The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 16 (Year C)

“Embracing Change and Staying Hopeful”

Sermon by guest preacher Michele Kinrade

It is so nice to be with you this morning! It’s been several years since I was last here to worship with you. I trust you have survived and thrived, and that you have been able to stay joyful through all the crazy changes we have been through.

This morning I would like to discuss some ideas from our first reading and how we can use them to cope with change.

From the prophet Isaiah:

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

I believe that the Lord is ALWAYS guiding us continually.  The problem is that we don’t always see it because we can become so wrapped up in evaluating our situations and the many problems in the world. And we think that we need to find all the answers.

What I really want to talk about today is change.  How do we embrace change and still stay full of joy and hope?

I feel continually bombarded with a world full of crazy problems that I need to think about and even try to solve. Even if we could have devised a media blackout, we could not have avoided Covid which completely disrupted our lives for a very long time.

Now, I have to say – personally, I had a great experience during Covid. Of course there were some terrifying days early on when a trip to the grocery store felt literally life threatening…. We were all there.

But during Covid some of my long standing – even forgotten – dreams came true. I got a dream job and was able to work from home. If I had been forced to do the daily 90 minute commute, I might not have had the strength to do my work. But just at the time I got hired, Covid restrictions blocked travel.  So that really worked for me.

When I was younger I had a daughter with a very serious genetic disorder. As I worked with her doctors I got very interested in science and ended up becoming a scientist myself. Early in my work with her doctor the one book I loved and wanted to own was the Metabolic Basis of Inherited Diseases. I tried to study certain parts of the book so I that could understand her doctor. Eventually, I went back to school to study science, moved on to different areas of medicine, and worked in the biotech industry.

Then I retired from science, got very interested in the healing ministry and became active at church for a number of years. Then we started a video company. Finally, I ended up back in science getting a totally new job as a medical writer. Now I often use the new edition of the very same book I loved 40 years ago. 40 years is a long time to wander just to come back around to where I was in the first place. I am completely different now of course, but I am living one of my dreams, and it has been really healing to revisit an old dream and have it come to completion.

I am sharing a little of my story to let you know that I understand what it means to navigate changes. I am fortunate because my husband and I enjoy and embrace change – well, most of the time. Nobody likes bad news, bad health, losing your job, losing a loved one. These tough events always force us to change. Covid forced us to change.

Our situations will change whether we like it or not. How we react to the changes is up to us, and this is where Isaiah can be so helpful. If we allow it, the Lord WILL guide us continually.

I believe we need to hold on in faith, trust God, and watch what happens.

There are 4 principles that can help us navigate our changing world:

  1. Believe that God is good and that everything can work together for good for those who love God. That means that no matter how weird or bad things look, everything can be used for good. However, this often demands that we broaden our world view; because if things look bad, then we need a larger perspective.


  1. Understand that we don’t have the full picture – on anything. Losing a loved one, for example, is so terrible, and we must mourn. But our loved one is with God, and we are with God. The loss is very real, but growth can come from the loss if we let it.


  1. We need to understand that since change is inevitable, we might as well embrace it. Holding on to our old ways only works for a while; then we have to let go. I can honestly say that some of my most painful experiences could have been avoided if I had just let go and walked away from certain situations.

When I look back I can see where I had nudges in advance to walk away from some things, but I stubbornly refused to let go and lost them anyway- just a lot more painfully.

If you pay close attention can you see where you knew in advance that it was time for a change? Did you make the change? Or hold on too long? How did that go for you?

  1. And finally, changes are not necessarily problems to be fixed. With the right perspective they can be opportunities to be embraced.

When I look back I can see where I had nudges in advance to walk away from some things, but I stubbornly refused to let go and lost them anyway- just a lot more painfully.

If you pay close attention can you see where you knew in advance that it was time for a change? Did you make the change? Or hold on too long? How did that go for you?

And finally, changes are not necessarily problems to be fixed. With the right perspective they can be opportunities to be embraced.

What if you are the kind of person who really doesn’t like change? “Our old ways are the best ways.” It can really help to see hope in the future. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us release our fears and embrace (or at least accept) the changes that will inevitably come.

Since we are in church right now let’s use some church examples. Did you have to give up in-person services for a while? Was it tough? Were there any benefits from the experience? For myself I can say that I have had the opportunity to listen to some of your services and Jane’s sermons online.

Changes can be physical ones like your new hall. But more profound changes often center around the people who attend – or don’t attend – your services.

While these are all relatively small changes compared to a climate catastrophe, people frequently get hung up on the small changes more than the big ones.

No matter what is happening at any particular moment, we need to love and support each other. Particularly if people among you have differences politically or theologically. You can still all love each other and live in harmony. Here is where Isaiah becomes relevant again. Finger pointing and judging each other are not helpful. Agree to disagree and get on with worshiping the Lord.

I believe that God gives us only partial insight and partial knowledge on purpose, so that we need each other to see the whole picture. No one person or group knows it all. Just because things have always been done one way, does not make it the only way – or the best way. Different opinions can all be true at the same time. We need each other to be able to see that a heavenly perspective is much larger than our own current world view. We can learn to grow in love as we change.

Personally, I have been concerned about climate change and the huge polarity growing in our country. I can choose to worry about it and get frustrated in the never-ending news cycle. Or I can trust that God has a plan, even if I can’t see it.

I have really wondered what to do. How can I be of help and not be part of the problem? How can I help change hearts when it looks like everybody just wants to judge each other and fight? Global warming is WAY too big for me to solve.

The list goes on and on… What’s on our heart? What changes do you long for? What changes do you dread? Do you cling to discouragement and fear? Or perhaps we can take a few deep breaths and open our heart to let God fill us with hope. The solutions to our problems will require change. And I believe that God can open our hearts to embrace change and cooperate with it.

I also believe that some people really do have answers to a lot of our problems. They may or may not be in the government. No matter. I have started praying that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the right people with the best solutions to all of our physical issues and to our polarizing divisions. And I pray that those people are given the authority and power to enact their solutions.

I have no idea what this is going to look like, but I trust that the answers are better than anything I can ask for or imagine on my own. And I believe that prayers like this and the ones that you are led to pray individually or as a church can help the world FAR more than you know.

Then Lord IS guiding us continually.

The Lord IS satisfying our needs in parched places, and IS making our bones strong.

We ARE like watered gardens and springs of water.

Our ancient ruins ARE being rebuilt, and WE and OUR PRAYERS will be the foundations for many generations to come.  AMEN.