Archive for the “worship” Category

spillbeans10Spill The Beans Issue 10 is now available for download, and takes us from 1 December to 2 March 2014, encompassing Advent, Christmas, Epiphany all the way to the Transfiguration. Over the season of Advent we focus on the bible passages from the prophets, before turning to the gospel readings for the remainder of this issue.

As always, inside you will find worship ideas and resources, including Bible notes, stories, prayers, reflections, music suggestions, and more, and for age groups you will find suggestions for activities, crafts, games and teen discussion resources. In this issue we also have an advent candle lighting liturgy and two “Blue Christmas” service liturgies, which are well worth looking at if you have never done anything like that before.

If you have already used Spill the Beans, you will know what a fabulous resource this is, created by folks here in Scotland. If you have not yet, but are intrigued, have a look at this sample.

If you’d like to download a full copy of Issue 10 for use in your church or personally, then click HERE. The cost is only £12. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you. Please note that you can only download the file using this link three times, so please make sure you save the file to your computer.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The Adobe pdf file is approximately 6 MB.

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spill the beans conferenceThe big, long awaited Spill the Beans Conference is just around the corner!  Come and find out more about Spill the Beans, how it works, why it works and how you can use it in your church.

Saturday 31st August

Wellington Church on University Avenue, Glasgow.

10am – 4pm

Cost £8 (includes lunch)

 for application forms.

 

 

Workshops include:

  • Storytelling with Adults and Young People
  • Worship Space and Art Installations
  • Community Engagement
  • Worship Teams
  • Using Age Group Materials

Download the  Poster: StB Conference Final

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This is my sermon from today, Pentecost 2013, preached at Dunfermline United Reformed Church.  The readings the sermon is based on are Acts2:1-21 and John 14:8-17.

As always, your comments and thoughts are very welcome.

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spill beans 8 coverThe new edition of Spill the Beans is out and the material starts from Trinity Sunday (26 May) and goes through to Pentecost 14 (25 August).  As usual there are great resources from a hugely talented team for children and young people and those who lead and enable worship.

You can download a free sample if you want to try before you buy.

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A reflection on Passover the Exodus…

 

a promise

a people

a promise to a people

a people of promise

 

a people who cried out together

a promise made by god

to a people chosen by god

 

a long time in the making

the promise

or was it the people?

 

through the escape

through the sea

through the wilderness

to a home

 

a long time in the making

the promise

or was it the people?

 

through the straying

through the arguing

through the harsh new reality

to a new set of rules, and new promise

 

a long time in the making

the promise

or was it the people?

 

through the hunger

through the thirst

through the heat of the day and the freezing nights

to a daily provision of bread

 

a long time in the making

the promise

or was it the people?

 

through the hope

through the doubt

through the threshold

to the fulfilment of a promise

 

but what was the promise?

 

was it the escape?

was it the place?

was it hope?

 

was it a promise to the people?

was it the promise of the people?

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Spill-Issue-7-Cover-460

It has been quite some feat by the Spill the Beans Team to pull this off over the festive season, but after a crazy deadline of 31 December for all the writing, the next issue of Spill the Beans is now beautifully formed and available for download. This is the Lent to Pentecost edition that sees us from 17 February all the way to 19 May 2013! And this edition is not limited just to Sundays, you also get ideas for each day of Holy Week too. It is a large issue.

Inside you will find worship ideas and resources, including Bible notes, stories, prayers, reflections, music suggestions, and more, and for age groups you will find suggestions for activities, crafts, games and teen discussion resources.

If you have already used Spill the Beans, you will know what a great resource this is, created by folks here in Scotland. If you haven’t, but are intrigued, have a look at this sample.

If you’d like to download a full copy of Issue 7 for use in your church or personally, then click the button below. It is a positive steal at only £12. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The Adobe pdf file is approximately 4 MB.

Buy Now and Download

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too.

If you would like a print copy of Spill the Beans, Issue 6, then this can be arranged. The cost is £20+P&P and these can be arranged directly with the office at Lanark Greyfriars Church. Each issue is in full colour and comb bound for ease of use. We have had to raise the costs of the print copy from our initial issues as we have found the original costs were not covering the costs of producing the copies.

If you would like to order copies (which are all printed to order so there may be a few days to wait before you receive yours) then you can email office@lanarkgreyfriars.com with your order details. An invoice will be issued after dispatch of your order. If you prefer you can contact Greyfriars Church Office on 01555 661510 and place your order over the phone.

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Incarnation.  Taking on flesh.  God slipping into skin.  Or that wonderful image from John’s Gospel of the Word moving into the neighbourhood.

What a amazing image.  Isn’t it?

It’s hard to get your head around it though, that God would bother.  That God would be so vulnerable, so tiny, so frail, so dependant.

There are so many other ways that God could have chosen to sort the world out.  He could have become a king, an emperor, a Caesar and ruled over all the world with power and military might.

But that’s not what God chose.

God chose the least.  The very least. A poor, unmarried teenager.  Most of us wouldn’t trust a teenager with a doll… but God isn’t most of us.  Mary said ‘yes’.  That was good enough for God to trust her with everything.

Luke is so matter of fact about it all…

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

God chose the very least of places.  Jerusalem is just up the road.  The capital.  The city on a hill.  The shining heart of a religious kingdom.  The Temple, the Holy of Holies… but God chose somewhere else.  Bethlehem.  Even the prophet Micha calls Bethlehem the runt of the litter.

What a place to start something new.

What a place to change everything.

We often talk about doing what Jesus would do or trying to work out what God’s priorities are, but we should know.  Our problem isn’t that God hasn’t spelt it out for us.  Our problem is that we so often try our best to avoid the hard bits, the difficult places and the awkward situations where we come face to face with the least.  We avoid those moments that make us think about how we live and what our priorities are.

What makes this story even more remarkable is that it didn’t just start in a nice house in Bethlehem.  It started in a stable, a barn, a cave out the back.  That makes no sense.  Jews are honour bound to provide hospitality, especially to family.  Joseph is returning to Bethlehem because that’s where he is from.  It is his city.  So why does he have nowhere to go?  Why does Joseph have no family they can stay with?  No floor they can sleep on?

It’s a question we never ask, but was Joseph an outsider too?  Was he the strange cousin that left Bethlehem for Nazareth?  It’s hardly moving up in the world so why go?  What was it that made Joseph leave in the first place?  This wasn’t really a time when the population was mobile like today.  Carpentry is the family trade so why would Joseph leave?  And why wasn’t he welcome when he went home?

Perhaps because now he turns up with his pregnant teenage bride to be…

I wonder how many people said ‘No!’.  I wonder how many people thought first of the shame and dishonour taking in these distant relatives would bring before they even saw a woman in the first stages of labour?  That strong system of honour, bound up in religious laws, was a difficult thing to break.

So Mary and Joseph they end up in with the animals in the muck and the stink because a stranger saw their need and said ‘Yes!’.

And there, almost literally outside, Jesus was born.  God slipped into skin.  Fragile, tiny, shivering, girning skin and lived among us.

Even the prophets didn’t really get that bit, did they?  They foretold a great king of David’s line.  David was the shepherd boy who became Israel’s greatest ever king, the unlikely hero whom God raised up.

This child would renew the line.  He would bring peace, unite the kingdoms for good, rule justly and honourably.

But that’s not what God had in mind.

God chose the least as witnesses.  Not courtiers, not noblemen and women.  Shepherds were the first to know.

Shepherds?  Could there be a more inappropriate bunch to visit God?

Shepherds were the outsiders, the least religious of their time.  Their job meant that they were out in the fields or on the hills with the sheep.  They never went to church.  They couldn’t maintain the strict purity laws and ritual washing.  They were literally and metaphorically unclean.  Perfect.

There was no big show at the Temple.  No announcement at the Synagogue.  Instead there were angels on a hillside singing of God’s glory to those who were supposedly cut off from it by the religious authorities.

And the shepherds say ‘Yes!’.  They leave their sheep and rush to see what God is doing.

The story of the incarnation, the story of God taking on skin, is a story which points us firmly towards God’s priorities.  This is a story which starts in a stable, travels through the back end of nowhere, collects the waifs and strays along the way and ends up with an execution on a rubbish dump.  If we need to ask where God wants us to be this Christmas after reading that story then the only problem is us.

So, the waiting is almost over, the tree is trimmed, the parcels wrapped, well some of them are… food preparations are underway.

 

For some, Christmas brings a rush of activity to get all the last minute tasks done.

For others, Christmas brings a calm approach as they quietly prepare to welcome the Christ child again.

And for others, still, Christmas brings a desperate struggle just to survive another day.

 

Because it’s Christmas…

means little to the homeless young woman sheltering under the railway bridge, trying to keep her Christmas box wrappings dry so that she can sleep under them another night.

Because it’s Christmas…

has no impact on the heroin addict wandering the High Street checking out “opportunities” for his next fix.

Because it’s Christmas…

brings no comfort to the young parent trying to do the best for their children while sick with worry about their partner off fighting in Afghanistan.

Because it’s Christmas…

will not change a thing unless we allow the baby God to leave the swaddling behind, unless we embody Christ in our lives and work to bring peace and hope and light into all the darkness of today’s world.

Because it’s Christmas…

will not change a thing unless we allow the God of Christmas to be born in our hearts and lives this day and every day, because it’s Christmas.

God chose the least.

God chose Mary and Joseph, a stable in Bethlehem, shepherds and outcasts… and moved into their neighborhood.

And trusted them with Jesus, His only Son.  Amen

 

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