Heraclitus was really something else. Back in Ancient Greece when the common thread was to argue for principles which cannot be altered, Heraclitus went in the completely opposite direction. Unlike his peers who wanted some kind of constancy, Heraclitus wrote this famous phrase:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.
In other words: why try to find something constant with which to anchor? Change is the piece played by the universe. Realize it, accept it, and let that guide you. Constancy and consistency are illusions. Everything is always in flux.
There is some real wisdom here. Our cells are continuously recycled. Our bodies change throughout the years. Fashion statements fluctuate. Ideals championed by different generations oscillate. What we know vs what we don’t know alters based on our experience and humility. A senior minister announces their retirement.
Change is the hand dealt to everyone. It affects us all differently, but it’s there all the same. But change is only noticeable because of something else: constancy. It’s in the tension between what changes vs what remains constant where we actually learn what the constants are. In other words, as permeating as change is, change might just reveal what remains while change is taking place. Change can shake the foundations, but something unshakeable can still remain.
In our case, something very important remains constant throughout change: you. In a congregational church, the congregation is the constant. I’m reminded of this during each annual meeting reading report after report submitted by parishioners who give of themselves for the sake of our community. Yes, clergy is important and offers a qualitative dimension of leadership. However, authority is shared. Several of you have been members of FCC longer than I’ve been alive. Let that sink in.
All this to say that I’m sure some of you might be unsettled or possibly anxious regarding what’s going on. Some of you may have never experienced a senior minister transition. Feel your feelings and don’t rush your process Yet I will encourage you to listen to voices who have experienced this before and who are embodying the constants throughout the change.
We’re a community for a reason. Hopefully this reminder helps.