This is an article I actually wrote many years ago when my church at the time, Peace In Christ Lutheran in Walkersville, had undergone the major change of buying a new church building and moving to a different location. I think the ideas are still relevant today.
Our daughter Kate, age 20, who is living and going to college in South Carolina, called recently. The old car we gave her finally died. So she went out, bought a new car, and got her own insurance. When I told a friend about this, she said, “Joan, that’s a good thing!” And it is. Parenthood is all about guiding your child to independence. I’m proud of Kate and relieved she is now able to take care of so many things on her own. But, at the same time, I feel a pang of loss. She doesn’t need me as much as she once did.
For some of us at Peace In Christ, the church was for many years “our baby.” Church social events took place in the homes of our members as we didn’t have a kitchen or fellowship hall. My husband even taught adult Sunday School in our living room one year! Just about every active family had a member serving on either the Church Council, Board of Elders, or Sunday School staff. The success of an event depended upon all of us pitching in and being there. We were truly members of the same body and the body needed every one of us to function.
At the new facility things have changed. We’ve grown in numbers and no longer know everyone; there is a greater variety of interest and level of commitment; communication doesn’t just “happen” anymore. This brings a feeling of loss and in a way, even death–death of the close community and roles that were valuable to us. Elizabeth O’Connor, in her book, “Many Selves” says, “those who participate in change must participate in death.”
However, during this Easter season I am reminded that death is not the end. We’re called to practice resurrection–which isn’t easy during the painful uncertainty of transition. Here’s a quote from “Hope for the Flowers.” Two caterpillars are discussing becoming a butterfly:
” ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar’, Stripe said. ‘You mean to die?‘ asked Yellow. ‘Yes and no,’ he answered. ‘What looks like you will die, but what’s really you will still live.'”
When I put on the mind of Christ, I know that what’s really Peace In Christ will continue to live through all of the changes.