October 25, 2020
There’s this book called
“Who moved my cheese” have you heard of it?
Someone told me about it.
Apparently everyone read it in 1998,
but someone just told me about it a couple of years ago.
The book is basically a fable or a parable,
There are lots of lessons in it,
but the basic story is simple:
There are four creatures living in a laboratory cheese maze.
Two are mice and two are kind of little humanoid,
I’m not sure why.
Their job was to find the cheese in the maze.
For a very long time, the cheese would always show up
in Cheese Station C. They would find their way there,
get their cheese, eat their fill,
and come back when they needed more.
The cheese was always there.
It went on for, it seemed like forever.
They got used to it.
Then one day, they woke up and went to Cheese Station C,
and the cheese wasn’t there.
It just wasn’t there.
Then they went back the next day,
it wasn’t there again.
When it didn’t show up the second day,
the two mousy creatures decided
that they needed to go looking for more cheese.
The maze was big and scary and there were parts
they hadn’t been to in a long time since
they found the cheese in Cheese Station C,
but they knew they needed to just go.
But the two humanoid creatures,
they just sat there. And they sat there.
They came back to Cheese Station C every day,
and they cried and they yelled and they complained.
They longed for the days
that they would just come to their place,
Cheese Station C and they would just find it.
They wished those days would come back.
The cheese never showed up again,
But they wouldn’t go anywhere else.
They just kept coming to Cheese station C.
They said they had been doing it so long
that they deserved it, they were entitled to it,
and how dare they (whoever “they” were)
not bring cheese to Cheese Station C.
But they wouldn’t move
and they were getting more and more hungry
and weak and sad and depressed every day.
Just sitting around asking “Who moved my cheese.”
Eventually, one of the humanoids wises up
and decides to go and leave Cheese Station C.
While he’s looking for the cheese he learns a lot
of valuable lessons, until he finally arrives at
Cheese Station N and he finds that’s where the
cheese has been moved to.
He found that the two mousy creatures
had found it a long time ago and had been enjoying it.
We never find out what happened to the
last humanoid, he could have been looking,
or he could just still be sitting there
complaining, waiting and starving.
I bring up this story, because it’s Reformation Day.
Obviously, you see the connection, right?
|Luther Burns the Papal Bull in Wittenberg Square|
is the day we celebrate change. Reformation.
Specifically change in the church.
Today we remember and celebrate
the day that Martin
Luther nailed his 95 theses to the
protesting the very bad theology the
church was teaching.
On that day, God moved the
cheese on everyone.
And the so the church and then
the whole world changed.
We could say that the Lutherans were the early adapters,
the ones who first figured out that God’s spirit was moving
in another direction away from the bad theology,
away from the strict hierarchy that made God
inaccessible and cruel. Lutherans were the first group
to stop sharing the idea that said our only access to God
was through priests and bishops, Who rejected
The theology that said that God wanted your money
or was going to leave you and your loved ones in purgatory.
were the ones who were out front.
Not the first ones who thought something was wrong,
but he first ones who did something publicly
and led a movement to change the Christian Church.
They followed the spirit of God and were the first
to get to that other station and receive the manna so to speak.
And ever since Lutherans have been right there on the fore-front of
change, right. We are always Reforming. Right?
Lutherans are known for our eagerness to change!
Okay, maybe not.
Some of us have the ability to change,
but the truth is we usually have to be
dragged over to the new station.
Or, even worse, some of our churches
end up starving at the original one,
saying who moved our cheese?
I mean we were used to the fact that
At one time the church that had
unquestionable influence in modern western society.
We just assumed for a long time that
every church would be filled every week,
As a denomination, we got use to the days
when you could build a church in a new
suburb and know that it would succeed in a few months.
Just a couple of generations ago,
It was assumed that most everyone you met would
know the stories in the bible, know the story of Jesus
and that most people in America would commit their
Sunday morning to coming to church building and worshipping.
And we assumed that the next generation would just
do the same thing that we had been doing.
Those assumptions are dying, that church is dying.
We’re watching it happen.
Fewer people deciding to go to church.
More people identifying themselves with no religion at all.
We’re seeing more people outside the institution of the church
dismiss the church’s relevance to the rest of society.
The church as we know it is dying.
And a lot of faithful people in the Lutheran church and other
denominations are sitting around and saying
“Who moved my cheese?”
We’re complaining about other people,
“why don’t they come to church regularly like they used to?
Why isn’t the church a priority in their lives?
Why can’t it be like the old days?
Why don’t the young people like and value what I like and value?
They have no right, Who moved my church?”
And this was all the stuff going on before this year.
In 2020, the cheese moved big time!
Everything we’ve relied on is changed.
The one basic thing we thought was a given –
meeting face to face in a room together –
has been taken away from us.
Boom, one day in mid-March.
Now some churches are adjusting to the change,
and are Reforming and some are floundering
and some are taking their chances with the virus
and going back together at full capacity,
some with scary results.
We are mourning this change, and hoping for the day
when that cheese will come back for us.
But maybe God wants us to take this time
to reassess, and re-focus, and practice being flexible and nimble.
Maybe the best thing that could happen to us is that
Our cheese is moved, then we have to leave the comforts
of our church and go out and find out what happened to it.
Maybe the best thing that can happen to us is dying
so that we can rise again.
So we are in the midst of great change, great Reformation.
We can’t even keep track, we can’t control it.
It’s happening so fast and furiously we can’t even
identify all the ways we’re changing
and all the ways that the pandemic will change us.
God is doing something new in our world.
Change is happening whether we want it or not.
From suffering and death of the old, will come new life.
Reformation. Lots and lots of change.
But here are the things that will never change:
God loves us unconditionally.
And Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead
just to reveal that love to us.
These are constant.
Those will never change.
And those were the things that Martin Luther
recovered and revealed and got us back to
in the Reformation 500 years ago.
These things are eternal.
That cheese we will always be ours.
The church may come and go.
The church as we know it may die.
Our cheese may be moved or look completely different,
but we don’t have to fear.
God’s love is everlasting,
Christ has saved us,
and the Holy Spirit will lead us where we need to go