Changes are everywhere. The New Year approaches. Soon we will change our calendars to 2009.
Historic changes are underway in Washington, DC as Barack Obama prepares for his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States.
Changes in jobs, retirement funds and consumer confidence levels happen daily across America as unemployment rises.
How do we deal with changes in our lives? Do we view changes as opportunities in which to excel or tragedies in which to wallow in doubt and fear? To whom should we turn for comfort and guidance?
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. (John F. Kennedy)
There’s a moment near the end of the fourth film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry, Hermione and Ron are talking about Lord Voldemort, who has taken shape again to terrify the wizardry world and the students at Hogwarts.
“This is all going to change, isn’t it?” asks Hermione.
Harry, who is the object of Voldemort’s hatred, courageously answers “Yes” with a certainty that is far wiser than his years. He and his friends realize that their world will be different in the future, that there will be hardships to bear and battles to fight.
But who will fight the dark forces in their world? Should they follow the suggestions of the elders at the beginning of the fifth film (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and just stay out of the way? No, says Harry, if Voldemort is gathering an army of Death Eaters to change the world as they know it, then he and his friends want to fight. He teaches his friends defenses against the Dark Arts and they succeed in helping the elders win the first battle.
They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. (Andy Warhol).
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Faramir is presented with a great opportunity to profit from the changing fortunes of war. The second son of Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, Faramir grew up in the shadow of his older brother Boromir, who was favored by his father.
One day while patrolling the woods of Ithilien, he captures the hobbits Frodo and Sam, who are on their way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring of Sauron.
All Faramir has to do is reach out and take the powerful ring, and he can win the favor of his father. “A chance for Faramir to prove his worth,” he mutters to himself. This acquisition would change the war for Gondor and garner considerable wealth and power for Faramir.
In the end, however, he does not succumb to the ambitions that destroyed his brother. Despite the attraction to profit from the changes to his own world, he finds the strength to remain true to himself, setting Frodo free to continue his quest.
People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. (Eleanor Roosevelt)
For the past couple of months, I changed my regular weekend schedule to sing during Advent with the Chancery Choir of Glen Leven Presbyterian Church on Franklin Road. While the rehearsals and services have added more miles to the Mercury, the time spent has been very rewarding, for a couple reasons.
First, it reminded me of my teen years when I went to Mass on Sunday mornings and then sang in the First Baptist Youth Choir on Sunday nights with my high school girlfriend. Worshipping with friends at other Christian churches is usually a step outside my comfort zone. Yet these special events help me realize that the similarities of our Christian faiths greatly outnumber the differences.
Secondly, I was introduced to an inspired homilist, Dr. Mark Bryan, the pastor of Glen Leven Presbyterian Church. Each week he delivered a fresh look at Holy Scripture and its place in our lives.
Recently he was speaking about the prophecies of Isaiah and their fulfillment in the birth of Jesus the Christ. Even though our lives are like the grasses of the fields (Is 40, 6-9), soon to wither and die, there is comfort to be found.
“Though the world is changing, though we are constantly in transition, though our lives are short and fleeting, there is one constant and stable thing…God’s Word,” said Dr. Bryan. “God’s promise of faithfulness to us, God’s covenant with us is constant, though all of life and all of the world is changing around us.”
May God’s Word be a constant comfort and companion to you and your family as we step forward into the New Year.
First published in the December 28, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2008 Christopher Fenoglio.