What Does It Take to Change?
“How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?”
“Ten: One to change the bulb and nine to say how much they loved the old one.”
Jokes about different religious traditions take on change are a staple of Church life. Or Church lite, maybe. The dozens of light bulb jokes illustrate how central change has become in our lives. The joke about the ten Episcopalians (another version: “Eight. One to call the electrician and seven to say how much the liked the old one.”) emphasizes even more how resistant to change we may be.
Change goes on all the time all around us. Transformation – a special kind of change – takes more effort on our parts and more time.
Starting on April 19, Study Brunch will take up a series based on change and transformation. We will consider the changes that we have seen this year as we move through winter to spring, as we have moved through Lent to Easter and beyond.
Now before reading further, please remember that Study Brunch is first and foremost an opportunity to converse on important subjects with other members of St Tim’s. And, as Dick Zolman put it, “Study Brunch is very informative and we all learn a lot!”
Back to change. The history of St Tim’s provides a handy framework to view the changes we have experienced. When St Tim’s opened in the early 1950’s, only men (and they were presumed to be heterosexual) were ordained. Now women and openly LGBT persons are ordained priests and bishops. Then the Book of Common Prayer offered only one way to celebrate the Eucharist, now we enjoy two rites and several adaptations of Rite II.
Littleton in the 1950’s was out in the fast-growing boonies. “Civilization” ended at Hampden. Now St Tim’s serves old-line, well-established suburbs, blessed with the benefits and ills of life in a metropolis. Main Street Littleton has transitioned from the local shopping area with locally owned shops to an entertainment destination for the southern metro area.
Once Detroit automakers dominated the US car market; now foreign brands, built both overseas and, increasingly, in US plants, battle for the car buyers dollar. Clothing brands once manufactured in South Carolina come from Ceylon. Electronics may have an American brand, but they were built in China. Consumers lament the loss of “good manufacturing jobs” but demand the lowest prices on smart phones, cars, and clothes. Changes in the economy away from the manufacturing sector to financial and information technology destroyed some communities and created rifts throughout the larger society.
Some of these changes we lament (endless construction projects); some we welcome (Thai restaurants). Some changes caused immediate and long-lasting divisions, as in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and in society where Americans no longer share an optimistic sense of a common destiny. All the changes have changed us – have they transformed us too? Have they, perhaps, made us more cognizant of our interconnections with people around the globe? As we look at the costs of change, we ask how can we begin to heal some of the rifts we see in our society? How should we proceed going forward to become the kind of people we want to be – and need to be?
These are huge questions. No one should expect final, definitive answers from a series running from Easter to Memorial Day. Our goal should be to start a conversation and to give us the impetus to engage in other conversations among family members, within the Church, and in the world around us.
Study Brunch meets on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 in the Library off Darrow Hall. We engage in prayer, reflection, and lively discussion, and enjoy snacks along the way. Our motto: Come when you can; leave when you must.
“How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?”
“None: God has predestined when the light bulb will change.”