Jane Williams, a correction

Jane Williams’ questions have been updated today, with a corrected date for the “Judgment of the Nations” reading (to 23 November) and a short but pointed set of questions for the Parable of the Investment (Talents) 16 November.

These readings bring us to the conclusion of Year A.


Updates for 5 October

RCL Hymns and songs page, and Jane Williams reflections page are both updated today for 5 October. Apologies for delay due to illness.

We would appreciate prayer for our annual LSM conference which begins on October 3.

One of the things we plan to do is to record demo tracks of new hymn and song material that attendees will be able to use to introduce them easily to their congregations.


Dramatised reading for Pentecost 3C

Here is a dramatised reading of Luke 7:36 – 8:3 with suggestions for performance for the third Sunday after Pentecost. Parts are for:

Narrator, Simon, Jesus, Guest, Woman


or just copy and paste this text:

Luke 7:36 – 8:3 dramatised

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself,

If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him —that she is a sinner.”

Jesus spoke up:

Simon, I have something to say to you.”

Teacher,” speak.”

A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”

I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.”

You have judged rightly.”

[Jesus, turning toward the woman]

Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

[to the woman] “Your sins are forgiven.”

But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves,

Who is this who even forgives sins?”

[to the woman] “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Notes on performance:

To make this a multi-sensory experience, consider lighting some incense in the church during the gradual hymn, or other time, so that by the time of the Gospel reading there is a scent of the anointing ointment in the building.

A member (or members) of the congregation could call out the line “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (the whole congregation could echo it if prewarned).

It is appropriate to have a woman seated at the feet of Jesus and facing away from the congregation – long hair would be helpful! The woman could walk out of the church slowly while the reading is completed. It would be very dramatic for the woman to be the one to say “This is the Gospel of Christ” at the conclusion. (Narrator could lead in “Praise to Christ, the Word”.

NB: Make sure no-one reads out the bracketed directions!

All-age ideas for Easter 6C: Revelation 22

Anglicans don’t often focus on the Book of Revelation, but the ultimate vision in Chapter 22 certainly merits consideration as a focus for the day. The ideas below are inspired by the Link of the Week on Textweek.com.

The writer (Michael R Lomax) focuses on Healing and notes the difference between “healing” and “cure” – which could be a useful subject for adult reflection. This would provide an opportunity to offer anointing for healing at your service, especially if it hasn’t been offered for a while. Sometimes this is done at the conclusion of the service after others have left, but it can be quite profound to have a minister available in the sanctuary during communion. Those who wish to be anointed remain at the altar rail while communion proceeds. In this way of offering anointing, there is no conversation about what healing is being sought. The minister simply anoints with an appropriate short prayer (there is an example) in NZPB on page 743. Sometimes people receive anointing on behalf of someone else they wish to pray for, and in such cases it is appropriate for them to mention the Christian name (if they wish) before anointing. Note that offering this option to the congregation tends to eliminate any embarrassment about receiving anointing for oneself, since others won’t know why you are seeking anointing. It is helpful if the congregation have some meditative singing (healing or communion focus) while this is proceeding. This should take very little longer than the normal administration of communion.

The Link of the Week also provides the inspiration for celebrating the 5 senses with its description of John’s vision: You could have a small fruit tree in a pot, a clear jug of water, and 12 different kinds of fruit on display (fruit could be cut up and shared, especially with children). Each of the fruits could have an arbitrary “life” value associated with them, and children could be invited to decide how to label each fruit (no wrong answers!) – see Galatians 6.22f for 9 ideas!

A learning point for children could be around God wanting us all to feel better when we are sad or hurt or afraid. Which fruit do they think would make them feel stronger and happier?

There is a colouring page and puzzles for this reading here. It is a downloadable pdf file you can print out.

Each member of the congregation could receive a fragrant leaf (Eucalyptus would be ideal) to crush and smell during the prayers, which should include “the healing of the nations”.

A question the congregation could discuss in the sermon slot would be What would healing for nations look like today? What kinds of healing are most pressing? Have you lived somewhere where there was much hurt or hatred?

The leader/preacher could help people to understand that “The healing of nations” is corporate, and not merely private or individual.

Music for the day could be focused on song directed to the praise of God (rather than objectively “about God” as so much older hymnody is). See the links at the bottom of this blog for hymn and song suggestions.

One contemporary text (available in Together In Song) is Brian Wren’s hymn “Let All Creation Dance (in energies sublime)” which is set to the familiar DARWALL tune. Google the title in inverted commas to find instances of the full text.

All-age and preaching ideas for Easter 5

The pivotal reading this week may be Peter’s justification of the inclusion of Gentiles before the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem – and of course it is pivotal to us Gentile Christians,  as Peter recalls the “Gentile Pentecost” at the house of Cornelius.

Focusing on this reading provides for an all-age idea: Have a large sheet available, and a supply of stuffed toy animals to put in it. Have children choose animals to put in and talk about whether they would eat them or not. Explain that Jewish people weren’t supposed to eat some kinds of animal (see Leviticus 11), but now God is telling Peter something surprising and different.

Click on this picture for a larger version which you can print out:

Peter's vision

Peter's Vision

In talking to adults, we can stress that the meaning of the vision is about breaking down the purity barrier and the fulfilment of the inclusion of gentiles in God’s purposes. (See preaching starters below).

In terms of preaching application, we all need to be challenged about whom we still regard as unclean. Adults could volunteer to stand in the sheet to represent such persons – or the preacher could stand in the sheet and suggest whom they might be.

The three readings also have some obvious links: The commandment of Jesus to “love one another” as a testimony to the world; praise offered up by all creation in Psalm 148; making all things new in Rev. 21

You could sing as a Gradual (or during Communion) the old Scripture in Song chorus “A new commandment” in this version:

The new commandment that I give to you
is to love one another as I have loved you,
is to love one another as I have loved you.
By this all people will know you’re my disciples:
if you have love one for another.
By this all people will know you’re my disciples:
if you have love one for another.

It’s short enough to print in your bulletin! (There’s no copyright on this text.)

Here are some preaching starters:

Bill Loader: One way or other, both Paul and Luke reach the conclusion that no discrimination, no matter how biblically based, can stand in the way of God’s outreaching love. Of course, Jews and Christian Jews who remained strict adherents of biblical law also affirmed such love for all, seeing circumcision and other provisions as God’s gift of guidelines to sustain and protect the special relationship. Luke is close to them, needing divine interventions from heaven to contemplate change, but Paul goes all the way in arguing that one needs to recognise the unintended consequences of some biblical laws, which stand in tension with what should be seen as its heart and promise. Making love so central that it gives us freedom to set aside even biblical laws where new cultural contexts make them inappropriate was the insight which Paul brought. It is still at the heart of the much conflict about use of scripture today.

Walter Brueggemann: The trance reported by Peter places Peter (and his church) exactly “in between” (a) the old purity requirements and (b) God’s new verdict on what is “clean.” Were I preaching this text, I might read at some length the purity rules of Leviticus 11:2-28 and Deuteronomy 14:3-20 in order to get the trance in context. I would do so not to trivialize the notion of purity but to invite the congregation to consider quickly its own list of what or who is unclean and abhorrent. We might consider our contemporary “purity codes” that find “impure” all those unlike us. In dominant culture that could include Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, illegal immigrants, gays and lesbians, poor people, aging people—all those who do not meet our expectations of “productivity.” Peter lingers over the “codes,” but must hurry to catch up with a new verdict rendered in the trance.

Dan Clendenin: I’ve found it a humbling exercise to ask what categories of people I sanctimoniously spurn as impure, unclean, dirty, contaminated, and, in my mind, as far from God. If Peter had his Cornelius, what is my modern equivalent? Maybe Rudy Giuliani and his wife who between them have been married six times? Or greedy executives, lazy welfare recipients, Republicans who lied us into a catastrophic war… ? How have I distorted the self-sacrificing, egalitarian love of God into self-serving, exclusionary elitism? What boundaries do I wrongly build or might I bravely shatter? I pray to follow Peter’s obedience and experience what Borg calls a “community shaped not by the ethos and politics of purity, but by the ethos and politics of compassion.”

For further reflection:

* Are there special categories of people you are tempted to exclude as “impure?” … (and there are some more useful questions here – Ed.)

Jon M. Walton: If Golgotha was the day of reckoning for our salvation, then the day that Peter dreamed of innumerable unclean creatures made clean in God’s estimation was the day salvation actually came to our house, to you and to me. Before that moment, Christianity was not available to those who were not born and ritually inducted into Judaism. But ever since the early church was opened to gentiles, Christians have struggled to be as open in other times and places, and as willing to embrace those we thought were unclean but whom God has declared clean.

with acknowledgement to http://www.textweek.com

“Light for the Lectionary” Free online All-age resources

We’ve already praised Scripture Union’s handy little quarterly booklets for Lectionary-based all-age worship:

“Light for the Lectionary provides a rich toolbox of resources for anyone leading all-age services in churches using the Revised Common (or Common Worship) Lectionary. The weekly service outlines help you explore the Bible passage and include suggestions for prayer, a statement of faith, and games and music ideas. Each quarterly volume covers Sunday services and other special days.

Light for the Lectionary cover

To see how Light for the Lectionary works, visit the Light for the Lectionary taster page.”

But they also have free online resources for Sunday-by-Sunday worship. For example, if you use a digital projector, they have a PowerPoint presentation of photographs illustrating Psalm 23 for Easter 4. (You don’t need to buy PowerPoint – OpenOffice has presentation software in it for free, compatible with PowerPoint).

Have a look at their ideas for the forthcoming Sundays, and download what you’re interested in.

Sample Dramatised Gospel Reading: Easter 3

You can copy and paste this reading if you want to use it!

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. [Simon told the others what he had decided to do]:

‘I am going fishing.’

‘We will go with you.’

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’


‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter,

‘It is the Lord!’

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred metres off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.

‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. [Jesus called out an invitation to the disciples:]

‘Come and have breakfast.’

Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord.* Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus spoke to Peter:

‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’

‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’

‘Feed my lambs.’

‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’

‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’

‘Tend my sheep.’

‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’

Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’

‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’

(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) [Jesus gave Peter one more instruction:]

‘Follow me.’


* If you want to be very creative you can adapt the text to provide a little more dialogue here, such as

“Shall we ask him who he is?”

“No, we daren’t – surely it is the Lord!”

or similar