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October 2022, Issue No. 6
TRANSFORMATION

 Rev. Andy Call, Lead Pastor
 

The mission statement of The United Methodist Church is “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” There are two distinct parts to our mission: to make disciples – that is, to become followers of Jesus and help others become followers, too; and to transform the world – to live in such a way that the world becomes something different than it is. In our case, our hope is for the world to more closely resemble the reign of God. 

It’s a rather audacious aspiration, to live into the kingdom of God. True, we are called to participate in God’s saving work, to act responsibly and justly and lovingly. But the real transformation happens at a deeper level, a depth we cannot see or fully explain. It is a mystery only seen by God. The best we can do is to be faithful and trust in God to do the rest. 

Natalie Sleeth once wrote a song for her dying husband. It’s a song that we sing occasionally, particularly at funerals. Though the poetry is simple, the meaning is profound: 

 

                                                             In the bulb there is a flower; 

in the seed, an apple tree; 

in cocoons, a hidden promise: 

butterflies will soon be free! 

In the cold and snow of winter  

there's a spring that waits to be,  

unrevealed until its season,  

something God alone can see.
 

As the leaves of autumn change from verdant green to vibrant yellows and oranges and reds, we see the landscape transformed before us. But even that is only an outward sign of a complex process going on inside. So it is with us. In this time of changing seasons, I pray that you will experience the transformation God wants to work in you, and that the outward manifestations of that change make the world more beautiful.   

Metamorphosis

by Rev. Amanda Moseng, Pastor of Discipleship 

 

Transformation is rarely an easy process. By definition, it is a change of some sort. This change can be a change in form, appearance, or structure- something happening outwardly. The change can also be a change in nature, condition, or character- something happening inwardly. The timing of a transformation typically happens in one of two ways: a relatively quick process with instant results or a gradual process with changes that occur over time, perhaps not wholly evident until the process ends.
 

When I think of transformation, one thing that comes to mind is home renovation shows. My dad loved watching HGTV. Whenever my husband and I would travel home for the holidays, it was a guarantee that I would get my year’s supply of Fixer Upper and Love It or List It while staying with my parents. I do not typically gravitate to home renovation shows on my own accord. Still, I think the way they captivate audiences’ collective attention points to a greater truthwe see the potential for what things could be. We trust in the possibility of transformation. We hold out hope for change. And admit it. Seeing that dingy old kitchen transformed into a beautiful, bright space replete with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances is exciting. However, transformation is not limited to home renovation projects. In my opinion, one of the fascinating examples of transformation is the butterfly life cycle. 
 

The process of transformation in the butterfly life cycle is called metamorphosis. Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis, meaning that the butterfly looks different at each stage. The first stage is the egg, while the second stage is the larva or caterpillar. The caterpillar grows rapidly and eats a lot of food that it stores for later (a nod to Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar here). The third stage is the pupa or chrysalis. Though it may appear on the outside that nothing is happening, this is a time of great transformation.
 

According to the Wisconsin Pollinators, "The pupa, though sedentary, is a stage of great internal turmoil and transformation. Nearly all the larval tissues and organs (eyes, mouth parts, legs, glands, muscles) will be digested and reorganized into the adult butterfly's body. The pupa stage of the butterfly's life cycle is a time for a complete change." 1 In the final stage, the caterpillar emerges from the pupa as a winged butterfly, a complete transformation!  

 

While the transformation of a butterfly is physical, I think we can draw parallels from the process of metamorphosis to our own lives. I see the parallel most clearly when it comes to the pupa/chrysalis stage (although who am I to not relate to the larval/caterpillar stage and ignore the joy of eating lots of good food?). Sometimes in life, it seems like nothing might be changing on the outside.
 

The parallel extends to our spiritual life in two ways. First, we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:2 reads, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect." The Greek word for "transformed" here is metamorfoō (μεταμορφόω), the origin of the word "metamorphosis." God is asking that we be completely transformed through the renewal of our minds, meaning that we develop the mind of Christ in us and focus our attention on God. This change is evidenced by our words, actions, and the fruit of the Spirit manifesting in our lives. How can we further use the physical metamorphosis of the butterfly to draw spiritual examples of the metamorfoō that God desires for us? Second, we trust God is at work even when we do not see it. Just like the pupa stage, when it appears that nothing is happening and everything is being broken down and transformed, God is moving and making a way. We hold onto the hope that God is making all things new.  

Like the truth revealed in home renovation shows, we believe in the possibility of change. We see the potential for what could be because we know what Christ has already done on our behalf. We trust that God can bring transformation to our hearts, minds, and lives. This metamorphosis is not for our benefit alone, though, nor does it end with our inner transformation. The transformation we experience on the inside compels us to seek transformation in the world around us. We become agents of change, extending God's gracious welcome, love, hope, and reconciliation. We make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, one faithful step at a time. 
 

Photos by Laura Evangelista, a COTS member.
TRANSFORMATIVE WEAVING

by Eleanor Richardson, Weaver and COTS member
A collection of bright, colorful cones stands on my bookshelf. There are sixty of them in all (I counted), each about seven inches tall. They are wrapped in yards and yards of shiny cotton thread, every color of the rainbow and some colors that may never be found in a rainbow. There are varieties of every color, four reds, ten blues, eleven greens, for example, and of course black, brown, white, and even one silver. They are grouped in rainbow order and stand in joyful array, ready for me to decide which I will use next.
I love the sight of them, but that’s not why they are there. My job as a weaver is to transform these waiting threads into something that matches an image I have in my mind. It’s that transformation, plus my own in the process, that I’m writing about. When I have an idea of something I would like to weave, first I make a very small drawing of it, thinking of the colors it would need. I copy this full-sized, then trace it onto a transparent sheet which will guide me as I weave.
My latest project was a design of trillium blossoms, seen from above. The two layers on the loom would be green and white. Preparing the loom (warping) is a long and complicated process that usually takes me several days. Over two hundred threads must be measured and cut, wound together on the loom, and then each threaded separately through a sort of needle (heddle). My loom is small, old, and wooden. It was handmade by the husband of a weaver. The technique I usually use, double weave pickup, produces two layers of cloth at once, one on top of the other. With the help of a knitting needle and a large wooden pickup stick the layers can change places. So, in this case I could have white on a green background or green on white. Other colors could be introduced if I choose. It’s slow– the decision of where to change colors must be made every time, I pass the shuttle. The design appears little by little. At last, the whole thing can be unrolled, and I can see whether it matches my original idea!
In the case of the trilliums, it was fine. I cut it off the loom, leaving a fringe on the bottom and enough for a sleeve on the top. My daughter secured the ends with her sewing machine. I sewed on yellow beads for flower centers. Now, who would like very large green and white trilliums on their wall? Here are pictures of some of my work. You have also seen my weaving in the paraments in the chapel (green and white, red, and purple).
Now, as I finish this project, some of the threads on my shelf have been transformed into a new creation. What about me? In what way am I transformed, too? From someone with an idea, full of uncertainty about the result, I have become a maker with pride and satisfaction. May I feel that way about myself, too, creating a more Christlike me every day, with the great Weaver’s help.



 
CHAI( Life or to Life)

Blair Porter, COTS Ministry Team Intern
 
Through work with Nehemiah missions over the past year, I have met and built relationships with hundreds of refugees and international newcomers: they have changed my life. 
 
When I moved to Cleveland one year ago, I did not really know anyone; I did not know my way around town, and I was nervous to be in a new city. Shortly after I moved to Cleveland, I met some people who were also new to town and did not know very many people. I met people from all over the world who had to move to Cleveland because they feared for their lives in their home country. In meeting these people and building relationships, I have worked diligently to take care of and support what have become my new friends.
 
However, some days I think that in return I have been given more love and support than I could ever dream of giving my new friends. Without even knowing it, my new international newcomer friends have poured out love in ways that have changed my life as well as changed the way that I see the world. Days when I have felt the loneliest, I've received calls from my new friends asking how I am doing and asking if I could come over for tea. Days when I silently worried about what I was going to eat, my refugee friends took me into their homes and fed me until I was beyond full. Days when I felt hopeless my new friends walked through the door and made me smile.
 
I am incredibly thankful for my new friends who have welcomed me into their families and helped teach me what it looks like to live out love—in simple yet rich ways, and with what we already have.  I am forever grateful for the friendships that I've made over this past year, and I cannot wait to continue to build even deeper bonds with these special friends. Participating in missions has changed the lives of the people around me, but it has also changed my life and has changed the way that I care for others.

 
Below is a poem I wrote to reflect on my time I spent with these amazing individuals. 
 
I graduated from high school and packed up my things,
I climbed in my car and started to drive. 
The idea of being a missionary intern made my heart sing.
I thought this year I was going to change lives. 


My life changed completely when the news broke, 
Danger in a foreign land brought new friends.
My spirit awoke.
I thought that I would be serving, it was all I could comprehend. 


I thought my job was to serve their needs.
So, I set about to make their bed.
Like it was all about me doing good deeds, 
But I quickly learned the true gift was breaking bread.

I have learned that being a missionary is not all about me.
I have learned that mutual love is the key…
…and I have even learned to love refugee tea.


I became friends with some refugee youth,
We began to do each other's makeup and painted each other's nails.
I thought I would go to Cleveland and change lives, but instead my life was changed.
My friends from Afghanistan became like family.


I moved to Cleveland and was all alone.
They moved to Cleveland and knew no one.
Together we became a family.
Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers they are my family. 
 
 
 

Blair Porter is a young adult passionate about missions and ministries in the United Methodist Church. Blair is an undergraduate student at Malone University studying Theology and International Relations, dreaming of becoming a full-time missionary. As Blair is taking her college classes, she is the Ministry Team Intern at Church of the Saviour.

Sabbath Poems 1999 VI

We travelers, walking to the sun, can't see
Ahead, but looking back the very light
That blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we,
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
That blessed light that yet to us is dark.

Wendell Berry

by Samantha Miller, COTS member
God that makes all things new,
we ask for the courage to envision our lives as transformed people.
At Jesus’ invitation and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance,
we pray that we may act as agents of change,
in ways both quiet and bold.
Despite the unknown,
we put our trust in your vision of renewal,
for our own lives and all of Creation.
 
2537 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
216-321-8880 | www.cotsumc.org
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