Change is tough and our church has definitely gone through some changes. Between staff leaving, separation from our church family during the pandemic, and opposing views on how things have been handled in the past year in many areas of our lives, we have felt the conflict and the pains of change.
While it can take an emotional toll, change can also be helpful. It is an opportunity to stop and reflect on where we were, where we are, where we want to be, and where God wants us to be. Without conflict or change, we keep on going with the status quo because our human brains inherently want to find the easiest path. That’s why it is so hard to quit bad habits and start new good habits. When change hits us, it stops us in our tracks and forces us to evaluate.
We are at a point at Ezekiel where we stop and evaluate. This is our time as a congregation to pause, think, and pray about what is working and what is not. To think about the things that bring people back into the building and attract new people to our church. To ponder which practices help people grow in their faith and which ones are no longer effective or a priority.
Our family recently went on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. I couldn’t take my eyes from the Lodgepole Pines. I didn’t even know the name of that particular tree until I did some research. I liked the appearance of the tree, but when I learned more about it, I liked it even more for metaphorical reasons. This particular tree has two types of pinecones but the pinecone that is encased in resin is the one that fascinated me because it was different than most pinecones. When there is a forest fire, the heat melts the resin, the pinecone opens, and it drops to the ground to start new tree growth.
I’d like to think of us as a congregation like that pinecone. Changes and uncertainty, are our heat and the work we are doing to make things better will be the seeds to repair hurts, reconnect with others, make new friends, improve our programs, build new programs, and draw others into a relationship with God. This struggle we are in could pay dividends as we continue to roll up our sleeves and get after this work.
But some may ask what about the uncertainty while we get there? Will we see no peace in the meantime? This has been so difficult. While this change is swirling around us, we need to remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus tells us that he is giving us peace through him even when things are uncertain. The peace from him can happen when we ask for it, even when our world seems to be chaotic around us. Jesus says he gives a peace not of the world. Society says peace is stability and calm. Jesus says peace is trust in the midst of uncertainty..
So while church may not feel exactly like the Ezekiel we know and love right now, God’s peace is with us. We just need to ask for it, look for it, and remember that it has been given. Additionally, we need to remember that while change can be difficult, we should be able to come out stronger and better than we were before. Relying on God’s peace will give us the strength to get through this season as we learn and grow together and become an even stronger Ezekiel.
Amanda Whipkey, Grow Committee