(This is my column for the January issue of "ChurchActs" our diocesan newspaper)
“Be Transformed” is our theme for Summer Camp 2007. To “transform” something is to make it different. Certainly a living out of our faith results in transformations both in the world around us and in ourselves. I've watched the transformation of many young people and felt the transformation in myself as well.
While “Be Transformed” is the theme for this summer I was fascinated as I thought about transformation at this time of year. The ChurchActs with this column in it will hit your mailbox while we are still in the church's Christmas season. Christmas marks the celebration of the beginning of a wonderful transformation as Jesus arrives in the world. From that event grows the community in faith that eventually becomes the Diocese of Western New York and its youth ministries. Our transformations are linked to that wondrous event.
Did it ever occur to you that our transformation owes a great deal to a teenager who was willing to be made into something different by and for God? Our experience owes a direct debt to the girl known today as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary the mother of God, even the “theotokos” (the God bearer). Back in the day she was a teenage girl (most likely) confronted with an offer that would change her life in many, many ways. She could be pretty sure that those changes were not all going to be easy. The offer from God seems to have made her a little nervous at first but in the end she accepted. She was willing to be changed, to become something that God wanted her to be. A simple girl who was willing to let herself be changed took the first step that leads to the transformations in our lives.
To the best of my knowledge God hasn't asked anyone to do anything quite as dramatic since that day. But each of us are asked to find the courage to walk in Mary's footsteps. It can be just as scary today, and all the changes will not be easy. Doing what God asks of us is in part saying “Who and what I am right now needs to change”. Let's be honest, most of us are pretty comfortable with who we are. We may not be perfect but we know what to expect. God's offer to us, like Mary, is to move out of that comfort zone into something that challenges us. The good news is that like Mary we can be given the chance to make a real difference in the world. All by ourselves we won't bring the kind of change into the world that Mary did, but think about the change that all of us together could make. Accept God's offer and be made into someone different. Someone different in every aspect of your life. Someone who approaches the world looking for how they help the world come closer to God.
(Oh, yeah. And come join us at camp this summer too!)