Feb 29

3rd Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Exodus 20:1-17

  • Let’s face it – you could present an entire sermon series on this text!  And, let’s not forget the fact that these words are some of the most familiar, too – which often means that we don’t really listen to the words.  One way to help us really hear scriptures like this is to read from different translations.  I am particularly drawn to The Message and the Common English Bible.  I also like Young’s Literal Translation, despite the “old-English”, because it translates the commandments by saying that these things are what we do – not what we “shall” do.
  • There are lots of ways to approach this text.  You can preach on the general merit of the law.  You can examine one of the ten.  You can ponder how these ten commands work to set us apart from (not above) others – that is, how these commands serve as a kind of identity statement for us.
  • If you have (or want to create) “stone” tablets, they can be used in a worship display.  If you are creating them, you can use cardboard; but, I would suggest that foam-board may work better.
  • Here’s an idea if you are going to focus on how the ten commandments help to identify us as believers: create a “name tag” to post in the front of the worship space.  You have likely seen those sticky name tags that say “Hello, My Name Is…”; use that as your template and create a large (non-sticky) name tag (using foam-board, cardboard, or a heavy-stock poster board) that says “Hello, My Name Is…Christian” or “Hello, My Name Is…Believer” or “Hello, My Name Is…God-Follower”.  Creating more than one would be really neat – you could even create ones of different sizes, which would probably make for a more interesting display.

Psalm 19

  • I love the poetry of this text!  And, while the NRSV is certainly a lovely translation, I am drawn to the interesting way it is worded in The Message.
  • The imagery that is present in the text give us lots of options for decorating a worship space.
    • The first six verses speak about the ways in which the “heavens” proclaim God’s glory.  What sorts of props and images come to mind when we hear the word “heavens”?  The text mentions the sun, specifically; we may then think about its counterpart, the moon (and, perhaps, the stars).  If you use televisions or other projection equipment, there are tons of images of the sun, moon, and stars that could be used while you read/proclaim this text.
    • If you have access to an at-home planetarium projector, there may be ways to use that in Sunday school classes or evening services.  Also, you may find a use for glow-in-the-dark stickers (often available in star and planet shapes).
    • There are lots of other “heavenly” images that you can consider, too: clouds, thunderstorms, rainbows, birds in flight, treetops swaying in the breeze, sunrises, sunsets…
    • Of course, there are other images found in the later verses of this text – including gold and honey.  Certainly, there are ways to use these elements in your worship display.  Honey and honeycomb (which provides a wonderful textural element) can be used as both a part of the display and an interactive piece.  The text describes the commandments of God as being sweeter than honey…so why not let people taste just how sweet that is?  If you invite people to taste, use clean popsicle sticks for each person (to dip in the honey once).  Also, since there are always allergies to consider, be sure that the tasting is all by invitation and with parental supervision.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

  • Anyone who things that they have it all figured out, this text needs to be required reading material.  God is the King of the Unexpected.
  • As Christians, we are challenged to embrace weakness – not strength.  It turns out that “strength” – however we define it – is overrated.  God always has the final say, and God (who is the source of all Wisdom) is partial to the foolish.
  • Featuring the cross – which is the symbol of the foolishness that gives us life – is a great choice for your worship display.

John 2:13-22

  • In what ways do we make the church a “marketplace” today?  Oh, I’m sure that we can name some of the “obvious” ways that we can do that: fundraisers, annual stewardship campaigns, and even bookstores (usually in big-steeple churches, filled with self-help books and trinkets with Bible verses on them).  But…I am actually more concerned with the ways we have created and promoted a consumer-based faith and church experience.  We talk about things like “church shopping” and we ask ourselves “what can we provide/offer as a church”.  Are our churches supposed to be places where people “shop” for what they need/want?
  • This dramatic narrative gives us the opportunity to create a really dramatic worship display!
    • The biggest and most dramatic: setting up an overturned table (as if Jesus has just flipped it over himself).  If it is possible to use a wooden table, I think it would look best (you probably don’t want to use a plastic or metal folding table).  Also, I would suggest (if it is at all possible) removing one or two of the table legs, so that when you lay it on its side it is not propped at a 90 degree angle — having the table tilted back slightly makes it a bit more interesting visually.  Drape fabric over part of the table (as though a tablecloth is slipping off), and arrange things like papers, decorative boxes, and coins around the front of the table.
    • Since there were also people selling doves in the temple on that day, you could have a large metal cage sitting next to the overturned table.  If someone in the congregation has white or grey birds (doves), you may want to have actual, live birds in the cage as part of the display.
    • Don’t want to set up an overturned table?  You can still use wooden boxes (some tipped on their side), natural-fiber cloth bags (coin purses), coins (check school supply or party stores for plastic coins and bills), and papers on a table in the front.  If you want to be a little crazy (and super bold), you can always set up a table and actually overturn it during the service.  If you decide you want to do this, I strongly urge you to practice before doing this in worship (so you have some idea of how much energy you need to use, where the materials will fall, etc)
    • If you are wanting a completely different kind of image to feature, maybe you can find an old-fashioned cash register to set up in the front of the worship space.  I would suggest that the “tab” at the top of the cash register should say “No Sale”…

1 comment

  1. Margery from HRP

    Hi Amy!
    I love your new website! Thanks for posting some fresh, creative ideas.
    I will probably use an overturned table as a focus for my children’s sermon this week.
    Lenten blessings, Margery

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