When I first learned that it would be my task to talk about this, I drew a blank. I’m not sure I would list “inspiring change” on my resume of skills. As I thought more about how we Christians think that change, or more aptly “transformation,” happens, I became aware that this idea is at the heart of who we are in Christ. We are constantly seeking to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Paul gets at this directly in his letter to the Philippians: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” Paul calls us to practice humility, letting go of our need to self-protect and embracing the way of Jesus. He calls us to allow ourselves to be changed, to be transformed, by making way for God to act in us and through us.
In our Gospel lesson for this Sunday, Jesus confronts people who question his authority, who don’t know how to respond to this new and powerful presence among them. He tells them a parable about two sons responding to their father’s command to work in his vineyard. One refuses, but then changed his mind and goes to work. One agrees, but then fails to show up. Which did his father’s will? The one who changed his mind.
What I shared as part of the panel was the fundamental formula for change, or transformation, in our tradition. It begins at the personal level, moves through our relationships, and extends into our community. It is encapsulated in our Baptismal Covenant, which contains the core values from which all of our choices, decisions, and plans emerge. It binds us in unity as the family, or the household, of God.
This first Sunday in October will begin our season of stewardship, which will this year be based on the five promises of the Baptismal Covenant. The first one of these is: “Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?” I hope that you will be present to do just that this Sunday-and to be open to God’s transforming love for you and the ways He has in store for us to share that love with the world.