A MESSAGE FROM TED
“Change of one sort or another is the essence of life, so there will always be the loneliness and insecurity that come with change. When we refuse to accept that loneliness and insecurity are part of life, when we refuse to accept that they are the price of change, we close the door on many possibilities for ourselves; our lives become lessened…. Life evolves; change is constant.”
Jean Vanier, from “Becoming Human”
We do not welcome change readily or accept change easily but, as Vanier asserts, “Change … is the essence of life … change is constant.” In the case of St. Paul’s, sudden and traumatic change has come unbidden. We can and will resist it; that is quite understandable. We will experience the loneliness and insecurity Vanier mentions, as well as all the other very personal and individual feelings and reactions it provokes in us; that is inevitable. To deny our feelings and reactions or to try to talk each other out of them only blocks the path to healing and delays the freedom we need to move on.
Allow me to offer a perspective on embracing change that I have found both wise and liberating. It is to distinguish expectations from expectancy.
With expectations, we are essentially dictating what we want the outcome to be. As the People of God, we are putting demands on God that we want and expect this to happen or that. When circumstances don’t turn out that way, we are disillusioned. We may get angry with God for not caring or hearing our prayers and giving us what we want. We might even turn away from God in our disappointment. The energy generated by expectations is aggressive and inflexible. In a group, it creates personal agendas and factions, as one set of expectations clashes with another. And maybe saddest of all, it prevents us from seeing the gift God is actually offering us – we block possibility-thinking, as Vanier suggests.
That’s where expectancy enters in. Expectancy is open and hospitable to possibilities beyond our preferences and imagining. It assumes God is good and loving and wants the best for us. We are not sure what God’s intention for us might be but we live with a lightness and freedom that knows something will be given just at the right time that is exactly what we need and that it will come with an element of delight and surprise – a true gift. Expectancy changes the energy within us and within the group: there is an air of anticipation, even playfulness, as we await the discovery and the unwrapping of the gift God has very specially chosen just for us.
In this time of transition for St. Paul’s – another word for change – I encourage us all to set expectations aside and to foster an air of expectancy among us. Yes, daydream and brainstorm – the more ideas we can generate about the “new St. Paul’s” the better, as such wild imagining helps us be more attuned to God’s ever wilder imagination. But let us not get too attached to any particular possibility until it is suddenly clear to us all what God has in readiness for us.
I also encourage you to talk to me and to one another about the feelings and reactions that are stirring within you and creating expectations. One of the best ways to dissipate the negative energy of those feelings and expectations is to notice them and name them. They lose their power over us when we do.
In the meantime, let us continue to be the church with renewed dedication and faithfulness – gathering for worship, supporting and caring for one another, grounding ourselves in scripture and prayer, reaching out to our neighbours in love, and attending to our call to build up in PA and beyond God’s Kingdom of justice and peace.
Something new is afoot for St. Paul’s – I wonder what it will turn out to be?
And now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen (St. Paul, Ephesians 3:20-21)
In Christ’s Service,