The last Sunday of July, several of us from First UMC celebrated the installation of our incoming District Superintendent, the Reverend Jane Taylor. It was a beautiful service full of symbols of the office of the District Superintendent, grounded in scripture, and bringing together United Methodists from around the Clinch Mountain District in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
It was a good way to mark a time of change.
We seem to be surrounded by change. Big waves of transition are washing over our politics, our culture, our theology, and even our daily schedules. It can be difficult to find a routine to cling to when so many things seem so utterly out of control.
Or maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe your experience is that things are pretty steady right now. Maybe there’s something about my particular perspective that makes me feel like the disciples in the wind-rocked midnight fishing vessel in the moments before they scream at Jesus to wake him and beg him to calm the storm.
Or maybe being in the middle of a lot of change is making me forget that change is itself a constant in creation. There are patterns that are steady and historical trends that seem predictably circular, but all things are constantly in a state of transformation. Maybe what I need is to simply embrace the change that surrounds me.
That is something I had to learn early in my experience as a whitewater kayaker, actually. A river is constantly falling downstream, driven by the force of gravity. As it carves its way into gullies and gorges, it bounds around boulders and squeezes down chutes, filling in behind sharper corners in holes and eddies. If I choose to fight the river in the ways it wants to go, I wear myself out and don’t enjoy the river as much as I would if I let the current put me where it wants to go.
I have to embrace the flow of the constantly changing stream.
Maybe I just need to embrace the constant change that surrounds me. Maybe I need to find the places where it’s clear the Spirit is at work, and take on the role of John the Baptizer in pointing and hollering, “Look! There’s Jesus!” Maybe I need to work less on complaining about those places where the change is actually stagnancy and decline and decay, and work more on finding ways to help God redeem those situations.
I mean, surely if God can embrace this good creation and keep molding it into the Kin-dom of heaven, I can do my little part to embrace it as well.
It’s worth a shot.