Rev. Drew Stockstill
The More Things Change...
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Morning Psalm- Psalm 11
1In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
4The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
We have been reflecting on God’s emerging Creation – how what God began with the word, “BECOME,” is still becoming. Even with all God’s creative activity in the world, do you ever feel like somethings are just the same old, same old? The French writer, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, in the mid 19th century, famously coined the phrase, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Even in the midst of all this change we experience, both personally and cosmically, there is also a sense that not much really changes at all. Change is hard.
Peter Senge, a Systems Scientist at MIT confirmed, change is hard, literally. There are so many barriers that must be overcome for a system, an organization, a church, to change and for something truly new to emerge. More likely, rather than experiencing significant changes, we are more often experiencing various cycles, looping back to what is familiar. More than once, it’s been said in a Bible study at our church, “Wow! This sounds just like today.” Senge said, “Reality is made up of circles, but we see straight lines.” The more things change, the more they stay the same. Is it any wonder life can be so confusing and exhausting at times? We feel all this change and uncertainty and yet we also feel a sameness, how hard it can to escape certain patterns in thinking, in living.
The Old Testament book called, Ecclesiastes, voices this:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
Ecclesiastes sees meaninglessness or pointlessness in the many cycles all around us: the rising and setting of the sun, the continual flowing of streams and rivers into an unfillable ocean, the ever-flowing jet streams. While one prophet of the Old Testament says, “Look, God’s doing a new thing. Don’t you see it?” Ecclesiastes replies, “Yeah, I saw that, it’s happened before, it was here already.”
I think Ecclesiastes presents us a strangely helpful perspective in this season, for it is indeed a reminder that we have been in times like this before, if not personally, then by virtue of our place in human history. But also, we are having to confront a slowing of our activities. Some can be so driven by a relentless quest to produce, to achieve, to grow and change. Others can find in life’s circular systems meaninglessness. But in Ecclesiastes the invitation is to look at the big picture of Creation, and not to despair, rather to commit to our work and rest in life, and to enjoy it: “I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.” (5:15).
Ecclesiastes says he tried to makes sense of it all, “to see the business that is done on the earth,” but then he noticed something: “I saw all the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find out; even those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.” (8:16-17)
The wisdom is to give our searching minds and restless bodies a break, and truly notice all the work of God; change perspective from despairing, to marveling at God’s work. Creation itself, while unfolding, and emerging still, does so in cycles, like a stretched-out Slinky. Creation needs these cycles to renew, to replenish, to thrive, and this is itself the continual Creative work of God. The more things change, the more they stay the same. God’s love is the same, God’s presence in the world is the same, God’s power in creation is the same, God’s grace is unchanging and yet, a new Creation is emerging. So, let us enjoy the reliably returning warmth of the sun, and the peace of waters ever flowing to the sea, the company of our fellow beings: human, plant, and animal, in the days that we have to enjoy. For in time, reliably, “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.” (12:7) And life goes on by the grace of God.
With ongoing thanks to Dr. Bill Brown’s wisdom in, “The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder,” which informs the Biblical exegesis of these reflections on Creation.
Let us Pray:
Satisfy us with your love in the morning,
and we will live this day in joy and praise.
God of all mercies, we praise you that you have brought us to this new day, brightening
our lives with the dawn of promise and hope in Jesus Christ. Especially we
thank you for
the warmth of sunlight, the wetness of rain and snow, and all that nourishes
the earth . . .
the presence and power of your Spirit . . .
the support and encouragement we receive from others . . .
those who provide for public safety and well-being . . .
the mission of the church around the world. . .
People of God, for what else do we give thanks? Add your own prayers of thanksgiving.
Merciful God, strengthen us in prayer that we may lift up the brokenness of this
world for your healing, and share in the saving love of Jesus Christ. Especially we
those in positions of authority over others . . .
the lonely and forgotten . . .
children without families or homes . . .
agents of caring and relief . . .
the church in Asia and the Middle East. . .
And for Dick Shepley and his family, the family of Ed Sherrick, Mary, Sharon and Tom Herrold, Duana, Brenda and Cliff, Bob, Rochelle, Karen and Steve, Barb and Butch, Sharron Blezard, Marcia, Rose, Phil and Alice, Stanley Hope, Jake, John, Julie, the nurses of our Medical Outreach Clinic and…
People of God, for what else do we pray? Add your own prayers.
you never fail to give us each day all that we ever need, and even more.
Give us such joy in living
and such peace in serving Christ,
that we may gratefully make use of all your blessings,
and joyfully seek our risen Lord
in everyone we meet.
In Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
God the Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.