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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     I am not a fan of change. In fact I absolutely despise it. Change creates chaos in my world and is something I can completely live without. The unfortunate part for me, is that no matter how much I wish or try to prevent it, change is inevitable. It might be my disgust for change that has lead me to stay and plant roots in my hometown.

     As has been said, the simple fact in every life is that change comes whether we want it to or not. In the Methodist church we accept change as part of our lives. We know that every four to seven years the pastor we have become comfortable with and finally accepted as our own, will more likely than not, be replaced with someone new and different. I’m sure at some level it is meant to teach us about the ever changing cycles of life. There’s birth, that awkward growing stage, finally into a grove and then death and rebirth once again. It’s a cycle that I’ve been a part of for over forty years now, so one would think I would be used to it somewhat.

     I remember the first time I met Pastor Dave Kruse. I wondered what the district superintendent was thinking sending us this larger than life old guy who laughed during his sermons and at times forgot things he was supposed to do? It was only after I got to know him that I figured out that he was sent here for a purpose. We, as members of the church, needed someone like him to remind us not to take ourselves so seriously all the time. Oh sure, there were times when I wanted to smack him upside the head with the bible, but I watched and learned and saw the people come back into the church and to find something in him that helped each one of us.

     It wouldn’t be honest to say that not everyone found his relaxed style to their liking, but that relaxed approach made each of us step up to the plate and actually take a role in our own ministry. Maybe it was working with the youth, maybe it was in the kitchen, or maybe we each just stepped up making a better effort to make it to services, but each of us took it upon ourselves not to be satisfied with the status quo and to get involved. The most important lesson he taught in his time here was that we were all saved and all of us have been forgiven for our sins from the blood and love of Jesus. But he warned us never to rest on that, but to go out and minister in our own ways, not only to each other, but to the people around us as well.

     This Sunday will be his last with us, before he hangs up the stole and heads out in the world to drive a tour bus, and as he put it, “do a little jump seat ministry”. For each of us there will be some sadness with his departure from us. We will miss his laughter, his impromptu extended sermons, his ability to involve our youth, and his laid back approach to communion. But change comes and with it a new minister, and much to my chagrin, service at a new hour.

     In the old days, when Dexter was in a charge with Penn Center and Redfield, I was used to church late on a Sunday morning, and a few years back we started having service at 9:30. I thought that was rough, but nothing like my reaction when it was announced that we would be going to an 8:15 a.m. start for services. That’s insane, I thought, don’t they know Sunday morning is my day to sleep in? And what about the youth breakfasts on the fifth Sunday of the month before church? Certainly we aren’t going to start serving breakfast at seven are we? And what about our dinners, which have now started to become like common place? Will the two hours between church and serving time cause issues with attendance?

     But in the last few days I’ve taken time to be still and listen to God speaking to my heart. I’ve looked at the change in the wrong way. Instead of it being a curse, it is instead a glorious opportunity for us. There is now time for fellowship and Sunday school opportunities outside of church. Our youth can have time to get together more than just in the evenings and there’s always that simple fact that by the time church is over for me, and I’m home napping before football games in the fall, that most people will just be walking through the doors.

     Sometimes in life when change confronts us, we need to take a moment after our first reaction and allow ourselves to think outside the box, to the opportunities that awaits us. I still won’t like change much, but perhaps now, I’m a little better able to understand it, and roll with the changes.

See you next week, remember….we’re all in this together.