The Times They Are A-Changin’
For our teachers who travel twice a year to minister in NE India, there is in the city of Shillong a coffee shop called Dylan’s Café, that is one of our favorite hangouts. They make a mean plate of pancakes and bacon for those who yearn for some comfort food. The only drawback is that the cafe is an homage to the Nobel-prize winning, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. So as you dine there, you are subjected to more of Dylan’s tunes than any human should be reasonably expected to tolerate.
One of the most frequently played numbers is called: The Times They Are A-Changin’.
That song’s refrain readily comes to mind these days as I reflect on the situation in which Northpoint finds itself. There can be no denying that our church has now entered into a season of flux. Our senior pastor has transitioned into ministry elsewhere. We are now without a lead shepherd, and there will be a period of reflection and seeking God‘s will before we identify a new one. Change can be disconcerting, even for those who normally relish it. There can be little doubt that some things will look and feel differently in the future. For those who do not normally welcome change, it can bring a fear that can sometimes be debilitating.
Since changes and transitions are inevitable in life, how we respond to them makes all the difference. Sometimes fear can cause us to want to resist or reverse change. This is seldom a healthy attitude. As a church, we always want to be reforming in the direction of greater faithfulness to God and effectiveness in witness. Though we cherish some traditions and do not seek change for its own sake, we seek the kind of change that makes us more like the body Christ intended us to be. We dare not make an idol either of tradition or novelty.
For the Christian, in the midst of uncertainty and change, we find great comfort in a God who never changes. As the people of God, we have the assurance that when we gather, Christ is with us. When Christ is with us, there is no reason to fear. Many times Jesus admonished his disciples not to fear but instead to trust in him.
Periods of change can also be a time to engage in healthy reflection and redirection. It is a time to reaffirm and take comfort in the things of which we are certain: God’s love, goodness, and grace, his Word, his preservation of his chosen ones, the hope of eternal life, and much more. It can be a time to re-order our priorities as well. It is more important than ever that we will be committed to God’s word and to prayer. It is more important than ever that we cleave closely to the body of Christ and serve one another. And it is more important than ever that, in a time of necessary reflection, we do not descend into a morbid introspection, but recommit ourselves to reaching out to a world that is lost and desperate without Christ. While we wait patiently on the Lord for his guidance, we do not hit the pause button on reaching out in witness. And while we honor the past and learn from it, we move forward in unity, confident in the power of the gospel. We do not fear that the times they are a-changin’, because we are confident that God is using the period we are passing through to grow us and use us for our good and his glory.