Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What Needs to Die? -- a newspaper column

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

Christian faith teaches us that we need no longer fear death. Death is no longer an ending but a new beginning. Now hands up everyone who has no trouble believing this.

Anyone drop their paper in their rush to put up their hands? I am guessing not many. Death is still hard to accept. And possibly even harder still are the multitudes of little deaths we encounter throughout our lives. You see, every change in our life is a little death. When we accept change, willingly or otherwise, it means something has to die to make room for the new.

Within social change models there are two important questions to ask. One is “what are you willing to die for?”. The other is “what needs to die so that life can flourish here?”. I think that the second is often more important.

What needs to die to make room for new life in Atikokan? What needs to be given a proper farewell and burial so that a new path can emerge? And are we willing to make that happen?

We are afraid of change, the bigger the change the bigger the fear. We are often afraid that if we let the old go there will be nothing to fill the void. The temptation is to hold on to the old until we are sure what will be there next. This happens to us as individuals, as families, as churches, as communities, even as countries. But the quote from John’s gospel at the head of this column shows us the problem with that. Sometimes, when we try to hold on too tightly we stop the death and rebirth from happening. Sometimes we need to cast what we have aside and let it become something else

At many levels our society is on the edge of massive changes. As those changes happen old ways of living and thinking will die. But in their death they open the way for new ways of living and thinking. They open the way for much fruit to follow. What has to die so that you can have life in abundance? What has to die so that the whole Creation can have life in abundance?

Will I see you at the funeral for and celebration of what was as we look to what may be? Or will we keep holding so tightly to our own grains that we don’t let God’s possibilities germinate and take root?

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