Stories of the Saints

Season of Saints 2017 — Series Overview

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

What is the primary distinguishing mark of the stories saints tell? They are stories of deliverance, stories of salvation, and never stories merely of personal or family accomplishment. How will God help you tell your story the way the saints do?

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

A Season of Saints 2017: STORIES OF THE SAINTS
During these 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

Keep the momentum flowing! If you started and ended on a high note last week, pick up right where you left off in terms of energy and vision. Start today’s service with a rousing rendition of “I Love to Tell the Story” (UMH 156, all verses) and move from that straight into the prayer for illumination, Scripture, and sermon.

The first response to the word today could easily be a “as for me and my house” kind of altar call, asking for folks to respond either to commit themselves to following Christ, and Christ alone, or to reaffirm their faith. For the sake of those who may respond to a call to initial commitment today, be prepared to have more than one person up front to receive and listen to those who come. These persons need to be prepared for this work if they’ve not done this kind of thing before. It’s about listening and taking seriously the ways the person who responds is sensing a call from God. Then it’s about discerning with that person what her or his next step may need to be. This process may take longer than the time allotted in the service, so don’t try to resolve everything there and then. Simply get the name and contact information of the person, listen, pray with him or her, and have the person write down her or his question or commitment for a next step. Also learn whether the person wishes to make this commitment more public, and if so, at what point — either then as a testimony, or at a later time in person or in writing. This information can be given to the pastor for appropriate follow-up.

Some people may wish to make their commitment more public through a few words of testimony on the spot. So in your planning, allow for that possibility.

If you choose not to plan for an altar call and testimony time, what we might call a time of more spontaneous confession of faith, plan to use a corporate confession of faith, either the Nicene Creed (UMH 880) or, in keeping with today’s theme, the Affirmation from Romans 8 (UMH 887). Then move into the prayers of the people in the form you began using last week, again taking time to remember all the saints and especially the names of church members who have died during the past year, leaving time for others to add other names silently or aloud.

If you celebrate Communion this week, the Great Thanksgiving for All Saints and Memorial Occasions would still be quite appropriate.

If you do not celebrate Communion today, have instead a time of intentional thanksgiving that enables all present to participate, introduced by confession of sin, pardon, and peace. Consider using a choral, ensemble, or solo performance of Jason Ingram’s “My Story” (CCLI #7036037) in conjunction with the collection of the offering. Then move from thanksgiving directly into sending with a brief unison prayer of thanksgiving and the congregational singing of “Blessed Assurance” (UMH 369). Here is a sample unison prayer you may wish to use for this purpose:

Thank you, God, for calling us to be yours before we ever cared about you.
Thank you for seeing us in distress and oppression and acting to rescue us.
Thank you for constantly working through your Spirit to save us to the uttermost.
And thank you for sending us to tell the story,
and continue the story,
as your saints in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia

In This Series...

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