Third Sunday in Lent | Confess — Planning Notes

March 19, 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 third Sunday in the Lenten series, “Living the Baptismal Calling.” Today’s focus is on the third and fifth baptismal questions: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as Lord in union with the church which he has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?” and “By the grace given you, will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?”

Next Sunday marks the first time we observe what we now call “UMCOR Sunday.” The former designation was One Great Hour of Sharing. The title was changed by General Conference in 2016 to reflect that all funds raised for this day in United Methodist churches are specifically to offset the administrative costs of the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. 

All Month        Women’s History Month
March 26         UMCOR Sunday (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing)

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
Your basic patterns for worship and formation should now be well set for this series. You gather in worship on Sunday to hear and respond to one of the baptismal questions, grounded in the Scriptures, and then 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 had two Sunday morning or midweek Courageous Conversation events that model and help 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 and in the weeks to come!

Today’s gospel account of the encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob beautifully illustrates this week’s baptismal questions in action. Simply by stopping to rest in Samaria, and then even more by talking with a woman from Samaria and offering her “living water,” Jesus is modeling what it means to be part of his church that he opens to people of all ages, nations, and races.

She shows us the rest of the verbs of this week’s questions at work. She confesses Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior. She puts her whole trust in his grace, because she has experienced his grace toward her, even though he knows all about her past and present. She serves him as Lord and represents him by becoming an evangelist to the people of the nearby village, and they begin to believe at first because of her confession, and then because Jesus agreed to stay among them two days longer and they got to know him.

Jesus unites us. We confess, trust, serve, and represent him.

Today’s service models this in the way the reading is constructed. One reader narrates. Another  says the words of Jesus. The whole congregation says the words of the woman and of the crowd.

As we have done throughout this series, this service provides four opportunities to encounter and respond to the baptismal question that underlies both worship and formation groups this week. Once again, after the opening song set, the pastor asks the congregation the baptismal questions, and the congregation responds in assent, adding the corresponding elements from the General Rules (in this case, General Rule 3). In the response to the sermon, all are invited to write down in two cards how they will seek to confess, trust, serve, be united with others, and represent Christ during the coming week. Individuals keep one card for themselves and give the other to another to check in with later during the week. The baptismal question again also forms the frame of both the prayers of the people and the dismissal.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for the Third Sunday in Lent

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Myanmar, Thailand


Categories: Year A, Third Sunday in Lent - March 19, 2017