*** This blog was written on October 5, 2017. I hope you enjoy it. I will have a new blog tomorrow! Enjoy. ***
I must admit, I have David Bowie stuck in my head right now. The song ” Ch Ch Ch Changes” keeps playing in my mind. A lot of it has to do with the changes we are experiencing as a congregation. With the loss of Tom Petty this week, it’s left me a little bit melancholy for the days of classic rock. Just as we celebrate Jesus and how he changes our life, I’ve been celebrating some of my favorite rock performers in lieu of their demise. Tom Petty had a hit song called “I Won’t Back Down.” I think many of us can relate to the lyrics just because there are times in our own lives where we won’t back down. When someone questions our faith, do we back down from believing in God or do we take a stand? A simple question can emit numerous thoughts in our brain but are the answers simple? Most of us like to believe that we wouldn’t deny our faith but remember Simon Peter told Jesus he would never deny him and yet he did, not once, not twice, but three times. He backed down because he was scared.
How many of us do the same? I know I have many times in my life that’s left me wondering if my life wouldn’t have been different had I not cowered instead of standing up for my beliefs. Life is so volatile. Just like the shootings in Las Vegas this week left so many people devastated and outraged, our world can change in an instant. One day everything seems fine and the very next moment something happens and our world as we know it is shattered.
I have heard so many grumblings over the last few months about changes. I hear you. I understand where you are coming from but here’s the reality. Nothing in this world ever stays the same. When we are born, we start changing and growing. When a blade of grass starts to grow, it never stays the same size. If it’s left unkempt, that blade will grow wild and become a force all its own. If you buy a product at the store, sooner or later it will eventually wear out and you’ll have to replace it. The bottom line is that nothing is forever. Even love changes. We can have a heart full of love for one person or several people but if that love isn’t tended, it can wither and it may not completely die but it will wither and withdraw.
We are changing and that’s a blessing. We are no longer just reaching out to those God placed among us but we are reaching a larger group and what a blessing and challenge it presents. Every week I look at the pews and instead of thinking about the number of folks that are a part of the Friedens’ family, I look at how we, as a church, are needed to give back to our community and beyond. What gifts are we bringing to the table and what gifts are hiding just waiting to be opened? We have a wide array of talent. We have young people who have a variety of gifts just waiting to be opened and explored but so many of them are hesitant. Why?
I don’t know how many of you had the chance to read the article this week that was shared on the FB page about Millennials and why they are struggling to attend church. If it’s anything like what I’ve experienced in my own life with various churches, I completely understand their rationale. Whether we mean to or not, we all have some type of clique that we associate with. It’s difficult to branch out and open yourself up to others when you have been abused in friendships and relationships. I think that’s why so many of us feel a sort of solace within our church family but what would happen if you allowed yourself to step outside of your comfort zone? Can you imagine the new friends you could make? That’s not meant to replace your current circle but just like opening a bottle of wine, the wine needs to breathe. It’s like God’s Spirit breathes a breath of fresh air into our lives. He opens up a world that we never knew existed.
When we started live streaming, there was so much resistance. The screens were a hot topic within the congregation. Folks didn’t want change. Now, most people are embracing the change. They’ve commented that it does help to keep from having to flip the bulletin back and forth. In fact, they are preferring not having to ruffle through the bulletin and hymn book. This wasn’t done to replace the books, but rather to aid those who are not familiar with the Lutheran service. This resource is helping many people who are now able to worship a little easier. As for the live streaming, I can tell you the feedback has been wonderful. The church is aware the sound needs to be fixed and they are addressing the issue. Once that issue is resolved, the service will be easier to understand. People who can’t make it to church are now able to view from anywhere in the world. God is great!
Friedens has been around for a very long time. Change can be a very scary and uneasy feeling but it doesn’t mean that things change for the worst. We are all a part of a plan that God has created and we are only a piece of the puzzle. We each have gifts that God bestowed upon us. Some of those gifts have yet to be discovered. Had my Father not succumbed to cancer almost five years ago, I never would have gotten as aggressive with social media as I have. I wouldn’t be embarking on a career change with computers and I certainly wouldn’t have discovered my love of writing again. I probably would have just continued to drift and exist. That wouldn’t have been useful to God or to me. When we don’t use what God gives us, we don’t know or understand what we are truly capable of doing.
If you think you are too busy to contribute your gifts to church or to the community, I want to ask you some questions. If you could do anything in this world, what would it be? If you could change anything in your life what would you change? If you could change a life, what would you do to change it? My friends, one act of kindness can change a life. One act of insistence can make life better for one or more people. No one has the right to judge you for your past mistakes. No one has the right to make anyone feel inferior regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If we are going to change, we have to remember that labels hurt. I think there was a time that people needed to label how they were seen. That day has passed. A person can be a lot of things. Labels are never really accurate because a person can be labeled something and the next day completely change who and what they are. Look at the man who did the shooting in Las Vegas. (I refuse to name him). He was the epitome of a man with no criminal past, or red flags and yet he murdered at least 58 people and injured over 500. Changes. No one saw those changes coming.
The only label we have that matters is that we are all children of God. That means we will disagree, we will celebrate, we will cry, mourn, embrace, and most importantly change our hearts. Through God all things are indeed possible. Through changes, we will not only grow in Christian love, but will continue to celebrate the Lord.
Peace to all.