1. Backwards and forwards poem
Here is an excellent, faith-inspiring poem from Jonathan Reed, via Roddy Hamilton, Scotland. It is based on Luke 4.
This idea has been completely stolen from Jonathan Reed who is someone from Atlanta and won second place in an AARP contest called "u@50". His original is going the rounds of the internet and can be seen in various places. I've completely plagiarised it for Sunday. I was put onto it by a member of the congregation.
The idea is to read it all the way through and then read it line by line from the bottom up.
Is this what we believe?
God has given everything for the sake of the world
Is a lie
And 'only those who are rich will be saved'
God is not on the side of those who want to change the world
I would be lying to you if I said
The good news will set us free
And light is stronger than darkness and
justice is a better way than fear
I am convinced of this because
selfishness is ingrained in us all
love is a weakness and only the strong will survive and
I cannot bring myself to believe
God's word is an agent of transformation in the world and
People of faith are people who know the power of change
This is not true for us
This is a secular and hopeless society
Experts will tell us
In the future
Living without believing will be the norm
It is foolish to presume that
These things will change
unless we let faith turn these things around!
Now that you've read this to the bottom, read each line in reverse back up to the top and you will find a very different meaning to the words!
2. Celtic creed
You will need: Red tablecloth, gold paper, permanent marker, scissors, large candle, tea light candles.
Cut out a large semicircle arc (approx 80 cm/30 inches diameter) from gold metallic paper. Write on the arc with a permanent marker: 'We believe and trust in God the Father Almighty'. Place on a red tablecloth. Cut a second arc from the gold paper and write on it: 'We believe and trust in Jesus Christ his Son'. Cut a third arc from the gold paper and write on it: 'We believe and trust in the Holy Spirit'. Shape the arcs to form a linked triangle (see picture). Cut out a ring from the gold paper (approx 56 cm/22 inches diameter) and write around the circumference: 'We believe and trust in the Three in One'. Weave the arms of the knot under and over the circle as shown in the diagram to create the knot.
A Celtic knot is symbolic of the faithful eternal love of God. Light the main candle and place in the centre of the knot, then sing or proclaim together.
We believe and trust in God the Father Almighty.
We believe and trust in Jesus Christ his Son.
We believe and trust in the Holy Spirit.
We believe and trust in the Three in One.
The music to this song is available on track 8 of the Celtic Daily Prayer CD from the Northumbria Community.
This could lead very naturally into prayers of intercession as participants light tea light candles (symbolising the person or situation they are offering to God) from a central candle (symbolising 'The Light of the World'). As they light the tea light, they could share the name or situation they are offering to God – or do this in silence.
3. Fingerprint/handprint creed
Our fingerprints and handprints are unique to each one of us. This may feel 'young', but teenagers just love getting their hands on paint of any sort! If there are some gifted artists within your group, they may like to have a go at drawing their own fingerprint.
You will need: finger paint – if you can get hold of the shiny pearlised finger paint, it shimmers beautifully in the light; large sheets of black paper, because again, it looks better; an overhead projector, a slide projector or a coloured spotlight; the words to a creed; a bowl of water; a towel for people to wash their fingers or hands afterwards.
Read 1 John 3.1-2 about being children of God.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Project the words of the creed below (or a different creed) onto a black sheet of paper, using the overhead projector or slide projector. If you do not have a projector, write the words to your creed on the paper with a white marker or white paint, and use a coloured spotlight to illuminate the board. Invite the group to agree to what they believe, and instead of saying the creed, place either a thumbprint or a whole handprint on the piece of black paper. Afterwards, point out the uniqueness of each print.
We believe in God the Father,
Who made us to be his children
And loves us more than words can express.
We believe in Jesus, God's Son,
Who died an agonising death to save us
And bring us, his wayward children, home.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
Who gives us life and laughter,
And all the joy of play.
For more ideas like this see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Church, Scripture Union, 2002, p20.