Notes from the Pastor – April 2023

“I am about to do a new thing;
      now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
     and rivers in the desert.”
—Isaiah 43:19

Today I began the final year of my twenties. As I consider the significance of that statement, I find myself vacillating between dread at the looming specter of time, regret for all the things I haven’t done, gratitude for the years I have been blessed with, and—most of the time—the realization that being twenty-nine years old is not really that different from being twenty-eight.

But looking back on the past decade, I am struck not only by the fact that I am a completely different person than I was when I was nineteen, but by the fact that in those ten years I have been several completely different people. Every time I think I’ve ‘arrived,’ I discover yet another version of myself waiting to emerge—usually in dramatic, uncomfortable, terrifying ways.

It’s reminded me of something my mind has long held to be true but that my spirit keeps discovering in newer and deeper ways: we are—all of us—always becoming.

Our souls and our bodies are so much more dynamic and malleable than we would prefer to believe. We crave stability and certainty but we know, deep down, that these are illusions. Much of the time, we prefer not to acknowledge our capacity for change, because so often it feels like an admission of weakness.

But change is a gift.

I’m not saying that every change is a good change. Some changes are changes for the worse, some changes are harmful to us and those around us, some changes feel more like decay than growth.

What is a gift is that because change is inevitable, we are not bound to the way things are now. We are not bound to the way we have ‘always’ done things. Which is good news, because the way things are now and the way we have ‘always’ done things are exactly the problem. Change is freedom. Change is hope.

Even some of the changes for the worse we are seeing in our country—authoritarianism and bigotry, hate and violence—are actually the actions of people resistant to change. And while these are discouraging and will certainly lead to much grief, trauma, and even death, we have the power to show that hate will not have the final word.

So as I turn the last page on this decade of my life, I will give thanks for all the people I have been, and cultivate curiosity towards all the people I will be, singing along to Lake Street Dive today and every day: “I can change, I can change, I can still change.”

Pastor Stephen.