“Acknowledge the Unraveling, Breaking, and Cracking: Otherwise we will spin our wheels attempting to patch things up when they need to be opened up at the core
and fixed from the ground up.”
Fr. Richard Rohr, world-renowned scholar and retreat leader, from the Center for Action and Contemplation, addresses us on the need for change. He argues that rather than just trying to plaster things up and pretend everything is fine that we get down to the root causes of issues.
My promise to the Search Team that brought me here and to all of you is that I be, have been and will not waver from telling the truth. Congregations, denominations and communities of faith can no longer sweep things under the carpet or ignore their own behaviors and actions that have led them to wonder the wilderness of healing because some are comfortable staying still even as the world changes around them. That is a recipe for death.
Remember, my role here is not to make you so uncomfortable that you shut down even as you see and acknowledge that historical negative patterns that have gotten this church to where it is. Likewise, it I am not hear to make you feel so comfortable that anyone can pretend that there are not or never have been systemic issues that has led to our decline over the years. We are moving forward to what God intends. I invite you to continue to journey with us and live into tomorrow.
We are building from the ground up. There will continue to be existing and new things you like, maybe even love and there will be things that will challenge you to stretch and look at them from a different perspective. Some of you might even get you mad. I continue to invite you to healthy dialogue and the exchange of ideas with me rather than speaking to others.
Healthy institutions talk to each other; unhealthy organizations to everyone except the person they need to talk to at least to share their thoughts and change hearts and minds to get the results we seek.
Now, take it, Fr. Rohr.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
God is doing new things, Jesus proclaimed, but only those with new minds and hearts can see a new world breaking through the cracks of the old. —Ilia Delio, The Hours of the Universe
If evolution is the language of growth and change, then an evolving faith is one that accepts and even embraces change. While the word change normally refers to new beginnings, real transformation happens more often when something falls apart. The pain of something old cracking apart or unraveling invites us to evolve instead of tightening our controls and certitudes. Episcopal priest Stephanie Spellers is a leading thinker on change and growth in the church, and sees the current challenges of church and society as way of God “cracking open” people for greater possibility:
Institutions and cultures are durable partly because they obey the law of inertia.  Even if you think you’ve exerted a strong external push and knocked a moving object or an entire institution off its set course, wait. Just wait. With barely a nudge, the object will drift right back to its original path.
Think of your own experience. When you see a crack, what’s your first instinct? Push the pieces back together and patch it over. Eventually a contractor comes with the bad news: there is deep damage here, and if you don’t address it, before long the whole structure will be fundamentally compromised. You sigh and negotiate. I don’t know about you, but I have a surprising capacity to delude myself about how broken the structure is. With enough duct tape and rope, I will get back to normal. [I call this “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!”]
So it is for a nation and a church. In the midst of displacement, destabilization, and decentering, Americans and church folks have been tempted to replace, restabilize, and recenter. Let’s return to the building. Let’s encourage the protesters to come off the streets. . . . Let’s move past division. Let’s reestablish majority American Christianity in its former, privileged cultural post.
Or we could acknowledge the unraveling, breaking, and cracking [Richard: what we are calling “unveiling” in this year’s meditations] as a bearer of truth and even a gift. Perhaps, as [Alan] Roxburgh suggested, the Holy Spirit has been nudging and calling Christians “to embrace a new imagination, but the other one had to unravel for us to see it for what it was. In this sense the malaise of our churches has been the work of God.”  . . . A church that has been humbled by disruption and decline may be a less arrogant and presumptuous church. It may have fewer illusions about its own power and centrality. It may become curious. It may be less willing to ally with the empires and powers that have long defined it. It may finally admit how much it needs the true power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. That’s a church God can work with.
 Inertia is the law of physics that says matter will always continue in its current state of rest or motion in a particular direction, unless that state is changed by some outside force.
 Alan J. Roxburgh, Joining God, Remaking Church, and Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time (Morehouse Publishing: 2015), 7.
Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New Hope for Beloved Community (Church Publishing: 2021), 22–23.