St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church


St. Bart's Blog

Our Changing World

Posted by The Rev. William Zettinger on

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about our changing world. Yes, times are changing. Remember the Bob Dylan anti-establishment Song from the 60’s - The Times They are a Changing.

The sixties, after all, was a decade when we first heard the expression, “Never trust anyone over 30?” Today it may be never trust anyone period! Yes, we are incredibly divided as a nation. Bob Dylan's song hits the mark today.

Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land,
Don’t criticize what you can’t understand,
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,
Your old world is rapidly fading.
Get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand,
For the times, they are a changing.

But Dylan’s lyrics could also be applied to another time. The time of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Jesus' thinking was radically different than the Roman community or Jewish Sscholars of his day. He said, “the last shall be first and the first last,” “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s", and “let the one among you who is sinless cast the first stone.”

Good lessons for us today and there are many more. The point is that Jesus was a radical, but he preached kindness and forgiveness not hatred and secular pluralism. Good lessons for us today on both sides of the aisle - so to speak.

There is little doubt that Jesus saw things differently. When he is told that his family was there to bring him home, he looks around at the crowd and says, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

This is what it means to grow up and become good citizens, good Christians, and adult members of the society. It’s not about who makes the most money, who makes the least, or who is a progressive or a conservative. It's about what it is to do God’s will. It’s about our resolve to do God’s will, not the politicians or extremists on both sides of the aisle or party.

To say this another way. Doing God's will is why we are created. We are all created by God to do some work and as St. Paul said, “We all have at least one spiritual gift.”

In other words, we are called to make a positive impact on our community, our nation and the world. It's not about succeeding or failing, being left or right, Republican or Democrat. Jesus doesn’t care. What He cares about is our willingness to follow His call.

God’s call can sometimes shout at us in moments of crisis, or it can whisper in times of solitude. Often, God speaks in moments of quiet reflection when we dare to ask ourselves, what are my passions that reflect the gifts of my life?

While I was in college, I worked for a while at Consolidated Edison, the New Your City equivalent of SDG&E. My job was to open manhole covers and install meters to measure how much power each transformer used. The information would then be sent to engineering for analysis. It was a good summer job, but it was dirty and smelly. It was that summer that I know I was being called to the air-conditioned engineering offices, not the sewer.

But that other calling to the priesthood in our church still lingered. It pulled at me for many years and eventually I knew that no matter what I did. Following the path to ordination was what I needed to do. It as the old saying Goes :God never lets go.”?

This much is certain, our satisfaction and fulfillment in life, our effectiveness in the world, and our usefulness to God all depend on our openness and generosity of spirit, our willingness to step out in faith, move beyond our comfort zone, to give ourselves in service, and even to sacrifice for a cause greater than us.

The question then is this, are we doing what God has called us to do? Are we working for God to help reconcile the world or would we rather continue to split us apart and create further division between us? Are we ready to surrender to Gods will, to give ourselves into his hands, and to do the work God has called us to do? Will we pursue our life’s calling and move beyond the safety and security of a pre-packaged future into a future which is God’s?

And by doing help to create a world where all peoples, young and old, rich and poor, white and of many colors are reconciled to each other to make this world a better place.

One thing I do know for sure is this, the Anglican Middle Way “Via Media.” fits what we must do what we are called to do. It is a way that says all are equal under God and all are worthy of respect even those with whom we disagree.