For the most part, we are aware as humans that our time on this planet is finite. We understand that there was a time before we existed and a time after which we will no longer endure, at least in this present physical state. We invest so much into our children and grandchildren, as well as building lasting relationships and legacies for this very reason. We may deny, forget, or attempt to prevent the reality of it, yet for the most part we do not escape the simple fact that we are on this planet temporarily.
Yet the institutions and organizations we serve and that serve us almost always forget this fact. We assume that the institutions and organizations we love will remain in static perpetuity and that those we do not value should not continue beyond our present experience of them. In fact, we often spend time advocating to anyone who might listen to ensure the same.
The reality is that institutions are never actually static. Like the geometric definition of a line, organizations and institutions are constantly in change, big or small, perceivable or imperceivable.
In 1896, the Church of Our Saviour had grown to such capacity that a parish hall needed to be built, and plans were even drawn to expand the church building. Yet by 1912, membership in Church of Our Saviour was down to 22 members, only 12 of whom were considered active. Any history of a given community or organization will illustrate similar dynamics: life is cyclical and always changing. This is true in our personal lives as well as in our communities, institutions, and organizations.
On Sunday, September 11, beginning at 9 am, Church of Our Saviour will celebrate its 155th anniversary as the oldest Protestant Church in the San Gabriel Valley and the oldest continuously run church in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. And this celebration will be very different from those in decades past because, like every other institution and organization at this time in our history, the Church of Our Saviour is in a time of change.
For the second year, Church of Our Saviour will celebrate the traditional Chinese Harvest Moon Festival, also on September 11 this year, both in and out of worship. The worship service will begin at 9 am, and the celebration will begin around 11 am. Members of our Chinese congregation will be offering traditional Harvest Mooncakes, and there will be a presentation on traditional Chinese tea. We will hear music from the traditional Chinese Guzheng, both in worship and during coffee hour, as we did last spring. Since school is resuming, we will be blessing backpacks for students of all ages, as well as offering games and prizes for children. And, we will have ice cream for dessert!
How have you changed in the past three years? How has our community changed? How have our organizations and institutions changed? How might you and I implement change with intention in our personal lives as well as in our communities, organizations, and churches?