Almost from the Rectory...
"September has come…"
For many of us, however long we’ve been out of the world of education, and for those who are still tied to its rhythms, there is often more of a feeling of New Year in September than in January. New pencil cases and exercise books, with "Autumn Term 19.." neatly underlined always contained the promise of a fresh start, and clean page , endless potential and the excitement of new things. September often heralds change; new classes, new schools, new courses, and for many about to start university, a whole new town or city and new independence.
For us as a family this September finally also means New House! Change and the prospect of change is not always easy, however much it’s needed or been keenly anticipated. Much as I loved new terms, there were always nerves and apprehensions. Like children in school all of us face change and new challenges with a whole variety of attitudes. Some of us love it, others hate it, probably most are somewhere in the middle, cautiously approaching new experiences and ideas.
There’s a received wisdom, that the church does not like change; you’ve probably heard the joke “how many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb?.... CHANGE?!”
But we need only look over the history of the church to know that in fact it does change and we do adapt; in fact we have to, because we are called to “proclaim the gospel afresh to each generation”. We might think the church ( both local and universal) is the same as it ever was, but when we look back we see what is different about what we do and how we do it.
New people and new situations bring change, often not huge change but change none the less. One wise person said to me as I prepared to come to Christ Church. “even if you change nothing, you will change everything, just by being a different person”, and we are all being changed by the working of God’s Spirit in us day by day, so we need not be afraid of change, it is a natural part of life, physical and spiritual. Sometimes we may not notice what has changed, in us or in our situations until we consciously look back, at other times it is more obvious. We do not always notice the little changes in our world around us in our cities and our streets. They happen gradually and imperceptibly; but someone who has been away for a year or so will notice them all as soon as they return. It’s all about the perspective of the observer!
It is known that children cope with change best when their basis for life, their core foundation is stable. When they know they are loved and accepted, when they know who they have supporting them in life. We are no different, and whatever changes come to us as individuals and as a church we remember that we love and serve a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. God’s love for us never changes or wavers, it doesn’t go in and out of fashion, His gospel remains the same; his message of love, acceptance and salvation through Jesus never alters.
This is the foundation on which we build our lives and our church community; if we are truly sure of this in our lives then we have that stability and confidence to go out and live his message and his mission. Our security lies not in our structures or our activities, not even in our services and our outreach, but in God himself.
When we understand in our depths the fact that beneath us are the everlasting arms we are strengthened and freed. And we can go out in his name, and in his power to proclaim his love to those around us. Sometimes we will need to change, sometimes things will, but God never does.