I’m thinking about change a lot these days because we are in the midst of a big transition in our congregation. Our pastor, Rod White, is moving into a different role—a development pastor for the whole church—and I’ll be the pastor stationed at 1125 S. Broad. Even though we have been leading together for years, it’s a shift for Rod and I personally, and it’s a shift for the church. There’s no way to predict exactly what’s going to happen but we are moving forward in trust, communicating and preparing and imagining and equipping as best we can. And we are excited to move in the direction that God has been leading.
Life is full of changes. Relationships are always changing, even if you are lucky enough to have some stable ones. Many of my friends are moving, switching jobs, working through illness or death in their families, or watching their kids grow up. Our schedules often change in the summertime. Laws change, and change comes to us secondarily through media, and we absorb these systemic changes in different ways. We ourselves change when we reach our thresholds—many times unconsciously. Just trying to survive life’s changes can leave us feeling weary or small. We want to create change that brings peace and restoration in the world (and we ARE), but sometimes it feels hard to just hang on at the pace that modern life rolls.
I keep learning that the key to navigating changes we can’t control and initiating the change we want is a conscious life with God. Our Circle of Hope has been expressing an increased desire and need to pray amidst the distractions in our lives. Our Sunday meeting leaders are responding by designing a series for us called “Praying in the weeds.” We are bombarded by stimuli and it seems counter-intuitive to STOP our mental loops when there is so much to worry about and be entertained by. But we sense that interrupting the mental loop is exactly what we need. Consciously reaching out to God increases our connection to the source of power and love and insight that enables us to do more than just hang on. It allows God to touch us, to bring us “home,” to guide us in the flow of his redemptive work. In the movie Inside Out, when Joy allows Sadness to touch the core memories I thought of something we often say on Ash Wednesday: go in a sadness that has been known and touched. We need to let Jesus touch our sadness (and everything else) if we want to heal and spread healing. Of course there’s a lot we won’t know or understand even about ourselves, but we want to be open. God may have a hard time reaching us if we are committed to the hamster wheel of unconscious distraction.
Last night my cell talked about the story of the demon-possessed boy that only Jesus could heal. Lots of people had tried different remedies, but nothing worked until Jesus said, “bring him to me.” It may be good to “go” to Jesus daily, too, and we don’t have to be saintly meditation experts to do it. A simple breath prayer like the ancient Jesus prayer can help us slow down enough to let God guide us through the changes and into the glorious change He is bringing. It may be surprising, too, to see what we can be and do together as the Holy Spirit leads and fills us.