...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Defines Transformation?

Church nomenclature has transformation as one of the the latest and worn out expressions. Does anyone know what we mean by it?! Is there a possibility that anyone unconnected to church life knows what we are talking about? Transformation is term thrown around that has New Testament roots (Romans 12:1-2) and bears a close similarity to repentance or metanoia, a change of mind. If you are thinking in Hebrew, the word is more like a change in direction, a 180.

Not all "life-changing" experiences are favorable or positive, so transformation by itself could be seen as an empty expression. We need to ask what is being transformed, by whom, and for what purpose? If it is to be socialized for the dominant culture and church replete with the cultural idols of violence, nationalism, and affluence, then that is an entirely different meaning from the New Testament sense. Who defines transformation? If our way of measuring it is only the happy trinity of budgets, butts in pew, and buildings, then how is that transformational?

It seems that any honest use of this word should begin and probably end with repentance. It means a basic change from the normal human pattern of wanting to create gods in our image to serve us rather than to be shaped by the One and Only. At the least, transformation in Jesus is surrender to the One who is not boxed by our gimmicks. Much more, God challenges the folks who constantly use the Name for their own ends.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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