Across the Pastor’s Desk: Coping with the changes in life

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 7, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ken Jensen

Remember when mini-skirts were in fashion? It goes back many years.

Kenneth Jensen

A parishioner who was quite upset came to see me. A woman who worshiped the previous Sunday had worn slacks. For this parishioner, a woman wearing slacks was inappropriate for church. She should have been wearing a dress!

Email newsletter signup

The previous worship service included the celebration of Holy Communion. I replied, “What would you prefer seeing – a woman kneeling at the altar rail wearing slacks or one wearing a mini-skirt flashing her underpants?”

I could empathize with her feelings. She was older and, as we age, change can become annoying at best and threatening at worst.

But it isn’t only the elderly for whom change is difficult. When my denomination began ordaining women, it was the young people in our congregation who were having the most difficult time accepting change. Women in our local nursing home thought it was great.

Change is inevitable. Change is frequently for the better; other times, not so much. And when change is for the better, it takes time for it to be embraced.

When I supervised intern pastors (vickers), I suggested that when they became a parish pastor, they wait a year before initiating any changes and then, not to get two steps ahead of the church council lest they face a backlash.

Jesus said much about change. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, …but I say unto you…” He also said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” — Matthew chapters 5-7

What Jesus taught, and what I believe, is that what we think, believe, and how we act is rooted in our self-interests. However, as followers of Jesus, we are to look beyond self-interests to see “the other.”

Currently, we are portrayed as living in “silos” or “bubbles.” We surround ourselves with people who think like us, believe like us and act like us.” We build walls for our protection but those walls inhibit possibilities.

Perhaps we Christians use the word “love” too much when it comes to the issue of change. Maybe “compassion” would be a better word. We are to weep with those who weep and share joy with the joyful.

The Native Americans have a saying which defines compassion: “Never judge a person until you walk two days in their moccasins.”

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.