A Message from Ellen
June 7, 2018
It is the season of transition . . . . . again. There are transitions that we all celebrate: graduations (from kindergarten all the way through graduate school!), recitals, Eagle Scout awards and crossing the bridge from Webelo to Boy Scout, birthdays, weddings, becoming a parent, starting a new job, leaving work for a time of vacation. There are gifts that transitions bring. Transitions bring a fresh start, a change of pace and sometimes a chance to try again. There are also transitions that we don’t celebrate: divorces, deaths, losing a job, a break in a friendship, surgery or a loss of mobility.
The reality is that change seems to be the only constant. It used to be that churches made long range plans. “Where do you want to be in ten years?” was a question that was actually asked and could be answered!! No more. Not only is transition constant, the pace of change is actually accelerating. And this feeling is not just because I am getting older (although that certainly is true). Business gurus, academics and futurists agree that the pace of change and growth of information is accelerating world-wide. Church planners now encourage churches to think not more than three years ahead. No one makes ten year plans anymore. Well, someone who still wishes that things would return to the 1950’s might. But even then, a ten year plan will be irrelevant in about three years. And that brings me to my learnings.
First, I do not have control over whether or not things will change. All I have control over is how I will react to change. I can curse the secularization of our society or proclaim damnation over the polarizing influence of social media, but that really is wasted energy. I remember years ago a member of the community came to me to ask me to mount a public campaign to stop the club soccer games that were happening on the Polo Road fields on Sunday mornings. He was not happy when I told him that I felt that “boat” had already sailed, and that even if there were no more Sunday morning soccer games that then we would need to take on club baseball, softball, basketball, and so forth. And that even if there were no Sunday morning games to attend, that it was now clear that people might not come back to worship, but would simply invent other things to do. I told him that I thought it might be more helpful, less angry and more creative to think about what sort of church we could become that would make it worth it for those families to invest in worship and Christian education over and instead of club soccer games.
My second learning is that it is much easier to be angry or against things (to be negative) than it is to be constructive or creative. It takes less energy to mobilize groups (or congregations) around bad news, fear or guilt than it does to mobilize groups/congregations around good news. It is easier to tear down, than it is to build something new or build up.
As people who believe in a God who is known to us as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, you and I are called to live in this season of rapid change in ways that are hopeful, positive and creative. We cannot do things like we have always done them. But we can create new ways to live (individually and collectively) that respond to the possibilities and challenges of our current situation. I want to be part of that Christian community. What about you?
Come and go with me.
See you in worship!
Ellen F. Skidmore