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Zephaniah 3.14-20; Isaiah 12.2-6 (Canticle); Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.7-18

Outline act of worship for all ages

All-age worship ideas that offer an outline for worship. Individual items can be used alone or as part of your own worship design.

Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to find Prayers, Hymns and other resources; see also Sermon ideas and Thought for the week.

This week we explore being a sign of the good news in our everyday lives.


Use the activities and prayers to gather the group and introduce the theme

All age act of worship Session

When did you...

  • Ask people, working in pairs: can you recall any times when perhaps without even really thinking about it you might have been guilty of one of the following behaviours, or something like them: not owning up when you’ve been undercharged; asking to be reimbursed a little bit more than you are owed, because you can; complaining about something or someone that really didn’t deserve it; not responding to a request for help when you could easily have done so?
  • These are examples of the sort of behaviour John the Baptist complains about in today’s Gospel reading, as we will hear shortly. Often the Gospels tell us about what John and Jesus said to those in authority, both religious and secular. But what we hear today was aimed at ordinary people like us and that is not so easy to dismiss.

Call to worship

Let us meet with our God,
whose Spirit is with us now and throughout our daily lives.
Let us pray for opportunities to share the blessings we receive,
for God to provide the words with which we might speak them,
and inspire actions through which we might share them,
that all might be drawn to the God we serve.

A gathering prayer

This prayer may be used with an Advent wreath. Light the third candle this week.

As we light this Advent candle,
may its flame be for us a sign of the light
that reveals to us our path through life,
that inspires us to live simply and generously,
after the example and call of John the Baptist,
that we ourselves may be signs of the good news we proclaim.
In Jesus’ name.


First impressions

You could also use the image and following questions to help introduce the theme.

volunteer painting

Click on the image to view a larger version
or use the Jump menu to go to This week's images.
For artist's details, see this issue's illustrators.


  • How might what these young people are doing be ‘good news’ for someone?
  • What then should we do, to be a sign of the good news to others?
  • How is your community a sign of the good news?
Share the Word
All age act of worship Session

Zephaniah 3.14-20

The usual music used for the hymn, ‘Sing aloud, loud, loud!’ (first line: God is love: his the care) is Personent Hodie – a very old medieval song. It is said to have been originally published in 1582, but a very similar tune exists in a 1360 manuscript – and it is, presumably, at least a little older than that. Using such an ancient and long-established piece of music might be a way of expressing that taking joy in God is a steadfast, long-lasting and ongoing part of our faith. Sing the hymn or listen to a recording of it. Then listen to the reading from Zephaniah.


Luke 3.7-18

Ask some volunteers to read out an example of a modern-day job and a short phrase that describes that job if it is done well. For example: ‘Nurse/doctor – offers patients the care that they themselves would wish to receive if they were the patient,’ or ‘Teacher – always looks for the child who needs extra support, even while 30 others clamour for attention’. Or you could be a little more tongue-in-cheek: ‘Builder – always 100% accurate when estimating the time and budget for a job’ or ‘Postie – treats every delivery as if it was a personal gift from them’. After a couple of examples, invite people to suggest other jobs and ‘ideal’ descriptions. Ask people: How do these compare with what John says about two jobs in today’s Gospel reading? Then read the passage.

Explore and respond

A sequence of active worship ideas; individual elements can stand alone

All age act of worship Session

Active worship


What then should we do?

  • The phrase above suggests there are choices to be made in following Christ. Some are more obvious: for example, we choose whether or not to be a follower of Jesus, or to be baptized. But those ‘first’ choices have consequences and lead to other choices. Some of those who came to John for baptism don’t appear to have fully understood what they were choosing to do and some of its consequences for their everyday living.
  • Invite people to recall and share, first in pairs and then in a larger group: first, choices they may have made without fully understanding either the nature of the choice or the consequences; second, choices or consequences they are faced with in their daily lives because they follow Jesus – e.g. workplace practices that seem contrary to Gospel values.
    W A


A Biblical analogy

Find a contemporary equivalent of John’s threshing floor.

  • Display, or give out copies of, images of winnowing forks, threshing floors, granaries and chaff (do an internet search and choose your favourites).
  • In pairs, discuss what a modern – and, depending on your context, urban – equivalent of these things might be. In other words, what metaphor using modern tools and situations might convey the same meaning as John’s words in Luke 3.17? Then rewrite verse 17 using your new-found images.
  • Invite people to share their rewritten verse.


A reflective activity

Think about how others see you.

  • Give out pale-coloured blank or pretty postcards and pens. You can get pretty cards from many places, for example: The Postcard Store.
  • There are various fruits that we regularly link with Christmas – for example, satsumas and dates. Invite people to draw on one half of the paper/card, as best they can, a piece of fruit that they link with Christmas.
  • Then, on the other half, write or draw something to represent the ‘fruit’ by which people know them in their workplace, school, college, or wherever they spend a significant amount of their time, e.g., kindness or reliability – but don’t offer too many suggestions; encourage people to come up with their own.
  • Invite people to take their cards home and, from now until Candlemas (Presentation of Christ, 2 February), use them from time to time to reflect on the ‘fruit’ by which they are known. Add any new ‘fruit’ to the card as appropriate. (At or near Candlemas, get everyone to bring the cards back to church and invite feedback.)
    W E S A


A simple worship activity

Make a commitment to change one thing.

  • Bill Gates, who is not a Christian, gives away millions every year, supporting various causes across the globe. So, if a known non-Christian can live by John’s exhortation to ‘give his second coat’, how might we do something similar? Read out Luke 3.10-14.
  • Invite people to reflect on how they, individually, might live out John’s call. Specifically, what one thing could they do, or do differently? It may be something quite small in the scheme of things, context is of course everything, but choose one achievable thing! Allow a few minutes for this and play gentle background music.
  • Give out ‘covenant cards’ and pens. Ask people to write into the space on the card what it is they have decided to do. Encourage them to show it to a trusted friend who will hold them accountable to their promise.
  • Invite everyone to say together the words on the cards above the space, then to speak the words they have written aloud or read them silently to themselves. When everyone has completed that, say together the words under the space. All say, Amen.
    W E A


A prayer for all ages together

The world says, ‘You can never have enough money’; but we say,
‘Let’s share. Let’s dare to be different.’
The world says, ‘You can never have too many clothes’; but we say,
‘Let’s share. Let’s dare to be different.’
The world says, ‘Enough is never really enough’; but we say,
‘Let’s share. Let’s dare to be different.’
In Jesus’ name,
‘Let’s share. Let’s dare to be different.’


Activity sheet

Go with God

Consider together what you have explored, what that means for each of you and how it might influence your daily lives

All age act of worship Session
  • Living authentically can be really difficult outside our churches. Invite people to share ways in which they, or Christians in general, might support and help each other in any of the things that have been explored today: difficult consequences of following Jesus; everyday choices and decisions; how we are signs of good news; the fruit by which we are known; the covenant choice we have just made.
    W E A


A sending out prayer

Lord, help us to go into the world in peace;
to be of good courage;
to hold fast to that which is good;
to strengthen the fainthearted;
to support the weak;
to honour everyone;
and to love and serve the Lord.
Be within us and among us,
and remain with us always.

Go with God 24/7

Encourage everyone to put their faith into action

Take your daily devotional – prayer book, Bibles notes, Bible, or whatever you use – with you to your workplace/school/etc., and read it during your lunchbreak each day as a sign of the importance to you of the good news of Jesus. If that is not possible, could you read it when you are travelling on public transport? Or put a sign or a lit candle in a window while you are praying at home?


Give out the ROOTS at home resource to encourage faith at home.

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