Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Be Not Afraid, part four

Change is an integral part of life. For the most part, it is good. It is good to experience new things and new places and to meet new people. I've traveled overseas a few times and it has been really a positive experience to live in a different culture than my own. It helps me to realize that my part of the world is just one small part of the world, that there is so much more. Learning about other cultures, other people, other natural habitats, and so much more helps me to grow and to become a better person. I feel that I have become a better person because I've experienced change, not in spite of it.

Sometimes, change is not good. Bad change would include your house being demolished by a tornado, a death in the family, or being fired from a job. You feel loss and discouragement and heartbreak. It is hard to recover from a change for the worse.

Not all change is good. Some change is wonderful... a new job, new romantic partner, a new place to live. Yet people are afraid of change. They get stuck in a rut. They may go to the same restaurant and order the same food every time. They follow the same routine, day after day after day. It becomes familiar and comfortable. They've established a comfort zone, which they are afraid to leave because anything outside of the comfort zone is strange and scary.

People want their lives to stay the same, even if the status quo is not good. Even people in prison get accustomed to their lives in prison. They are afraid of change. After a long time in prison, they become afraid of freedom. 

This is Vicar David Sivecz of Saint Timothy Lutheran Church. His topic was "fear of change." He's experienced a great deal of change in his life. He grew up in Western New York and he's lived in a variety of places, including Miami, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio,  Louisville, Kentucky, and Atlanta, Georgia. He said of his time in Miami, "For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to be a minority."

He wanted to go into the ministry. In fact, he wanted to be a United Methodist minister. He felt that was his calling. After all of that wandering and soul-searching, however, he learned that his calling was to become a Lutheran pastor.

The change in his life was good, Vicar David said. He said that people can experience the joy and the new life and resurrection, "whether you're 28, 50, 70, or 90."

"As much as I don't like change, I do like change," Vicar David said. His statement was a paradox, a statement that contradicts itself but still rings true.

Change is not only good, it is inevitable. When we resist change, "do we fear losing something?" "We all fear and have some anxiety about change." Reactions to change include panic, frustration, joy, excitement, grief, and depression. We all resist change. We have fear of losing what we love and what has meaning in our lives."

Even if  our status quo is unbearable, we are afraid of change. In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, which is set in a prison, the character of Red had "become institutionalized. His role in prison defined his very being," said Vicar David. "Without it, his life had no meaning." Another character, Brooks, was the prison librarian. After serving fifty years in prison, Brooks was released. "He lived alone and worked in a grocery store for an authoritarian manager." Unable to adjust to freedom, Brooks committed suicide.

Vicar David talked about how people in Biblical times experienced change. It was very hard on the Israelites, described in Exodus. After they crossed the sea, they were wandering the land. They had lost the structure of slavery. Although their lives had been unbearable in Egypt, they knew nothing else. "They struggled to survive and were becoming nostalgic for their old lives." They had trouble understanding that God was leading them to the promised land.

In the book of Mark, Jesus asked a few fishermen to follow him. They promptly left their nets and their father behind, and they followed Jesus. T.hey became fishers of men

That was a very dramatic change. I wonder where the father went after his sons followed Jesus. I wonder how the father handled the change. Or maybe he just continued, by himself, fishing in his boat. "The disciples learned and witnessed. Jesus had changed their identity."

Vicar David said that Jesus' death and resurrection means that "We are freed through God's grace. We no longer have to have anxiety. We are raised to a new life. Our lives are better because of change."

Note: The last Lenten luncheon will be held on Wednesday. It will be hosted by Island Presbyterian Church and the speaker will be the Rev. Carla Kline.

1 comment:

Alana said...

I know that, the older I get, the more resistant I am to change. Even if it is good change. Yes, it's all about that comfort zone.

The silence of the sea

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