There is an interesting piece of mythology that most of us hear or ascribe to at one point in our lives: people don’t change. It has a little brother caveat: it is hard to change. And there is a follow-up question any good Congregationalist would wonder: “When is tradition better than change?”
First, we change. We change every day. We were made to change. To survive, we do whatever we have to. To feel better, we make changes. To help those in need, we make radical and often uncomfortable changes. Plus, we get older and our bodies change. We move through different communities, and we take parts of them with us. We see ways to make the world more loving and we do anything we can to make ourselves agents of change.
Second, it is hard to change if we are worried about being comfortable. Watch this video on human emotion. I learned, and I didn’t realize this, our reactions, our feelings are of our control. Our emotional response, on the other hand, to the way we feel is completely in our control. We can choose to take change and make it an anxious, painful, depressing experience. Or, it is an adventure, an exciting gift, and a place to be curious and learn. The moment of discomfort with change is always going to be a human experience; what we do with discomfort is God’s gift to each person.
Which is where Jesus comes in. He lived in the ocean of human discomfort. He loved people through every kind of change, including his own death. He changed where he lived, how he interacted with people, and the way he taught most weeks. Our faith is a faith of embracing change. Ironically, our tradition as people of faith is as lovers of change.
He never wrote this parable, but if he was before a community in times of change, I think he might have said, “There once was a carpenter who worked with the best wood. He had all the tools he needed and he produced the most exquisite furniture in his region. Then, one day, a storm destroyed all the wood for miles. It destroyed his workshop and broke all his tools. As his family recovered from the storm, his children asked him, ‘Father, what will we do?’ He looked down, not knowing what to say. And as he looked, he saw the clay beneath his feet. He kneeled and picked up a ball of dirt, still wet from the storm. In front of their eyes he fashioned it into a bowl. He smiled and said to his family, ‘God will turn even the ground below our feet into bread.'”
We can change. Change is often painful until we choose to turn it into our next adventure. Our tradition is change. God always gives gifts to those who ask and one of them is new life.