From Chaos to Community — Series Overview

Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

God is with us in our moments of greatest joy, and God is with us though the inevitable chaos and sorrow that life brings. God us with us in our friends and family, and God is with us in strangers who suddenly show up and bring us a word of hope and clarity in the midst of the jumbled, chaotic messes of life. God is with us in the familiar and God is with us in the unexpected. The good news is, no matter what we must face, we don’t face it alone. We face life together, in community with Christ, and in community with one another, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. God is with us.

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

Second Sunday after Pentecost: Birth
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).

For Your Planning Team: FROM CHAOS TO COMMUNITY: Birth

An important function of the second service in a series is to capture the feel and energy of the opening service and take it to a new level. We capture some of the feel of the first service by building out the stagescape begun last week, using a reading or video with a chorus of diverse voices – this time of fathers of many ages (in honor of Father’s Day). We also maintain continuity throughout this series by using the same form of the Prayers of the People and through a similar form of response to the word each week. Today’s service takes it to the next level by including the celebration of Communion with a new Great Thanksgiving based on today’s reading. And the service ends on a high note.

Logistics for this Service:

Rehearse the setting of the stagescape:
Run through the process you will use to add this week’s items to the stagescape before the service with the people who are responsible for bringing the items and placing or uncovering them. This week’s rehearsal may be a bit simpler, because it does not need to be choreographed to the reading. Items may be placed or uncovered during the second song of the opening set.

Once again, if you are bringing or adding items, you may want to place a small X made out of masking tape to indicate where the items should go. Be sure, wherever you choose to place them, that they will be within the sightlines of all or as many of your congregation as possible. If you use video feeds, be sure to rehearse also how the camera will follow those bringing and placing or uncovering these items so this action gains heightened attention, especially if you are in a larger space. This week, we commend at least the following two additions:
Another jug of water or a container of milk (place on the land level)
Baby blanket or swaddling cloth (also on land level)

We are commending Communion this week, so the elements of Communion may be brought and placed on the Lord’s Table as part of this opening action. If you are not celebrating Communion, consider adding pita bread or a large flat cake, representative of the cakes that were given to the visitors, somewhere in the proximity of the other items you are placing on the land level.

Make the video or rehearse the reading:
If you are presenting the reading as a video, gather your diverse group of fathers for an outing and plan to make a day of it. Give yourself at least one full week of lead time, including the full day outing for recording, so your video editor has enough time to produce a polished final version. As with the video with children from last week, capture every father (perhaps in different locations at your outing site) offering all of the reading-- not from a book, but directly into the camera (use cue cards if you must), and edit them together to create the final montage.

Note that this week we have added verses from chapter 17 to the beginning of the reading. This is to make clear that Isaac was given his name (he/she laughs) because of the response of both Abraham and Sarah, not just Sarah, to the news that they would become parents in extremely old age (Abraham was 99, and Sarah 90 at the time of these announcements).

If you choose to do the reading live, do it as a reading. It may be unrealistic to expect people to be able to be “off book” for your service, and having cue cards present would be obvious to the congregation. So in this case, just have each person read, but be certain that you have readers who read well and expressively.

Be clear how you are dividing the verses among your readers and rehearse the reading in the space three to five times the night before and an additional two to three times the morning of the service. Include in your rehearsals exactly where each reader will stand and how the reader will get to and leave from where he or she will stand to read.

And remember, you need one more reader for the end of the service. We suggest an older-adult woman to reflect the voice of Sarah. Be sure she rehearses both her reading and getting to and from her post (in front of the Lord’s Table after Communion).

We have provided for Holy Communion this week.
The text this week (a meal given in hospitality) strongly suggests the appropriateness of celebrating Holy Communion this Sunday.

Rehearse the Great Thanksgiving.
The Great Thanksgiving in this service is new, and the “song of heaven” may be unfamiliar to you and to your congregation. Pastor, we recommend you rehearse the Great Thanksgiving in the worship space with your musicians at least five times the night before and at least three times before the service in the morning so your leadership at Communion is as smooth as possible. We also recommend that you or your worship/music leader teach the Communion song to the congregation just before the opening of the service so all will be able to sing it when the time comes.

Additional Resources

Because of the later dates of Easter, this set of readings did not appear in 2014 or 2011.

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Brazil

In This Series...

First 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