A wise man once told me to be careful when moving vases of flowers. It is not that vases of flowers shouldn't be moved from time to time, or even removed and refreshed. Of course they should, when the time is right and the need apparent.
For "vase of flowers" read "what we have always done", and for "always" read "more than three times". I speak, of course, about change, and more particularly those changes that take place within a church. The unique factor of church vases of church flowers, is that beneath each one is a trip switch which causes an explosion upon the removal of it, like a landmine. Boom.
I am fast discovering that curates are broadly immune to the effects of the explosion (largely through the protective layer provided by the training incumbent). The Vicar is not similarly protected, and so it is that the vicar's giblets and gizzards are at perpetual risk from all movements of the proverbial Meissen Monster.
It endlessly fascinates me, and troubles me, the effect that change has (in large or very small measure) on some people. Some Christians, it seems, are pathologically afraid of change in many ways, and I have never fully come to terms with why. Even change born of a careful process of thought, prayer and consultation (and to make something safe and available for all) seems to cause an adverse reaction, often aggressively delivered. And so it is that I am learning to toughen my already world-hardened hide to cope with the fall-out from the Floral Relocation.
Part of the job of Vicar, as leader in many ways, is to articulate the present. Once the present is seen and acknowledged (not as easy as that may sound), it is needful to make changes from time to time. As seasons change in all walks of life, things change - and in church life at least, the Vicar (or equivalent) is often the one who 'represents' the change tothe wider community, whoever may have been involved in the process leading to it. This is not always easy, as I am fast learning.
Change is part of living, I believe. If I didn't change, Mrs Acular would be wiping my bottom and blowing my nose for me. If churches didn't change, they would still be convening solely in mud huts in the Middle East. I wonder sometimes if change is not viewed through the same lens as death - as wholly inevitable, but an unsavoury truth best hidden from thought.
I have many vases in the church where I work. The church is beautified by them all and they are receptacles for some stunning blooms. Yet I cannot say, hand on heart, that they will all stay where they are! Someone pass me my Flack Jacket ...