The Apostle’s Tale — Series Overview

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

As we come into the second week of our series, we move from the freedom we have found in Christ to confront our differences head-on, and God’s call to welcome all of God’s children, to dealing with the way things are: the sufferings of the present time.

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

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: GROANING
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: THE APOSTLE'S TALE — Groaning

Today we take the dive off the height and head toward the waters far below. In so doing we physically experience the great distance between where we start in our freedom in Christ and the realities we face all around us. We have the hope of freedom stirring in our souls, so palpable we can taste it sometimes. It’s with us. So one more freedom song might be a good way to start worship today.

And then, straight into the groaning, groaning created because the Spirit within us, and at work in all creation, makes it clear just how far we are from where God’s saving work is leading this universe to be, and just how dangerous and destructive our current situation can be.

This would be a good week to teach or practice long meter singing, maybe even taking the first verse of your freedom song at a normal pace, and then moving into long meter. For an example of long meter singing, see Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice, starting at 17:15, and 4129, 4012, and 4147 in The Africana Hymnal. Though not in long meter, “Trouble in My Way” (4118) would be appropriate for today as well.

In addition to singing, consider other ways you might practice groaning throughout the service, perhaps teaching this as a practice of prayer at some point and then incorporating groaning as a congregational response to the intercessions in the prayers of the people when the time comes.

Though this service focuses on groaning, do not neglect thanksgiving, the third movement of our fourfold pattern of worship, after the prayers. I can tell you from my experience that if you have groaned well in the intercessions, by some mystery this can release a flood of thanksgiving. So be prepared to include a turn in your intercessions, perhaps introduced by a simple statement from the prayer leader, “Lord, you hear our cries, you hear our groans. And we thank you, Lord,” followed by a series of brief statements of thanksgiving with a congregational response, “We thank you, Lord.” Or consider singing or offering a reprise of “I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry,” long meter or otherwise, as the final congregational response to the prayers (See Africana Hymnal, 4129).

Then send folks forth to continue groaning throughout the week. Let today have been the launch of a new or renewed spiritual practice of “groaning prayer” and encourage folks to spend some time on it every day this week, individually or in small groups.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda

In This Series...

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Eighth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Ninth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes