Quarantine, Stay at Home, Social Distancing, Wear a Mask, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, Stock market Drops, Defund the Police, Virtual Worship, Zoom meetings, Monuments Virtual classrooms, Stage One moving into Stage Two, and the New Normal. Who would have thought the last four months would have brought us all of these issues?
The reality is that there’s no going back to the way things were. We have entered into a new reality and on-going change is going to be the new way of life for each of us and the church. I recently received an article about change and how different the change process will be in these unprecedented times.
Until recently, the change process involved psychologist Kurt Lewin’s classic three steps: Unfreeze: Disrupt the current state; Change: Create the future state; Re-freeze: Adopt and normalize the new current state.
Once the change was implemented, things went back to normal. Today, our relationship with change feels more like what organizational change theorist Peter Vaill described as “permanent whitewater.” Once we unfreeze and begin to change, re-freezing—if it occurs at all—is fleeting at best. Author, Nina Kern writes, “Beware of what we’re calling “the new normal.” It mutes the current way of life and should offer no comfort. Lewin’s change process is still valid, but with this caveat: change persists, accelerates and disrupts the way we’ve done things in the past. (https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/06/theres-no-going-back-be-wary-new-normal/166278/ )
YES, we are in “Permanent whitewater” with lots of changes both small and large – -trying to keep our head above water. Our lives are altered from February. We are worshipping, studying and serving as the body of Christ in very different ways, but there is one constant —Jesus Christ is still Lord!! We are reminded by the Apostle Paul as he writes to a congregation that needs to be retold that they are in a covenant with God’s only Son and are called to live as faithful disciples of the rabbi from Nazareth. In the 13th chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, the author proclaims what service was well-pleasing to God, and Christ’s continuity: Hebrews13:1-8–Let mutual love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.[a] 4 Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Let us also proclaim that the Lord is our helper and we will not be afraid because as Eugene Peterson paraphrases, “For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” May we recognize Christ’s walk beside us as we live into this season of “permanent whitewater,” and seek to be the faithful followers of Jesus despite all the change happening in the world!
Rev. Dr. Philip W. Oehler, Sr.