A few things recently have got me thinking about those times when everything changes.
I read about someone who’s recently left his church after a long period of soul-searching and with a lot of hurt and confusion.
This reminded me of a similar thing I went through in my early twenties when I could no longer feel at home with the very conservative theology and ways of doing things that my student church promoted.
There were several issues in my decision to move back to the more middle of the road Anglicanism I had started out with – but one moment really stands out in my mind now, even 20 years or so later.
I spoke to someone about my difficulties with the idea of people suffering in hell forever and their response was that it didn’t matter because God would make it so that we didn’t mind.
To me this was (and still is) a horrifying idea – not only the idea of people suffering forever but that God would want to make us hardened and indifferent to it and that this was a good thing.
There are other changes going on just now though.
There’s autumn, of course, a time that’s linked with another turn in the year both in nature and in the human world.
This autumn I’m starting an MA in Church History, along with many other people beginning or continuing or returning to academic studies.
I hope in this course to combine my interest in both theology and history, and to gain a better understanding of the Church through the ages and perhaps how and why it has developed in the way it has.
I also hope this will help me understand something of how the Church and Christians think and act today, and maybe I can share some of that in my ministry – both in preaching and in my writing.
Last year I also took up clarinet after a long break, and I began running after a lifetime of thinking I couldn’t do it.
They’ve both gone well and now I’m working towards Grade 3 on the clarinet and running 10km.
These are also changes in that I see them as new ways of taking care of myself, warding off the depression and anxiety which I’m prone to by taking responsibility for my own well being.
They are also ways of taking care of my physical fitness and getting more music and beauty into my life, all of which are important if we are to be healthy, happy and well-rounded human beings.
So there’s a lot going on, a lot of excitement and purpose, but also a need to adjust to new projects, timetables and priorities.
At times like this I find it helpful to remember that whatever the outcomes of new projects or ideas, regardless of how much change is going on around us, whether its’s positive or negative, God remains the same: faithful, constant and loving, ready to cheer us on, pick us up and keep us on the right path.
A Prayer for Times of Change:
God of Love,
You are with us in every transition and change.
When we enter new eras with excitement and even some anxiety,
help us to recall your deep compassion, presence and abounding love.
We thank you for the gifts, talents and skills with which you have blessed us.
We thank you for the experiences that have brought us to this moment.
We thank you for the work of others that gives breadth and depth to our own work.
Be with us as we move forward, rejoicing with you and supporting one another.
We ask this in your Holy Name.