Friday, August 24, 2012

Interim Transition Preaching and Worship Year B Proper 16 (Ordinary 21) Thirteenth 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. 

August 26, 2012
Year B Proper 16 (Ordinary 21)  Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43

Solomon prepares the people for a new future that begins with the centering of worship.  Preparing of a new future is a crucial dynamic in life transitions.  We don’t always know what that future may be in detail, but the promise if of God. Solomon reminds the interim transition congregation to keep worship central.  Our worship as the people of God is that continuing ritual that serves as a keel and a rudder as we sail the tumultuous seas changes of transition. 

In our worship of God we choose the one we will serve (see the alternate OT lesson in Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18, “choose this day whom you will serve”.  In worship we center ourselves in the presence and glory of God pictured in 1 Kings.  The worship response moves outward to witness, embrace and include all peoples. 

Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69

Transitional interim congregations and individuals in transition grapple with issues of identity.  Who am I now that my kids are out of college, married, etc?  Who are we as a congregation after Rev. Beloved Pastor retired after thirty years? 

Identity issues are elusive. We don’t become “new” but change and transition do create opportunities for new parts of our lives to come to the fore. A couple years after my father died, my mother was still the same woman but she was showing fresh new life that was startling (and refreshing) to me and my siblings. Who are we now that we have died and risen with Christ?   Putting on the armor of God is part of our identity as God’s people. Though very different in image, we are reminded in the Gospel text of John that faith binds us to Christ in such a way that we “abide” with him. Our identity is shaped and formed in this communion. 

The armor of God is an unsettling image to many. For Ephesians Christians the armor was something they saw everyday on Roman soldiers who populated the city.  The Ephesians also knew first- hand the principalities and powers of evil. Acts 19 relates that Ephesus was a city steeped in Roman and Greek idolatry.  The idea of spiritual armor was an apt metaphor.  

The Ephesian congregation in Acts 19 was very counter-culture. Their unique identity cause havoc to the local idol maker economy because of the vast number of people who began to turn from idol worship to following Christ.   I sometimes wonder what it would be like if the Church today had such a vibrant faith and caused so many people to turn to follow Jesus that it had an very positive and visible impact on our culture. Living the Paschal mystery of Christ requires appropriate spiritual “tools” for living in righteousness.




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


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