Step Forth ... In Your Spiritual Gifts

#ThreeSteps In a Christian’s Walk — Series Overview

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

We step out into our own identity in Christ. We step toward others in our extended family in Abraham. And we step forth, both within the community of the church and toward the wider world, in the power of the spiritual gifts we have been given, whatever these may be. And we step forth not to assert ourselves, our superiority, or our gifts. We step forth, letting the life-giving power of the Spirit flow through us and these gifts within the community of the church and into the world God is out to save.

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

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost: STEP FORTH...INY OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS
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: STEP FORTH...In Your Spiritual Gifts

In the Series and Launching the Next Series

We come to series end today, and conclude with a segue into the next series, “The Season of Creation.” This series has called us to take steps along the “solid ground” of God’s promises with which the previous series concluded, and in a Trinitarian way (you might point that our today). In week 1, we were called to step out in faith in Jesus, the Son. In week 2, we were called to step toward other descendents of Abraham, through whom God, the Father, had promised salvation for the whole world. And today, we are called to step forth in the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us for the sake of pouring ourselves out in ministry with the church for the whole world.

Season of Creation, which follows, invites us into a time of pause and reflection. Rather than “stepping” in any direction, with Moses we are called to “turn aside to see” how God calls to us and empowers us in and through the whole creation God is out to save.

Plan for a strong ending for this series. Strong series endings do the following:

  1. Recapitulate where you’ve been and where you’ve come to through the series. The sermon notes provide ways to do this both in the introduction and in the conclusion/call to discipleship at its conclusion.
  2. Underscore the series promise and how the work of this series will help your congregation live out their discipleship to Christ and their ministries in Christ’s name and the Spirit’s power better than before.
  3. Send the people forth with confidence into their next steps individually and with positive anticipation for the congregation’s next steps through the next series. In this series at this time of year, because people may have been “in and out” for some or much of it, it may be most important that you make a good segue to the next series, Season of Creation.

Season of Creation (all of September) is designed, as was this series, to allow for some “coming and going” as well. While it, like this series, will follow along a set of semi-continuous texts (from Exodus), each week can function as a stand-alone focus on a particular aspect of creation as well. The themes and scriptures for the four Sundays are:

September 3 (Labor Day weekend) Fire
Exodus 3:1-15

September 10 Death
Exodus 12:1-14

September 17 Sky, Wind, and Sea
Exodus 14:19-31

September 24 Food
Exodus 16:2-15

We will also provide a brief service for Blessing All God’s Creatures which you may use on St. Francis Day (October 6), World Communion Sunday (October 1), or on another occasion.

In This Service

We’ve reconnected with what it means to step out in faith into Jesus, the Son. We’re reclaiming the Father’s vision of salvation for all creation through the promises to Abraham and his offspring, including Christians as spiritual offspring. Today we recalibrate our lives with the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us so we can pour ourselves out in worship to God as we gather together and in service to the world as we are sent into it.

Musically, find another way to use “Step by Step” (or “Sometimes by Step”) in worship today. It may work particularly well either as a response to the sermon or as part of the sending forth. Songs affirming spiritual gifts and the body of Christ enriched by these gifts for service in the world would be most appropriate. These may include “O Spirit of the Living God” (UMH 539), “Spirit of God” (TFWS 2117), “O Breath of Life” (Worship & Song 3146), “Make Us One, Lord” (Africana Hymnal 4142). For a choral or ensemble piece, consider “Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow” (UMH 538). Also consider “Everything” (Tomlin) CCLI #4274676, and “Living for Your Glory” (CCLI# 4879246).

One kind of option for a call to discipleship in response to the sermon this week is included in the sermon notes. As an alternative, consider focusing specifically on spiritual gifts, worship, and daily living instead of trying to tackle all three weeks in this final service of the series. Give real time for this. Plan to have music (instrumental, ensemble, or congregational) as you offer the invitation to discipleship. This may be a good place for “Sometimes by Step” as well.

If you will continue with Season of Creation, consider using a song of sending that captures themes of the Holy Spirit and creation, and, more particularly, (since this is next week’s theme), fire. From UMH, “Filled with the Spirit’s Power” (537) and “See How Great a Flame Aspires” could be good choices. So could Israel Houghton’s “Come, Holy Spirit” (Worship & Song, 3092; CCLI #3383953).

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for these readings

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal

In This Series...

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost 2017 — Planning Notes