From Chaos to Community: Creation

From Chaos to Community — Series Overview

First Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

Trinity Sunday / Peace with Justice Sunday

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

First Sunday after Pentecost: Creation
Colors are white or gold for Trinity Sunday. After today, the color shifts to green. It will return to white and gold twice between then and Advent: All Saints Sunday and Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday, which concludes the season after Pentecost.

For Your Planning Team: FROM CHAOS TO COMMUNITY: Creation

We start a new series and a new season, even a new kind of season, with today’s service.

Lent and Easter are very much about formation. That’s why our resources during these two seasons include material for formational groups appropriate to the work of each season.

The Season after Pentecost is about engaging in ministry that flows from that formation.

So today marks more than a change in colors in the worship space (from Pentecost red last week to Trinity white and/or gold for this week, and then green until All Saints). It marks a shift in the focus of everything we do in worship and formation. We move from preparing to doing.

So the “overture” for today’s service, launching this series, needs to mark a fairly decisive shift as well to lay out the trajectory for where the series is going.

Our proposals for stagescape and the presentation of the Scripture today are designed to do just that. In the stagescape (described further below), you’ll lay out the series theme and the service themes for the five weeks. And our proposal for the reading both builds some continuity with the involvement of children near the beginning of last week’s service and expands it, as this time we hear and perhaps see many children–and diverse children–giving voice to a new take on the opening story of the Bible.

Logistics for this Service:

Create the Series Stagescape.
We suggest creating a three-level stagescape for this worship series. Use sturdy boxes, stools, and tables, as well as stairs (if safe to do so), so all three levels are visible to all in the worship space. Find fabric representative of the sky, earth, and water to be placed on the three tiers. Sky could be white or light blue; earth could be brown, green, or any earth tone; water should be some tone of blue or green. Add other elements to this fabric, if desired, with elements representative of your congregation. If you have gardeners in your congregation, see if they can donate a potted plant or two to the “earth” level. Larger potted plants should be placed ahead of time, but small potted plants may be brought in during the creation story. Add stones or rocks. Blue, white or green glass stones can pick up the light in the water level. (We would not suggest bringing sand into your worship space if you have carpet.)

If you are adding items to the stagescape during worship, you may want to place a masking tape X where each item is to be placed.

The three tiers with the elements of rocks or stones, greenery, and fabric representing the sky, earth, and water should stay throughout the worship series. This is your visual, your interpretation of the earth that God created, the stage upon which our lives and our discipleship play out.

Rehearse the setting of the stagescape.
There are a good number of moving parts, so rehearse, preferably the night before and the morning of, at least thirty minutes before the service starts.

First, decide what will already be in place and what needs to be brought in and given special focus during the reading. Simple is often more effective and less prone to error than complicated, so you may want to bring in relatively few items, or even no items, and simply have people stationed to uncover items already placed at an appropriate time.

Second, for the beginning of the reading, try to get the worship space as dark as you can. For spaces with large windows and Sunday morning services, we realize this is a challenge. The darker the space when you begin the reading, with just audio or visual, the more you can heighten the senses.

Candle and Lights cue: When the reader (or reader on video) says, “Turn on, light,” the candles on the stagescape may be lit, and then all lights brought up.

Other items cues: We suggest at least a bowl and a jug of water (representing the waters gathering into lakes. Pour the water into the bowl placed at sea level; then place the jug beside the bowl. Add potted plants, plastic or stuffed fish, large (or many) plastic insects or insect puppets, and stuffed animals (including birds for the third level) representing other forms of life. Practice placing or uncovering these so each is placed or uncovered as it is mentioned in the reading.

Setting the stage, or even simply uncovering items, is a great opportunity for you to involve people of all ages, abilities, and ethnicities in your congregation in leading worship throughout this series. Be sure to take full advantage of it!

Develop the video or audio of the reading with children.
What may be ideal for today’s reading is a video of five to seven different children (different in age, gender, ethnicity, and physical ability) telling (not reading) the story script. To facilitate this with younger children, simply ask them to repeat the line you give them while looking directly into the camera, then edit out your prompts as you edit the presentations of all the children individually into a coherent whole.

One thing that will make your editing easier is to have the children pause for a second or two after each line they give. If you are developing audio, silence is enough. Video will work better if the children “freeze” after the line.

It may take several hours for filming, and, depending on your editing skills, perhaps several more hours to get the video in final form. Make a special day of it, whether a Saturday or a weekday (if schools are out), with your children’s ministries team. Get signed release forms from the children’s parents, build up the excitement for seeing what the children have done, and then, after worship, place the finished product on your church’s website or Facebook page, on YouTube, or on other video sharing sites for all to see. You have our permission to use and adapt the script for your setting. Just be sure not to use copyrighted music as part of your video unless you have obtained written permission from the copyright holder of the music to do so.

Rehearse the Whole Opening of the Service through the Reading:
Schedule two times for full run-throughs on the staging, starting with the conclusion of the second song: one on the evening before the service and one the morning of the service– with all persons involved, including the band or musicians, the audiovisual team, and the people who will be placing or uncovering items. As part of the rehearsal, make sure the cues for starting the audio/video and for lighting are clear to your audiovisual crew and that they are able to execute them with appropriate sound levels (sound levels may change between song and video) at least three times in a row. You’ve put a lot of effort into creating these resources for the opening of this service and series. Honor that effort by ensuring the service will be as smooth as possible.

We encourage celebrating Holy Communion on weeks two and five of this series (June 18 and July 11). While we, of course, commend weekly celebration, if your usual pattern is monthly, these are the two Sundays in this series where Communion most strongly connects with the theme of the day.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for Trinity Sunday

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Angola, Mozambique

In This Series...

Second Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Third Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Fifth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes