Friday, April 27, 2012

Lectionary Easter B 4 Transition and Identity in the early church

ShortStop is dedicated to life's transitions experienced in congregations, personal life, and families.  Transitions and what churches call "interim ministry" are "short stops" on the journey to new beginnings.  The ShortStop Lectionary Blog is one way to help preachers in the transition times to find ideas from the Revised Common Lectionary. 

Easter B 4 April 29
Acts 4:5-12
The first followers of Jesus were enduring a time of transition between Jesus death and resurrection  and their formation as a faith community.  Peter’s response to high priests is one that I will call “identity” in formation.  In response to the question about how a man was healed, Peter clearly speaks to three central tenents:  the power of the name of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and salvation by Jesus Christ.  
One sermon move could be to ask, what central “tenents” form the central understanding of a congregation’s faith?  What do you observe? What do people tell you? The “mirroring” of the congregation’s “faith story” as you hear it spoken in various ways is one way to help the formation of a renewed sense of identity in preparation for a new pastoral relationship, or other new commitments toward which this transition moves (My chapter in, Teaching Our Story, Alban Narrative Leadership Series, gives some background).
An interim ministry mentor once reminded me that in times of discontinuity congregations will see a “savior” – usually in the form of the new pastor not yet identified.  As I recall his words, “remember, there is only one Savior”.   Based on that, another sermon move might be to work with the idea of how Jesus is our savior during an interim transition.  How is our congregation in transition like the lame man?  Is Jesus name the one we claim so that we can “get up and walk”?  
Our "identity in formation" reminds us that the Spirit is like a wind "blowing where it will".  We are constantly called to new places, stages of life and new ministry contexts as our world changes.  

Bob Anderson 
Interim Ministry Specialist
Presbyterian Church (USA)

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