As a pastor, I often see how people respond to change. Of course, I see it in myself, as well.
For a long time, I have thought of myself as a person who is fundamentally oriented toward change. I like change. When somebody shares a new idea with me, my initial response inclines toward excitement and a positive reaction.
Of course, there are exceptions, as anyone who knows me well will attest. But overall, my self-perception is as someone who likes, and is energized by, change.
I do know of a time when that was not true. In the early years of my pastorate, I often reacted negatively. Eventually, I recognized this as a danger signal, a clue that something was not right. It helped me see how scared I was, how worried that others would see how little I really knew about what I was doing. I had become scared of losing control, so I just said No.
I think I have pretty well moved beyond that. I will leave it to others to either validate or challenge that claim.
Accepting change is about giving up control. Such control can be mostly in our mind–if they change the words to this hymn or prayer or change the way we do something in worship, how will I know what to say or do?
And of course change can be very, very real, and concrete. If they stop printing the words of the songs and instead project them on the wall, I will have to look up if I want to sing.
Not all change is good.
But the fact that it is change is not what makes good or bad. Change, as change, is actually neutral.
And of course, change is the way of the universe. If something is not changing, it will die. A plant, a tree, an animal or bird or fish, that is not changing, cell by cell, will die. The same is true for humans. Our cells are in constant motion, being replaced and renewed.
Now that causes me to feel a little unsettled . . . .