Friday, May 25, 2012

Year B First Sunday after Pentecost/Trinity

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.  Each text will be considered but the focus each week will be on the text(s) that will be most helpful for preaching during an interim transition time. The preacher will be able to "connect the dots" creatively with themes of the lections.

Year B - Season after Pentecost
Trinity Sunday / First Sunday after Pentecost

Trinity Sunday

 Trinity Sunday marks the fullness of God's revelation in that mysterious, yet wondrous, nature of God in three persons.  Following Pentecost it is a kind of capstone for the new chapter of transition to the fullness of God's work with all peoples of all languages and cultures. 

For interim transition congregations, Trinity Sunday preaching can be a reminder that God is fully present with us at all times - God is big enough to be the Sovereign - Creator, and "small" enough to engage with our humanity - incarnation, and loving enough to pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts (Romans 5).  
Isaiah 6:1-8,  Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17

Each of these texts declare the common theme of God's initiative of grace in the transition to the new call of God. God's grace is manifest in the cleansing and call to Isaiah. Grace is a gift of the Spirit in our adoption as God's own. Finally, grace is a gift from God that births us into a new way of life, thinking, and comment.

Here are some connections that come to me: 

The interim congregation may hear from Isaiah the call to part with the old ways that don't work and have led the people away from God. Isaiah's call was to lead the people back "home". This is both coming to terms with history and a future story of new possibilities.  The call was heard in the midst of holy worship. This is a rich vein to mine as you consider the possibilities of worship as powerful moment for God to birth new life into a congregation in pastoral leadership transition.

The interim congregation may hear from Paul in Romans the deep story of identity as God's own that enriches the local congregational narrative:  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. The fear of moving into an unknown future with new leaders creates anxiety that will move us back to our default position of "fear" or call forth the "spirit of adoption".

The interim congregation my also hear from Jesus conversation with Nicodemus an invitation to be "born anew".  This dialogue has layers of metaphors but insists on God's prior action that calls us to a new way of being and living.  Nicodemus was driven by a curiosity about Jesus words of new life. He also seems to have a yearning or hunger to explore. Like many of our congregants, he is balanced gingerly on the thin tight rope between head and heart, logic and hope.  This may be a preaching opportunity for exploring a process of discernment - how do we begin to hear God's will for what God's desire for us to be and do?

Bob Anderson
Toledo, OH

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