“Welcome Change” Dr. Richard Herman

I get it. Faithful Christian discipleship demands change—for us as individuals and as a church. But, frankly, this is a really hard one for me; I like the comfort of a well-ordered rhythm. Oh, I do enjoy solving problems. I just wish that once they were solved, they would stay solved. Yet that’s not the way real life, and real discipleship, works.
Sometimes we choose to change; we decide to try a new food or learn a new skill. In fact, learning always involves change. To learn is to change how we think or act and feel. I don’t mind politicians who “flip-flop;” it only means they can be taught. Some choices, such as a college, marriage or job, result in dramatic changes which alter our life’s landscape but at least we chose them. However, sometimes a change chooses us, regardless of our wants or wishes; like a loved one’s death, a tornado ripping through town, or a rapidly spreading pandemic. These drastically change life as we know it.
All change brings grief, even change we choose, for along with change comes loss. Newlyweds lose their independence. New parents lose sleep and a tidy home. New jobs bring the loss of old colleagues and friends. A new town means leaving behind familiar haunts and comfortable relationships. It’s not change that we most fear or find hard, it’s the losses that come with it.
When change chooses us, the full spectrum of emotion crashes in on us, like right now. We blame others whom we think should have done something differently. We flail around trying to learn new skills and ways of living—like how to be “together apart” with technology. We become afraid; fearing what’s beyond our ability to anticipate, control or understand. We even come to fear people because anyone could be a potential virus carrier. How quickly people, not the coronavirus, become the enemy we fear and fight. Those reactions, though almost instinctual, are not necessarily godly or faithful for us as Jesus’ disciples.
But even when change chooses us, we do have choices we can make. We are able to choose how we will respond.
We can choose to love—to love one another, to love those trying to make the best possible decisions for the church, to love those who are doing their level best to “do what needs to be done” as a result. We can love those we usually overlook. We can choose to love the unlovable.
We can choose to learn—let the change give us a new view of what God’s Spirit is doing in the world. We discover better ways to do the work of Christ in the world as it is now, not how it once was or how we wish it were. Hey, I’m even learning how to use Zoom these days. Amazing!
We can choose to laugh—to seek joy in the journey, to notice and enjoy how God reveals His glory along life’s road; like being with our children and grandchildren as they homeschool or building Legos together, and laughing together over a Pixar film.
We can choose to last—to endure, persevere, to never give up or give in to the temptation to quit—to quit following Jesus or to quit on the fellowship of others trying to follow Him faithfully. We choose to stick it out together.
Change is a challenge, especially when it’s imposed on us suddenly and without our approval. Yet, God is still sovereign. Jesus is still on the throne of the universe. And the Spirit is not unaware. The choice we always have is how we will respond.
May we make faithful choices to love, to learn, to laugh and to last together in times of change.
Rev. Dr. Richard Herman