It is funny when you are in an organization that hears the word “change” and breaks out into metaphorical hives, because the response is predictable. We hear the same chorus:
“Why change anything, we’re doing fine.”
“We’re not the church of what’s happenin’ now.”*
“There’s so much change in the world, I want church to be my constant.”
And of course, our favorite:
“I don’t like change for the sake of change.”
Well, actually, you do. Change for the sake of change is what we do every single day. Do you eat the same food at lunch and dinner that you ate for breakfast? Do you eat the same dinner every single night? Is your day so regimented that every minute of every hour is identical to yesterday? I’m pretty sure you said no to all three; at least I hope so! Otherwise “change” is the least of your problems…
Of course we like a little variety you say. That’s why my church alternates Eucharistic Prayers and Prayers of the People forms from the Prayer Book each season. Well, gosh! That sounds downright crazy! Next thing you’ll tell me that you eat the same chicken dish for 40 days, then spice things up on Easter with a little ham! Ooh! Then 50 days of steak!
Now, don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that Methodists or the United Church or whoever have it right on this. It’s just they aren’t pretending that a lack of variety and change in our liturgical diet is something to scoff at. They have their own cases of refusing to change. My point is much broader than this. It is to say that we actually enjoy spicing things up. We actually like change.
Gasp! Take a minute to let it sink in. Let it roll around in your head for just a minute. We like change.
We like changing of seasons and holidays that throw off our routines. We like discovering new places and new products at Target. We like that our children grow older and make new discoveries, while casting aside those habits we hated. We like change!
So stop saying that church is the one place that can’t change because that’s total crap. The church sure better change! It is trying to represent the movement of a Holy Spirit that is as elusive as the wind. It’s going to change!
And despite what some may try to tell you, GOD changes. Regardless of how you make sense of the Great Mystery, we accept that GOD was doing something new and absolutely crazy in Jesus. We understand that GOD has come to understand humanity by dealing with being human, in the flesh. That’s not unchanging. That’s a radical shift. A shift that requires that we recognize how freaking awesome it is! That mysterious Creative Thing would make this great, ridiculous experiment to be a creation to be changed by the process. To accept that is to love change!
We love change for the sake of change! Because the now isn’t what will be. Yeah, it’s different from what was, but we sure don’t want tomorrow to look as messed up as today. Thanks be to GOD! We want tomorrow to be better than today. That’s change.
So let’s agree to stop bagging on change. Let’s stop tensing up around the word. Let’s see the possibilities. Let’s open our flipping eyes to the project GOD has going on around us in creation, from the natural world to our cities, and yes, even somewhere in D.C. Change is good. Change is necessary. For the timid and the concerned (the older brothers from yesterday’s post), of course we’ll have fully printed instructions with deep theological backing for every little maneuver; you can expect nothing less. I only wish your theological defense of the status quo were as detailed. No, I’m not trying to pick a fight. Yes, I know the onus is on the one “messing” with what “works” but remember, you were just telling me that it didn’t work as well as it used to. Oh, you can call your brother names, but I can’t, well—hey! The younger sons have run off ahead of us! Let’s move!
[* NOTE–the above phrase about the “Church of What’s Happenin’ Now” is apparently some TV skit from the early 70’s by Flip Wilson. To be honest, that’s all I know about it because that’s what people tell me. Older people. I have no clue who Flip Wilson is. Is he Richard Pryor? Then don’t bother. Nobody my age or younger has any clue what it’s about. This actually represents the very struggle for change in the change- and risk-averse church. Because not only do I not get the reference, I’m actually insulted that there isn’t a greater attempt to understand my place in the church. Your argument about keeping the congregation kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer is a skit that is older than I am? Huh. I see how I rate.]