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First Sunday After Christmas Day 2017 Planning Notes

December 31, 2017 (Year B)

Coming Home  |  GOING HOME AGAIN
 

Order of Worship Preaching Hymns Music 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

First Sunday After Christmas Day: GOING HOME AGAINChristmas Season colors are white and gold, now through Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord (January 7). Beginning January 14, the color shifts to green.

December
December 31    Watch Night/New Year’s Eve

 

January
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
 

February
All Month       Black History Month
February 11   Transfiguration of the Lord
                        Scouting Sunday

February 14   Ash Wednesday
                        Lent Series Begins (forthcoming)
February 19  
Presidents Day
 

March
March 2         World Day of Prayer
March 11       UMCOR Sunday
                       Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Spring) (USA)
 

For your Planning Team

In the Series

We conclude the series, but not Christmas Season today. Next week, our new series, Rise Up!, begins with a combination of Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord rolled into one.

Plan for a strong ending for this series. Strong series endings do the following:

  1. Recapitulate where you’ve been and where you’ve come to through the series. Today’s theme of “Going Home Again” will naturally help you do this. The family reunion time is over. It’s time to get back to your “regular” life. The year is ending. A new year dawns this night, and the regular cycles of work and study will likely begin in the next few days. Taking all you’ve experienced through these past five weeks, including today, how will you seek to live re-aligned and transformed by the one destined for the falling and rising of many and the redemption of the universe?  Today’s service rightly leads to that question as a segue into an observance of Watch Night tonight and to the series that follows beginning next Sunday (Rise Up!).
     
  2. Underscore the series promise-- We’ve taken this journey of realignment with God’s purposes for the universe and reunion with one another. Now we’re poised to step out in faith to live this way better in the coming year than we did in the year past.
     
  3. Send the people forth with confidence in where they’ve been and where they’re going. Jackson Henry’s new setting of Simeon’s song to the well-known tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a great way to send folks forth today-- ready for recommitments tonight and faithful, hope-filled, gospel living in the year to come.
     

And make a point this morning and tonight, if you observe Watch Night together (as suggested) to invite people back for the launch of the next series, Rise Up!, beginning next Sunday.

The series outline for Rise Up! is:

January 7      God Is Speaking!
(Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord)
Isaiah 60:1-6; Mark 1:4-11

January 14    Listen
I Samuel 3:1-10

January 21    Move
Jonah 3:1-5, 10

January 28    Answer
Deuteronomy 18:15-20

February 4    Focus
Isaiah 40:21-31

February 11: God is Speaking!
(Transfiguration)
2 Kings 2:1-12; Mark 9:2-9

This Week’s Evening/Night Activity: Watch Night

Watch Night has its modern roots in Methodism. Originally an observance of night prayer (prayer vigil, or prayer watch) held throughout the year in the early Methodist societies in England and the American colonies, Watch Night soon became associated and combined with another Methodist observance, Covenant Renewal, and thus ultimately became an annual time of prayer, exhortation, and recommitment on New Year’s Eve.

Later in the nineteenth century, Watch Night observances among black Americans also became associated with the end of slavery, as Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law on December 31, 1862 (155 years before this night). Watch Night remains a significant observance in many black churches of all denominations in the United States, taking into account not only the end of slavery, but ongoing forms of oppression and suppression, such as enhanced Voter ID laws that tend to target black voters in many instances, the ongoing incarceration of disproportional numbers of black males, and drug laws and police and other forms of violence that disproportionately affect black people in this country. Black Christians who gather on this night have a long history of seeking the Jesus destined for the falling and rising up of many, and the redemption of all. 

Our Book of Worship includes a full Service of Covenant Renewal, with the covenant renewal proper drawn from John Wesley’s 1780 version of this service.

We suggest you begin your time together with a gathering for a meal or late evening refreshments and one last round of Christmas songs (secular or sacred) interspersed with Freedom Songs in solidarity with black Americans and all others who remain oppressed and need the deliverance and redemption only Christ can bring about. Consider starting the Covenant Renewal service fifteen to twenty minutes before midnight, so the act of covenant renewal itself is in progress over the midnight hour as the new year dawns. As the italics at the end of the service suggest, provide a full printout of the covenant renewal rite to every person, and encourage each person to sign it and keep it as a sign of his/her commitment this night and into the coming year. If you continue with Holy Communion, use The Great Thanksgiving for New Year, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, or Covenant Reaffirmation (BOW 58-59).

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: (Click link to find countries for this week when they are posted)

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Year B, First Sunday After Christmas — December 31, 2017