come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Jonah

We just had to have a prop for the story of Jonah, so invited this whale to join us. And “thank you” to Sally for her placard – a timely reminder that God cares for all his creation.
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Telling the Story
Now although the Book of Jonah is only 4 chapters, it is still a bit long to read out in one go at a service, so we paraphrased it in a poem:

When God looked down on Nineveh town
He saw their wicked ways and He said, with a frown,
“They really must repent – I’ll send them a warning.
Jonah, my prophet, you can leave in the morning.”
Well Jonah made haste, and he left the next day,
Moving very fast – but he went the other way!
Visiting Nineveh wasn’t on his wish-list,
so he boarded a boat and headed for Tarshish.

A storm came up and the winds grew stronger –
the sailors said the boat wouldn’t last much longer.
Why did this happen – whose fault could it be?
Jonah took the blame and said “throw me in the sea.”
They threw him in the water and again set sail
But Jonah didn’t drown – he was swallowed by a whale!
Three days and nights he was in the whale’s belly,
Then was vomited out – boy! he was smelly!

This time Jonah headed in the right direction,
Taking to the Ninevites God’s message of correction
“Forty days is all you’ve got, then Nineveh is finished”
The people said “we’ll change our ways – we don’t want to perish”
The King himself heard Jonah’s words and made a proclamation
“Dress in sackcloth; eat no food; maybe that will spare this nation.
If we turn away from wicked ways God may be forgiving.”
And God, whose mercy knows no bounds, let them go on living.
(by Gail Weaver)

The Craft
IMG_1183We made this clothes peg fishes craft, and if you look closely you will see that Jonah is hiding just inside the fish’s belly. It is really simple – clothes pegs, pictures of big fish/whales, and small pictures of Jonah. Cut all the way through the fish’s body; glue the two halves to the peg – one to the top half, one to the bottom; glue Jonah on the back of the peg, but where he will be seen when the mouth is opened.

 

 

The Message
One of the books in the Old Testament part of the Bible is Jonah. The more I looked into the story of Jonah the more I giggled. He was a prophet – someone given the words of God to speak, but he didn’t want to. The hero, Jonah doesn’t want to obey God, and when he finally does he gets upset that God saved the people of Nineveh. How backwards is that! A whole book in the Bible talks about a man of God who doesn’t want to do what God has told him to – and even does the complete opposite. So I thought to myself, why would there be a whole book dedicated to someone who got stroppy with God?

God says go, Jonah says no, and heads in the opposite direction. Every step he took was a step further away from Nineveh. In the Bible it says Jonah ran away from God. Can we ever hide from our all-seeing all-knowing God? He see it all: the good, and the bad. He sees it all.

While still on the run Jonah was on a ship when a raging storm comes up, and Jonah is fast asleep. Everyone else is afraid and they wake Jonah up. He tells them in v12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” The other sailors ask God for his forgiveness before throwing Jonah overboard to what they thought would be his death, but then the raging sea grew calm. Jonah must have thought this would be end of his life too, and then he couldn’t go to Nineveh. The perfect excuse not to do God’s calling – die!

But God really wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh, and so he sends another form of transport to get him there- a whale, which swallows him whole. God can even see Jonah in the stomach of a whale that was swimming in the sea. That truly is an all-seeing God with X-ray vision. We learn there is nowhere we can hide from God. In that smelly darkness, Jonah finally prays to God saying sorry for running away, and he will go and do what he was asked to. And so it says “and the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Yuk, Yuk, Yuk. The Bible has some really amazing stories in it doesn’t it.

So Jonah goes to Nineveh telling the people “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” And then Jonah went away to watch would happen to the city. This was no great sermon, just 8 words. But the spirit of God is in those words. And all the people, including the king, turn from the wrong they were doing – just as God hoped they would. Jonah should be happy with such great results, but he isn’t. He didn’t want the people of Nineveh to be saved and despite his best efforts to do it badly, the people heard God in those words. God wanted to save them, even if Jonah didn’t want him to. God’s grace goes out to everyone, not just the ones we want it to.
Do we, like Jonah, want to keep God’s love from those we don’t like?
Do we hope for our enemies to get what’s coming to them?
For those who we don’t like and are doing well, do we hope that they might fail and lose it all?
Do we judge others harshly when we should be forgiving them?

As Jesus said in Matthew “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Give them love not hate.

Sometimes we don’t exactly rush out to answer God’s call either. Sometimes because we don’t believe it, sometimes because we don’t recognise it and, as in case of Jonah, sometimes because we do.

We have all been called by God. The call may be moving in a new direction, it may be doing something new or stop doing something old. Your journey with God is as unique as you are. And I truly believe that whatever God has called you to, God will go with you every step of your new journey. It’s your choice — you can do it God’s way or Jonah’s way.
(Vanessa)

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Missing Pieces

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

We are doing a series of services on Parables that Jesus told and started with the story of the Lost Coin. In our reading and research we discovered theories that this might relate to the headdress of coins that respectable Jewish women would have had at that time, and decided to use this as the basis for our craft. We played a visual game with pictures of everyday things, and asked what was missing. Yes, they were all rather obvious, but it was fun to do. Click on the title below the picture for the .pdf file with all four pictures in it.
What's Missing

What’s Missing

After the Bible reading we used this retelling of the story from the point of view of the woman, which was written by Gail.

The Story
“Let me tell you a story.
Now you all know that I am married. My husband is not wealthy, but he is a considerate man and takes good care of me and the children.

My father wasn’t wealthy either, but he provided me with a fair dowry, enabling me to have my headband of silver coins – only 10, which is the minimum for a respectable woman – but as I said, he wasn’t wealthy.

Last Thursday was a bad day. I got up at the usual time, got dressed and went to put on my veil and headdress. But there was something wrong – there were only 9 coins there – one had come loose somehow! Well I searched through my clothes chest, but couldn’t find it there. Then I looked all over the floor, but still couldn’t see it.

I’m sure you can guess that I was by now panicking. My husband is a reasonable man, but even he would have had several words to say at the loss of such a thing – not to mention how people would look at me if I went around with a 9-coin headdress!

Well, after a while (and a few tears, I must confess) I took a deep breath and decided that I had to deal with this in a methodical way.

Firstly I went through my clothes chest again – took everything out and shook it, then felt in all the corners. No luck there, so it must be on the floor somewhere. I’d only put fresh straw down a couple of days before, but never mind that – it all had to be swept up. I lit a lamp so that I could see better, then I started in the far corner and swept out each area separately, shook out all the straw by hand and then replaced it. Two hours it took me – but I found my coin! It had rolled under the table. Must have been when I was clearing up after the meal the night before.

Well, I’m sure you can guess how happy – and relieved – I was! In fact I was so pleased I called my neighbours, Anna and Naomi, in to celebrate with me. That was a time of great rejoicing.”

 

The Craft
Coin Headdress 1For our craft we made “crown” headdresses and attached 10 silver coins to each one:

  • Take two strips of card and staple them at right angles to each other at either end (see picture). If you prefer you could make the shape a circle, which would just need one long strip of card.
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  • We used self-adhesive book cover to decorate the card; leave it as a roll, then cut a thin piece of the end through all the thicknesses to make long strips, which are then wrapped around the “crown”.
  • Coin headdress
     

  • The thread for hanging the coins off can either be attached as you wrap the shiny strips around, which will make it stick in place, or tied around afterwards. The second method is less fiddly, so a bit better for younger children.
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  • We used a round punch to make coins out of silver card. If you can’t get silver card – or it is a bit too expensive – you could use the self-adhesive book cover on both sides of thin card instead, and then punch out the circles.
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  • Use a normal hole punch to make a small hole in each coin, and then hang ten from each “crown”

 

 

The Message
Isn’t it terrible to lose something – not like a rubber band, but something important, a treasure. I know what I do, you go back to the last place you remember having it …. so then why do I end up looking in the silliest places in the hope of finding it? I mean are my glasses really going to be in the freezer?

Do you know what is worse? Losing someone. I lost Luke once. It’s OK I found him!. Heart rate up, trying to stay calm wanting to panic, trying not to cry – just talking about it brings back how I felt.
I have also been lost. It’s OK I was found— similar feelings to be honest.

Jesus wanted to tell us about being lost and found, not in the way we think of, but about being lost and found to God.

The start of Luke 15 in the Amplified Bible goes like this: “Now the tax collectors and the notorious and especially wicked sinners were all coming near to Jesus to listen to Him.”

That’s right, the really naughty people sought out Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the church leaders were not happy about this, complaining that Jesus accepts, welcomes, and even eats with, these people.

So he told them a parable, which is a simple everyday story with a moral or spiritual lesson. The reading we had today was that parable.

The lesson Jesus was trying to teach to those he spoke to then and to us today, was that God and the angels rejoice and celebrate when one person who is lost is found. When one person who has been doing wrong, realises this and seeks God to do better.

Jesus thought those he was talking to just didn’t get it, so he also told them about the lost sheep – when a shepherd has 100 sheep and one is lost so the shepherd goes out and finds it, then celebrates with this friends and neighbours over finding his one lost sheep.
AND he also told them about the lost son – when a son asks his father for his share of the estate, leaves his family and spends it all, ending up looking after pigs and even eating some of their food, before returning home empty and empty-handed. The father welcomes him home with arms wide open saying “My son was lost and now is found” and then throws a big party to celebrate.

Lost coin; maybe the ladies will get that one. Lost sheep; maybe the men will get that one. Lost son; maybe parents and children will get that one.

When did we get lost? It all started back at the very beginning with Adam and Eve when they ate from the tree God had told them not to. Right back to that first act of disobedience followed by the first feelings of guilt and shame. And that evening when God came into the garden he called out to them “Where are you?”

And God has been calling that out to us ever since.

Let me tell you a true story about how God can find the lost….
His name was John. When he started work he joined with his Dad working on boats. When his Dad retired, he had lined him up another job, working on the land, but John had sea salt in his blood and carried on sailing the seven seas. However, things start to go pretty bad for John. He was captured and forced to join the Navy and he hated it. John gets the chance to change ships and so goes to work on another ship. A slave ship – trading goods for slaves, and slaves for goods. But the crew on this new ship don’t like John and leave him with a slave dealer who treats him like a slave. John was lost, a free man, but treated like a slave in Africa.

But he is found and rescued by a sea captain who had been asked by John’s father to look out for him and bring him home. On the way they encounter a terrific storm, the ship begins to sink, and at that moment John calls out to God to save him. And his life is changed. The ship moves again, the cargo shifts blocking up the gaping hole and the ship drifts to safety.

Later John becomes an Anglican priest having a direct impact on Thomas Scott who set up CMS -Church Missionary Society and William Wilbourforce, a politician whom John encouraged to stay in parliament and serve God where he was. William Wilberforce was instrumental in getting a law passed that ended slavery.

During his time as a priest John Newton wrote many hymns, including one where it tells of being lost and found. Saved by God’s Amazing Grace.

(Vanessa)