It has been said that the only thing that does not change is change, itself.
Change is a constant in life. One thing that we can count on is that change is inevitable.
We've all experienced it. No sooner do we get used to a stage in the lives of our children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews than suddenly, they are onto something else. We become accustomed to the pace of our jobs only to find that-again, quite suddenly-there is a new project, a new timetable. We accept the fact that a parent is aging, but are soon caught off guard when he or she becomes unable to do-or to be-what we have always expected.
The life of a church is no different. First Pres Valpo will very soon need to adjust once again to a change in leadership, as our pastors move on to their next calling. While we wish them well, we are all too aware of the challenges in finding a new pastor. It takes time, and patience, and faith.
I write this blog from a hotel room in Florence, Italy. Harry and I have been blessed to return, first to the holy ground of Assisi, and now to this beautiful city. It is impossible not to be aware of God's presence in these places.
Assisi, the home of St. Francis, is a walled city whose origins began in 1000 BC. Romans took control of the city in 295 BC. The ruins of their structures-buildings, viaducts, an amphitheater, and a temple to the Goddess Minerva (built before Christ and since dedicated to his mother, Mary) still stand. Assisi was converted to Christianity in 238 AD. There are now 14 churches in Assisi, and at varying times throughout every day, bells calling the faithful to worship echo throughout this medieval city.
Florence, two hours from Assisi by train, is generally believed to have been founded around 59 BC. It is most famous for its works of art and Il Duomo, a huge, domed cathedral begun at the end of the 13th century. The church dominates the central piazza of the city.
Last Sunday, we attended mass in the main chapel-a high church service complete with Gregorian chants, incense, bells, and the music of the pipe organ booming and echoing throughout the space. Of course, we are not Catholic, and the service was in Italian. But neither of those facts mattered. We felt ourselves to be in the presence of our God, who transcends all barriers of language and denomination.
So... what does this have to do with change-and, more specifically, with the changes coming to our church?
No matter the time or place, no matter the circumstance, the church of Jesus Christ still stands.
It stands in places like Syria, where its members worship despite threats to their lives. It stands in the capitol of our nation, where disagreement and rancor seem to be the norm. It stands in the smallest, one-room country church and in the largest congregations.
And it will continue to stand in Valparaiso, Indiana, at First Presbyterian Church. We cannot be sure what the future holds for us. But one thing is certain-the Good News of Jesus Christ will continue to be heard and spread from the doorways of our sanctuary to the world.
All it will take is time, patience and faith.
Lou Ann Karabel