Fourth Sunday in Lent 2018 — Planning Notes



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 primary color for Lent is purple.    

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 — LENT 4, REHAB: Recovery

We’re now “over the hump” and heading into the final stretch of this five-part series. Holy Week begins in two weeks. Series wrap is next week.

We’re also at a time in Lent, the fourth Sunday, known as “Laetare Sunday.” This is a day where, in the Western tradition, there has been a bit less of an emphasis on the penitence and more on the joy that comes from the growing spiritual strength many may have at this point because of the focus on a more disciplined form of life during these weeks. In some Christian traditions, the paraments change from purple to rose (or pink) on this Sunday as a sign of this more joyful, less solemn emphasis.

The theme of today’s service fits with the Laetare emphasis. Today we celebrate what it means to continue into the stage of Rehab where we start to see some real recovery taking place. We’re not all the way there, any more than we’re at Easter in just the fourth Sunday in Lent. And indeed, the degree to which we may start to experience recovery during rehab is often mirrored by a nearly equal sense of how far we still have to go, what is still not working as it really should, or, in this case, how we are still living out sinful, destructive patterns of behavior that still need to be addressed.

But we still have some reason to rejoice.

That’s why the opening songs and the choice of prayers for illumination that follow (whether traditional or contemporary) may seem perhaps uncharacteristically upbeat for this Lenten Sunday. It’s also why the response to the word today calls for both repentance and a bit of thanksgiving. And it’s a balance we’ve sought to continue through the Great Thanksgiving, the prayer after Communion, and the sending forth. There is joy. We’re making progress. AND there’s still work to be done. All of it is true at once at this stage and on this Sunday in the Lenten journey. 

Additional Resources for this Service

2015 Planning Helps for these readings

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