"Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it?" - Isaiah 4318-19 (The Message)
In Willie Nelson's new album there is a song reflecting on his experience of reading on the internet that he had died the day before. He sounds downright chipper as he sings: "I woke up still not dead again today."
Well, I had my own experience that gave me the Willies when I read yesterday's Daily Devotional, written by my friend Donna Schaper, in which she references teaching at "the former Andover Newton Seminary [sic.]." I am the president of Andover Newton and there is nothing "former" about us. Less than three weeks ago, we awarded 61 degrees. We will have about 90 students on our Boston-area campus next year.
It is true that big changes are afoot. We are in the process of selling our campus, moving, and preparing to affiliate with Yale Divinity School. Some of our faculty and administration have already been on the Yale campus for a year, putting down strong roots in new soil. That is radical, but nothing new for us. In our long history we have affiliated with other schools three times and have occupied three different campuses.
So, at Andover Newton, we "woke up still not dead again today." To the contrary, we are looking forward to a bright future.
In church circles these days, it can be easy to confuse change with death. Things ain't what they used to be, the former things have passed away, which can feel something like death.
But this confusion must be resisted at every turn. Change is not a sign of death. It is a sign of life. Only the living change. In fact, as Benjamin Franklin observed, "When you're finished changing, you're finished."
At Andover Newton, we're not finished. Not by a long shot. We intend to wake up not dead again today for many years to come.
Give us the courage to embrace the changes that bring new life, and the assurance you abide with us amidst all of the changes.
Martin B. Copenhaver is President of Andover Newton Theological School. His newest book is Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian. Follow Martin on Twitter @mbcopenhaver.