Friday, August 10, 2012

Year B Proper 14 (Ordinary 19) Eleventh 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. 

Year B  Proper 14 (Ordinary 19) Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 130

One of the final Psalms of Ascent, the poet reminds us that we have come a long way on our journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem.   Our journeys of life transitions seem endless when we are moving through their cycles.  We, and our congregations, will confront times when we must wait for God to bring us to the endings and subsequent new beginnings.  The psalm reminds us that our waiting is almost over.  

The Psalm reminds us that intentional interim ministry is eschatological.  We wait for a new beginning to emerge as we say goodbye to a beloved (presumably!) pastor and wait to engage with a new pastoral leader whom we know is on the way.  This quality of the “already, but not yet” is pervasive during transitions as the future emerges in the midst of our endings.  Holly Whitcomb’s small book, Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting (Augsburg, 2005) probes waiting with a humility of spirit that leads to love, honoring others, living without judgment, patience, gratitude, living in the present, and trust in God as we make honest assessments.   

The promises of God for a new future are embedded in our “waiting places”.   So, we wait expectedly, even as the sentry guards the city expectantly waiting to announce the sunrise.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Times of transitions mark a significant change in our life and world.   One’s identity shifts with the loss of a relationship to someone close to you.   In the same way congregations examine and renew their sense of “self” identity when they are no longer “Rev. Beloved Pastor’s Church”.   A critical aspect of identity that is easily overlooked (because it is “assumed”?) is our spiritual identity. 

Paul encourages the Ephesians to look to their future as a people with Christ-like behaviors and character.  One possible sermon path might be to explore what it means for a congregation to live as “imitators of God”.  The people of God live in the same love as Christ – I wonder how a congregation lives that is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”?




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

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