Facebook has a memory feature that will allow you to see what was happening on your Facebook page one, two, three, five years ago. Late last week, for example, it reminded me that five years ago, Mary-Ellen and I had lunch at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut (if you see John and Emily Thomas, by the way, wish them a happy fifth wedding anniversary).
So, it was no surprise to me to see on Wednesday that I had a memory. It was a picture that Elizabeth posted last year of me holding a seven-week-old JP. They had come and made a surprise visit at staff meeting. What was startling as I looked at the photo was fourteen-month-old JP across the room from me, digging out a book so that he might be read to by his Mimi. The contrast between the seven-week-old baby in the photo and the fourteen-month-old little boy in the room was sharp and somewhat disorienting.
We all know that things change, that nothing stays the same. It’s that some changes are quiet and gradual, subtler. Almost like the tide which gradually, bit by bit, washes away the shore and changes the geography of the coast. I would suggest most change falls in this category. Quiet and gradual, allowing us to adjust and adapt so well that we may not realize the change until it confronts us in the form of a Facebook memory photo.
But there are other changes that are dramatic, immediate and sudden. Like a hurricane that in a few hours rearranges the geography of the coast. These changes are the ones, I believe, that we resist the most. They do not offer us the grace of gradual accommodation but insist that we accept them now, just as they are.
FUMCC is in the midst of a season of sudden and dramatic change. New ministries have begun and newer ones are being imagined and dreamt of. Older ministries are being evaluated and some are being released, with gratitude for what they have meant and the recognition that their day is past. The coastline is changing. Staff are coming and going. We are having to adjust to new faces and new styles of ministry. Even some more familiar faces are in new roles and doing new things. The shoreline has shifted. A new building and a renovated building is in the works (hopefully, ground breaking will be shortly after the first of the year). That will cause discomfort and dislocation. It will force us to accept new ways of sharing space (for example, is that “our Sunday School room” or the room in which our Sunday School class meets for now?). The landscape will look different. Nothing stays the same.
How do we manage change? How do we face it faithfully? How do we embrace God’s new thing, while celebrating what God has already done? We’ll be talking about that together in all six of our worshiping communities these next few weeks. Sunday, we’ll begin a new sermon series, “Nothing Stays the Same,” by listening to the wisdom of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11) who reminds us that everything has its season. We’ll also hear Jesus remind his brothers that there is a timing to his ministry to which he must be faithful (John 7:1-9). And we’ll think together about how that models one faithful way for us to face the changes before us.
I hope to see you Sunday. This much won’t change: we’ll hear good news, thank God, and be the church together.
Grace and peace.