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Adapt - Pastor's Pen for 28th January 2024

Updated: Jan 26

Before sunrise at Martin's Bay, January 2024

I'm glad to live in a temperate climate in which you can exercise outdoors most of the year without resorting to much in the way of protective clothing, other than sunscreen due to our rather dubious ozone layer, and possibly a windbreaker and hat. Living in Dunedin was a little different, with memories of parts of my face turning numb from a polar wind blast as I was running the streets or along St. Clair Beach. Layers and warm hats were necessary.

This summer I have had reason to adapt to the weather conditions as temperatures approach 30C in Auckland, with bonus humidity. Running before, or just after the dawn has been enjoyable, not only for the cooler temperatures, but also for the peace and quiet and the quality of the light.

Seasonal variations, and the broader, concerning trend of climate change may require numerous, and possibly radical adaptations from human beings and other species, as we all continue to seek a sustainable lifestyle on our diverse and crowded planet. This will happen whether you think the disruptive, warming trend is anthropogenic or just a natural variation.

I'm also interested in the adaptations necessary in churches like ours to sustain mission and congregational life in a rapidly changing thought-world, supercharged by the easy transfer of ideas, trends and outrage via social and news media. I was involved for several years in a church renewal project on the other side of the motorway. In one meeting I recall a long-standing member expressing her approval of the radical change being wrought by exchanging the words of some old hymn tunes for new ones. Fortunately, I managed to suppress an audible sigh or any muttering before they escaped my lips. The changes needed are of a far greater order than this.

If we are alive in the Spirit of God, perhaps we will be open to significant adaptation? The response to Jesus' first teaching in the Capernaum Synagogue was; "What is this? A new teaching – and with authority!" (Mark 1:27) Jesus began his ministry with a refreshing newness, a radical adaptation of the religion that had gone before. Jesus continues to lead us innovatively in the Spirit, so that the church can adapt and thrive.

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