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"Lightbulb" Some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0) by James Bowe. Sourced from FlickrQ: How many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: CHANGE?! My ancestor donated that lightbulb – see, we’ve put a plaque on it!

A bit of light humour (pardon the pun); yet with a grain of truth in it. Anglicans, in broad generalisations, are not known for being people who easily or quickly embrace change.

So how then DO we address change? Because change is one of the constants of the universe. It will happen – like death and taxes, there’s no avoiding it. And sometimes we deal with is well, at othertimes not as well. Change can scare us, it can cause stress. Change brings about “THE UNKNOWN” – even when we are expecting a change, have planned for it, and are excited about it, there are always going to be unknown factors.

I’m in a ministry setting right now that is rife with change. My predecessor was incumbent for more than 35 years; this was followed by 3 interim placements in 2 years. I’ve now been here just a few months, and lots of things are different in the parish; for example: a female rector (a first!), with a soprano voice and crazy shoe collection; new leadership roles bringing about new ideas and new ways to express a passion for being church in the community; Different ways of leading worship, from emphasis in varying words to where the sermon is preached. There are many, many other changes that are happening. This is normal with any new incumbency, because there’s a new person with his/her own unique gifts and skills – we’re not unique that way.

But change is something that a parish family must learn to embrace. It’s not necessarily going to be easy, or ideal for everyone, but it is a reality. A parish that can embrace change is one that is willing to be flexible while remaining faithful, willing to be courageous while maintaining a sense of humility, willing to find joy in those ah-HA! moments and make our ministries demonstrate that joy to the broader community.

It’s also a community that doesn’t place arbitrary judgement on the change itself.

Change happens. The outcome of it may bring joy, it may bring challenge, it may bring flux and uncertainty. But change itself – it just is. It’s not good or bad, it just is. And so with that, change brings us the opportunity to make of it what we will. Will we open our hearts and minds and choose to perceive and embrace change as a positive reality, a growing edge, an exciting opportunity? Or will we close ourselves off to change, declaring the problematic “we’ve never done it that way before”, refusing to allow the Spirit to move among us and inspire us into new expressions of ministry?

Change will happen. How we respond to that change is up to us.

Perhaps the real question is not how many of us will need to change that lightbulb, but how many of us are unwilling to sit in the dark, and instead offer to change it to bring the light back in.

About Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I’m a high-energy priest, now serving in the Diocese of Niagara, catching glimpses of the kingdom in daily life. I consider church to be a verb, and I’m passionate about prayer, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee.

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4 Responses to Change

  1. If it’s not broken why fix it ,or completely screw it up.

    • Hi Nina,
      Change is a reality that just happens – it’s not just something that occurs when there is negative, and change doesn’t automatically create negative.
      Sorry that your comment suggests you’ve had bad experiences with change.

  2. This is true change happens. But things can change from bad to worse or from good to better. Change in and of itself is not neutral,climate change, for one , is not neutral. But one thing we can be grateful for is that God and His statutes do not and indeed can not change.

    • Hi Tony,
      Change happens – but there’s no intrinsic value attached to change. What causes change can have a value judgement attached, as can the reaction to – but the change itself is just change.
      With regards to your climate change example (though that’s a HUGE example, with millions of variables of change within it). However: the human-based actions that have created an unnatural order of the cosmos that is killing us all? I’d judge those to be bad. And the impacts of the changing climate on all life? Awful. But the change itself – just a change. For example: the shift of carbon ppm from 349 to 350 was a big implication in the impact of climate change, but itself was a difference in an arbitrarily assigned measurement. I think this is a much bigger discussion.
      That being said, I agree completely that God does not change. God’s love endures forever. Thanks be to God!

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