Dt 30, Ps 119 – and a life choices machine!

Just before we get into the good stuff, here’s the latest stop on the blog tour: Liz Manning’s The Stuff Life is Made Of

Plus, hear me on the radio (from 3h12)

And (last one, promise) me on the URC’s daily Devotions (6th Feb)

Now choose life!

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Dt 30:19)

We all make a hundred choices each day: Get up or hit snooze? Cornflakes or toast? Are yesterday’s socks still OK for another day?

Some choices have longer-lasting consequences than others.
Sometimes we have to live with the results of our choices.
Sometimes we can change them.
Sometimes the choices are imposed on us by others.
Sometimes we have no choice.

Take a few moments to think about the choices you have made.
Would you make the same choice again? Why is that?
What does God think about your choices?
What choices do you have to make in the future?

Moses told the people of God that they had choices and their choices mattered. “Choose life,” he urged them. “Stick close by God and choose life!” Pretty good advice.

Choose Life! – an All-Age Activity

You can use this for a sermon introduction, a youth group activity or in Collective Worship. It’s a great starter for talking about life choices and the consequences of our actions. (There’s also a load of fun mathematics in it. See this link for an interactive Galton board / Quincunx machine. You can also make a 3D version to use with marbles – instructions here. And here’s a post with a  Lego version.)

You will need:

  • a large piece of paper – a flip chart is ideal
  • marker pens
  • Five small pots or boxes containing prizes for ‘blessings’ (eg sweets) and ‘curses’ (eg sweet wrappers)

What to do:

Prepare by drawing a triangle of dots with pots at the bottom, like this:

Each person is going to start at the top and work their way down the board by making choices. They will land in one of the ‘pots’ at the bottom, each of which leads to a blessing or a curse.

Have a volunteer come to the front to make choices. If you have several people, give each a different coloured pen and they can trace their own routes through the board.

Draw a line down to the first dot and ask your volunteer(s) to make a choice:

  • cats or dogs?

The first option means they move to the left, the second moves them to the right. Let’s say they choose dogs. You move  to the next line down, righthand dot.

Keep asking questions and trace their route down. The first option moves them to the left, the second option to the right.  For this size board you will need four questions, one for each row. You can make the board bigger if  you like and you can alter the questions to suit your audience. Here are some suggestions:

  • Superman or Batman?
  • coffee or tea?
  • KFC or McDonalds?
  • Marmite – yum or yuck?
  • Chelsea or Man U?
  • North or South?
  • London or Paris?
  • trainers or hiking boots?
  • beard or moustache?
  • book or TV?
  • email or phone call?

Here’s what it could look life after three people have played. When everyone has landed in their ‘pot’, you can open the matching real pots and see where their choices have led them: to a blessing (perhaps an apple) or a curse (some apple peel).

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When you made these choices you did not know where they would lead – to blessings or to curses. But when Moses told the people of God to choose life, they knew what choices would lead where. And they still made poor choices.

We all make poor choices sometimes. But God is good at forgiving us when we say sorry.

Liturgy Resources for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8

Confession and Absolution

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

Forgive us, good Lord,
and let us not be put to shame.
Then we will fix our eyes upon you
and praise you with an upright heart.

Blessing and Dismissal

Today, may you choose life.

May you love the Lord your God,
for this is life to you.

May you walk in his paths,
for this is life to you.

May you hold fast to him,
for this is life to you.

May you turn towards and may you hear,
for this is life to you and length of days.

Today, may you choose life.

Depart with the blessing of God – Father, Son, Spirit –
resting upon you and those you love
now and always.

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