Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Year B Proper 10 (15) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

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. 

Proper 10 (15) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

Episcopalian friends joined me in a visit to one of the Presbyterian churches for which I had oversight in my interim governing body executive capacity.  One recognized the organist as a neighbor and approached the chancel steps and spoke across the chasm to greet him.  He invited her up closer but my guest stood back, aghast to be asked to go into the “holy place” of the chancel area. The musician chuckled and said, “we are Presbyterians, nothing is holy up here”.  

The Ark of the Covenant for David’s kingdom was the place of God’s abode. It was so holy and sacred that to touch it was to die.  It had been “lost” in battle, was now found and on its way to being the center of holy worship again.  I can’t help but wonder how, during the interim transition, the interim minister might introduce the holiness of God along with the meaning of being God’s holy people?  

In a parallel account in 1 Chronicles 13:12-14, the Ark was stolen by an enemy of Israel and then restored. On the way to Jerusalem, the soldiers were ambushed and the Ark was taken to the house of Obed-Edom for safe keeping.  Obed-Edom household was blessed by the holy presence of God represented by the Ark.  Here is one more path for using the transition “lens”.  Here, the transition journey “home” to Jerusalem was one that brought blessing and joy because of God’s holy presence in the household.  This is a worthy exploration for the interim ministry preacher and worship leader.  

For some of our traditions, nothing may be holy but then, aren’t all things holy in that God created them and we use them for God’s glory?  In that spirit of reverence perhaps we will catch our “spiritual breath” and rediscover the presence of God that is so critical to the future leadership of our congregations.  We can give a radical twist to the interim developmental task of renewing congregational identity.
Ephesians 1:3-14

The identity theme of God’s Holy People continues in the Epistle lesson for this Sunday. For the interim minister and preacher, this text could become a series sermons focusing on our identity.  We are blessed by God, made to be a blessing, adopted, heirs, redeemed, made righteous and much more.

As an interim pastoral leader it is too easy to stick with the technical organization concepts of church size, our style, or our place on the theological spectrum of evangelical – progressive.  Or, are we simply a “friendly” church that is a civic leader or servant “non-profit” outreach?  One of the challenges of the interim transition can be to stretch the congregation’s theological thinking about who we are, why we are, and whose we are. 

As poetry and hymn, there is ample opportunity to continue the theme of worship and praise.  One could reflect on David’s praise in 2 Samuel.  David’s exuberance is a bit over the top for our (often) intellectualized worship. An interesting preaching approach using both texts might be to reflect on the the (proper?) place of emotion in worship. As a friend of mine told me, “we are Presbyterians and we need to learn to worship with decency and ardor!

Bob Anderson
Interim Ministry Specialist
Life Coach for Ministry Professionals
Toledo, OH

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