Service Planning for the Season After Pentecost

Unlike the readings recommended for Advent through Pentecost (which are often related thematically around the main motif presented in the Gospel lesson), the lessons for this post-Pentecost season are seldom tied to the other readings for the day. Often during this season lessons follow a different Bible book in each category (e.g., 2 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, Mark) but share no discernible common theme.

We encourage pastors to choose one of the books for a series of sermons; the other lessons for each Sunday should be read—even though they may not tie in with the sermon. The hymns and psalms listed for each Sunday often have a surprising depth that encompasses several of the Scripture lessons. Where possible, congregations should also sing the weekly Psalms recommended by the lectionary.

Hymns are selected from The Hymnbook(HB), the Psalter Hymnal (PH), Rejoice in the Lord (RIL), and the Trinity Hymnal(TH).

Second Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 16:14—23
A distressing spirit troubles Saul, and his servants urge him to secure the services of a skillful harpist. A handsome man of valor, Jesse's son David, is summoned into Saul's service as a live-in musician and armor-bearer. The stratagem works wonders on the king's disposition.

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1
Paul speaks from what he believes, and grace abounds. He does not lose heart, for he is being renewed daily. Visible things are temporary; the invisible, eternal.

Gospel: Mark 3: 20-35
Jesus' relatives fear that he is out of his mind, and the scribes allege that he is under the power of Beelzebub. Jesus observes that a house divided against itself cannot stand, warning his critics of the danger of blasphemy and welcoming as his true family all who do the will of God.

Psalm: 57
The psalmist expresses confident trust in God who sends forth mercy and truth to protect against the spears and arrows of life.

Who Trusts in God, A Strong Abode
(HB 375, RIL 152)
If You But Trust in God to Guide You
(HB 344, PH 446, RIL 151, TH 567)
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
(HB 130, PH 487, RIL 364, TH 544)
Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid (PH 425)

Third Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 1:1,17-27
David laments when he receives news of the death of Saul and Jonathan, killed ironically by an Amalekite (1: 8-10). (Saul, in disregard for the voice of the Lord, had not exercised his fierce wrath upon Amalek, 1 Sam. 28: 18.) In tears David recalls the reign of Saul and his special affection for Jonathan, who would normally have succeeded Saul as king.

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10,14-17
This passage offers confident assurance of the resurrection for those who walk by faith, not by sight. The one who sits on the judgment seat, before which all must appear, is the very Christ who died for us.

Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
This chapter contains two short parables of Jesus: the seed that grows by itself, and the little mustard seed that grows into an amazingly large plant—big enough for birds' nests. Following these stories is a brief word on the use of parables.

Psalm: 46
God is our refuge and strength, an insight available to us when we are still (46:10).

All Glory Be to God on High
(PH 247, RIL 6I0, TH 92)
How Firm a Foundation
(HB 369, PH 500, RIL 172, TH 80)
Spirit Working in Creation (PH 415)
Day of Judgment! (PH 614, TH 241)

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 5:112
The people acclaim David as their shepherd king and covenant with him at Hebron. The elders of Israel anoint him as king at age 30, and with the help of Hiram, King of Tyre, build him a house. The Lord "exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel."

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:18—6:2
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
Wind and wave obey Jesus during a stormy crossing of the Sea of Galilee.

Psalm: 48
The psalm reflects on the glory of God in Zion: great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. He will be our guide even to death.

To God Be the Glory
(PH 473, RIL 355, TH 667)
Father, Long Before Creation
(HB 107, PH 464, RIL 353)
Lord, Speak to Me (HB 298, PH 528, RIL 436)
In Christ There Is No East or West
(HB 479, PH 540, RIL 410)

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 6:1—15
David musters some thirty thousand picked troops and brings the ark of the covenant in festal procession toward the city of David. While en route the oxen pulling this sacred cargo stumble, and Uzzah, one of the ox drivers, reaches out to steady the ark and keep it from falling. The gesture, however solicitous, is sacrilegious, and Uzzah is struck dead by the anger of the Lord. David is put off and petulant for some days. After three months go by, and the farm where the ark is now resting shows signs of prosperity and God's favor, David decides to resume the triumphal procession, offering sacrifices and dancing ecstatically, clothed in a mere loin cloth, before all the people.

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Christ is the model for giving. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. Our sharing with others provides opportunity to bring any abundance we have to the relief of others in need— or to accept relief from those who enjoy abundance.

Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
Jesus returns again to the other side of the lake, where he is met by a great crowd. Jairus, a synagogue official, begs Jesus to come to his home and heal his desperately sick child. While on that mission of mercy Jesus is intercepted by a woman with a chronic hemorrhage who believes that if she can only touch his clothing she will be healed. She slips up behind him in the milling throng, touches his cloak, and is healed. Just then messengers bring word that Jairus's daughter has died and suggest that Jesus should not be troubled further. Jesus, of course, continues to Jairus's house and, much to the amazement of the incredulous crowd, restores the young girl.

Psalm 24
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." Open the gates and the King of glory comes in.

Lift Up Your Heads
(HB 152, PH 163, RIL 185, TH 146)
We Give You But Your Own
(HB 312, PH 296, RIL 427, TH 367)
Heal Us, Immanuel (RIL 255)
Your Hands, O Lord, in Days of Old
(HB 179, PH 363)
The King of Glory Comes (PH 370)

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 7:1—17
King David, now in his comfortable house, feels guilty that the Lord is still dwelling in a tent. In conferring with the prophet Nathan, however, David is reminded that the Lord has no compulsion to have a sumptuous residence. Instead, the Lord wishes to dwell in the "House of David," a kingdom of enduring righteousness and mercy. God's earthly "house" will be built in due time by David's son.

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 12:1—10
Paul doesn't know whether he had his vision of paradise "in the body or apart from the body." Caught up in paradise, he heard inexpressible words. Any desire to boast is chastened by his awareness of a "thorn in the flesh." Somehow infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, distresses—if they are for Christ's sake—can bring him pleasure. When he is weak, then he is strong.

Gospel: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus leaves the area where he has been teaching and healing and comes to his own country (evidently Nazareth). On the Sabbath he teaches in his hometown. His audience vacillates between astonished admiration and offense at the young carpenter, well known in the village, presuming to be their teacher. They knew his mother, his four brothers and his sisters, a family of at least seven children. In spite of his limited success here, he remains undaunted and travels to other towns.

Psalm 89:20-37
The psalmist sings of the mercies of the Lord and the covenant with the house of David, whose seed will endure forever.

I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art
(HB 144, PH 248, RIL 366, TH 135)
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
(HB 112, PH 434, RIL 36, TH 21)
Jesus Calls Us
(HB 269, PH 553, RIL 258, TH 491)
You Servants of God
(HB 27 , PH 477, RIL 598, TH 136)

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 7:18—29
David goes into his tent and sits down before the ark of the Lord. As in much true worship, David's meditation about God becomes conversation with God. In effect, this prayer of David is his response to God's promise to "build a house," and the devout hope that the Lord will establish and preserve the House of David forever.

Epistle: Ephesians 1:1—10
In the fullness of time God will gather together in Christ all things in heaven and on earth. God's purposes stretch from "before the creation of the world" and include, according to his good pleasure, the whole gamut of spiritual blessings.

Gospel: Mark 6:7-13
Instead of being put down by his rejection in Nazareth, Jesus proceeds with his mission, calling the twelve to him and sending them out two by two with "authority over evil spirits." They are to take nothing for their journey but are to depend on the hospitality of those to whom they go. "They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them."

Psalm 132:11-18
David will not sleep until he finds a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.

Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
(HB 47, PH 481, RIL 463, TH 330)
Glorious Things of You Are Spoken
(HB 434, PH 506, RIL 393, TH 269)
God of the Prophets
(HB 510, PH 521, RIL 429)
The Church's One Foundation
(HB 437, PH 502, RIL 394)

Reformed Worship 7 © March 1988, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.