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Change - Monday Musing, September 13, 2021

Dear Church,

Change – the act or instance of making or becoming different. We all face changes every day – whether it is a simple change in the weather, our schedule, or the anticipated change of seasons. Each of us deals with change differently. Famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus is most well-known for his quotation: “Change is the only constant in life.”

Setting aside fear of change, and therefore not moving forward, we typically evaluate change after-the-fact or retrospectively. We make judgements comparing the before and after. While oftentimes we pine that the original was better than what we have now, we grudgingly admit there is no going back.

Several news items caught my attention this past week highlighting how past events have changed how we experience the world today. For example, the world changed on September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked and flew two commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York City. What had been a symbol of American power became a target of hate. With shared grief in the aftermath of 9/11, the nation vowed to never forget. Twenty years later, that symbol is now a monument of hope, resilience, and unity, designed to lift us up as a nation. In the face of unfathomable loss, we rose as one.

The world changed in the wake of the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd. Confederate monuments, erected across the nation to counter the Civil Rights movement in the aftermath of Jim Crow laws that were enacted after the nation’s Civil War, became a symbol for white supremacy. These statues honoring southern “heroes” had duplicitously assaulted history by glorifying traitors of the nation.

The world changed on January 6, 2021 when insurrectionists stormed the US Capital to disrupt the lawful discharge of a Constitutional process of transferring power. The Capital is a monument of the nation’s power, which became a target for those who were convinced by a lie that the 2020 election had been “stolen,” which justified their unlawful actions. In the face of differences, we risk falling apart.

Church history shows that the life of faith has changed over time. The assumption used to be that if you were a committed Christian, you would go to church every week. (Puritan worship services lasted three hours – standing on your feet the entire time!). Weekly church attendance is far from the norm nowadays. Culture has changed so radically in the last decade or two that even committed Christians aren’t in church as regularly as they used to be – and we can’t blame it on COVID-19, the decline began well before the pandemic!

The Federated Church of Orleans is not immune to the changes in culture, the world, and religious expression. We have seen with our own eyes the decline in Sunday worship attendance, membership, participation, and volunteering for positions of leadership. Research has shown that people yearn for spiritual connection – it’s the institutional church they are not so keen on.

We can lament the seasons past, looking back with nostalgia how it used to be better in the “good old days.” Or we can recognize that the church has changed, is changing still, and will continue to change in the future. In yesterday’s message, I said wisdom and discernment are slow to show up sometimes. Who we will be as a congregation and what we will become has yet to be revealed. I pray that we hear Lady Wisdom’s words as an invitation to act from a clear sense of God’s desire for us as we discover the vision of where God will take this congregation in the future. I invite you to be part of this discerning journey of faith as we create a beloved community, ministering together, here in this place. May we look to the serenity prayer for guidance: God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. See you in church!




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