Fifth Sunday of Easter — Planning Notes

May 14, 2017 (Year A) | Becoming One with Christ
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

Becoming...One With Christ
Colors are white or gold, and flowers may continue to abound today and throughout the Great 50 Days of Easter Season until its final celebration on Pentecost, when the colors are red.     

All Month        Christian Home Month
                        Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
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

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)


For Your Planning Team: Becoming...One With Christ

In This Series

Today marks the launch of our second Easter three-week series. “Becoming…” focuses on claiming our spiritual gifts and callings as we seek to live out what it means to become one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Easter season culminates with Pentecost and a service of commissioning people into the ministries to which they have discerned they are called.

So remember these three keys to an effective series launch.

  1. Start strong. One of the ways to start a series strong is to have a distinctive layout for the worship space for the series. Our series begins with a new “worship set” that includes a dining table with chairs around it in front of the Lord’s Table and that removes the pulpit (if the pulpit is removable). The opening songs are either upbeat (modern) or very familiar (traditional), making it more likely more of your congregation will want to sing “lustily and with great courage,” as John Wesley reminds in his “Directions for Singing” (United Methodist Hymnal, vii).   
  2. Offer an overture in some way, something that lays out the theme and previews the journey ahead. You might do that today in onscreen announcement sets shown before and after worship (using the preview video suggested in last week’s planning guide), or in your bulletin, calling attention to it in pre-worship announcements. Your prelude today, if you have one, might also include musical cues from the services coming up.
  3. Articulate the series promise. The series promise for this miniseries fulfills the second of the two ancient purposes for Easter Season: ministry formation of the newly baptized. This series in particular will help the newly baptized and the whole congregation become more deeply grounded in the gifts, callings, and opportunities for ministry in their lives as together we grow ever more one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world. 

Logistics for This Service:

Furniture needs to be moved for this service and series. In some cases, this may also mean moving pews or other seating. Some of this furniture may be heavy or bulky. Plan for plenty of help and the right tools (dollies, straps, carts, etc) for the work to be done. Pastors, this is not a last minute or one-person job! Plan on the task taking up to several hours, and be sure those who assist understand and are ready for the time commitment that may be involved.

Rehearse the flow of the actions around the dining table with the band/musicians and those who are coming to the table, both the reader (deacon/pastor/or other) and those coming to and leaving the table. Be sure to include in your practice placing the cross in the center position.

And pastor, rehearse the delivery of your sermon from a seated position at the table. Being in this position and being at a table rather than behind a pulpit or simply in front of the people will affect the ways you express yourself. We are suggesting the seated position throughout the first three weeks of this series to create more of a sense of intimacy and conversation as reflected in the relationship of Jesus and his disciples in our readings each week. As you rehearse, you may discover some sections of your sermon feel a bit awkward being delivered from a seated position. Rehearsal is your opportunity to adjust your sermon and your delivery, so your words and your actions more closely match your posture and position.

Finally, today is Mother’s Day in the US. We have not tried to include a specific act of worship recognizing mothers, in part because, in our experience, many such acts can be fraught with potential for embarrassment or pain. We have instead alluded to mothers in the selection of “Who Is My Mother” as part of the Prayers of the People. Our suggestion is that you may wish to offer a brief statement giving thanks for mothers in your midst and people who have been mothers to the people as part of the announcements, and then offer a reception following worship in honor of mothers.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Kenya, Tanzania


Categories: Year A, Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 14, 2017