On Monday we laid to rest a great saint of the church, one of the only people I’ve ever know who wasn’t threatened by change. If anything, he looked forward to change. It is somewhat foreign to me, I will confess, to approach the world this way, but it certainly was something to see. Truly, he embodied the words of the psalmist.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
He was an older gentleman who trusted God and knew-beyond a shadow of a doubt- that God was (and is) right in the middle of all that we are up to. His enthusiasm for forward momentum was open and genuine, and quite a breath of fresh air.
When I came to our church and met resistance by some for being a young clergy woman, his response was, “Well, I’ve never had a young lady minister before. This’ll be great!”
When we started having occasional services that were casual and featured bluegrass in the Family Life Center he said, “Church in the gym, how ‘bout that! This will be fun.”
When I was expecting our son, he asked me how I was doing and I was honest with him. “I’m scared to death,” I said. “I can’t wrap my mind around raising a person.” He smiled, looked at the ground, and shook his head in what I always saw as his signature move. “We’ve done it four times now, and ‘ya know what? Every single time, it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”
What a witness. His unshakable trust in the God who is and was and who will be freed him from the fear that so many of us carry along life’s journey. This is the truth: the earth, the church, our families, everything will change. Our challenge is not to be afraid, perhaps to smile, and then to trust.
Can you imagine how very different we would be if we did that? How very different the church would be?