Clothing of the Saints

Season of Saints 2017 — Series Overview

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

This service kicks off the series in conversation with the Epistle reading for All Saints and Charles Wesley’s paraphrase of that reading in his hymn “What Are These Arrayed in White?” What they are and what they wear are clues for what God longs for all of us to become: beloved saints-- and what it takes for us to become them.

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

Season of Saints 2017: CLOTHING OF THE SAINTS

The color for today is white or gold for All Saints. During the two middle “green weeks” of November, consider adding white or gold accents to your basic color palette to highlight this whole month as a Season of Saints. The final Sunday of November and this church year is Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday (November 26), and the colors then, as today, are white or gold.

In This Series

This year, rather than holding a Season of Saints as a lead-in to All Saints, we’re following the lectionary readings to support a Season of Saints that starts with All Saints and culminates with Christ the King. We’re interested in your feedback on how this works for you and your setting! For those of you who observe Extended or Early Advent, this series can work for you, too.

In this series, we move from “Clothing of the Saints” this week, to “Stories of the Saints “next week, then “Thanksgiving of the Saints,” and finally to “The Shepherd of the Saints.” Each of these can stand on its own, but there is a strong sense in which the flow of this series moves from who we are as saints with strong reference to Christ ultimately toward Christ himself. We move in a sense from the outside inward, from what we wear, to the stories we can tell, to the thanksgiving flowing from our inmost being, to Christ as our Shepherd-King at the center of it all.

As with all series starts, keep these key elements about today’s service in mind as you complete your planning:

  1. Include an overture-- Find an effective way to preview or sample the key themes you’ll be exploring in the coming weeks of this Season of Saints. You could do that today with an opening song set that includes “For All the Saints” (UMH 711, stanzas 1 and 6), “I Love to Tell the Story” (UMH 156, stanzas 1 and 4), “Now Thank We All Our God” (UMH 102, stanza 1), and “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (UMH 138, stanzas 1 and 6) in succession. Then, each succeeding week, begin by singing the entirety of the hymn you sampled today.
  2. Use or introduce musical and/or visual threads you will continue to draw on throughout the series. The overture suggested above will already have done this for you musically, if you choose to use it. There’s another thread thematically across the readings of people gathering around God’s throne or presence that you might think about developing as an ongoing visual link uniting the look of this series as well. Ask in your planning team or more widely in your congregation for people who might help you create that kind of visual unity, whether in banners, in setting a scene (perhaps the Lord’s Table or the font as a visual center), or in graphics.
  3. Start strong, with a plan to build on the first week in the second, maintain development through the middle, and conclude stronger than you began. Strong means confident, clear, and decisive. It need not (and often will not) mean “exciting” or even “impressive” (in terms or music or spectacle). With a series like this, where each service can also be self-contained, it may be a bit more important that there is a definitive beginning, middle, and end for each service. Series ends, like the fourth movement of each service, are about wrapping together, sending forth, and creating a segue into the next series, not simply wrapping up and closing down the current one.

If you follow the advice above (1 and 2), you will have started this service and this series strong. Since most United Methodist congregations will celebrate Communion today (first Sunday of the month, plus All Saints!), keep in mind that the role and timing of the sermon is only the first part of the “middle.” Leave plenty of time for response to the word and Communion. The sermon notes include time in the body of the sermon to name those in your congregation who have died during the past year. Immediately after the sermon could be a good time for a strong confession of faith (such as the Nicene Creed) or call to discipleship or altar call for those who sense a call to grow toward becoming saints. And be sure to include prayers of the people. We suggest a form of prayer —such as the petitions of Morning Prayer or Litany for the Church and for the World from the Book of Worship-- that includes praying for the whole company of God’s faithful people of every generation. If you sing this, consider using “Prayers of the People” by The Brilliance (CCLI #7039048), or the sung forms of the Morning Prayer petitions using TFWS 2201, or one of the sung responses from the hymnal (UMH 482-485, 487, 490). Strongly consider continuing to use the form of prayers of the people you use today throughout this Season of Saints as another continuous thread.

Suggestion for Great Thanksgiving: A Great Thanksgiving for All Saints and Memorial Occasions

Additional Song Suggestions: Charles Wesley, “What Are These Array’d in White” (Suggested Tune: ARFON (MAJOR) UMH 541), either between readings (if more than one) or during Communion, and “When the Saints Go Marching In” (public domain, multiple arrangements available online) as a hymn or song of sending. For more modern selections, consider “The Prayers of the Saints” by Matt Redman (CCLI #2456939), and “The Sounds of the Saints” (Agee, Mosley, Anderson, and Stewart, CCLI #7027411).

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Oceania: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia (Maohi Nui), Kanaky, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

In This Series...

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost 2017 Planning Notes Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 Planning Notes Christ the King Sunday 2017 Planning Notes