That life is filled with starts, mistakes and frequent redirections is an understatement learned early in life even by a small child.
It is knowledge that does not even slightly tax one’s understanding of the world’s mode of operation. With that understanding, today’s date, Nov. 15, deserves special acknowledgment. It was on this day in 1781 the colonies, which would eventually become the United States of America, began testing their first constitution, the Articles of Confederation.
After decades of chafing under the dictatorial power of the British monarchy and being abused as a resource instead of being recognized as citizens, the American colonists set out in an experimental form of government in which the central administration and the colonies (eventually known as states) would enjoy equality. But like many an idea on paper, it failed in the reality of its application.
The central government received no power to raise an army, settle disputes between the colonies or collect revenue for its services. Its status was akin to trying to construct a building from blueprints which do not provide for a foundation.
The result was a catastrophe; a necessary alternative was inevitable. Thus, today we are blessed with the United States Constitution, which seems to have successfully weathered our nation through many convulsive storms for more than 230 years.
Change is the subject today, or at least managing the certainty of change.
Two months ago, the columnist Mike Johnson wrote in another media outlet an article titled “Change Will Never Change” and supplied some wonderful advice.
We humans are all too easily addicted to our comfort zones and cultures. A worker resists learning a new technology, often at the peril of his employment. A child does not want to taste a different food regardless of its health-giving qualities.
A new sport, a different dance, better language skills, deeper spiritual insights, additional friends and experimentation with clothing styles or hairdos all seem to threaten us. And in church it is absolutely the height of blasphemy that someone should ever sit in “my pew.”
It is not sufficient to simply declare that change is unavoidable; we must recognize that if we are to continue to exist then change will occur and we must adapt.
Technological developments will never cease due to our disdain to learn a new way of performing old tasks. Your body is going to age, but your old clothes are not going to expand with your stomach. Neighborhoods will necessarily alter as old friends relocate and new faces move in next to us. Artists will always be inspired to write new music, and visitors will search for seats in church.
Get used to it! In fact, welcome it! Change is the assurance of continuance as opposed to dying. As an old minister friend was fond of saying, “A rut is nothing but a grave with the ends knocked out of it!”
Listen up, church folks. If the kids in your congregation want to sing a new hymn, celebrate that they are there in church wanting to participate. If you enter into worship and discover visitors homesteading on your longstanding family pew, welcome them into the house of the Lord and encourage them to return the next Sunday, also. If you miss the aged, next-door neighbor you have loved for decades and another family has moved into that home, invite them to church.
The Articles of Confederation necessitated change, and wise forefathers brought into being a Constitution that has blessed the entire world.
As Mike Johnson wrote, “Embrace change and you will experience new opportunities. Resist these changes and you will spend a lifetime trying to stop a raging river with a Dixie cup.”