The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously wrote, “Change is the only constant in life.” That is just as true in the postmodern world as it was in the world of ancient Greece. I think most of us have seen evidence of that…the world never stops moving and our culture and lives never stop changing.
I think you might just agree: Some change is welcome, even exciting, and other change maybe hard, even scary. What seems scary to one person, though, might be exciting to another person and what is a welcome change to one person might be downright terrifying to another person. However, once change begins to happen it is seldom as scary (or wonderful) as we think.
When I realized the church would need to make such significant salary cuts and went on to announce that I would be going on a leave of absence, without first finding a job, I was overwhelmed. All of the sudden change seemed to be rushing at me and it was terrifying. That is the scary kind of change. I’ll bet some of you have experienced that kind of unwelcome change!?
Two weeks ago I got a job offer for a job about which I was very excited. Getting a job was a change for which I had been hoping and suddenly it seemed ‘perfect.’ Maybe, at some point, you have received a job offer or some other big news, like a college acceptance or a new home and you begin imagining everything will be wonderful and, even, perfect? The exciting kind of change.
The truth is that God had ahold of me during the scary change. Things were never as worrisome as I imagined. And as I anticipate a new job I do well to remember that a new job will not fix all of the rough spots in my life. There will be things about work I don’t like. There will be difficult people present in any workplace. I will miss my current work and the people I have come to love and all the things about ministry that I adore. It will not be perfect because no employment is perfect and change always leaves us yearning for aspects of our past.
I think the same will be true for the people of Abingdon United Methodist Church. Some people are looking forward to change and some people are sad for it, but we will do well to keep in mind that a new pastor will not fix the trials facing this church nor will the former pastor be a loss that cannot be overcome. This faithful church will come to realize that the church is not about the pastor, it is about the community of faith that is ever-present here. God has this congregation in their hands on the difficult days and during times of tumultuous change…and God helps us to stay grounded and realize that whatever we choose…whatever change we initiate…will not fix our pain or frustrations without God at the center of it.
Our enduring God and our growing faith in that God is the only things that fixes our troubles. If you are anxious: know that Connor is a man of great faith who is growing with God and will bring wonderful change to this church. If you are excited and hoping that Pastor Connor is going to fix all of the church’s problems: you will be disappointed. Pastors can exert leadership. Pastors can exude grace. Pastors can provide context to our change. And I’m certain that Pastor Connor will do all of that, but there is only one instrument of change on which we should completely rely: God. That God works through change, the pastor, and all the people of this church to calm our anxieties, relieve our pain & losses, and walking with us into a hopeful future!