on spider lilies and change

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” Matt. 6:28b-29

Talk about a hard saying of Jesus…

Every August the spider lilies would appear everywhere… in my mother’s flower bed in the front yard, across the front of our house, at my grandparents house. Everywhere I went there were spider lilies! I hated spider lilies!

“Why”, you might ask, “did you hate spider lilies?”

The spider lily, with its red spotted coloring on a tall slender stalk is a pretty flower. What I hated about them was the time of year they represented. They appeared and flourished at the same time summer vacation was wilting away as a childhood memory.

There are the annual pictures of my brothers and I dressed in our ‘back to school’ finery with spider lilies as the backdrop. I was forced to pose for pictures with the “enemy of my childhood” but don’t think I didn’t try to eradicate the enemy with an intentionally errant lawn-mower or well timed and well placed trip and fall. My attempts at eradication were futile. Summer would end and a new school year would begin with or without them.

The spider lilies were not my enemy. What I feared most was the change their appearance represented and even change was not my enemy. My enemy was the fear generated by change.

Jesus’ words aren’t about spider lilies but about me and how I needn’t worry nor fear change.  Yet how many of us are paralyzed by fear when it comes to making a change in life, career, or even faith.  God loves and cares for us in every circumstance we may encounter.  Sometimes the change we face are ones of our own making and other times we have no control over the change.  Yet God’s care for us remains constant and faithful.

Bob Dylan sang that “The times, they are a-changing” and that is true for us all.  Many church leaders are preparing anxiously for a new programming year in congregations.  Everyone who is responsible for church governance in the Presbyterian Church is cautiously preparing for a new way of governing under a much slimmer Constitution.  Denominational leaders are watching as a Minneapolis gathering of Presbyterians who are concerned about our future takes place next week.

Anxiety about change is natural.  It is by living with and through the anxiety of change that we grow as individuals and as a community.  Giving in to fear of change paralyzes us and leads to death.  Change is inevitable therefore anxiety is to be expected.

Yet remember that even Solomon, or Lady Gaga, or Kate and William in all their glory, nor you and I can escape the love of God revealed for us in Jesus Christ.  May we live into this hope even as we face our ‘spider lilies’ in life.

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