painting of medieval church in summer

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are the kind of church where we notice if people are missing from worship. Then there is checking in – “How is …?” “What’s going on … is everything OK?”

More than the usual number of people were missing from worship this week. It mostly has to do with summer travel. It was too bad, because we had an interesting sermon on “change” – how it is all around us, built into the natural world and even into human beings (in the form of growth, and even learning), but that we don’t like it, and we build structures around ourselves that work to limit it. But that the problem is, if we don’t change, and the world around us does, over time we become unable to relate, to communicate. This can be a problem – assuming you want to relate and communicate with the people around you.

[This has made me think of “The Bachelorette.” My daughter and her friends watch “The Bachelorette” … religiously. Usually she watches it somewhere else, but the most recent episode, for some reason, she watched at our house with a friend who’s in from out of town. This allowed us – if that’s the right verb – to watch it, too. Watching “The Bachelorette” forced me to reassess what must be in the minds of my daughter and her friends, that enables them to enjoy watching this show.]

The pastor of the day used the image of standing in the sand at the water’s edge, when the waves come up and wash the sand away around your feet … if you just stand there, you sink in faster; if you move – even if you wiggle your toes – you can stay on top of the water a little better.

That is – recognize that in a dynamic context you need to stay mobile to stay balanced.

Change is on people’s minds at our church, since our called and installed pastor just moved to South Carolina and we are still in the beginning stage of the “calling a pastor process.” We Presbyterians do things decently and in order, so that normally means around 18 months of “process.” This makes some of us anxious, so the ones who are less anxious are spending a fair amount of time doing reassurance. The pastor of the day was well aware of that.

The change isn’t the problem, he said. Honest. We need it. Because even though God does not change – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” – sometimes we need to change – even to change what we know and understand about God, because we want to get to know more about God, to understand more about God, to get closer to God, to be more faithful to God, and all of that involves change.

You could argue that Jesus was promoting that kind of change. And the early church. So, change is part of the church’s story.

The trick is to keep wiggling your toes.

Flemish Baroque peasants doing summer work in a field with a church in the background
“Summer” – Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Farming has changed a bit since the early Renaissance.

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