Pastor John C. Maxwell once wrote, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” And so it is, whether in our personal life, parish life, nation, or world. Change occurs all around us at an alarming speed and happens without our consent. Pandemics arrive, accidents occur, and dear friends move. Seasons change, the world turns, children grow up and have children of their own. Simply living, being, moving through the life cycle we will experience change. We cannot stop it, no matter how hard we may sometimes try.

Last Sunday, we bid Father Burl and Bob a fond farewell amidst tears of both sorrow and joy. At the end of this month, we will say goodbye with sadness to Father James and Eli while giving thanks for their ministry among us. Change. Clergy leave parishes as they are called to labor in other vineyards, to share their many gifts with the greater body of Christ. It’s the natural rhythm of parish life. Change is inevitable.

But growth is optional. Growth is up to us as individuals and as a congregation. Will we learn and grow from the wisdom and gifts they have shared with us? Will we encourage one another to use the gifts God has given us for the common good in this coming time of transition for Bethesda? Will we listen to and support one another as different members of the body of Christ, equally valuable in our diversity?

To these questions, I can only answer as we do in the baptismal covenant, “I will with God’s help.” Will you join me?

The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Geitz