Disturbances to predictable routines always cause stress and anxiety.
As I write, I am in Ohio working with my mother to upend everything that had become routine in her life. She will no longer be able to live with my sister, or walk to the places she needs to be, or have her cats on her lap. She is even, to an extent, becoming used to routine in the nursing facility where she has been rehabbing for the last 6 weeks. She is at once anxious about all the changes that are happening to her life, and eager for the change to her new situation so that she can start to establish new routines.
This past Sunday we had a big shift in our liturgy. Some of it was intentional. It is easy for routine to become rote and I hope that the changes and experiments of this brief season will help us all to think about the words we say and sing on Sunday morning and how we internalize them. Along with that predictable change, though, we had an unexpected disturbance when the sermon was interrupted by a person having a mental health crisis. I think we adapted well, all things considered, but with all the disturbance many of us, myself included, left that service more shaken than comforted.
I am trying to remember that all of this points to why Jesus came, not to bring peace but a sword. He came to disturb the both the routine systems of the world and the comfortable thinking of theologians. He turned over the tables of the money changes, he preached radical new religious thinking, he claimed for himself the “I AM” of the burning bush. Now, two thousand years later, his words and actions and very incarnation still shake the world.
All of this is remind me always to look for Christ in the disturbances in life. That doesn’t mean that every change is comfortable or a change for the better. It does mean that, as by his suffering Christ entered into our pain, Christ is also present in all of the “changes and chances of this life.” Christ is continually shaking up the old creation to make way for the new and the Spirit is present with us in the turmoil, always moving over the turbulent waters of creation. This week has not been pleasant, but watch and see what will be born out of our disturbance.
One thing that is already taking shape is a soon to come training in de-escalation led by Geoff Colvin, who made a career in the field. The Vestry will be taking part and I hope all regular ushers will as well. Any in the congregation will also be invited. We’ll be setting the date and time soon.