Planning for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Posted by Andrew R. Jones on Jul 30, 2018 8:30:00 AM

Planning for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Learn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (September 9, 2018).

Season & Preparations

The season of Pentecost allows us to take a long look at one of the Gospel narratives and several Epistle texts. As our long walk through Mark’s Gospel continues, we pick up the Epistle of James for the next four weeks.

Preparations remain much the same. The color green continues to be used until Reformation Sunday.

Readings & Theme

View the readings on Lutheran Calendar >

The Old Testament Reading for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost gives us a taste of Advent. That is the other time when Isaiah 35 is used in the three-year lectionary (Advent 3A). In this section, Isaiah prophesies of a coming day when God will come and save. He will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf and make the lame to leap like deer. This is indeed what Jesus does when He comes. He reverses the evil in the world that is the result of sin and Satan.

In the Gospel for today, you have the choice to lengthen the reading into two pericopes. The section that connects most readily to the Old Testament Reading is Mark 7:31–37. Here Jesus heals a deaf man in the region of the Decapolis. There is a lot to consider in this text alone. It seems like Jesus may be using gestures to inform the man what He is about to do. In this case, Jesus heals, by speaking a word to a deaf man. Think about that. This man cannot hear, and yet with a word from Jesus, the man hears. The same will happen to us and for us when Jesus speaks a word upon His return and raises us from the dead. This is what Jesus does. He reverses the evil in the world of Satan, sin, and even death.

The optional Gospel for this week includes the part immediately before the healing of the deaf man, Mark 7:24–30. In this challenging passage, Jesus encounters a Syrophoenicean woman. The woman begs for Jesus’ help, to cast out an unclean spirit from her daughter. Jesus responds by calling her and her people “dogs.” Jesus’ response is what it is. There is no need to sugarcoat it. But Jesus’ first response is not the point of the text. The woman’s response to this harsh word of Jesus is a response of faith. “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (v. 28). She’s asking for the crumbs of Jesus, for she knows they will be enough. Jesus’ second response in this text is the point—Jesus reverses her fortunes as well, healing her daughter, reversing their fortunes, for Jesus has come for all.

The Epistle begins a brief, four-week look at the Book of James. While James is often maligned in Lutheran circles because of Luther’s own commentary, calling it an “Epistle of straw,” James may be more useful in a twenty-first century setting. The Epistle for this week, from chapter 2, connects well to the optional Gospel for the day. God shows no distinction in who He saves. Race, ethnicity, social status, economic status play no role in God’s way of salvation. These things should not play a role in the church either.

Hymns & Music

The Hymn of the Day is “Praise the Almighty” (LSB 797). Stanza four stands out as the best connection to the readings:

Penitent sinners, for mercy crying,
Pardon and peace from Him obtain;
Ever the wants of the poor supplying,
Their faithful God He will remain.
He helps His children in distress,
The widows and the fatherless.

God shows mercy to those who cry for mercy: the Syrophoenicean woman and her daughter, the deaf, the blind, the poor. All these receive mercy in Jesus.

Other hymns to consider for this week include “Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness” (LSB 849) and “Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace” (LSB 844). And if you want to give a bit of Advent flavor, try “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (LSB 338).

Additional Resources for Worship & Study

As you work through Mark’s Gospel in this Pentecost season, I highly recommend James Voelz’s Concordia Commentary: Mark 1:1–8:26 (especially for the text on the Syrophoenicean woman).

Looking for additional information on planning for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost? Download our planning sheet to help you get started!

Download Planning Sheet


Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Quotations marked LSB are from Lutheran Service Book, copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Tags: The Season after Pentecost, Service Planning