Greater Gifts: Series Overview
We have chosen to divide the season after Epiphany this year into two complementary series designed to equip congregations to “see all the people.” The first series focuses upon lifting up the gifts in the community and strategically acting together as one body with many interconnected parts. This body, then, works as a cohesive unit to reach out beyond the walls of the church and bring people to know and receive the love of God.
The season after Epiphany almost always begins with a transitional Sunday—Baptism of the Lord—in which we encounter the narrative of Jesus’ baptism and John’s very dramatic description of baptism in Jesus’ name. The voice of God rings from heaven at Jesus’ baptism: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Lk. 3:22, NRSV). When we are baptized or gathered at the baptism of others, how do we hear God’s voice affirming each new member of God’s family? The second week contains Paul’s description of spiritual gifts—how the Spirit works in and through them and how we are gifted for being a part of the body of Christ with one another. A little bit of explanation is needed around the theme for week three, “Being Needy”: This phrase has a certain negative connotation that often relates to people who require a little more attention than others (we all likely know people like this). We would like to redeem the meaning by asserting that we all, regardless of our own gifts, need one another in order to be part of the whole body of Christ. The purpose of all these gifts is revealed in week four, in which the whole point of acting together is revealed—“having love,” which is the most important of the “marks of the new birth” (faith, hope, and love), as shared by both the apostle Paul and John Wesley.
Since this season takes place at the beginning of a new calendar year, it may be a helpful practice for your church to assess the spiritual gifts in your congregation. If you are looking for a spiritual gifts inventory that can help your church realize its potential in ministry, you can find resources here:
Week 1: Baptism of the Lord January 13 You Are Beloved
Week 2: Second Sunday after the Epiphany January 20 Gifted for Others
Week 3: Third Sunday after the Epiphany January 27 Being Needy
Week 4: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany February 3 Love
*All scripture quotations are NRSV.