“Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21.5
Last Monday I spent a couple of hours talking with a college student considering a vocation in the church. Christina had learned from a colleague that I had served churches in Kentucky, New Orleans and Washington DC and asked if I’d share my story.
When recounting the three types of churches I’ve served and how different each ministry context has been I recalled that for the bulk of those years there was a chaplaincy associated with my call and that in retrospect chaplaincy was (in some ways) the hardest work I’ve ever done but also (in ways) the most rewarding. When Christina asked for an explanation I shared with her that the similarity between chaplaincy and parish ministry is their respective goals, which are identical and grounded in the scriptures: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is…” Romans 12. The difference, I went on to explain, was that in parish ministry the changes that one sees in individuals are often incremental because the minds you are working with are more made-up (it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks!). But that as a chaplain I was able to see young people change, and change in radical ways. I watched as they changed their minds about themselves, about the world and about what they planned to do with the rest of their lives.
But a friend of mine recently helped me realize that no matter where we are on our journey radical change is possible and even necessary because “these words are trustworthy and true… behold, God is making all things new.” And that realizing God’s will for our lives is often only one change away; that this newness is every bit as true for the old dogs wearing collars like me as for the students I worked with as a chaplain. That when we realize that we must change, and realize where those changes need to take place, the will of God for our lives is closer than ever before; and that the Kingdom of God is near. Thank you friend, from the bottom of my heart, and thanks be to God.
Let us pray: Dear Lord, may each of us be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may prove what the will of God is.
I am also reminded by your essay, Jim, of the Benedictine notion of “always we begin again.” So the making new can be a daily occurrence, or even a moment by moment happening. Even in old dogs…