Lectionary Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 (NRSV)
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is almost time to look toward Christmas. There will be lots of things vying for our time. But some things will always win out. For example, when our preschool presents its Christmas program, I would dare say that it will be the most recorded event in FUMC history!
Our phones allow us to capture remarkable amounts of data that we assume will be around forever. However, technology is changing so fast, will the file formats become outdated so that they are next to unreadable? Surely not, we say. Of course, I still have some old cassette tapes and nothing to play them on. And if I did manage to get them transferred to CD or DVD, my latest laptop doesn’t even have a drive on which to play them!
Following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, the National Opinion Research Center conducted a survey of citizen reactions. They kept it on the latest technology of that time – punch cards for the large mainframe computers. After 9/11, they wanted to conduct a similar survey but when they went back to look at the data from 1963, they found that there was no way to read it! They eventually went to an outside source but their machinery was in need of refurbishment before they could access the punch cards. Eventually, they were able to look at the original research.
There are things that we assume will be around forever. Of course, this comes from our self-centered perspective because we can’t imagine life changing so radically beyond what we know.
How does that relate to the word we hear from Daniel this week? He speaks of an “everlasting dominion that shall not pass away” in verse 14 of today’s reading. As we approach the Reign of Christ Sunday, we interpret this dominion to be that of Jesus Christ. But just as we ascribe eternity to this reign, churches in the United States are seeing less people active in them. More churches are closing and most churches will see less people attending this Sunday than they registered for the same Sunday one year ago.
Does this movement away from church belie the statement from Daniel? Or are we seeing the expression of faith and spirituality change to something different?
We trust in an everlasting dominion but we must also understand that the expression of it may change to look like something we may not recognize. How do we incorporate change into our faith while still maintaining what we consider crucial? I will wrestle with this question all week and hopefully bring some insight to it on Sunday!
Photo by Joybot via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.