Fall has always been my favorite time of year. For most of my life, the leaves have transformed from lush green to the colorful landscape of a Bob Ross classic. The temperature has declined, as I am relieved from oppressive summer heat and humidity. Winter closes in, making me anxious for the love-hate relationship of possible snow. Fall also means the holidays, which is a perfect excuse for my family and friends to travel the extra mile to unite in love and food. For me, the experience of fall has always been my normal.
I do not know what the seasons look or feel like in Jacksonville yet, but my gut says to brace myself for a change. This fall, the leaves may not change, the family may not all gather together, the temperature may not drop, and I am sad to think it may not lead to snow. But that doesn’t make love fall any less.
A dear professor always taught us that “change is an invitation to Holy Ground.” Every adjustment in the midst of change, for better or worse, is an opportunity to walk, reflect, and ultimately grow. God is with us in the midst of change, walking with us step-by-step on Holy Ground, inviting us to trust, grow, and transform. When we walk on Holy Ground, we can’t help but grow—grow in relationship, grow in self, and grow in faith.
When Moses died and the Israelites stood on the precipice of a long-anticipated destination, God commissioned Joshua. Joshua became a change in both leadership and direction as the Israelites left the wilderness and crossed the Jordan River into their new change of address. God commanded Joshua to “be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
This fall Sarah and I will welcome a change—a change of address, a change of family and friends, a change to a new job. A change in our new “normal.” As scary or exciting as it may be, we take great comfort in knowing that we do not experience this change alone. St. Mark’s has undergone an extended journey of change the last few years. Friends and family have come and gone. Programs have thrived and died. Hopes have been marked by fears, and uncertainty has caused self-reflection.
Sisters, brothers, siblings, just as dead leaves make way for fresh buds, and cooler temperatures ultimately give new life to old soil, change brings about growth and transformation. From the crucifixion of Jesus came new life in the form of resurrection. Death was overcome with life, and the life-giving promise of hope, grace, and love. Like Joshua and Israelites crossing the Jordan, Mary and the disciples left the tomb that day on Holy Ground, transformed for the better. Change is an invitation to walk with God and neighbor on Holy Ground, to learn more about ourselves, one another, and God’s call for us. To experience a re-birth. To be reformed. We will always experience change, but as we change know that in the Spirit change yields growth. And God-willing, we will always continue to grow.
So in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed. For the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.
Sarah and I are blessed to call St. Mark's JAX our new family and our new home.
Originally Posted in the November, 2017 Messenger for St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Florida.