Third Sunday of Easter — Planning Notes

April 30, 2017 (Year A) | Awakening to the Table
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 the Table
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.  

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

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: the Table

In the second service of a three-part series, as in the second note of a triplet in music, a major function of the service is to carry forward the energy and feel of the first service into the third.

The suggested way of reading today’s gospel lesson and the accompanying songs, with their embodiment of and focus on walking with Jesus, convey that “carrying forward” purpose of a second service. So does the celebration of Holy Communion itself, whether you use the Native American or our Book of Worship form of the Great Thanksgiving in the service order. In Holy Communion, we encounter Jesus in bread and cup, and are sent from that encounter to be his body in the world, which is the point of our ongoing discipleship and growth in holiness of heart and life. 

A word the wise: Rehearse!

The reading today has lots of literally moving parts. There are multiple readers. You may be using either recorded video or livestreaming. So you have several readers (who should ideally be “off book,” not reading!), tech staff (sound, video, and computer), and perhaps a need for a backup plan if the weather doesn’t cooperate with a livestreamed version. Be sure you have run through the entirety of the reading with all people present (including your tech crew) multiple times before you try it live (for real) in worship.

Work out kinks in timing and in tech so the whole reading flows smoothly from beginning to end. Focus especially on the transitions (between voiceover and readers, and from outside to inside). A rule of thumb here-- get it right three times in a row the night before and then at least the last time you run it before the service. Then you’ll be most likely to be ready when service time comes.

If you’re running into major weather issues, or running it live doesn’t seem to be going well outdoors, then make video of everything until the entrance into the worship space, then run only the parts inside the worship space live. Give yourselves plenty of time and grace to do this. Though the reading lasts less than two minutes, expect to take at least two hours in rehearsal and/or video recording/production.

The Native American Service of Holy Communion may be unfamiliar to everyone. Not only the words may be unfamiliar, but the cadences, the actions, the gestures, and the pacing are different. Pastor, don’t presume you can make it work right the first time on Sunday morning during the service by just reading the words. This would be a dishonor to this rite and to our Native American United Methodist sisters and brothers who created it. What I tell my seminary students when I teach them how to preside at Holy Communion is to practice the words and gestures of the Great Thanksgiving they will use five times the night before in the space where they will presiding, and then an additional three times that Sunday morning before worship. Plan to do at least that if you will use this text.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for The Third Sunday of Easter

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Ethiopia, Eritrea

Categories: Year A, Third Sunday of Easter - April 30, 2017