This week's Sunday Video Chat offers a reflection on resistance to change and the ordination of women to the diaconate.
A number of seemingly unrelated thoughts crowd my consciousness this morning. I think of Jesus' mandate that we should love one another and then words from the pledge of allegiance come to mind: "
one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Are we really one nation under God? As a nation, do we pursue liberty and justice for all? What does God "think" about our claims? Can any nation, in fact, claim to be "under God" or is that nationalistic presumption? The only proof that we are living according to "God's plan," and under God's jurisdiction is to look at our actions and policies and to see how they measure in terms of Love:
* Do we protect the most vulnerable in our society or are we in the process of dismantling the safety net on which they depend -- Medicaid, for example, Medicare, "Obama Care"and Social Security?
* Are all members of our society equal or are some "more equal than others," depending on the color of their skin, how they dress, the way they worship and the way they speak?
* Are we promoting peace and international understanding, or are we fueling the war machine?
* Are we building trade relationships that promote the global economy as well as our own, or are we engaged in "trade wars" that cause ruin and hardship at home and abroad?
* Do we claim to be "pro-life" while 1) failing to provide the resources and support needed for safe pregnancies and good parenting; 2) while continuing to enforce the death penalty, and 3) while refusing to pass gun legislation that will protect "the right to life" of all citizens?
* Do we observe the biblical mandate to welcome foreigners and treat them no differently than those who are native born? (Lvt 19:33), or do we separate children from their parents, treating the undocumented as criminals?
Well, the list could go on and on, but this should suffice to make my point. Who do we say that we are and who are we really? I leave that question for you to ponder over!
When does SBT come out?
When I can, I aim for the Monday or Tuesday of each week, but recently, student papers have piled up, along with free-lance commitments, and so it has been a challenge to find writing time! Thanks for understanding!
Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heavens and earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
Then I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down from the heavens from God,
prepared like a bride adorned for her husband...
God will wipe away every tear, and there shall be no more death or mourning, no wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away."
The One who sat on the throne said,
"Behold, I make all things new."
Though "Innovator" is not a term we would commonly associate with God, yet "making all things new" is certainly a Divine attribute. Whether we consider the creation of everything from nothing, or whether we meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation, God is doing something new. The biblical record confirms this: take the call of Abram and Sarai to leave the land of Haran, or the call of Moses to liberate his people, or the call of David to be king, or the role of Cyrus II of Persia in bringing the Babylonian captivity to an end. Or, looking at
The New Testament
, we see Jesus preaching a message of all-inclusive love that was so radically new that it inspired some people to follow him and others to conspire to kill him!
We humans tend to resist change. There is comfort in the familiar while what is new can seem threatening. I have to confess that when computers first made their way onto college campuses, I held out as long as I could before taking advantage of the new technology in my classroom; as for email, I much preferred to stop by my colleagues' offices or else drop a hand-written memo into "inter-0ffice mail." Little did I know that the advent of computers would totally revolutionize every aspect of life or that I myself would come to rely on technology in all my professional endeavors. Had I persisted in my resistance, I would have become as obsolete as the Smith Corona word processor that eventually replaced my electric typewriter.
While not all change is for the good, being habitually closed-minded is a spiritual problem for both individuals and institutions. When we cling to the old dispensation, we remain trapped in limitation, unwilling to consider new perspectives or possibilities; our mantra is
"We've always done it this way so why change?"
Can you imagine what our world would be like today without innovations such as the wheel, the plough, writing, printing, the steam engine, the automobile, electricity, the telephone, the airplane, the TV, or the explosion of wireless technology? No doubt there were countless "resisters" who preferred the old ways and adamantly opposed the disruption to society.
But God's "innovation" goes beyond material inventions.
"Behold, I make all things new"
has to do with the transformation of consciousness. God calls us to leave behind the old, death-dealing patterns of thought and behaviors and to embrace all that is life-giving. Can we let go of past resentments and move beyond the hurt? Can we forgive those who have caused us suffering and allow God's light to illumine the darkness? Can we move beyond disappointment and loss to embrace a new future of possibility? Can we move from where we are existentially to some place new? Do we dare to cross the abyss that separates the past from the future? Newness cannot happen if we are chained to what was, what has been and what no longer matters. Love is not about dusty Valentines in some old scrap book, but is a powerful energy that calls us to open our hearts to those we encounter today and tomorrow. Love is God's greatest innovation and, sadly, what we often resist the most!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- What forms of newness do you find yourself resisting?
- Can you think of any changes which have had a negative impact on you or on society?
- In what ways is God inviting you to change?
- What does it mean to love one another as Christ has loved us?