Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost 2017 Planning Notes

October 29, 2017 (Year A)

Preaching Hymns 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

Habits of Hospitality, week 3: SHARING OUR AUTHENTIC SELVES
The color from now until Advent is green, with two exceptions: All Saints Day or Sunday (November 1 or 5)  and Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (November 26).   

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)

November 1
       All Saints Day
November 3       World Community Day
November 5       All Saints Sunday
                            Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Fall)
November 11     Veterans Day
November 12    Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday
                           International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
November 19    Bible Sunday (National Bible Week November 19-26)
November 23    Thanksgiving Day
November 26    Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday
                           United Methodist Student Day

December 1      World AIDS Day
December 3      Advent-Christmas Series (Year B) Begins (Forthcoming)
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)

Concluding This Series and Launching the Next

Habits of Hospitality concludes with this week’s focus on sharing our authentic selves with others in the midst of offering hospitality in the course of our mission. We come in peace offering peace. We come seeking not to impose but to welcome, and so to learn from those among whom we come. And we share Christ with those we’ve welcomed out of who we really are, not as if Christ is to us some “widget” or “service” we’re selling.

Next week, we begin a new series, “A Season of Saints.”

Here are the themes and Scriptures for the series in outline:

November 5 
All Saints Sunday: Clothing of the Saints
Revelation 7:9-17

November 12
Stories of the Saints
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

November 19
Thanksgiving of the Saints
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 (also Deuteronomy 26)

November 26
Christ the King, Shepherd of the Saints
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 (also Matthew 25:31-46)   

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

  1. Recapitulate where you’ve been and where you’ve come to through the series. The continuing threads you’ve woven through the series (music, graphics, and prayers of the people) not only create a sense of cohesion across the series, but also today, help recapitulate. Strongly consider using either “For Everyone Born” or “Welcome” as the song of sending today.
  2. Underscore the series promise-- We’ve been reviewing and seeking to strengthen the basic habits of hospitality critical to our mission, and we approach hospitality as people on mission, people who are sent and so serve as guests, not reign as hosts.
  3. Send the people forth with confidence in where they’ve been and where they’re going. Finishing this series with the song you’ve sung throughout it is one good way to do just that.

In This Service
After we’ve offered peace, after we’ve listened for the gifts and goodness of the people among whom we’ve been sent and so have welcomed them (from the position of guest, not host!), now we’re ready to share something of ourselves and our mission. And what we’re ready to share is our authentic selves as Christ is remaking us and them in the encounter.

Consider starting today’s service with songs of praise and welcome to God’s presence (drawing on last week’s conclusion), such as “Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here” (CCLI #6087919), “Alpha and Omega” (Africana Hymnal, 4029), or “Cantemos al Señor” (United Methodist Hymnal, 149). Then as the closing song of the set, invite all to move into a circle and sing to one another, “The Jesus in Me” (Worship and Song, 3151). Sing this through two or three times; then, with the music playing quietly in the background, have someone move to the center of the circle and read the Scriptures aloud, turning to face all in the circle as she or he reads. Conclude the reading by singing “The Jesus in Me” two more times. The first time, stay in the circle. The second, invite all to return to their seats. Then begin the sermon.

The sermon invites a response in the form of testimonies from people who can describe how sharing themselves with others has become a way of sharing Jesus with others. While there may be one or two people present at this service who may be willing to offer such a testimony spontaneously, don’t count on that! In your planning team, discuss which of you on the team (not you, pastor, worship leader, or music director!) or others in the congregation you might invite to share such a brief testimony (1-2 minutes maximum). And be sure you’ve planned for them to have rehearsal time well before worship or band setup/choir rehearsal in the worship space to practice, focus, and hone their message. Plan with flexibility for this segment of the service to run anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on spontaneous responses, adjusting accordingly.

Now that folks have heard and shared such testimonies, they’re ready to pray! Use the form of prayer you’ve used throughout the series; then move into confession, pardon, and peace, offering, and either the Great Thanksgiving (Season after Pentecost) or a prayer of thanksgiving after the offering (BOW 552, “All things come from you…”). 

If you celebrate Communion, consider doing so in a circle today, serving one another. And after the distribution, consider singing “Draw the Circle Wide” (W&S 3154) after all have received and before the Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion. Then, as your song of sending, as suggested above, sing either “For Everyone Born” or “Welcome” one last time to mark the completion of the series. And send everyone forth to love and serve God and their neighbors with all the habits of hospitality we have learned through this series” – peace, welcome, and sharing our authentic selves. 

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Canada, United States of America

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Year A, Twenty-first Sunday After the Pentecost — October 29, 2017