Drew Tucker (Columbus, OH)

Warm-up Questions

  • How do you typically respond to leadership changes in your life? Share some of the feelings and reactions you’ve had to changes in teachers, coaches, church staff, and other leaders in your community.

Thank you, Bill!

This week, Faith Lens is in the news! If that feels a bit odd, don’t worry: we won’t be this meta going forward.

After many years of faithful service, The Rev. William H. King—known much more commonly to parishioners, colleagues, and friends as Bill—is retiring as editor of Faith Lens. Bill’s career spanned many types of ministry, from the congregation to colleges to staff at the churchwide office. Under Bill’s leadership, Faith Lens became one of the most visited pages on the ELCA website. The regular use of this resource by people across the church, from small groups and Sunday school classes to youth meetings to college student organizations, speaks to the value of Bill’s work. To gather and support authors from across the country, and even across the globe, who highlight the connections between God’s Word and our world is no easy task. Bill did so with passion and clarity, always seeking to highlight the author’s voice rather than force his own perspective. The entire Faith Lens community gives thanks to Bill for his stewardship of this resource and the ways he helped to introduce our voices to the wider church.

You might then be wondering: what’s next for Faith Lens? I’m your new editor, Drew Tucker. As a longtime Faith Lens author, I’m grateful to Bill and churchwide staff for entrusting me with leadership in this era. I’ll do my best to ensure this resource continues to have value for a broad audience within, and beyond, our denomination.

What will that future look like?

  • Authors will continue to use the same basic Faith Lens format, connecting current events with scripture to promote engagement with God in our daily lives.
  • We’re moving to a year-round publishing format so you can use this devotional resource during the summer and throughout the school year.
  • Since we’ve heard some readers like to use the resource on their own, we’re asking authors to include activity suggestions for personal reflection and action.

You can always reach out to me at drew@hopewoodoutdoors.org with ideas for the resource, suggestions for new authors, or news that you’d like to see connected in future Faith Lens articles. If you’d join us in sharing gratitude with Bill, you can also send notes directly to me, which I will share with him.

Discussion Questions

  • What is your favorite part of this devotional resource?
  • What would you like to see change about this devotional resource?

Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 20:1-17

Romans 4:13-25

John 2:13-22

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

At times, the Gospel can appear incredibly distant from our lives. After all, our churches don’t host animal sacrifices, so we don’t have a lot of livestock sales going on in the fellowship hall. We also have lots of options for buildings where we can worship God, so while the prophecy of a temple’s destruction might sound ominous, that wouldn’t necessarily indicate an absolute shift in how we worship God.

Jews at this time believed that proper worship of God must take place at the temple in Jerusalem because God’s presence was geographically and architecturally tied to it. This brought people from all over the Roman Empire to worship, something that required animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Rather than bring animals from Egypt or Italy, instead they’d bring money to buy the needed animal in Jerusalem. Logistically, it made much more sense than hauling an extra bull or a cage of doves over untold miles of road.

All of the sudden, Jesus interrupts this very normal, widely accepted practice. He chases away the animals, dumps the money and tables on the ground, and tells the witnesses that God’s up to something new, something that is reshaping the very center of their worship practices. In Jesus, we find God is not bound to a building, but is incarnate, God bound in flesh. Worship doesn’t need to happen in one place anymore because God is on the move. Worship doesn’t require sacrifice anymore because, in Jesus, God forgives all sin. This is a massive shift in leadership.

Let’s be very clear about something: the change in the Faith Lens editor is very different than the leadership changes that Jesus instigates. In our the present day, we have the passing of a baton from one colleague to another to continue caring for the writers and readers of this well-loved devotional. This change reflects a slow evolution meant to meet the changing needs of the church and the world. In John’s story, Jesus abruptly enters a system, disrupts it, and then points to an imminent change in how things should be done. This change reflects an immediate shift of priorities and practices.

The juxtaposition of our change in editors and of this reading from John 2 tells us something significant. It tells us that, at times, Jesus can suddenly interrupt our normal lives and lead us in a new direction that forces us to question our priorities. At other times, God is involved with the normal transitions of leadership in life, from one editor to another, one coach to another, one teacher to another, one leader to another.

God leads us in many ways, sometimes with unexpected and immediate change, and at other times with slow and methodical evolution. Look for God’s presence in both.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus was so upset in this passage?
  • What normal activities might Jesus want to disrupt in our churches?
  • When is disruptive leadership appropriate?
  • How have you seen God active in normal, peaceful transitions of power?

Activity Suggestions

  •  In a group, play a game that requires rotating leadership, like tag or “I Spy.” After playing, reflect together on what it’s like to lead, share leadership, and experience different styles of leadership.
  • Take time to journal as a prayer to God. Share the feelings that arose as you read this Gospel passage. Give thanks for specific leaders in your life. Ask for clarity about difficult leadership changes you’ve experienced.
  • Write notes of blessing to leaders who’ve inspired you and share them with those leaders. Be sure to include leaders who took big risks for sudden change and leaders who slowly led transformation over time.

Closing Prayer

Faithful God, we give you thanks for Bill’s faithfulness as editor of Faith Lens and for the leadership he shared with us. Prepare us for the disruption that you sometimes bring and empower us to lead in ways that reveal your presence in all places. In this Lenten journey, remind us that faithful Christian leadership leads to abundant life. Amen.