Fifth Sunday in Lent | Believe! — Planning Notes

April 2, 2017 (Year A) | Living Our Baptismal Calling Series
by Taylor Burton-Edwards

Order of Worship Preaching Hymns Music  Planning Formation Groups 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

Today is the fifth Sunday in the Lenten series, “Living the Baptismal Calling.” Today’s focus is on the last baptismal question, the call to profess, with the church, the faith of the whole church “into” our Triune God. The idea of faith “into” comes from the New Testament and the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds themselves. The most frequent way the New Testament describes the nature of our faith is not “faith in” (i.e., giving intellectual assent to), but rather “faith into” (meaning, entrusting ourselves entirely to). That is why the phrasing of the questions preceding each of the three articles of the Apostles’ Creed in the Entrance of this service is “do you entrust your life to” rather than “do you believe in.”

April 9             Passion/Palm Sunday
                        New Series Begins: Holy Week
April 13           Maundy Thursday
April 14           Good Friday
April 15           Holy Saturday (Full Twitter script with audio links) #holysat17
                        Great Vigil of Easter Planning Resources Simplified Service
April 16           Easter Sunday
April 23           Festival of God’s Creation
                        New Series Begins: Easter Season (through Pentecost)
April 25           World Malaria Day
April 30           Native American Ministries Sunday

All Month        Christian Home Month
                        Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 4              National Day of Prayer (USA)
May 5              May Friendship Day
May 8-14         Christian Family Week
May 14            Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 21            Heritage Sunday
May 24            Aldersgate Day
May 25            Ascension Day
May 28            Ascension Sunday (if transferred)
May 29            Memorial Day (USA)

June 4            Day of Pentecost (Easter Season Concludes)
June 11          Trinity Sunday, Peace with Justice Sunday
                       New Series Begins: TBA
June 18          Father’s Day (USA)
June 19          Juneteenth

July 4            Independence Day


For Your Planning Team: Living Our Baptismal Calling


In This Series
Today marks the conclusion of our five-week Lenten series.

Holy Week begins next week, and with it new patterns of both worship and congregational life. Specifically, we will be providing resources for home or small-group use for the weekdays of Holy Week, in addition to full services for the Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Vigil) and Easter Sunday morning.

For today and through this week, the patterns you have established should remain in place. You gather in worship on Sunday to hear and respond to the final baptismal question and continue with at least two additional opportunities for follow up on that baptismal calling (one on one and in formation group gatherings) throughout the week. You may also have a final Sunday morning or midweek Courageous Conversation event today or this week that models and helps advance work on what it means to be “in union with the church which Christ opens to people of all ages, nations, and races.”

Keep these patterns going strong this week.

Three Greek Verbs and their Translation in This Service
by Taylor Burton-Edwards

There are three Greek verbs describing strong emotion that I have translated a bit differently than most “standard” translations in this week’s gospel gospel. The three verbs are klaio, dakruo, and embrimaomai.
[Read more]

Believing is at the heart of this week’s gospel reading. The verb “to believe” shows up consistently throughout the text (verses 15, 25, 26, 27, 40, and 42). He says both to his disciples (verse 15) and to God of the crowd of onlookers at the tomb of Lazarus that he is doing what he is doing “so that they might believe you have sent me” (v. 42).

In other words, everything that Jesus does in today’s story is aimed at provoking belief. Belief comes, as we have noted before, in several forms. There is belief that something is the case (that you have sent me, verse 42), and belief into persons, entrusting one’s life into their hands (verses 25-26). Ultimately, it is the latter that he seeks the most for his first disciples, Martha, the crowd, and for us.

The faith we are asked to profess as Christians includes assent that certain things are the case, but is likewise not at all limited to that. In both the Apostles and the Nicene Creeds, indeed, in nearly all Christian creeds written in Latin or Greek, the nature of the belief we are asked to confess is “belief into,” entrusting our lives to the one whose activity among us has been as each article of the creeds describes.

As we have done throughout this series, this service provides four opportunities to encounter and respond to the baptismal question which underlies both worship and formation groups this week. After the opening song set, the pastor asks the congregation the baptismal questions, and the congregation responds in assent, using the words of the baptismal covenant.  In the response to the sermon in all are invited to write down in two cards how they currently entrust their lives to each person of the Trinity, and how they will seek to do so better during the coming week. The congregational response also forms the frame of both the prayers of the people and the dismissal.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: China, Hong Kong, Macao


Three Greek Verbs and Their Translation in This Service

by Taylor Burton-Edwards

There are three Greek verbs describing strong emotion that I have translated a bit differently than most “standard” translations in this week’s gospel gospel. The three verbs are klaio, dakruo, and embrimaomai.

Klaio and dakruo both refer to acts of weeping. Klaio typically points to the sound of weeping, and, particularly in contexts of death, to acts of open lamentation. This is the verb John uses to describe what Mary and the religious leaders are doing. I’ve used the English  “bewail” to capture the sense of open lamentation this typically describes.  Dakruo derives from the noun dakruon, which means “tear.” It focuses thus less on the sound, and more on the visual signs of deep, internal disturbance. This is the verb that describes what Jesus does when he sees Mary and the others “bewailing.” I’ve translated it as “teared up and began to weep.”

Embrimaomai describes what Jesus does before he gets to tearing up and weeping (verse 33). And it occurs again when he gets to the tomb (verse 38). Etymologically, the verb points to “snorting like a horse.” The figurative meaning points to an uprising of deep anger or rage. Many English translations tone down these “darker” meanings, and one might argue that mine (“groaned within”) does, too. But groaning has two advantages for this service. One, it at least reflects the depth of feeling and a bit of the sound dynamic of “snorting like a horse” internally. And second, it pairs perfectly with the second line of William Billings’s hymn text “When Jesus Wept” that we use to accompany the reading today. “When Jesus groaned a trembling fear seized all the guilty world around.” This links both the weeping and the groaning to today’s reading, even if the groaning also refers to the crucifixion of Jesus. This kind of double allusion may well have been what Billings had in mind.


Categories: Year A, Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 2, 2017