In his book, Tuesdays with Morrie (New York: Doubleday, 1997), Mitch Albom shares the following story which Morrie Schwartz in turned shared with him:
[There was] a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air—until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.
“My God, this is terrible,” the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”
Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, “Why do you look so sad?”
The first wave says, “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”
The second wave says, “No, you don’t understand! You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”
As the month of July comes to a close, I will finish my sixth year as your pastor. And in that time a lot of change has taken place. Leadership on the Board and leadership on our various commissions have changed. Some people have died and new people have joined us. The bathrooms adjacent to the sanctuary were given a facelift. A new audio-visual system was installed in the sanctuary. A new playground was set up and we anticipate the start-up of a new preschool in the near future.
Although there has been a general sense of excitement about many of these changes, mixed emotions have emerged. This is common according to the church consultants. Change never comes easy. In the midst of the transformation of our society and our church, many of us at times feel like that little wave. We are afraid that we are going to crash and get lost in the scheme of things. Perhaps it helps to be reminded by the second wave that we are not just a wave but we are “part of the ocean.”
Ever since its inception in 1834, the Green Tree Church of the Brethren has been constantly changing. This will undoubtedly continue in the future. As we grow and change as a congregation, let us remember that we are not little waves that simply crash and burn. Rather we are part of a larger ocean and we are all in this together. Let us continue to work together in partnership as we further the ministry to which we are called as a congregation.
This summer many of you will go on vacations. Some of you will visit the shore and spend time on the beach at the ocean. If you do, take note of the entity of the ocean in an effort to see how the various components of our congregation can work together in partnership like the little waves of the ocean. The second wave is correct, we are “part of the ocean.”