On my desk are copies of two recent New York Times articles. Both have to do with change in the world around us. The first is “California Is Preparing for Extreme Weather: It’s Time To Plant Some Trees” written by Henry Fountain. It notes, “Researches say it is unclear whether climate change will make California drier or wetter on average. What is more certain is that the state will increasingly whipsaw between extremes, with drier dry years, wetter wet ones and a rising frequency of intense periods of precipitation.”
The second is “California Today: July 13, 2018.” It notes that while huge wildfires appear to be the new normal across our states, firefighters are noticing two changes in fires at a more micro level. The first is that fires seem to be running as fast downhill as they are uphill. The understanding had been that in mountainous terrain, fires run faster uphill because the fire heats the fuels above it making them more combustible. The second is that instead of slowing down at night, fires now seem to be advancing rapidly through the night. The article concludes “What we thought was normal or average isn’t normal anymore. We have to change our thinking.”
It is true on so many levels – politics, climate, ethics, and personal relationships. “What we thought was normal or average isn’t normal anymore. We have to change our thinking.” Could it be that this is true of our faith itself?”
To this question many of the deep thinkers in the Christian tradition would answer “Of course it is, for so it has always been. The Bible itself is the record of change in response to changed conditions. Moses was given the Law, but the Law demanded interpretation so texts were written and traditions developed.
The prophets proclaimed that the Temple would not stand forever, so a focus on inner realities, as much as outward observance, rose to prominence. Jesus proclaimed that God’s will would be done on earth as it was in heaven. It was understood that in light of this new reality a new way of living was required. Jesus said he would not be physically present with us forever and that we thus must learn to listen to the Spirit.” Change, these deep thinkers tell us, is truly the only constant.
As is often the case when easy answers elude us, a hymn offers needed grounding and perspective. This is the third verse of “Womb of Life, and Source of Being” written in 1986 by Ruth Duck. “Brooding Spirit, move among us; be our partner, be our friend. When our mem’ry fails, remind us whose we are, what we intend. Labor with us, aid the birthing of the new world yet to be, free of servant, lord and master, free for love and unity.”
In times of profound transition, let us be a people who lovingly demonstrate our belief that God is always making all things new.