follows:
Nasty balloon: Nobody in this group likes you. Go and play with someone else!
Piece of Armour: Belt
Armour message: God loves me!!
Nasty balloon: Come on, let’s grab their footy. They’ll be too scared to do anything about it.
Piece of Armour: breastplate
Armour message: No, I‘d rather play with them than mess up their game.
Nasty balloon: How dumb! Do you really go to church??
Piece of Armour: Shoes
Armour message: Come with me and find out how much God loves you.
Nasty balloon: Ha ha ha, I got you into trouble.
Piece of Armour: Shield (umbrella)
Armour message: At least God knows I was right.
Nasty balloon: You can’t have any, you don’t deserve it !
Piece of Armour: helmet
Armour message: God gives me heaps of great gifts.
Nasty balloon: You’ll never be good enough to join our group.
Piece of Armour: sword-bible
Armour message: There are heaps of messages in here which tell me how special I am.
Talk it through with the kids...
Written by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull.
Story 426 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers by Craig Brian larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002
There is much talk in this reading of evil forces and the stuff the devil throws at us.
1.How are these forces demonstrated in our lives?
2.How do they infect our church?
3. How do they infect our community – our social and political structures?
Film Clip: Romero
Show the scene where Archbishop Oscar Romero goes to the village that is under martial law and confronts the soldiers who have transformed a church into a barracks - start the scene where he first arrives and end it when he is leading the service.
Discussion on film Clip:
How is Romero able to withstand evil with such strength?
Project a picture of the armour complete with labels and give everybody a 1 cm or so cube of self hardening clay.
Ask: I wonder if there is a piece of God’s armour that you use less than you could? A piece going rusty or a piece that until today you never knew God had given you. With the small cube of clay which you have been given, model that piece of armour and while you model, talk to God about how you can use that piece of armour better.
Resources which suit all three readings above:
Music video clip: My Will
By dc Talk on their The Supernatural Experience video.(pictured)
This song does not appear to be on any of dc Talk's cd’s. However, it is one of their best. It talks about depending on God’s strength to do the things he has called us to do and it acknowledges that our own discipline, knowledge and will may fail us from time to time but that God never will.
NB. for more info on this song and where to find it, click on the comment posted at the end of this week's blog - thanks to "anonymous" for helping me out with this.
Listening song: Breathe Your Name By Sixpence None the Richer on their album, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer or their album Divine Discontent or on the album WOW 2004.
As people arrive, ask them to write their name on a small square of paper - even better, make business cards with a photo or clip art of praying hands leaving enough space for people to write their name on the card. Collect all the cards. During the last hymn or song, ask some helpers (kids like to do this) to distribute the cards, making sure that no person receives a card with their own name on it and making sure that everybody receives a card. Encourage people to take home the card and pray for the person who is named on their card over the next week/month/year.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Story: Choosing Wisdom
This story can be found in Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen's book, Absolute Zero Gravity, Simon & Schuster or at
Kid's Activity: Based on Ephesians 5:18b
Take a large clear glass of lemonade and drop some sultanas in it.
Together watch the sultanas repeatedly sink and then rise again.
Discuss how the Holy Spirit is all around us,(like the lemonade around the sultanas) but we are not always aware of the Spirit’s presence.
God's Spirit can lift us again and again giving us strength, courage, hope, faith etc – whatever we need to be Christians in this world.
Just after the scene in which Frankie discovers the third sign of the stigmata, there is a scene where the priest bumps into her in a market place. Over a coffee, the priest tells Frankie that he was an organic chemist. She asks him why he became a priest. He replies that there were "too many holes" and that the science he learnt could not explain everything. He goes on to say that the explanation he needed could only be found in God.
Listening Song:Deep Calling Deep
By Margaret Becker on her Grace album or on WOW 1996 (pictured)
Discussion questions to get people thinking after the OT reading:
What is wisdom?
Can we be as wise as Solomon?
How does wisdom work in the 21st century?
Story: The Holy Spirit
Story No 307 in 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers and Writers edited by Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, Baker Books, 2002.
Story:Stopping at the Lights
Found in 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching edited by Michael P Green, Baker Books, 2000, page 428, story no 1562 (pictured)
Ask people to get in to groups and together write an acrostic prayer using the word "wisdom". It would be useful to have A3 or A4 sheets already brightly printed with the word. At the end of the activity display all the prayers and allow people some quiet reflective time to walk around and pray/read all the prayers.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Bible Readings: Mark 6:1-13, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Disciples travel light, are not wet blankets and never wait until they have it "all altogether".
Have someone come in dragging the biggest suitcase you can find, packed absolutely bursting to the brim with all kinds of things one may take for a trip away - make sure there is some improbable stuff such as a toaster, or a beach ball, or curtains, or a tool box or whatever. Ask the person what they are doing. They tell you that they want to go out into the world to share the good news about Jesus and so they have packed a bag ready to go. Have a conversation, with help from the kids, on what we really need and don't need in order to share the good news.
Listening Song: You’re Here
By Sixpence None The Richer on the CD, City on a Hill: Songs of Praise and Worship (pictured below)
Film Clip: Simon Birch
(pictured below) Start about 28:00 minutes in – just after Joe’s Mum gives him a new jacket. Stop at about 33:00 minutes when they walk out of the church.
Discussion questions for the film clip:
For what reasons do you think Simon’s Sunday school teacher said what she did?
Why do you think Simon was so convinced that he could be a disciple?
What kind of people does God use?
Have enough paper and pencils or pens for everybody. Ask people to write, draw or doodle their reactions as you read Mark 6:1-6 from your usual church translation and then from the Message. Then either in pairs or small groups discuss the following questions:
What does it feel like to be rejected?
Why did the Nazareth people reject Jesus?
How, even as Christians, do we sometimes reject Jesus?
As an alternative way of tackling the last question you might like to project a number of example answers such "We've never done it that way before" or I'm going to shop around to see what each church has to offer me" or "We don't have the money to do that" or "If we try that, people might leave" - have about ten to fifteen pertinent to your church members - and encourage people to a) choose one that stands out to them, b) share why they think it "wet blankets" God's work in the world, and c) envite them to suggest how the statement they chose could be turned into a positive statement.
Meditation: Behold the Lamb of God
Found in Present on Earth by The Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild goose Publications, 2002, page 21 (pictured in an earlier blog)
Story: The Bumblebee
Found in Illustrations, Stories and Quotes to Hang Your Message On by Jim Burns and Greg Mackinnon, Gospel Light, 1997, page 43 (pictured in an earlier blog).
Story: The Epitaph
The third illustration at http://www.preachhim.org/sevensay-3.htm .
"We don't need self confidence; we need God-confidence", found in How To Succeed At Being Yourself : Finding The Confidence To Fulfill Your Destiny by Joyce Meyer, Harrison House.
Adult Response: Based on the Bumble bee story and the interesting thought.
Have small pictures of a bumble bee for everyone with enough space for people to write a few words.
Ask: what is God saying to you today:
Is it to travel lightly and to trust God more?
Is it to stop being a wet blanket and to start being a possibility person?
Is it to get going right now as a disciple of Jesus trusting in God’s strength instead of your own?
Is it a reassurance that God is giving you or is it a challenge?
Write down beside the bee what you see to be your personal message from God this morning. Place it in your wallet/handbag/ purse/Bible/whatever as a reminder which you can carry with you.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Theme: Jesus is the One!
First, a note this week on the photo:It never ceases to amaze me how new life can arise out of the devastation of an Australian bush fire. Because of the oil in our trees and the dense undergrowth, the fires can be amazingly hot and a burnt area can appear to be an absolute wasteland. However it doesn't take all that long for the bush to regenerate: Life out of death! This photo shows first growth leaves in a very burnt out area of the Australian High country.
Decor and preparation:
As for Good Friday - black cloth over communion table and unlit Christ candle. Get enough musical instrument eg bells, shakers, clackers etc etc. for everyone - or in a huge church, enough at least for every kid. Cheap toys are fine.
Call to Worship:
Project a series of pictures about Good Friday whilst playing Grace by Moby from the album Songs (pictured below). 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 (pictured in an earlier blog). 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 Lets make Another Scene 3 by Verena Johnson, Open Book, 1995, page 66
Absolution for prayer of confession and/or Passing of the Peace: This is the Good news
Found in Stages on the Way, (see above) page 183.
Drama: Easter Eggcitement
Found in Mega Drama 1 by Verena Johnson (ed), Open Book, 2001, (pictured below) page 94.
Pew and Plenary Discussion:
Tell your neighbour what your best celebration ever was.
Share as a 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 that will make a difference this week?
Sermon Idea: The Visit
Found in The Final Boundary by Adrain Plass, Minstral, 1987
Listening song: Beautiful Day
By U2 on All That You Can’t Leave Behind
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.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Bible readings:Isaiah 43:18-25, Mark 2:1-12
Kid's Story:The Lame Man Who Walked Again
by Mary Warren and Betty Wind, Arch Books, 1966 (pictured at right)
Drama:The Day The Roof Fell In
by Rosemary Broadstock and Ann Scull. This drama (probably more a voice reading than a drama) takes the place of a sermon. You will need 4 readers, Chorus No 390 in Scripture in Song: Open Our Eyes Lord, and overheads or data projection slides of Isaiah 43:18-19 and a number of images. The drama itself is available upon request via email (see my profile for my address).
Listening Song: Flowing Over Me
by Derri Daugherty on Flap Your Wings,Resolve Records,2000 (pictured at left)
Poem/Meditation: Follow Me
By Ruth Burgess in Dandelions and Thistles: Biblical Meditations from the Iona Community by Jan Sutch Pickard (ed.) Wild Goose Publications, 1999, ISBN 1901557146, page 47 (pictured at left). This goes well with the Mark reading for Epiphany 8B.