A Christian Educator’s Guide to Liturgical Planning

Liturgy is formation. We learn how to pray by praying. We learn Bible stories by hearing and reading them. We learn about community by worshiping together. We learn the traditions of the Church by being present as they are celebrated. We learn the rhythms of the Christian year by watching the “colors” change with the liturgical seasons and the prayers that set the tone of the season.

Soon we will begin a new (secular) year. We already began a new (sacred) year several weeks ago on the First Sunday of Advent. How do we help all ages live into sacred time instead of the secular patterns that we follow (and is forced upon us) in the culture in which we live?

We practice. We remember. We slow down. And perhaps we focus on what we do on Sundays when we are gathered for worship and education – forming ourselves into Christians who are of this world but strive for more.

Every week (toward the beginning) I look ahead to what the coming Sunday will bring. What lessons will I be hearing in church? What is the season and its themes? Are there ways to make them relevant to children, youth, and adults – each in an age appropriate way? Hopefully during preaching and the “education hour” there is time to put things in context. Hopefully there is a reason the lesson or story you are sharing in Church School is connected to the season or the Gospel. You don’t need to be using a lectionary-based curriculum (although that helps), but the biblical stories we share need to make a connection to where we are in God’s world (and “time”) today. And that takes planning.

Here are my “go to” resources when thinking about liturgical + educational = formational planning. I’ve listed those for Year B (since that is where we currently find ourselves), but there are Year A and Year C volumes of each resource available also.

The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, 3rd edition (Morehouse, 2009). The entire 3-year lectionary in one volume with a synopsis of each lesson and helps for unpacking the church seasons and applying them to today. There is also a companion website in which I offer reflections on the coming Sunday typically on Monday mornings,

Planning for Rites and Rituals: A Resource for Episcopal Worship – Year B 2017-2018 (Church Publishing, 2017) is a new resource that focuses on each
Sunday and Feast Day of Year B with ideas of the day, how to engage all ages, fresh Prayers of the People, hymn suggestions, and images that can be tapped into for preaching and teaching that are found in the readings.

Faithful Celebrations: Making Time for God …… (Church Publishing). This is a series of five (possibly six) books that began “rolling out” in 2017. Each has a variety of activities: craft, prayer, music, drama, games, faith-in-action to celebrate the season or holiday (sacred or secular) with all ages. Use it to supplement your formation programs or design a stand-alone event at church, home, or school.

Liturgy for the Whole Church: Multigenerational Resources for Worship (Church Publishing, 2008) equips congregations to embrace the challenge of intergenerational worship through group readings, simple dramas, meditations, an Instructed Eucharist, and more.

Creative Ideas for Children’s Worship: Year B (Morehouse Education Resources, 2012) offers scripts and ideas based on the Sunday Gospel for using in a children’s chapel program where children are present for the Liturgy of the Word and return to their families for the Liturgy of the Table.

Understanding the Sunday Scriptures: A Companion to The Revised Common Lectionary, Year B (Read Mark Press 2008) is just what the title says it is – four pages per Sunday or Feast Day of commentary of the lections of the day followed by reflection questions. Great for sermon prep or adult Bible study.

Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource (Volume 3) (United Church Press, 1994). Full of stunning artwork from around the world, essays, and poems this coffee table book sits alongside all the above titles on the shelf near my desk. A source of inspiration when my well runs dry, especially on those tough Sundays when the readings are hard to swallow.

There are many, many more resources to help make the Word come alive in our preaching and teaching. I’ve just named my favorites – what are your’s?

PS: Don’t forget to use my Christian Education Planning Calendar!

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