First Sunday of Advent 2017 Planning Notes

December 3, 2017 (Year B)

Coming Home | COME DOWN HOME

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

The color for Advent is either blue or purple. Some congregations choose a pink candle and pink paraments for Advent 3, but this is not strictly necessary nor universally followed. The colors for Advent 4 (December 24 in the morning) remain Advent colors. Christmas colors are white and gold, beginning December 24 after sunset.  


December 3      Advent-Christmas Series (Year B) Begins                            
                           Global Migration Sunday
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

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

For your Planning Team

In the Series

As with all series starts, keep these key elements about today’s service in mind as you complete your planning:

  1. Include an overture — Find an effective way to preview or sample the key themes you’ll be exploring in the coming weeks of Advent and Christmas Season. Use the Series Overview for starters. And be sure to preview the weekly “events” you’ll host as part of this series.
  2.  Use or introduce musical and/or visual threads you will continue to draw on throughout the series. Our series graphics and series theme around Home offers rich opportunities to create your “stage set” and incorporate musical cues throughout the series from secular Christmas and other seasonal music.  
  3. Start strong, with a plan to build on the first week in the second, maintain development through the middle, and conclude stronger than you began. Strong means confident, clear, and decisive. It need not (and often will not) mean “exciting” or even “impressive” (in terms or music or spectacle). Series ends, like the fourth movement of each service (Sending Forth), are about wrapping together, sending forth, and creating a segue into the next series, not simply wrapping up and closing down the current one.

This series actually offers two opportunities for a segue into the next, and the first of these happens on the same day! We provide resourcing for Advent 4 in the morning, and a simple (and brief) service of Christmas Eve Communion you might offer at multiple times in the later afternoon and evening to kick off the celebration of Christmas Season, which continues next Sunday. Whichever of these services you offer, remember to use the opportunity of what may be larger than usual numbers of visitors to invite people to (and preview!) your next series (After Epiphany), which begins January 7 (we combine Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord this year because of the peculiarities of the calendar and under the guidance of the Book of Worship).  

Since most United Methodist congregations will celebrate Communion today (first Sunday of the month), keep in mind that the role and timing of the sermon is only the first part of the “middle.” Leave plenty of time for response to the word and Communion.

This Week’s After Church/Afternoon Activity: St. Nicholas Day

As described in the this sidebar in the Preaching Notes, we’re commending your congregation adopt some practice of St. Nicholas Day into your activities today. St. Nicholas Day is December 6. Consider creating an opportunity for children and adults to make Advent wreaths for home use and to wrap and exchange small gifts with other families. Have plenty of holiday snacks on hand and tell stories about the real St. Nicholas as part of the day. And if “Santa Claus” will be part of your seasonal activities, today may be the most appropriate Sunday to schedule his visit.    

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Myanmar, Thailand

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Year B, First Sunday of Advent — December 3, 2017