A friend recently sent me the blog post Living Into Change by Marjory Bankson. It’s a great piece and in the post Bankson uses the words “once again” and “turning point” to describe a recurring phenomenon in the faith community she has a long-term relationship with. In 1976 when seeking a small, close knit worshiping community to be a part of Bankson joined The Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. but quickly realized that her new community was a “rolling boil of change” and the church that she joined was, perhaps, being anointed for burial.
Bankson goes on to employ some deft theology and apologetics to defend change as a part of what it means to be Christian; that one must continually recommit oneself to God because “death and resurrection are part of God’s plan for renewal.” Amen! In five powerful words (which haven’t left me yet) Bankson suggests a simple aphorism intended to comfort those experiencing the rolling boil: “Endings do not trouble God.”
I suppose that one could take such a powerful phrase and misuse it. “Endings don’t trouble God so why should they trouble us?”
But endings do trouble us, and they may, in fact, trouble God, too. Another way to think about this might be to say that God is present in every end and that every end is only the beginning of a new reality to which God is equally present. The pastoral implications – or should I say the good news – here is that for the faithful and unfaithful alike, regardless of the end we are experiencing (our death, the death of a loved one, our health, a marriage, a career, a church, an expectation) God is present and every end is only an invitation to experience a new beginning in God, as troubling as these ends (most often) are.
Thanks, Marjory, for your compelling post. And for all of us who are experiencing the end which is also a new beginning in God:
“If there is anywhere on earth
a lover of God who is always kept safe,
I know nothing of it,
for it was not shown to me.
But this was shown:
that in falling and rising again
we are always kept
in that same precious love.”
Julian of Norwich
Thank you, Jim. Your words and the words of Julian of Norwich touched me deeply.