Change is inevitable. It always amazes me, however, how much we rebel against it. How much we disdain it. How much we become anxious and almost petrified of change. Then, change comes, newness springs forth, and the world is anew again, and we learn – but only briefly – that change is good.
Ponder these words of Walter Brueggmann:
the world waits for newness;
settled wisdom knows nothing of newness;
settled wealth knows nothing of newness;
settled power knows nothing of newness.
This is where we find ourselves – and the world – as we emerge from the pandemic. God lovingly guides and deeply disturbs us simultaneously once again. This is where we must go and sink and learn in order to become something new in Christ. We must let go of false, bad ways and learn to embrace new, life-giving ones. We must let go of things that rob of us our joy, and engage these that bring freshness to our being. We must discard bad habits, and delight in ones that will be worthy of what we are: a temple of the living Holy Spirit. Perhaps that which is worth keeping from the days of a pandemic are those that we missed so much, and those that cost nothing like hugs, touch, visits and family. The thirst for money, power, and titles became less important as the world was robbed of the little things we took for granted.
Because God is God, there are things that that displease God greatly. God chose what is foolish to who the wise how to be better: more compassionate, more caring, more loving, a better person; a bearer of the Gospel of His only Child. We know these things to be true, but to make them different requires change and we are afraid of change.
When we began our parish some almost fourteen years ago, no one could have told me how many times I would be saying goodbye to friends I took into my life and heart as family. No one could tell me how many times I would say goodbye through death, relocation, change in life circumstances, and yes, even through disagreement. No one could tell me how many times, in my role as pastor, I would need to hold the door and wish them well. And no one could tell me how many times we would change, too. But, we have, and we have grown because sometimes to grow we must first prune. Sometimes that pruning is intentional, sometimes by mistake, but always at the hands of God to help us on our way, to bring growth through change. Perhaps it is us as individuals that must be pruned, first.
“It is believed that St Francis refrained from eating out of reverence for the fasting of the Christ, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material food; and thus, with just a half loaf of bread, he kept from himself the poison of vainglory. After St. Francis had sustained this marvelous abstinence, God granted many miracles through his merits; for which cause men began to build houses there, arid to inhabit them; and in a short time there was built a large and prosperous village…”
This time is a time for change. We must remember the adage, ‘feelings do not have intellect’, and when we become anxious in times of change, we must honor prayer, one another, our community, and the gift given to us by God above, the very Spirit of God, Who sat with Jesus in His times of temptation, and never give into bias, hatred, innuendo, or gossip – never to active power or title – but rather move ahead as one people of faith to see where God will bring us next!
How will you let go of the world and embrace God more deeply? When will you strives less for power and titles over nothing, and instead remember the lessens of the pandemic? When will a hug become more of a blessed event than rite of passage?