Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes

August 20, 2017 (Year A)
by Taylor Burton-Edwards

Preaching Hymns Planning Additional Resources


Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: STEP TOWARD...YOUR SIBLINGS IN ABRAHAM
The color from now until Advent is green, with two exceptions: All Saints Day or Sunday (November 1 or 5)  and Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (November 26). 

All Month          Back to School Resources
August 13         New Series Launch: Three Steps in the Christian Walk

All Month          Season of Creation (2017 resources forthcoming)
September 4    Labor Day (USA)
September 15-
October 15      Hispanic Heritage Month (USA)

All Month           A Season of Saints (2017 resources forthcoming)
October 1         World Communion Sunday
October 6-8     Children’s Sabbath (2017 resources forthcoming)
October 15       Laity Sunday (2017 resources forthcoming)
October 31       Reformation Day (500th Anniversary)

November 1
       All Saints Day
November 3       World Community Day
November 5       All Saints Sunday
                            Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Fall)
November 11     Veterans Day
November 12    Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday
                           International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
November 19    Bible Sunday (National Bible Week November 19-26)
November 23    Thanksgiving Day
November 26    Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday
                           United Methodist Student Day

December 1      World AIDS Day
December 3      Advent-Christmas Series (Year B) Begins (Forthcoming)
December 21    
Longest Night/Blue Christmas
December 24    Christmas Eve (evening)
December 25    
Christmas Day
December 26    Kwanzaa
December 31    Watch Night/New Year’s Eve


January 1        New Year’s Day/Holy Name of Jesus
January 7        Epiphany Sunday AND Baptism of the Lord
                         Season after Epiphany Series Begins (Forthcoming)
January 11      
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 14      Human Relations Day (Special Sunday with Offering)
January 15      
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
January 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 21      Ecumenical Sunday

For Your Planning Team: STEP TOWARD...Your Siblings in Abraham

Since this is a “three point” rather than “three step” series (see planning notes for August 13, 2017), as this week’s sermon notes do, simply offer a brief summary of last week’s main point and move into this week’s theme.

Visually, find images of Christians, Jewish people, and Muslims walking toward each other or alongside each other with obvious peaceful intent. Or better, have a gathering with Jewish and Muslim neighbors, take photos (with their permission!), and show them in worship, either onscreen or in the bulletin.

Musically, you may wish to find a different place for “Step by Step” or “Sometimes by Step” you may have begun using last week. Consider singing “The God of Abraham Praise” (UMH 116). If you do, consider changing “Jehovah, Great I AM” in verse 1 and the end of verse 4 to “Adonai, Great I AM” out of respect for not speaking or singing the Divine Name.  This hymn and its tune are in the public domain, so you may legally make such changes.

If you have a call to discipleship or other form of call for commitment, be sure to make the call specific. The sermon notes offer several ideas about concrete ways individuals and the congregation may commit to taking steps toward Jewish and Muslim neighbors. Consider including a checklist of actions persons may commit to take in the bulletin or a social media tool. Include those you know they can take immediately where you are (this will vary by your local context), and leave space for ideas you have not listed. Encourage participants to share their response with at least one other person present as a way to provide for accountability and follow-through.

Prayers offer an opportunity for participation by Jewish or Muslim neighbors. If you are able to arrange it, invite a Jewish cantor to lead the Psalm (this week’s Psalm is Psalm 67), and a Muslim imam or other leader to offer a recited prayer (in Arabic if possible) from their tradition for peace or for the local community.

Because you may be invited guests from non-Christian traditions to participate in worship today, consider not celebrating communion, if you normally would. Instead, offer an act of thanksgiving in which persons from all three traditions can participate. Just as we commend for interfaith weddings, plan to work with your particular Jewish and Muslim leaders to develop such a resource in ways respectful the distinctives of the traditions of all three.

And, assuming you are having interfaith guests, plan for a reception or a shared meal (with halal and kosher compatible foods) after worship today.

Finally, on June 14, 2017, the Elijah Interfaith Institute released a series of films of significant religious leaders from around the world calling for some of the very steps we address in today’s service. You may also find their resources helpful along the way. You may learn more here: http://www.elijah-interfaith.org.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Liberia, Sierra Leone


Categories: Year A, Eleventh Sunday After the Pentecost — August 20, 2017

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