Lately I have been musing on a passage from Luke,
Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night
long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say
so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done
this, they caught so many fish that their nets
were beginning to break.
Every time I am with a church in transition, I think of this and hear so many things in Simon Peter — weariness at being asked to do more after a long and hard day, despair that what used to work might no longer, sadness or even grief that what worked for so long is changing, resistance to changing what is already know to what is unknown, and, in the end, obedience to Christ’s instruction.
What a beautiful illustration of the feelings around a time of transition. Grief, loneliness, resignation, frustration, a feeling that everything is changing and its hard to make sense of it. All these and more come into play as one beloved leader moves away, and the church tries a variety of things in a new way.
In a transition, our goal isn’t just to change for change’s sake, but to try on new ways of doing liturgy, new ways of formation, new leaders or new fellowship. The point of trying on is to be ready for the changes that will inevitably be introduced by the calling of a new Rector. No two priests have the same liturgical style, or voice, or musical choices, or even theology. It is the uniqueness of each new leader and each new call from God that is the catalyst for the transformation of the church.
And transformation is always our call from God. When God chose to live with us in human form, the choice was not to come and be with us exactly as we expected. God came in new and startling ways to transform us. In fact, Christ came to change us, and change us often and unexpectedly.
The Good News is that we are also always being invited to move into deeper water–deeper commitment, deeper giving, deeper relationship with one another and with God. Going deeper, we begin to see the abundance of God’s love and grace in new and surprising ways.
Transitions are hard. Change is hard. Casting our nets into deeper water is hard. But, oh, the abundance that follows–abundance to break our tiny nets and bring fruitfulness beyond our wildest dreams.