The Times They Are A-Changin’

Myself with friends and theologians theologians Barbara Brown Taylor and John Philip Newell
Myself with friends and theologians Barbara Brown Taylor and John Philip Newell

Native Minnesotan Bob Dylan wrote these familiar words:

“For the times they are a-changin.”

This was during a significant amount of unrest in our country, and it was clear that a new reality was emerging. As is the case with the birthing of new things, this time was very challenging for a lot of folks.

Theologian Phyllis Tickle talks about how every 500 years the Church holds a rummage sale to figure out what it will hold fast to and what it will let go of. She, as well as many others, have identified that we are clearly in the midst of one of those times.

Now, if your family is even remotely similar to mine, when it comes time to determine what we put up for sale and what we keep in our garage, it is often a challenging conversation. It would be so much easier if the lovely Mrs. Prior and I could clean each other’s side of the closet.

This last week, I was blessed to spend a couple days helping lead a retreat with good friends and good theologians Barbara Brown Taylor and John Philip Newell. Both, in their own respective way, are imagining and exploring what the Sprit might be up to in our midst. Their musings were thought provoking, intriguing, and deeply soulful.

What I know to be true is that the Holy Spirit has always poked, prodded and pushed at God’s people. Whether it be the “every 500-years” yard sale or my 50-plus years in the Church, it is always dynamic. With that said, there has also been a constant: what we often refer to as tradition is foundational to who we are.

Bob Dylan was (and still is) right, particularly with respect to the Church. The times are a changing. With an understandably interesting mix of anxiety and anticipation, it will be interesting to see what God is up to next.

Click here to view Barbara Brown Taylor’s appearance on Oprah, as they talk about embracing darkness and facing the unknown.

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