June Message from Rev. Coplin
An hour or so before our last Administrative Council meeting, I stumbled upon an old devotional I made in 2012 for a Meals on Wheels delivery. The comic above is the cover image for the card. I showed them this card and shared how, as a layperson in those days, I would wonder why incoming pastors would implement significant changes within the first months of appointment. Some were for good reason, but I think others created unnecessary disruption. Of course, the irony is that I am now an incoming pastor who talks about change to whomever will listen. I don’t really remember what prompted the focus for that devotional but finding it after all that has happened since then gives me pause. I share those words with you now:
One of life’s often-repeated lessons is that change is inevitable. A child’s rapid growth, a lawn neglected for an extra week, or progress on that new building downtown can all serve as reminders of this truth. Changes can be good, but many come with challenge.
Take Joseph from Genesis as an example. From a life of favor, he was literally cast down and left with nothing. He knew who God was and surely prayed for restoration to his previous life. But those prayers went seemingly unheard as he was dragged into Egypt as a slave. Yet, it was through this challenge that God made Joseph into someone who would in time preserve God’s chosen people.
Good news! It is likely that God’s will for you does not include saving nations from famine. But like Joseph, we may come to realize that our endurance of a difficult trial reveals God’s faithfulness. With hard-earned humility, Joseph responded with love and forgiveness for his brothers who had wronged him, just as God offers love and forgiveness to us. As the saying goes, “The only constant in life is change,” yet the Creator of all life is forever faithful. In perfect time he will complete his work to change all things according to his perfect plan.
Though many things have changed since 2012, my message today is remarkably similar. Not long after writing this, I entered seminary knowing that significant challenges lay ahead for the UMC. I believe my call is to be a pastor during this critical time. Nearing the end of my degree, it then became evident that our entire world had entered a time of significant change. Now, here we are together. I believe this is for a reason. I believe we are called to this time and place to navigate our church through the churning rapids of a world in persistent transition. Some days I wonder if I am somehow like Calvin in that comic strip, thriving on “making other people change.” But I more often wish things to be just a bit more calm and predictable than they presently are. Even so, it is in times of disruption and uncertainty that we are invited to lean more on the unchanging faithfulness of our Savior. Scripture reminds us that the world will always change but our God does not.
Grace and peace,