Sunday Morning Musings: A long time ago now, when I first started talking about changing careers from being an elementary school teacher to becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada someone said to me, “I hope you don’t think this is going to change me.” At the time, I said that I hoped not. I didn’t believe that such a career change was even going to change me. And at my core I am still the same, yet I have also changed tremendously. For the most part, I hope the change that has happened was for the good.
Change is inevitable. When I was a child I was full of enthusiasm, in my teens I worked each summer in the “tobacco fields of Tillsonburg”, which was a gruelling job described well by Stompin’ Tom in his song. In my twenties I started to lose my hair and my low side part has become a very wide one! I have also put on weight. My 24 inch waistline has expanded. Physically I have changed a great deal. Mentally/ cognitively I have also developed. I usually try to “measure twice and cut one” in more than just carpentry work. Emotionally I think I have also changed. I allow myself to cry more and trust me when I say I had to learn how to cry as an adult because growing up “big boys don’t cry”. Vulnerability was a sign of weakness not strength which I now know it is.
My spiritually has also changed. I grew up worshipping God (in the Anglican Church), baptized and confirmed in Trinity Anglican Church in Port Burwell. There I attended Sunday School and learned the necessities of becoming an Altar boy (not for girls at that time) and so also went to worship each week. For a while I got away from going to worship until I married. It was then that stirrings inside of me started or I started noticing them.
Whether I knew it or not I was changing, just as everything and hopefully everyone around me was changing. My spirituality began changing even as a young boy. I would go to Scout Camp each year and on Sunday we had worship at the camp. Granted the Roman Catholic boys went out of camp to Mass. But the rest of us all worshipped together. I suppose it was Christian oriented worship but it was inclusive. In today’s language worship itself was more about belonging than believing. We were a community.
Now, here in the 21st century, change continues for me and without change the Christian Church will become nothing more than a tradition governed by rules and out-dated concepts. We sing about a God who is “unchanging and eternal”, but that doesn’t mean our understanding of “God” is static. Cognitively, at one time the church used to function with the world-view that the earth was the centre of the universe around which the sun traversed. Even as late as the 1500’s many felt the earth itself was flat and if one went too far they could fall off the edge. Our thinking has changed, we have changed physically and emotionally, but our spirituality has fallen behind.
My God does not sit on a golden throne in “heaven” passing judgement on the good and the bad; those who are baptized and those who aren’t; those who go to worship each and those who don’t. Even though I may still use the Trinitarian formula (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), I don’t believe God is a being like us. For me, to be made in the image of God is to say that I am called to reveal the divine in the way I live and talk and think and that involves the very nature of God which is loving compassion.