Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Easter 6, Year B  May 13, 2012

Psalm 98
Sometimes the ideas that come spontaneously can be the most fun (to me, anyway!). This Psalm jumped off the page as a celebration of God’s work in an interim transition congregation’s history.  In my mind I could see the Psalm being a kind of litany with the verses punctuated with a brief sentence describing a celebration of the congregation’s coming to terms with its history. Here’s a sample of what came to me. You can adapt it for your own setting. I won’t use the whole psalm but the repeated refrain is, “O sing to the LORD a new song, for God has done marvelous things”.  In a setting with smaller numbers of people, these might be spontaneous, rather than planned or written.  Or, a group of members could help plan worship and write a liturgy with the celebrations written out.

One:      O sing to the LORD a new song, for God has done marvelous things.

              Someone reads a brief celebration, e.g. “God has been good to us and met our needs for     
              new church school teachers last year!
  All:       O sing to the LORD a new song, for God has done marvelous things.
  One:    The LORD has made known God’s victory and has revealed God’s vindication in  the   
               sight of the nations.
               A member then celebrates, e.g.  God has been faithful over our generations and we   
              celebrate the multiple generations who witness to the Good News as we gather to
   All:     O sing to the LORD a new song, for God has done marvelous things.

Continue on using all the verses of the Psalm or select the most meaningful for your group. Oh, by the way, loud and joyful reading works best!

Acts 10:44-48

Luke gives hints of what is to come in the ministry to Gentiles.  These are the “outsiders” and the “new people” who didn’t know how things have always been done!  Transitions shift the patterns of congregational life.  The informal communication web of links will break in places.  Members who haven’t been active in years suddenly show up to be nominated to the Pastoral Nominating Committee. Without the pastor’s presence some members will feel abandoned.

At the same time, leadership change tends to open up the congregational system. This is a fruitful time to recruit and train those new leaders who are often on the margins or marginalized. 

A preaching approach could be to put a lens up to our resistance to including new people even though we say we want to include them.  It seems the ministry of the Holy Spirit helps to make these first disciples very intentional in their inclusiveness.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is evident in seemingly miraculous ways.  I wonder if this is to be the norm rather than the exception?   In any event, I am prompted to think that for congregations in transition there are shifts in power as the system changes.  Luke moves us to the power of the Spirit rather than our human power.  These new Gentiles experienced Jesus “power with” people and not our tendency to have “power over” others.

Bob Anderson
Toledo, OH

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