- Revised Common Lectionary Readings
- Worship Planning Notes
- Resources in The United Methodist Book of Worship
10th century illuminated manuscript of the wedding at Cana. ascribed to Egbert, Archbishop of Trier, ca 977-993. Public Domain.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Lecionário em português, Lecionário comum revisado
Isaiah 62:1-5 Return from exile is not the final goal of God's salvation. God intends to make the restored Israel "a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD," a sign that the LORD has chosen and "married" this people.
Psalm response — Psalm 36: 5-10 (UMH 771) The joyful response of a people who experience the results of God's promise in Isaiah. Consider singing the Psalm using the sung response and Tone 1 in D major, or, to F#-A-G-E; F#-A-E-D (the outlines of the original chorale tune behind the response).
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 The first of a series of readings in chapters 12 and 13. This week: "Spiritual Gifts 101 — Many Gifts, One Spirit."
John 2:1-11 Jesus turns water poured into empty purification jars into wine for a wedding in Cana, the first of the "signs" in John's gospel.
Worship Planning Notes
There are two “series tracks” provided for by the Revised Common Lectionary during the Season after Epiphany. Both focus on the primary purpose of this season, to prepare the congregation for the work of Lent, which is to prepare candidates and sponsors for baptism and the baptized for professing membership and faithful discipleship to Jesus. Each does so in a different way.
The “Old Testament/Gospel” track focuses on “firsts” in the ministry of Jesus—his first sign and his first sermon in his hometown. For guidance on developing a series based on this theme, see Getting Ready to Get Ready. This may be an ideal focus for congregations who are just beginning or in the early years of developing a thorough Lenten process of preparing people for baptism and discipleship to Jesus.
The Epistle readings from I Corinthians 12 and 13 during these weeks focus on the nature of life in the Holy Spirit. A focus on these readings may be ideal for congregations that have no baptismal candidates, but may have people preparing for confirmation at Easter, or for those who already have a highly developed process of Lenten preparation for baptism and professing membership and so do not need to reinforce or prepare for it as strongly in worship during these weeks.
Select one track and stick with it from now through Transfiguration Sunday to ensure your congregation is thoroughly prepared to begin its Lenten work with confidence and grace.
Today is the second Sunday after the Epiphany. The final Sunday after the Epiphany each year is Transfiguration Sunday (February 7, Color:White).
On the denominational calendar, today is Human Relations Day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed on January 18.
Next Sunday is Ecumenical Sunday, part of the worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25.
Plan wisely so that appropriate attention is given to each in your setting. Let the Scriptures for the day and the series you had started (Old Testament/Gospel or Epistle stream) lay the foundation, and add these other elements in ways that complement, rather than distract from, the focus of your series.
Ash Wednesday in 2016 is February 10. The color for that day and the Season of Lent is purple. For a light-hearted (and accurate!) take on the colors of the liturgical year, see and share “Chuck Knows Church,” Episode 1.
Scouting Ministries Sunday is February 14, which is also the First Sunday in Lent on the Christian calendar. United Methodist denominational scouting leaders prefer that both Boy and Girl Scouts, as well as other scouting groups, be recognized on a day that does not interfere with Lent. Girl Scout Sunday is an alternate scouting Sunday on March 13, the fifth Sunday in Lent. Since both fall in Lent this year, you may wish to observe a Scouting Sunday at a different time, either during Ordinary Time (before Transfiguration) or during Easter Season (after Easter Day, before Pentecost). A Litany on the Scout/Guide Promise is also available.
Resources for Planning Upcoming Seasons
The Season after Epiphany (introductory article from the Book of Worship)
Getting Ready to Get Ready: Planning for the Season after Epiphany 2016
Resources for the Season after Epiphany
Planning Lent and Easter as Seasons for Discipling 2016 (Webinar with links to handouts)
Resources for Lent
Resources for Holy Week
Resources for Easter Season
Upcoming Sundays and Special Days
All Month Black History Month
February 7 Transfiguration of the Lord
February 10 Ash Wednesday, and Lent Begins
February 14 Scouting Ministries Sunday (or observe after Lent)
February 15 Presidents Day (USA)
All Month Women’s History Month
March 4 World Day of Prayer / (Discipleship Ministries Resources)
March 6 One Great Hour of Sharing (with Offering)
March 13 Daylight Saving Time Begins (Time Change Song)
March 20 Passion/Palm Sunday
March 20-26 Holy Week
March 24 Maundy Thursday
March 25 Good Friday
March 26 Holy Saturday (morning) Great Vigil (after sunset); Brief Version
March 27 Easter Sunday
“Getting Ready to Get Ready:” Old Testament and Gospel Track
Marriage provides both the context of the story and the promise of gospel reading for this Sunday and the Old Testament reading chosen to correlate with it.
In John, Jesus performs his first sign, an act intended to “reveal his glory,” at a wedding celebration in Cana.
And in Isaiah, the Word of the Lord speaks to the returned exiles frustrated and depressed that they still live in ruins that they shall be called “My Delight Is in Her” and their land shall be called “Married” (Isaiah 62:4).
Both texts are rich with references to what it means for a congregation to “get ready to get ready” to prepare people for new life in Jesus Christ. Several of these are explored in Getting Ready to Get Ready, our Lenten planning article.
Here I want to explore the connection with marriage that shows up prominently in both texts.
One word stands out: Rejoicing! Marriage feasts were all about rejoicing in the love and commitment of the new spouses and the potential of new life they will bring to the community. Through Isaiah, we see the new life in Christ the baptized enter is intended to be a life of rejoicing… by God! “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5). We rejoice because God rejoices. And our rejoicing participates in God’s rejoicing.
Jesus turns water into wine in part to make sure the marriage feast he is attending can be as joyous as it should be. And this marriage feast foretells to his disciples what it means to be with “the bridegroom” now and in the age to come. It is about being with the One who rejoices over us, who desires to do us all good, and others may rejoice as well.
In Jesus, God draws near to us as a bridegroom to his bride, not as an accuser to the accused, nor as a disciplinarian to a wayward child. If we have the eyes of his first disciples, how can we not rejoice and “believe into” (put all our trust in) him?
In Your Planning Team
As the second Sunday in your series, today is the day to start making good on the “series promise” established in last week’s opening overture.
This particular series promise is about “getting ready to get ready.” It’s about the Spirit leading us into places we hadn’t imagined. And it’s about getting us to join in committing to Jesus ourselves, sharing good news with others, and actively inviting them to join us in the journey of discipleship to Jesus.
Today that invitation takes two forms.
We are invited to join the rejoicing. Jesus changes water to wine to make the party more lively! So pay particular attention to rejoicing in worship today. Exult in God and God’s goodness and care for us. Don’t just sing about God. Actually rejoice! And don’t just use words to do this, worship leaders. Let your bodies and faces show you’re really doing it and helping the congregation do the same.
And we’re invited to join with Jesus. His disciples had already trusted Jesus enough to start following him. But what happens at this wedding seals the deal for them. Now they’re not just “along for the journey.” Now they’re “all in.”
Note who’s all in. It’s not the wedding guests. It’s the disciples. The guests are happy. The disciples are now committed.
So let worship today be full of rejoicing, and be sure to issue a call to commitment for disciples—the very ones you most need to have on board to invite others to the way of Jesus now and especially to be part of forming them as persons able to live his way during the season of Lent to come.
Life in the Spirit: Epistle Track
In the past twenty or thirty years, it has become most common for American Protestants to focus on the specific list of gifts Paul provides here, perhaps combining it with similar lists in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 to create a “spiritual gifts inventory.” Such inventories may be used either for self-discovery or to help identify possible candidates for particular committees, programs or leadership roles in the congregation.
The specific gifts listed here probably were identifiable for the Christian community in first-century Corinth. But Paul did not mean this list to be exhaustive. Nor, as we see in verses 4-7, are the manifestations of the Spirit for the common good limited to “gifts” per se.
For many United Methodists in the United States, this is a good thing. Most of us likely manifest few if any of the gifts Paul identifies among the Corinthians. Instead, Paul includes “forms of services” and “empowered actions” as well. All of them are distributed as the Spirit decides for the good of the whole body and the effectiveness of its mission and witness in the world.
In short, Paul reminds the community at Corinth that neither their common life nor their individual progress in Christ is about them and “their talents.” It’s about the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit working in diverse ways in their midst to fulfill God’s mission through them, the gathered body of Christ.
In Your Planning Team
Last week’s focus was on what it means to be baptized with Holy Spirit and fire.
This week, we explore more deeply what it means to be gifted by the Holy Spirit. Next week, we focus on what it means to be formed into one body by the Holy Spirit. The week after that, we focus on the greatest of all the Spirit’s gifts, and most essential to our body-life, love.
So our focus over these three weeks will be on individual gifts for the community’s good, then nature of the community as such, and then the foundational gift that enlivens both our community and our common mission: Love.
Today: Gifts. Or perhaps more to the point, the reality that the Holy Spirit in fact does distribute gifts to one and all of us, gifts of many, many kinds. We have what we need to build up our community and accomplish God’s mission for us thanks to the generous and diverse distribution of gifts among us by the Spirit.
So today is a day to celebrate the Spirit’s generous and diverse distribution, as well as, perhaps, become clear about places where we’re not yet recognizing just how generously and diversely the Spirit has gifted us, each and all.
So as you plan for worship today, give particular attention to these questions.
- What are some of the gifts, forms of service and “empowered actions” at work in your congregation that you might be able to lift up or draw attention to in worship today?
- How will you help your congregation give thanks for these signs of the Spirit at work in your midst?
- How will you take the advice from today’s reading to make sure that your process of preparing persons for baptism or professing membership during Lent is responsive to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in the life of each person for the good of the whole?
Resources in The United Methodist Book of Worship (BOW) with links and other suggestions
Call to Worship: BOW 199 "Come! Come! Everybody Worship!" (1 Corinthians)
Greeting: BOW 303 (Isaiah); BOW 311 (John)
Greeting: BOW 455 (1 Corinthians)
WORD AND RESPONSE
Litany: BOW 423 (Human Relations)
Prayer: BOW 311 (John)
Prayer: BOW 312 (Psalm; “Everlasting God”)
Poem: UMH 183 "Jesu, Thy Boundless Love to Me" (Psalm)
Prayer: BOW 435 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
Litany: UMH 106 "God Is Able" (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Cyprus, Greece, Turkey
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Prayer of Thanksgiving: BOW 555 (1 Corinthians; “Almighty God, giver of every good and perfect gift”)
Great Thanksgiving: BOW 68-69
Dismissals with Blessing
Deacon or Lay Leader:
Go forth in joy,
reveling in God’s love for you,
and ready to invite others
to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
And the blessing of our Triune God,
whose Spirit turns water to wine,
the ordinary to the extraordinary,
the deficient to the abundant,
be among you this day
and this week
wherever you go. Amen.
Deacon or Lay Leader:
Go forth gifted ones,
abounding with Spirit-given ways
to bring life and light
to all around you.
And the blessing of our Triune God,
be upon you and flow through you this day
and this week,
that wherever you go
others may see what God has done
and be drawn to Christ through you.