The Oasis - December 27, 2023

Author: Rev. Eric Dupee
December 27, 2023

                 I’m a student of change. I believe the life of faith is largely about personal and social transformation. One of my often repeated sayings goes, “God loves us just the way we are, but that doesn’t mean God is going to leave us this way.” This topic runs throughout the Bible:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…” Romans 12:2
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
                Change takes place on different levels. Personal change is relatively easier and takes less time than institutional or cultural change. We can give others information they did not have, but that doesn’t mean they will change their attitude or their behavior. Informational change takes much less time than behavioral change. In my work as a pastor, I try to keep my eye on the way change takes place on the various levels within the congregation. I love to meet with people and talk through personal changes they are trying to make in life. I’m also interested in cultural change within the church body. How do we invite people to personally relate to one another in mature and healthy ways? How do we move the congregation as a whole to drop old ways of functioning in order to adopt new and healthier ways of being? 
                At this time of year, many people contemplate New Year’s resolutions. The most common mistake people make is to assume lasting change will occur as the result of a grand gesture, such as joining a gym, or adopting an unrealistically restrictive diet. I’m not saying change cannot take place in those ways. Some people can, one day, decide to quit a bad habit and never return to it. I’m sure it’s possible that joining a gym can lead to a lifelong commitment to fitness and exercise. The Apostle Paul’s life changed after one encounter with the risen Christ.
                However, I’m convinced lasting personal change usually comes about, not by making one big move, but by changing something we do daily. It could be by setting the alarm a little earlier and getting in a daily walk. They say using a smaller plate for meals can make a big difference. Without realizing it, we consume much less food just by changing the size of the plate we use every day. I would submit it is most often very difficult to become a different person overnight. Old habits are most easily changed with small, achievable goals.
                 All this thinking about change and resolutions led me to propose a new question for our First Parish Church Visioning Forum. If God were to identify a New Year’s Resolution for First Parish Church, what would it be? This is the latest question we hope you will consider and submit a reply. You can write it on the newsprint in the entrance to the church over the next few Sundays, or email me at I would love to hear how you would answer that question. 
Remember, due to the vacation week, we will not have Sunday School or Coffee hour this Sunday. I wish you all a Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year!



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