Reprinted from “Ascension Connection,” Ascension, Bradford’s monthly newsletter.
As I write this, I am eagerly anticipating the change from Daylight Savings Time back to Daylight Standard Time. Each year as the change back gets closer, I long to quit getting up in the pitch-dark and for time to get “back to normal.” I want to cry out with Cicero, that 1st century BC Roman statesman, “What times! What standards!”
It’s really silly of me to spend energy even considering the whole time change thing, since it is surely something I cannot do a thing about. When it comes to this issue, I can be a thermometer but not a thermostat – I can report what is but I can’t change it.
There are other areas, however, where Cicero’s lament is still true where I can affect change. Consider the standards of our common life and interactions in general. It’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish between worldly values and practices and those of Christians and the Church. Standards like being faithful, being patient, being present are sometimes seen as antiquated and no longer realistic – even among Christians. The loss of these standards diminishes us and our society. Sadly, too many Christians seem to be content being thermometers – wringing their hands and exclaiming how awful it is. But we can be thermostats instead – not just reporting what is but also triggering action to change the environment where we find ourselves. In other words, we can be and live out the change we want to see and model a different way.
This has direct implications for how we live as stewards of God’s gifts, too. Too many of us have adopted the world’s standards when it comes to giving – giving of time, talent and treasure when it is convenient, when we feel like it, when we have any extra. Does that sound like what Paul meant when he wrote to early believers, “on the first day of each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…” to give for the work of the church (1Cor 16:2)?
The Bible tells us over and over that as followers of Jesus, we are being transformed and are to be about transforming the world for the sake of the Kingdom – to be salt, light, yeast. It seems that God expects us to be holy thermostats instead of thermometers. If enough of us respond, we really can change the world and that’s been God’ plan, all along.
Mother Stacey Fussell, Rector, Ascension, Bradford, PA