As we enter fully into Ordinary Time this week, the calendar reminds us that there is nothing ordinary about becoming the people of God. On the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today we observe Human Relations Day, an opportunity for congregations to join together across the connection to raise awareness and funds for social justice initiatives and outreach to at-risk youth. Human Relations Day offers opportunities to listen to God’s call to create beloved community together. Consider how taking up a special offering can serve as the first step in your congregation’s ongoing work to share the assets of the whole community—gifts, time, skills, money, expertise, connections—to create a neighborhood, a city, a nation, and a world where all can flourish.
It is appropriate that Human Relations Day falls on a Sunday when our theme is listening. Listening and action feed each other as grace forms us into the people of God. Look for ways to create space for listening today that integrate with the call to act justly and kindly. Set the stage for the congregation to enter into a quiet space to pay attention to what God is doing and saying in them and the community. Consider what practices might be necessary to help those gathered to enter into this listening space. Perhaps to listen for God’s voice, the congregation must first clear out the noise in their hearts and minds through a prayer of confession or intercession. Or, perhaps we need to sing the opening verse of “Lord, Speak to Me” (United Methodist Hymnal 463) or the chorus of “Word of God, Speak” (Worship & Song 3184) to focus our hearts and minds as we attend to God’s voice. Whatever you choose, consider the best way to help your people enter into the interplay of listening and action.
The move into Ordinary Time also means a transition to green as our primary liturgical color as we enter this short season between Epiphany and Lent. This is certainly a time to highlight the mundane in your visuals in the worship space, particularly through earthy greens and natural materials. Also consider how some of the blues from the previous week might make their way into this week, as well. How might you visually reference Christ’s baptism as we journey through the next four weeks, reminding the congregation visually that we are and we are becoming the people of God through our union with the Incarnate Christ whose identity is made known in his baptism?
Dr. Lisa Hancock, Director of Worship Arts Ministries, served as an organist and music minister in United Methodist congregations in the Northwest Texas and North Texas Annual Conferences, as well as the New Day Amani/Upendo house churches in Dallas. After receiving her Master of Sacred Music and Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology, Lisa earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University wherein she researched and wrote on the doctrine of Christ, disability, and atonement.