As the months roll on, living through this pandemic, the amount of change that we all face is both amazing and intense. Things we never before imagined, have now become second nature. The workplace, church, school – no longer operate as they once did. Rhythms of social life, personal life, church life are rearranged. And while at first these changes were externally generated, soon enough they have become internally generated – a ‘reaction response’ to maintain our health and our balance. Over time they have become amplified, and the result is exhausting.
Maybe this explains the pushback I see, when new patterns of behavior emerge.
“There is too much change”. “We need a rest”. “I want things back the way they were before.”
Those called to positions of leadership must have courage – courage to face, embrace, and lead through change – even when the pace is unrelenting, the ‘hurt’ is ubiquitous, and weariness is a common language. How does one live through change, much less lead through change, without succumbing to complacency? Or anxiety?
Resilience. Patience. Connectedness.
I remember reading a piece in one of my journals that used the phrase: “the paradox of embedded agency”. “Since leaders (those with ‘agency’) work within established systems of rules, roles, and expectations (they are ‘embedded’) how can they imagine new & necessary ideas or changes; moreover get others to adopt them? Either the leader already buys into that structure, and thus cannot think outside the box – or – everyone else does and thus they will not accept change.” That’s the paradox.
Response? 3 things matter. First – try to understand resistance to change – the what, where/why of it. But do so in an appreciative way. Second – leaders know that they must make sense of a new direction so that others feel willing to go there. Third – they adeptly use local language and symbols, in a patient process of persuasion – to bring comfort, purpose, and confidence to new patterns of behavior. In other words: Caring. Teaching. Honoring.
Three basic and essential dynamics for moving onward.
A pastoral, theological thought: Leaders who successfully guide through change do not sever compassion from courage. Neither did Jesus. He did not wait for calmer days, or complete approval before speaking, or acting, as he did. With boldness, he sought out the outcast, he loved the unlovely, he faced resistance, in a way that merged courage with compassion. This paradox – to care for; to teach; to honor – all people, served as the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. That’s a lesson worth learning. I try to learn a little of that lesson every day.
Learning with you –
A few practical points of information:
- Christmas Eve Services, December 24. Two (2) services will be offered in the Sanctuary at Grace: 3pm and 8pm. By holding the services this far apart, there will be time for proper ventilation and sanitizing of the Sanctuary.
- Wear your mask!
- Communion will be ‘self-administered’. Meaning: the Sacrament will be consecrated at the altar, then taken to the distribution tables. Each wafer (bread) is placed individually in a small container; each small cup of wine is individually prepared (safely – with sanitized hands, gloves, and masks worn – by our Altar Guild). Ushers (wearing masks) will direct congregants (wearing masks) to the distribution table at which, individuals will “take the bread” and “take the wine” by their own hand.
- Seating in the pews. Please sit AT THE BLUE TAPE (shaped in the form of a cross) rather than BETWEEN the tapes. In doing this, everyone is “socially distanced”. Couples/families/households may of course sit together in a cluster.