Look, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed.
- 1 Cor 15:51
I’m so honored and glad to be writing you today! By the time you read these words, I will be on my way back to Durham, North Carolina, to finish my final year at Duke Divinity School. I am a seminary student and have served as a Clergy Intern this summer. I had the joy of preaching in Traditional, Modern, and Believer’s Garden services, as well as serving alongside the clergy in a variety of settings. I have been incredibly blessed by the staff, clergy, and most of all, by the congregation of this church! I am very grateful for all the support, encouragement, and loving kindness that you have shown me. This church is truly a special place, and I know the Holy Spirit is at work here!
A couple weeks ago, I had the honor of serving with Pastor Reed at a funeral service. I was struck by this line from the 1 Corinthians reading; “ Look, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed.” It may sound odd at first glance; we will not all die?! But the apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian church about resurrection and the life to come once Jesus has returned. Paul assumes that some people will be living at the time that Jesus returns, and so he is writing to assure everyone that the transformation that will take place for those who have passed, will also take place for those who are living. Paul wants to assure us that we will all be changed.
Perhaps this line has stuck with me because I have been so profoundly changed for the better by Jesus, by the Church, and by my experience this summer, serving this church! Yes, we will undoubtedly be radically transformed when Jesus comes back, but there is no reason why we cannot begin that process of being changed in our lives, right now. It is a mystery, the way the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and minds, but it is a true and active, living mystery. I believe that through both our personal relationship with Jesus, and our active participation in the communal worship and life of the church, we can begin this transformation while we are still here on Earth.
As I discussed in the Modern service, I am a huge nerd. I love graduate school, and I get very excited about studying theology, pastoral care, church history, and Christian spirituality. Yet, all this knowledge isn’t truly helpful for me if it isn’t growing me in love of God, and love of neighbor, the things that really change our heart posture! This summer was a wonderful opportunity for me to take all this knowledge and put it into practice. I was able to learn, not just from the clergy and staff, but from all of y’all, more about what it looks like to be a faithful, welcoming, generous church that signs up to do hard and holy work, week in and week out.
As the Blessing of the Backpacks signified last Sunday, the start of the school year is here. The seasons are changing, even if the weather doesn’t show it yet. Church, I encourage you to take this changing season, regardless of whether you are a student, and use it as an opportunity to re-commit to being changed. Open your hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit, asking that you might leave the presence of this church community changed for the better every time. Continue to change each other with radical love, compassion, and understanding, as you already have done for me, and for each other, so many times. Being changed is a promise from God. When we walk alongside each other in honest, deep, loving community, when we build up the church, when we are steadfast in our prayers (even when those prayers may be holy silence), and when we seek to know God, it is almost more difficult for our hearts to remain unchanged!
It has been such a privilege to serve here. Thank you for allowing me to take part in the life of this church, and may you continue to be ever-changed, in this life and in the life to come.
Peace of Christ,