Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes

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God is Speaking!  |  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

Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord: GOD IS SPEAKING
Colors today and on February 11 (Transfiguration) are white and gold.
From January 14-February 4, the color is green.
Beginning Ash Wednesday (February 14), the color is purple.    

January 1        New Year’s Day/Holy Name of Jesus
January 7        Epiphany Sunday AND Baptism of the Lord
                         Season after Epiphany Series Begins (Forthcoming)
January 11      
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 14      Human Relations Day (Special Sunday with Offering)
January 15      
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
January 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 21      Ecumenical Sunday

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

Series Outline for Rise Up!

(Epiphany through Transfiguration)

January 7      God Is Speaking! (Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord)
Isaiah 60:1-6; Mark 1:4-11

January 14    Listen
I Samuel 3:1-10

January 21    Move
Jonah 3:1-5, 10

January 28    Answer
Deuteronomy 18:15-20

February 4    Focus
Isaiah 40:21-31

February 11: God is Speaking! (Transfiguration)
2 Kings 2:1-12; Mark 9:2-9


Planning the Series

Remember the keys to an effective series launch.

  1. Treat the opening movement and the service as a whole as a series overture. The opening movement in our full service order can be an effective overture for this service and series. It announces the series theme (Rise up!) and introduces a recurring feature of this series, the spoken word contributions of The Rev. B. Kevin Smalls. Be sure–through visual, print, and/or aural announcements–to point to where this series is heading in more than one way today as well. The sermon may also point the way.
  2. Underscore the series promise. The purpose of the Season after Epiphany is to get the church ready for its work of accompanying seekers to learn the way of Christ and prepare for baptism during Lent. Last year’s series did this by focusing on evangelism. This year’s series focuses on the inner work the church needs to do and be reminded of as it gets ready. Help your congregation want to get ready by what you say and do in worship today, and be sure to help them see how this series can help them do that work.
  3. Start strong. Starting strong today means especially making the opening sequence flow smoothly, powerfully, confidently. Be sure to rehearse the lighting cues, the singing, the movement, the spoken word elements and the reading so each is top quality and each flows seamlessly into the next as we move from entrance to sermon.

Baptismal reaffirmation requires considerable logistical planning as well. Don’t create bottlenecks or long lines! If you have more than fifty people in your congregation, plan for multiple stations (at least one per fifty congregants, if possible) set up around your worship space with ushers or others stationed to help people move to their nearest station and back to their seats smoothly. And be sure to provide ways for people who cannot get to a station to use the water as well. Since baptismal reaffirmation may be a new or relatively infrequent practice in many of our congregations, be sure to rehearse the stationing and deployment of people directing congregants to stations and station hosts. They should all be in place, ready to go, as the rite of baptismal reaffirmation begins. If you’ve done the physical prep work well, you won’t need to say more than “The ushers will guide you to the nearest station” at the time you invite people to go. 

Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings (Baptism of the Lord)

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