“There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colours and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.” ― John Steinbeck
Change can be difficult, especially in the Church. But change is an important element of being the Body of Christ. Living as that body demands that we change our colours, and our fires to adapt to the world that God is changing around us. It is not new to suggest that change is a part of God’s design but one might think so the way the body faithful often responds. People react in fear and retreat to what is secure and what is known. But God has often called us to reassess what we have done and where we might need to change.
Hear the words as expressed in Ecclesiastes:
There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens:
a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
a time for killing and a time for healing,
a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
a time for crying and a time for laughing,
a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
a time for searching and a time for losing,
a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
a time for loving and a time for hating,
a time for war and a time for peace.
These words remind us that we are in flux – always. God does not intend for us to be static – contended with being sedentary. We also read this to know that being a people of God is not binary. We do not have to buy into the notion of one way or another. The ‘line drawing’ mentality that is so often pervasive in the church must be flummoxing to our Creator who knows that our very life itself was gifted to us in change and lived out in change and adaptation. The people of God are being called to turn from catatonia to embrace permutation. While this might be unsettling and often scary, it is also very invigorating and very exciting.
You probably heard that Pope Benedict has decided to resign as Pope. A conclave has been called and there will be a change atop the Roman Catholic church soon. You perhaps heard that a short time ago Justin Welby was named Archbishop of Canterbury succeeding Rowan Williams. There is change that large in the spiritual home of that Anglican office. [This just in – You may have heard that Newfoundlander Michael Ryder is a Montreal Canadien again – changed back to the colours of blue, blanc, et rouge! Change in the Hockey world!] But I must tell you about change that is even more significant than those changes!
This past weekend I was privileged to chair my first annual vestry meeting at St. Aidan’s Church. It was a meeting of the newly formed St. Aidan’s, having brought together the Church of the Hosannas and the former Church of St. Aidan’s. Both congregations voted at special meetings in January to reorganize as a new church community effective February 15, 2013. Our newly formed community has much discernment ahead of it.
“There is a time for planting and a time for uprooting what is planted.” As we now seek God’s direction going forward we have the courage to pluck up that which has been planted. We have the strong leadership of the people of Hosannas to inspire us. Their courage to continue serving God apart from their former place of worship is at the leading edge of all that we seek to do together. We now seek to honour the courage of the folks from Hosannas by asking how we might seek to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. How can we now bring more life and more hope to the community around? Having uprooted what was planted 125 years ago, the people of Hosannas have taken the lead in saying that there is a time to move to a new model seeking God’s direction for where we ought to lay down roots next. Each step forward now is made following these most critical and important first steps.
We also have the hope of the hospitality and willingness of the former St. Aidan’s to open themselves to change and being reshaped by the forging of new relationships that comes with grafting the gifts of two communities to the glory of God and in celebration of God’s gifts to us.
We have much to be thankful for. We intend to continue to seek to broaden the conversation about how we might have a greater influence in the Northwest corner of our city. We are inviting a broader conversation with our brothers and sisters at the Church of the Transfiguration in the near future. We are asking ourselves what stones we may need to throw away and what stones we might need to gather together. There are many worlds and many kinds of days – we pray for direction to be able to change our colour and our fire to match the nature of being church in this day.
I am so fortunate to have been called into the midst of this exciting ministry. I look forward to seeing the many textures and hues that present themselves as we assess how God is at work in our community. So now the work really begins. It is a time to search …..what colour shall we be?