Saturday, August 18, 2012

Worship in Times of Transition: Proper 15 (Ordinary 20) Twelfth 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 15 (Ordinary 20) Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

David’s reign was longer than most pastors’ terms – 40 years in one congregation is not a norm!  The transition to new leadership was helped by the fact that the monarchy was based on the family line and Solomon was waiting in the wings.  Solomon’s conversation with God as it is given to us is laudable. He is humble (but a child), asks for help (knows his weaknesses) and finally, Solomon seeks wisdom that is a cut above the average.  As he begins his inherited reign, Solomon prepares for this new future.
One of the transitional dynamics congregations experience is “preparing for a new future/a new pastoral leader”.  Solomon was, at least, being intentional about his future and that of the nation.  That makes me wonder what it would be like to use a sermon path that held Solomon’s intentionality as a guide for a congregation to intentionally prepare for a new pastoral relationship. What would it look like for a congregation to intentionally pray as a body to seek wisdom for a future vision and for building a relationship with a new pastoral leader? 

Proverbs 9:1-6;  Psalm 34:9-14; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

Each of these texts continues the thread of preparation to be a particular kind of people. 
  • ·         Proverbs pushes us to maturity and insight (9:6).
  • ·         Psalm 34 teaches how to live in the fear of the Lord: Depart from evil, and do good; seek      peace, and pursue it. (turning from evil is rooted in our baptism promises as well).
  • ·         Ephesians 5:15-20 challenges the congregation in verse 15 to  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise…
  • ·         John 6:51-58 continues the theme by reminding us that Good News for our life as God’s people is in Jesus as the bread of life that is eternal … our future vision as a congregation will thrive when we nourish our lives with this bread of life from heaven.
Through 25 years of interim ministry, intentional planning, praying and spiritually forming I preparation for a new relationship and partnership with a pastoral leader seems to be a “tag along”.  Gaining new members who give financially, trying to be open to younger generations or creating new programs to attract new people seem to snag the spotlight.  At the bottom line is the typical, “once we get a permanent young pastor, all will be well.”  These texts remind us that only “transformed lives” make a difference for God’s mission in our world.




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

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