Article

Fourth Sunday of Easter — Planning Notes

May 7, 2017 (Year A) | Awakening to Baptism
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

Awakening...to Baptism
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.  
 

May
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
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
July 4             Independence Day


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


October
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: Awakening...to Baptism

In This Series

Series end is also segue to a new series.

Remember these keys for an effective series end.

  1. End strong. In a three-week series especially, you’re running more of a sprint than a marathon. And sprinters know how to add the extra energy at the end of the race to finish as strong as possible. Baptismal reaffirmation is a powerful way to end this series today.
     
  2. Segue well. The end of one series should flow directly into the next. So today we reaffirm baptism and our place as sheep in the Good Shepherd’s sheepfold. Next week, we begin a new series on who we are becoming as those who have been baptized and have recommitted our way to the life and direction of the Triune God. We also shift emphasis from the historic Easter Season priority of doctrinal formation (learning or deepening our learning of core doctrines) to that of ministry formation (discerning the Spirit’s gifts and calling for our life and ministries as disciples of Jesus). So even as today ends this series, baptismal reaffirmation also provides the basis for the launch of  the next one beginning next week. 
     
  3. Preview what’s next. This isn’t quite the full “overture” for a series opening, but you might think of it as a “teaser trailer.” If you have a video of your worship service, particularly the Great Thanksgiving at Holy Communion, you may have video of your pastor praying “By your Spirit, make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world…” If you don’t have existing video, it’s not hard to create. Simply get the Lord’s Table prepared as for Communion, and have your pastor pray that part of the Great Thanksgiving as she would on Sunday morning, and record that. Follow this video with a simple appearance of the word Becoming, followed by a fade-in of the next four phrases: one with Christ, one with each other, one in ministry, and flowing into all the world; and you’ll have your preview video. Use it in your announcement loop this week and throughout the next series, put it on your website, post it to YouTube, and use social media to share the link.

Logistics for This Service

“Queue management” is the fancy term for keeping groups of people from waiting in too long lines. It’s also the critical additional piece to focus on in this service, as you have folks moving to seal the act of reaffirming their baptismal vows and placing their offerings.

You may have only one font. But today, we suggest you prepare multiple “font and offering stations” either in front or around your worship space.

Determine the number of stations needed by rehearsing the actions (using the water and placing gifts in the basket without rushing) with your ushers and other station attendants. Time this with people of varying age and mobility. If you determine 4-5 persons per minute can use the water and place their gifts, and you want to allocate 8 minutes for this part of the service, then you will need one station for every 32-40 people. (4-5 people per minute X 8 minutes = 32-40 people per station).

Determine the location of stations by working out where people are seated and the paths they can take to a location and then back to their seats without creating either bottlenecks or crashes. This will depend entirely on your particular worship space and how people are seated in it. Use your ushers and other station attendants to help verify where you think stations might actually work.  

Finally, rehearse! Ushers need to get from wherever they are to the places where they’ll help conduct traffic. Station attendants need to get from wherever they are to their stations. And ushers will need to collect offerings from the stations and bring them to the front at the end of this action, all in a coordinated way. So, pastors, ushers, and station attendants, rehearse these actions well before the service so everyone knows where they’re going, what they’re doing there, and where they’re going next, so that everything flows smoothly.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda

Categories: Year A, Fourth Sunday of Easter - May 7, 2017