During the time we lived in New Hampshire, I ministered in two apparently contrasting positions. The first was working with youth and children in a small church, the second was ministering to individuals and their families who had chosen to enter Hospice in their final days or months of life. When I described my ministries many people remarked at how different the two must be. My response was always, “I like to think of it as a ministry of transitions.” I thought of myself as sort of a midwife as I journeyed alongside of young people going through the turmoil and transitions of adolescence as well as older people going through the transitions of saying goodbye to this earthly life and going on to the next.
As I walked through these transitions with each, I found that the saying is true: the only constant in this life is change. Just when we have come to terms with one new aspect of our lives, the next transition seems to occur and send us reeling. Whether it is a new job situation or a new home, a new school or a new diagnosis, a new baby or marriage, a new way of understanding ourselves (parentless child, divorcee, etc.), life seems to be full of surprises – both joyful and challenging.
Through each of these it seems that the faithful fare better than those who have no faith, and studies have shown this to be true. Perhaps it is the fact that those who have faith in God believe there to be one constant no matter what changes around them – a God that loves them no matter what. Perhaps it is because the faithful are bound come what may to a community that cares for them through all of life’s transitions, giving them support when they need it most. Perhaps it is the faith in an afterlife – so that even if this transition ends in death, they know that the next life will be better. Perhaps it is all of these things and more.
September always brings a time of transitions – some joyful, some difficult. Maybe it is because of the onslaught of change that we find ourselves slipping back through the doors of our church. Maybe it is so that we can be reminded that in spite of the turmoil of change our God is always present with us. Maybe it is so that we can receive the support we know we will find in the community of the faithful. Maybe it is so that we can taste again a piece of the heaven that is promised to us – in music and prayer, word and action – here on earth. Maybe it is all of these things.
Whatever the reason – as we transition into another fall season, we do so with joy and faith in the Christ who is our steadfast hope in all times. Amen.