“Ch ch changes…Turn and face the strange…Ch-ch-changes… Just gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can't trace time.” David Bowie
The beauty of fall…That nip is back in the air this morning, it happened overnight almost! I am always shocked at how in Minnesota, no matter how much we expect the change to a new season, it always catches us a little by surprise.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
I have experienced a lot of changes over the last couple months, and I am here to tell you. We as humans don’t like changes! Even when they are amazing and good changes to make, it is still hard to take that leap of faith to make a change, especially after a lot of time has passed, we get comfortable with what we know.
Life has changed. It is just not the same as it was twenty or even fifty years ago. I never thought I would be one looking back in time reflecting upon “the good ole days”; but I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic at moments reminded of the past, and thinking it was simpler in some ways. One of the things I mourn is our loss of connection to one another, we just don’t know our neighbors, our children’s friends, or even our friends as closely as we did in the past. Relationships have become more superficial; the internet has become more our mainstream way of getting our news and we frequently do our socializing and check-ins on Facebook instead of face to face.
Change is constant; God reminds us through the seasons that just like nature around us we are constantly being transformed. We are always growing, changing and being pruned, blooming, resting dormant, and are renewed to life once again through the Spirit that alive within us from the time of our baptism. It is both exciting and scary as we go through these seasons of our lives, and we often must let go of the old and embrace new ways and new ideas. I realized recently when moving that I had some clothes that were older than my children! It was time to let them go… I recall in the 1980’s thinking that cell phones were just a fad and look at us now- land lines are becoming a rarity and our reliance on technology has become the norm- my youngest son has never known life without the presence of a cell phone.
Church has changed. We see our membership demographics altering slowly, our ways of worship evolving, and ways in which we share information and view ourselves as a community is constantly changing. As we look to the very margins of our world, we know there is a greater message and hope to be found here in all this change-- it is in our mission to “share God’s love with all people.” This means we must be faithful to maintain and nourish those face-to-face relationships within the church and looking outside ourselves to create and nourish relationships with our neighbors in the greater community.
God invites us to change. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NRSV
Discernment is an engaged action which must be constant within our church, and one God invites us all to embrace personally every day. We need to seek the Spirit of God to find what God is inviting us into and what He is inviting our church to be a part of within the community outside of our doors. We must examine our hearts and our calendars to know if we are as a church using our time and talents in all the ways God wishes us to, or are we just keeping busy, marking time until the next season comes because we are comfortable. Are we becoming stagnant pools or are we renewed streams flowing outward to nourish all those we touch?
Join me in praying together for the council, our pastors, and our congregation to be empowered by the Spirit as they look to new ways of doing things, new technologies, vision together as a whole and embrace many new changes. May God take us into this new season with overflowing hearts of thanksgiving for all that he has done for the past hundred years here in Mahtowa at Salem, and all he will continue to do and invite us into through this church community. I am excited, encouraged, humbled, and inspired by you all each time we meet!
Blessings, Pastor Suzy