Fifth 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 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 5, REHAB: Promise

Today is the conclusion of our Lenten series, a season focused on formation and transformation to help people become ready for baptism or renewed commitment to the way of Christ with the church.

Our “rehab classes” end this week. Starting next Sunday and throughout the ensuing Holy Week, we encounter through intense ritual something of what our rehab work has prepared us to face: the rejection, suffering, execution, death, and burial of Jesus.

As you plan for the conclusion of these weeks, as with every series, it will be good in some way to review where you’ve been on the journey and how you’ve gotten to where you are now — hopefully a place of renewal already, with noticeable improvement in your capacity to pray and live as disciples of Jesus, and living hope for more. This review may be something as simple as listing the titles of each of the preceding weeks with a brief description of how you’ve dealt with them (brief as in one or two lines, max) in a bulletin or as slides in your announcement loop (if you use screens). Singing “Come Out the Wilderness” as the song of sending may also help make it clear that while we’re not where we’re called to be ultimately, we’re no longer where we were.

Above all, this season is intended to move us from uncertainty and a confused way of living toward a living hope that orders our steps in Christ’s ways. The hope in us has become real, palpable, and we confess that today. And we do so precisely in the face of the circumstances in which we find ourselves that may cause us to lose hope.

That is the core dynamic of today’s service: Hope that can move us through and beyond despair. This is what we cling to in the final stages of rehab, where we think we can see the finish line, but we know there’s still more to go. And what seems left to go seems hard to get through. Rehab doesn’t usually get easier. Neither does Lent.

That’s why the songs we recommend, the prayers we pray, the response to the Word, the framing of the prayers of the people, and the language of the Great Thanksgiving are as they are this week. They’re all getting at that dynamic of hope in God’s continuing transformation of our lives in the face of serious challenges as we complete our process of rehab.

And we do complete that this week.

But we don’t get a certificate of completion.

Instead, we emerge from the wilderness we’ve been through.

We come out of the wilderness this week, renewed, leaning on the Lord, to head into the Holy City with Jesus next week. Here our hope and everything we think we know about hope will be tested and refined. Here we will stare injustice, oppression, manipulation, and cruelty in the face. Here we will spend two full days with death.

And only then, on the third day, will our cruelty-and-death-refined hope spring into life.  

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)