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Embracing Change

A couple of years ago, our beloved Christ Church began a partnership program with Oakland Mills High School. The goal of this partnership was to support juniors and seniors at the school who were planning on taking the SATs. Christ Church was blessed with generous support from Cy Paumier’s family to begin this important work.


Christ Church partnered with Oakland Mills High School and Applerouth Testing Agency to provide a six-week "SAT boot camp" to over 30 students from Oakland Mills.


In our conversation after the successful completion of the program, the principal and a few teachers came up with the idea of slightly changing the program's long-term objective. They contended that we had to offer a program that served children way beyond high school and into the real world if we wanted to make a substantial difference in their lives. I wasn’t initially convinced about the new approach that the professionals were suggesting; at the time, I was still locked in on the SATs and the importance of that test.


I then appointed one of our parishioners to be the liaison between Christ Church and Oakland Mills High School leadership because I believed that this parishioner, an educator by profession, would be the perfect person to assess the viability of the change that was being proposed. I expressed my misgivings to her, as well.


But something happened - on January 8th of this year, I had the opportunity to witness an information session for students and parents who had been invited to be a part of the program; then on February 21st, I participated in the launching of the program. It felt so heartwarming to see a slideshow presentation that took all of us on a journey from freshman year through to the preparation for AP exams and beyond. In addition to this great benefit, the students are exposed to mentorship and leadership-building skills.


As I sat on a bench that day, I saw myself being floored and challenged to embrace a change that would be substantial and impactful. I saw the excitement on the faces of the students, parents, and staff. Their excitement was truly contagious. I then said to myself, "I nearly gave up on this program because it didn’t represent what I thought was best for the students."


I could touch a deeper meaning of their joy. And I couldn’t help but be overjoyed by the outcome of a change that I didn’t find particularly needful at one time, but which was ultimately and absolutely necessary.


Here’s a story about embracing change for you: a gentleman by the name of Franz Kafka, who never married and had no children, was walking through a park one day in Berlin when he met a girl who was crying because she had lost her favorite doll. She and Kafka searched for the doll, but unsuccessfully. Kafka told her to meet him there the next day and they would continue to look for her.


The next day, when they had not yet found the doll, Kafka gave the girl a letter "written" by the doll, saying: "Please don't cry. I took a trip to see the world. I will write to you about my adventures."


Thus began a story which continued until the end of Kafka's life. During their meetings, Kafka read the letters of the doll carefully written with adventures and conversations that the girl found adorable.

Finally, Kafka brought back the doll (he bought one) that had returned to Berlin.

"It doesn't look like my doll at all," said the girl.


Kafka handed her another letter in which the doll wrote, "My travels have changed me." The little girl hugged the new doll and brought the doll with her to her happy home. Many years after Kafka had passed, the now-adult girl found a letter inside the doll. In the tiny letter, signed by Kafka, was written:

"Everything you love will probably be lost, but in the end, love will return in another way."

Embrace change - it's inevitable for growth. Together, we can shift pain into wonder and love, but we must be responsible for consciously and intentionally creating that connection.


The one word that drives home the point about embracing change, especially during Lent, is intentional. There’s no happenstance about change. Change requires us to be intentional about changing. Change requires us to be focused on what it is that we want to change. It is an admission that something isn’t where it is supposed to be, a path isn’t where we are supposed to walk, an action isn’t what we are supposed to take, a particular step isn’t what we should take and the life we are living isn’t the kind of life we ought to live.


The beauty of Lent is the opportunity it affords us to embrace change, to make a turn - that there’s a transformation open and available to each of us. But we have to embrace the possibility that Lent offers us in order to be the kind of change we want to be.


And so, whatever you want to do during this Lent, whatever spiritual depth you want to attain, whatever spiritual growth you desire - unless you are devoted to that growth or deepening, you won’t make any significant headway. 


But if you want to do something significant you have to be completely devoted, and to me, embracing change is part of our devotion to what we want to do.


One of our beloved parishioners, Chuck Rees, shared a quote with me yesterday: “I am getting better every day.” It is an admission that we are not there yet, but we embrace the necessary changes, day by day, in order to be better, and to be where we want to be.


The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us, for God is with us as we embrace all the changes that come our way. 



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