Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes

February 4, 2018 (Year B)

Focus  |  RISE UP! 

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

The color today is green.
Colors next Sunday (February 11 — Transfiguration) are white and gold.
Beginning Ash Wednesday (February 14), the color is purple.    

All Month       Black History Month
February 11   Transfiguration of the Lord
                        Scouting Sunday

February 14   Ash Wednesday
                        Lent Series Begins (forthcoming)
February 19  
Presidents Day

March 2         World Day of Prayer
March 11       UMCOR Sunday
                       Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Spring) (USA)
March 25      Passion/Palm Sunday
                      Holy Week Series Begins
March 29      Maundy/Holy Thursday
March 30      Good Friday
March 31      Holy Saturday (until Sundown)
                      Easter Eve/Easter Vigil (after Sundown)

April 1           
Easter Day
                      Easter Series Begins
April 15        
Native American Ministries Sunday
April 22         Festival of God’s Creation
April 25         World Malaria Day

All Month       Christian Home Month (2018 Theme: Families Called to Peace, forthcoming)
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 3              National Day of Prayer
May 4              May Friendship Day (UMW/CWU)
May 7-13        
Christian Family Week (2018 resources forthcoming)
May 10            
Ascension Day
May 13            Ascension Sunday
                        Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 19-20      
Change the World Weekend
May 20           Day of Pentecost
                       Heritage Sunday (forthcoming)
May 24           
Aldersgate Day
May 27           Trinity Sunday
                       Peace with Justice Sunday
May 28           Memorial Day (USA)

Pray for annual conferences convening throughout the month, for all receiving new appointments or assignments, for those leaving existing appointments or assignments, and for congregations and other ministries receiving new leadership. 

For your Planning Team

In week five of a six-week series, we’re starting to move toward series wrap. While mid-series is about sustaining energy and advancing development, the movement toward series wrap involves picking up the energy once again so the series starts its closure with a rising tide of expectation and excitement. So it may seem we’d want to deploy a lot of high energy songs, upbeat prayers, and a strong, moving sermon today.

Except for one thing.

That’s not where the Scriptures are going this week.

This week’s text, and the theme we’ve drawn from it, do call for an increase in energy, but not primarily kinetic energy. Instead, this week we are challenged to increase what I might call our “contemplative” energy. This is about focus, about “getting into the zone."

We can listen for God’s voice, get on the move, and develop confidence in God being one who truly answers us. But these processes, whether foregrounded or running in the background of our lives, may not be enough in themselves to lead us or sustain us on “this tedious journey.” We have to stay focused on where we’re heading if we’re going to get there. And we need to stay focused on the one who gives us the power to get there. 

So the first response to this week’s sermon is a sung affirmation of faith to strengthen our focus, collectively, on the redemptive presence, work, and power of our God.

After that, we move straight into confession, pardon, peace, and the offering, where we also begin to kick up the kinetic energy in song, continuing through the Great Thanksgiving and into the sending. 

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings »

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: (Click link to find countries for this week when they are posted)