Transitions: Series Overview
Starting today, we begin a transition in the worship life of the church, and among United Methodists in particular, we enter what for many of us may be a time of significant transition.
Christians around the globe today begin a new season, the Season after Pentecost. Sometimes this season is referred to as ordinary time. It’s called ordinary time because the Sundays themselves are referred to with ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) after the Day of Pentecost. Trinity Sunday marks the first Sunday after Pentecost. Next week marks the second, and so forth.
This season is not called ordinary time not because things become normal, much less average or blasé during the nearly six months that make up this season (from Trinity Sunday through Christ the King Sunday). If there is anything “ordinary” about it in that sense, it is that, like all other seasons, it has a common underlying purpose among the Sundays and weeks that compose it. The ordinary or underlying purpose of the Season after Pentecost is for the church to live out its ministries fully and accountably in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Because there is a diversity of gifts and a diversity of ministries within each congregation, the form of the Revised Common Lectionary we have adopted as The United Methodist Church provides also for maximal diversity among its readings. During this season of the year, The United Methodist Church follows what is sometimes referred to as the “semicontinuous” track of the lectionary (as opposed to the “complementary track” some other churches have chosen to follow). In the semicontinuous track, none of the readings are chosen to relate directly (or even indirectly) to the others, except that the Psalm always functions as a prayerful response to the first reading, most often from the Old Testament. Otherwise, the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel readings are not related to each other. Instead, the invitation is to follow one track of readings at a time (Old Testament, Epistle, or Gospel), even if you choose to read all of them in worship, and use the track you follow to do more of a deep dive into the Scriptures at that point.
The only exceptions within the Season after Pentecost to this pattern of readings are found on Trinity Sunday, All Saints, and Christ the King, each of which has a kind of “bookend” function for the season. On these Sundays, as during the “axial” seasons of Advent through Christmas Season, and Lent through Easter Season, all of the readings are chosen to connect to each other focused ultimately on the gospel reading. These days mark the hinge points or segue between an axial season (Easter for Trinity, Advent for Christ the King, and Extended Advent, if you choose to observe it, for All Saints).
Picking up on the bookend or hinge function of Trinity Sunday for the Season after Pentecost, we use the first Sunday in this season to function as launch for our first series in this season, “Transitions.”
Trinity Sunday marks the transition from the preparatory work we have been doing during Lent and Easter Season to the performing of our ministries as participants in the life and with the power of the Trinity during the extended season that lies ahead. We chose the reading from Romans as the focus for this day because we found it has the fullest expression of the dynamics of life in the Trinity among the readings for Trinity Sunday in Year B.
The weeks of June that follow Trinity Sunday mark a particular time of transition for many United Methodist congregations that may experience a change in pastoral leadership on or before July 1. We chose the Old Testament readings as our focal point for these weeks because this set of readings from I Samuel has a common theme of transition in leadership, from Eli to Samuel (June 3), from Samuel to Saul (June 10), and from Saul to David (in two stages, June 17 and June 24).
Week 1: May 27 Life in the Trinity : Prologue to Post-Pentecost