we must be willing to adapt, to change, to grow.
I’m not sure how it happened, really, except that it clearly did. Somehow for many Christians, church became the place where little changed, and so served as a sort of anchor in the midst of the swirling mess of change characterizing the rest of life. I can remember in seminary hearing the stories of woe from those who had attempted to move furniture or change a prayer or try something different. The most important canon (rule) of the church was the unwritten one that went “but we’ve always done it that way!” Although said with a laugh, collectively it reinforced, even among the leadership, that change was somehow the antithesis of holy.
Our beautiful Episcopal liturgy served to reinforce this idea, as for so many decades it remained a reassuring constant, a comfort in the storm, creating the illusion that it always had been that way and always would be. Even as a child I knew all the words to all the prayers of the ‘old’ prayer book, such that I said them quietly under my breath along with the priest.
I understand how hard it is for change to be so prevalent. And I can only imagine how hard it must be for those whose lifetimes have spanned even greater changes than mine. It can be exhausting to keep up and it’s our human nature to seek stable things to cling to for solace and support.
God, however, seems to have a different idea–wanting us to rest in Him only rather than finding comfort in the many other things, whether it be liturgy that we love or anything else that might substitute. Think of all the times in the Bible when God calls people to be on the move, to follow Him through changes, letting go, transitions, new landscapes–can you imagine being Abram and Sarai (long before they became Abraham and Sarah) following God into new lands at their age?
In our very human struggle God, thankfully loves us enough to keep drawing us in— leading us to hold fast to that which doesn’t disappoint. Hopefully, God surrounds us with loving companions with whom we can be honest about our very real and understandable struggles, who remind us of God’s invitation to lean into Love.
If we as the church are faithful to the One who calls us, we must be willing to adapt, to change, to grow—so that our faith may be lively and life-giving rather than become stiff and brittle. We have a Worship Team committed to bringing greater intention to our liturgy and a Décor/Decorating Team to bring greater intention to our spaces. These are just two of the ways we seek to respond to Jesus’ call to draw out new treasures as well as old—honoring both and fearing neither.
The One who breathes life into us and who receives us at the last, when life is ‘changed not ended,’ yearns for us to travel through the changes and chances of this life on the sure foundation that far surpasses any external solace. Don’t we want something larger than a piece of furniture or a certain prayer to hold us? The collect for Good Friday reminds us:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hope to see you Sunday!