Learn more about the readings, music, and worship-service planning helps for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (June 17, 2018).
Season & Preparations
The season of Pentecost utilizes the color green, a color that may remind many of us of grass, trees, and other vegetation. It is a season that focuses on the growth of the Church as we await the return of Christ. As we continue through the long season of Pentecost, we plant seeds and water them, eagerly anticipating the growth that God will provide.
Readings & Theme
The readings for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost draw on themes of growth, and the Old Testament Reading and the Gospel connect very well together.
The Old Testament Reading, from Ezekiel 17, might be one of the more unfamiliar passages of Scripture for some parishioners. It speaks of God making the high trees low and making the low trees high, a leveling out. But it also speaks of God planting a tree on the mountain height of Israel, a noble cedar. Every sort of bird will come to nest and rest in and under this tree. The Gospel for today, from Mark 4, speaks of a mustard seed that grows into a tree and the birds of the air come and nest in its shade. The similarity is striking.
It is amazing that seeds can grow into plants and trees that are hundreds and thousands of times larger than the original seed. God provides this growth in His creation and He provides this growth in His kingdom. While we may not understand how it works, we continue going about the work of planting seeds and praising God when He provides the growth.
The Epistle continues our look at the book of 2 Corinthians. In this section from chapter 5, the verse that connects best to the other two readings is verse 7, which says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” In the context of the chapter, this means we long for our everlasting home in paradise with Jesus and have assurance of that home regardless of the trials we face in this life.
As we consider the Church, we may not see the Church as the Nicene Creed describes it: one holy Christian and apostolic Church. The Church doesn’t look like it is one Church. It looks like many divided churches. The Church doesn’t look holy. It looks sinful in every way. The Church doesn’t look very Christ-like sometimes. The Church doesn’t look like it is following the apostolic teachings sometimes. We plant seeds and may not even see the growth that is occurring, for some seeds grow below the surface for a long time before they break through the soil. But God provides the growth and God makes the Church what He says it is—one, holy, Christian, and apostolic—by dying and rising for us and sending the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.
Hymns & Music
There are two choices for the Hymn of the Day for Pentecost 4. You can use “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” (LSB 500) or “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” (LSB 834). The final stanza of Martin Franzmann’s LSB 834 gets at the struggles of the Church in a most beautiful way. The Church remains cloven, fractured, divided. Yet God provides growth that we do not understand, growth that we cannot always perceive or see. We trust God is doing His work of growth through the Holy Spirit.
Another hymn to consider is “We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight” (LSB 720) to connect with the Epistle. Also consider “Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast” (LSB 577), which draws on themes from both the Old Testament and Gospel.
Additional Resources for Worship & Study
As you work through Mark’s Gospel in this Pentecost season, I highly recommend using James Voelz’s Concordia Commentary: Mark 1:1–8:26.
One Arch Book to consider as you teach the Gospel story to children is The Seeds That Grew and Grew.
Looking for additional information on planning for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost? Download our planning sheet to help you get started!
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.