Don’t Forget (ALL) Your Change

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NRSV)

Change happens all the time. So much so, that change appears ordinary.

Lights change from red to green. Clothes are changed in the morning. Clocks are changed twice a year. Bills are changed into coins and back to bills, again. Day changes to night. Change is everywhere. We might say that our lives are, in large part, defined by what changes.

Yet, we must not confuse common with simple. In realty, even simple change is often complex. For instance, the knowledge necessary to imagine and design circuitry and bulbs and to harness and conduct electricity just to make a light switch from red to green is amazing, not to mention the complex calculations used by traffic engineers to regulate the frequency and intervals of those changes. Consider, also, the invention of concepts, manufacture techniques, proliferation of function and style, and distribution of clothing—all so that every morning we can create seemingly infinite combinations of outfits regardless of the weather. How about being the first person to conceive that something like time could exist and, in addition, that it might be calculated and tracked? How about being the first to conjure up the potential benefits of utilizing objects to represent certain agreed values, the exponential monetary systems emergent from such a conjecture, and the creation of pneumatic dyes and printing presses to make it all possible? How about divinely imagining nothing into something, eventually dividing day and night?

On our campus, the beginning of a new academic year invites change. Professors try new teaching techniques or engage with new theories. Students change majors and residence halls. Staff and administration change offices and projects. Leaving home encourages us to reinvent ourselves, trying rather benign new things like hairstyles or nicknames to more consequential experiments like new existential commitments or ways of life. Even more, there is just something about being in an academic community that bids, almost expects change.

A college would consider itself a failure if those students who walked through its doors their first year did not find themselves significantly different when walking across the stage at graduation. Students should expect to think differently, act differently, know more, care more, and give more after spending years in the classroom, living in residence halls, worshiping in the chapel, and walking the campus. Learning assumes change. Actually, the word “educate” comes from the combination of two Latin terms, e(x) and duco, meaning, roughly, “to lead out.” This leading implies a change . . . a change of venue, of vantage, of voice, of vocation.

At YHC, in addition to change through education, we are committed to change through spiritual exploration. To deny such exploration is to deny, generally, who we are as physical, intellectual, and spiritual people. Such a denial would be to ignore a large part of who we are. To engage in such exploration is to open ourselves to the possibility of discovering who we were created to be. The encounters and challenges of college (and the kind of broad, explorative community it creates) seem to provoke inevitable spiritual examination. As recent studies demonstrate, while in college students report significant increases in their interest in spirituality and other matters of faith. If inevitable, our task at YHC is to make such exploration intentional and, finally, effective.

Just like those other seemingly ubiquitous changes occurring all around us every day—to be efficacious—spiritual change is neither simple nor haphazard. It is not simple because substantive spiritual change demands a complete commitment of self, of our time, of our ideas, of our perspectives, of our lives to the task. We cannot commit some portion of who we are to deep, probing exploration and change and, then, assume the altered portion will successfully reintegrate into the rest of our lives. Such attempted re-integrations are predictably jarring! Having been changed, undoubtedly, the changed portion will not fit unless it is changed along with the rest of who we are, too. This is why our spiritual change and exploration must be intentional . . . almost systematic . . . almost methodic. (No surprise, here. We are a United METHODIST college, after all!)

This coming academic year, our theme for Religious Life is “Don’t forget (ALL) your change.” This theme serves as a reminder that as we inevitably change this change is, also, to be spiritual and complete. Every part of who we are, what we think, what we believe, and what we do must be fair game if we are to become the inspired people the college pledges to empower.

Over the coming months, we will consider this notion of total change in greater detail through these iChapels, during worship, at programs, and on trips. Join us and be changed so that we might, in turn, change the world.

Have a great week. Have a great year. Peace.

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