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Tag Archives: worship resources

Excellent review of Touching a Nerve by NZ Baptist

Brendan Boughen; (self-published), 2019, (p132)
ISBN 978-0-473-59343-7

Touching a Nerve has the explanatory subtitle of ‘A curly collection of churchy cartoons by Jim’.

Jim’ is the cartooning alter ego of Brendan Boughen. He grew up in the Lutheran church but left traditional faith in his 30s. He tells something of that move away in an earlier collection of cartoons called Gone Astray.

Despite, or perhaps because of, that personal shift, Boughen often draws about the connection between traditional religion, faith, politics, society and social justice.

Cartoon topics

The cartoons in Touching a Nerve sometimes poke a finger at core Christian beliefs. An example is an Olympic ‘mental gymnastics’ athlete who is in a sweat, struggling with the concept of virgin birth.

Others are simply  touching. One quotes Isaiah 52:7 about “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news of happiness…”. The quote hangs in a clear blue sky, above a snow-capped mountain. At the base of the mountain are a school and hospital. Both bear the name of Edmund Hillary. The cartoon was drawn to honour Sir Ed on his passing in 2008. A helpful URL at the bottom of the page leads readers to the explorer and humanitarian’s obituary.

Many of the news-related cartoons have such URLs. Considering that several of them are about events that occurred six or more years ago, this ensures the point being made is not lost on readers.

Other cartoons in the book do not have an underlying message. These fall into the realm of ‘dad jokes’—humour that will either elicit a chuckle, smile or a groan, depending on your sense of humour.

The balance between all the cartoons in this collection means that it is a book that will have something for most people. This shows that some thought has been put into what was selected.

Thought-provoking ‘toons

The famous cartoonist Charles M Schulz, whose Peanuts  strips were fodder for Boughen’s imagination as a child, is said to have claimed that “those who find no humor in faith are probably those who find the church a refuge for their own black way of looking at life…”1

And, for this reviewer at least, it was ‘Jim’s’ more pointed cartoons about matters of faith that were most appreciated. I think it is helpful for Christians to examine how their beliefs align with their lived-out lives. Sometimes it requires someone else to prod us, to get this thinking in motion. And in Touching a Nerve, Boughen has provided a gentle stick.

Reviewer: Linda Grigg

You can see the review on the NZ Baptist website here:
https://baptistmag.org.nz/touching-a-nerve/

World is a challenging place

“The world is a challenging place and the future appears uncertain. We have a choice about how we respond – with despair or with hope.” From the sermon: Living with Real Hope

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 24

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 24

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

The Limits We Place (Confession)

Philippians 4:13

In awe of you great God we offer up our praise,
and confess our sinfulness.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
and the limits we place on ourselves.

You call us to step out in faith. We ponder the likely consequences
of your call and decide you are asking too much of us,
forgetting that all things are possible
through the One who strengthens us.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
and the limits we place on ourselves.

God who is love, and who lovingly seeks
a relationship with all of humanity,
how often we fruitlessly struggle to grow your kingdom of love
by our own efforts alone, forgetting that it is your freely blowing Spirit
who sends forth your love into the world.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
because of the limits of our thinking.

God of inconceivable majesty and power
who cannot be contained within the universe,
how little we are in comparison to you,
yet how great our conceit when we think
we can determine what you can and cannot do,
and what can and cannot be.
We seek forgiveness Lord, for the limits we place on you
because of the limits of our comprehension.

In seeking your forgiveness Lord,
we also seek from you a greater faith.
A faith that will follow you,
even when the way ahead seems uncertain;
a faith that believes in your greatness
even though we cannot truly perceive your magnitude;
a faith that sees beyond present realities to future possibilities;
a faith like that required of Abraham and Sarah,
knowing that with you God there are no limits.
Grant us your forgiveness Lord,
and empower us with your Spirit
. Amen.

From: Prayers for Southern Seasons: Poems and prayers for Christian worship and devotions. By Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Labour Day 25th October

(Nearest Sunday)

God of Nations, we are proud of ours and give thanks that we live in this country.
We are proud to own a founding document,
conceived in a time of peace.
Most treaties are the result of war,
but Our Treaty offers the hope of covenant.
We give thanks that we live in a place of peace and
good intention.

We know human rights do not simply happen,
they are initiated by people of vision,
Negotiated by people wanting justice,
and often achieved at considerable cost.
We give thanks for our forebears who worked for justice.

Despite our proud record of justice and
good working conditions,
Some of our citizens are exploited,
disadvantaged and dis-empowered,
Be with those who are working for justice now.

Despite our fine laws on human rights,
some of our citizens continue to be discriminated against, through circumstances of education, employment, race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation.

We pray for those who are over-worked,
and those who are unemployed.
We pray for the ill-treated, the un-treated,
the dis-empowered and the ignored.

We pray for all who oppress,
be they deliberately malicious or merely insensitive, bosses or bullies, law-makers or church-people;
may they be confronted by their actions
and moved to bring change.
May wisdom prevail.

We pray for families,
in all their diversities,
whatever form they take,
that love may prevail. Amen.

From: Lay Preaching Basics by Rosalie Sugrue (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 22

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 22

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

106. Rural Hardship

God of the present and future,
bring hope to those facing hardship and loss
in the rural community of …………..

Restore those whose land
has been severely affected by flood/snow/rain/cold/fire/drought.

Encourage those facing big changes
in farm management and lifestyle,
or who face the prospect of having to move off the land
and the challenge of finding new employment.

Have compassion on those
whose marriages or relationships
are under enormous strain
through interpersonal or financial stress.

Resource communities which have lost amenities,
commercial services and farm labour.
Enable people to welcome new settlers and life-stylers,
particularly those unfamiliar
with rural ways of doing things,
and the customs of the local community.

We pray in faith that we shall discover
grace sufficient for each day’s challenges,
in and through the strength of the Holy Spirit.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 18

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 18

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Only a Prayer Away (Poetry)

As we journey daily through our lives
we are glad we do not travel alone,
that you are beside us God unseen and unobtrusive
yet only a prayer away.

Providing strength when we are weak,
rest when we are weary,
comfort in times of hardship, hope when our faith falters,
and encouragement when our courage fails.

Although we stumble from time to time
and get side tracked into unprofitable ways,
and although negative attitudes slow our progress
and we persist with burdensome behaviours,
Lord you never leave us to struggle on alone.

Rather, you are ever loving, ever merciful.
You understand our inadequacies and forgive our misdeeds.
You are gracious in spite of our gracelessness.
Kind in spite of our spitefulness,
and gentle even when we lack empathy.

This way we are travelling
is not the route we would have chosen, Lord.
In trust we are walking pathways you lead us on,
guided in our pilgrimage by scripture our road map,
to the destination you have prepared.

As we travel, we give thanks
for the companions you have provided
to accompany us on this life-long journey,
and for those who share our joys and sorrows.
We give thanks for your constant presence Lord,
for being as close as a prayer away.

As you travel beside us,
teach us to become more like you God,
to love like you do without reservation,
to be merciful like you are without hesitation, and
to give of ourselves with unbounded generosity,
and help us to always remember
that you are as close as a prayer away. Amen.

From: Prayers for Southern Seasons: Poems and prayers for Christian worship and devotions. By Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 17

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 17

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Pastoral Prayers 2

Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise,
Immortal God, in you we trust;
We give thanks for the eternal assurance of faith.

We come from a long tradition
of those who seek you in the community of Church.
We meet now in this place
seeking to enrich our faith through worship.
We seek release from all that hinders us from encountering you.

Invisible God, in you we trust;
we give thanks for the intangibles
that confirm your reality –

the comfort of love; the ability to trust;
the hope that faith keeps resurrecting,
and the inclination to goodness
you seeded in humankind.
Enable us to use our faith
to do justice and love kindness.

Wise God, in you we trust;
we give thanks that you are there when we understand,

and you are there when we don’t understand.
As we live within you, may you live within us.
Grant us the wisdom to walk
in humble confidence with you.

God of justice, kindness and mercy,
May we never forget that we are made in your image,

Grant us a vibrant faith
that increasingly reflects the Way of Christ.
We come in faith.
We come seeking to be better people. Amen.

From: Lay Preaching Basics by Rosalie Sugrue (2018)

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 16

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 16

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

45. Christ Ascended

A brilliant sun
shining on snow-capped mountains
lifts our hearts
to the risen Christ,
presidential, ascendant,
with the Father in glory.
Enable us, awesome Lord,
to pause and revere you,
then to set about the work
for which you have commissioned us,
in and through the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Lord Christ, kingly and supreme,
Aoraki salutes your greatness.
Taranaki, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe
honour you as transcendent
Lord and Messiah.
Hikurangi reaches for
the morning rays of sunrise
before all others.
You are kingship like Taupiri.
You are the summit
of all human searching,
te maungaroa,
te puke teitei,
yet all may reach out
and touch you,
ascendant, triumphant, all-glorious,
in unity with the Father and the Spirit,
for ever adored and worshipped.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 12

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 12

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Spirit God (Gathering)

Genesis 1:2; Exodus 19:18 – 20:1-21; Psalm 78:14; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 43:1-5; Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:9-13; Acts 2:1-4

Spirit God, hovering over a watery world,
ordering creation from primordial chaos,
clothing earth’s nakedness with nature’s abundance,
breathing your spirit life into our humanness;
shelter us under your motherly love,
transform our turmoil into tranquillity,
fill up our emptiness with your wisdom divine,
raise us aloft on the winds of eternity.

Spirit God, dwelling in pillars of cloud and of fire,
alighting on Sinai in flaming splendour,
thundering forth commandments of covenant,
sanctifying holy a nation of slaves;
guide us on journeys through barren wastelands,
help us climb mountains for encounters with you,
speak laws of love into our consciences,
make sacred a church of commonplace folk.

Spirit God, filling with glory Solomon’s temple,
soaring heavenward on chariots of fire,
inspiring your prophets with visions that challenge,
promising the coming of the Davidic Messiah;
form from your people your present day temple,
transport us above our everyday thinking,
show us the ways of heaven on earth,
make of us true disciples of the Anointed One.

Spirit God, as a dove descending,
declaring beloved of the Father his Son,
driving the Christ into the wilderness,
inspiring rebuffs to the tempter’s allures;
fly down upon us the blessing of peacefulness,
proclaim our membership of the family of God,
be there for us in our spiritual barrenness,
grant us release from the enemy’s snares.

Spirit God, on Pentecost coming,
sounding like wind and appearing like fire,
descending upon the hundred and twenty,
bringing to birth the new covenant church;
bless our celebration of time that is holy,
full us with the joy that gives light to our lives,
be in our midst as we gather together,
proclaim in and through us the gospel of God. Amen.

From: Prayers for Southern Seasons: Poems and prayers for Christian worship and devotions. By Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks