By Sue Sprang
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
Never fear. This is not a treatise on the merits of creationism or evolution. Rather, it is taking a Darwin’s quote and using it as a catalyst for looking at change in the church and the gift of thanksgiving that is ours to harness and keep in the forefront as we, God’s people, can – and should – face that change head on.
In today’s world, and in an especially diverse country such as ours, change is inevitable. Communication and the media keep us posted 24/7 on what’s happening within and beyond our borders. We witness others within and outside our borders handling change. In some places, the outcome has been unnerving, even deadly. In others, there has been success in spite of the odds.
But no matter the outcome, adapting to change has it risks. I might have to give up something in order to make room for something or someone else. I might need to step forward and be someone who helps others wade through and make sense of the inevitable. Maybe I am called to be the one who raises a voice on behalf of those seeking change.
Change is caused by people. It can also be beaten down by people. The challenge is to be able to bring all voices to the table and hammer out the next move or moves in a spirit of love, peace, patience, anticipation, and support – and most of all, to truly listen to one another.
How can we, the North/West Lower Michigan Synod, in our speck-of-dust, little corner of Earth meet the change that has already come and is on its way?
With the observance of Thanksgiving on our doorstep, one step is to embrace that gift of thanksgiving and to look at the amazing people we are.
Give thanks for:
- Being able to worship, pray, and play together in spite of our differences. Not all of God’s people can boast such a gift.
- Our commitment to great music and meaningful worship, filled with variety and seeking to speak to all who experience it.
- Congregations that offer their buildings as safe havens.
- Young people and others who are urging us to push the envelope in how we think about the many facets of our faith, the church, and congregational life.
- Our elder members, whose experience and wisdom are valued.
- Our commitment to being a voice for and assisting those in need.
- Our call to work for peace, justice, tolerance, and equality.
- The people and pastors who have been a part of this synod and its predecessors throughout the years, laying a solid foundation for the future.
- A bishop, synod staff, rostered and lay leaders whose passion for the Gospel includes thinking outside the box.
- God’s greatness in saying: “People of the Mitten Synod, I am not done with you yet!”
If we meld together our faith, fellowship, and thankfulness, then add the risks brought on by facing and adapting to change and becoming part of that change, imagine – to paraphrase Dr. Seuss – “the places we can go”!