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. 'I believe' x 14
Here are 14 different ways of sharing a creed together. Discuss together which you prefer and why.
Encourage groups of three or four to write a creed for the 21st century. What important truths would speak well into a consumer driven, individualistic and self-obsessed society?
3. Thought-provoking dramatic reading: 'I believe...'
He is another one of Roddy Hamilton's creative ideas from his blog.
You will need two strong readers. Be prepared for some interesting discussion afterwards!
A: I believe...
B: I believe...
A: I believe in the unerring word of God.
B: I believe in the living word of God.
A: I believe it was written by the hand of God himself.
B: I believe it was inspired by the community of faith.
A: I believe God is good to all and God's tender mercies are over all God's works. Psalm 145.
B: I will dash them one against another, saith the LORD. I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them all. Jeremiah 13.
A: I believe the animals went in two by two. Genesis 7.
B: Clean or unclean? Take with you seven pairs of clean animals. Genesis 7 also.
A: I believe Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. Matthew 1.
B: It doesn't mention a donkey ... nor an innkeeper for that matter. Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
A: I believe Jesus cleansed the temple straight after he rode into town on a donkey according to Matthew 21.
B: He cleansed the temple right at the beginning of his ministry, according to John 2.
A: I believe God created human beings on the 6th day after everything else, the pinnacle of all that was made and that was the end of creation. Genesis 1.
B: God made MAN from dust and then made the rest of creation in an unsuccessful attempt to keep him happy. It didn't work until God created WOMAN. And that was the end. Genesis 2.
A: I believe you can't trust everything you read.
B: I believe you can't trust those who write theology for their own means.
A: I believe the Bible is full of contradictions.
B: I believe the Bible proves the word became flesh, not print.
A: I believe in the Bible is a conundrum.
B: I believe the Bible is a relationship with a whole lot of imperfect people.
A: I believe the Bible is not an end in itself.
B: I believe the Bible is just the start.
A: I believe.
B: I believe.