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My Addiction

By Doug Beacham


I must confess. I am addicted. To. Downton. Abbey. I’ll admit that I didn’t want this to happen. But, as Adam said to God, “The woman whom Thou gavest me,” insisted that I watch at least one episode. So for the past few seasons Susan and I have faithfully watched the saga of this English aristocratic family on either Sunday night or by recording later in the week.

The popularity of this story line has been amazing. This past weekend I read a news account that Democrats were torn between watching Downton Abbey or the debate between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Which one to record and watch later?

I suspect that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all others finally found common ground of concern as we watched with dismay and sadness the trembling hand of Mr. Carson. Or we shared the same sense of honor as Edith courageously told her future mother in law the truth about Marigold.

I thought it was interesting (spoiler alert) that the series ended in the early morning of January 1st, 1926, with thoughts of hope and peace. They all knew the world was changing around them. What they didn’t know was that less than four years later the world would fall into a global depression with the Wall Street crash of October 1929. They didn’t know that the relative stability of the 1926 Weimar Republic was on the same collision course with Wall Street.  They thought that World War I had ended all wars. Even Germany was admitted to the League of Nations in 1926. Yet by 1933 Adolf Hitler had become the Chancellor of a re-arming Germany. I wondered if Lady Edith’s publishing business was destroyed in the bombings of London between September 1940 and May 1941.

It’s that sense of a changing world that lies beneath the stories of Downton Abbey. And it’s the same sense that lies beneath the stories of our present time. The difference is in the rapidity and magnitude of change. The Earl of Grantham and his delightfully witty mother, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, found transition hard as change swept them along like debris in a flash flood.

Several years ago I ran across William Bridges book, “Managing Transitions.” He has written several variations on this under the headings of “Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” and “Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments.”

Bridges observed that “Change” is something that occurs “outside” of us. Usually we cannot control it. But “Transition” is our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical response to change. We can control how we respond since the response originates “in” us.

He identified three clear stages: 1) Transition begins with the end of something. It is characterized by grief, losing, and letting go. 2) Neutral Zone. The neutral zone begins with anxiety, we know something has ended but we don’t know the future. The neutral zone can lead us to creativity, our part in shaping a new future. 3) Transition ends with a new beginning. There are new opportunities to define ourselves and our situation.

I want to suggest to us two things. First, like our friends at the close of Downton Abbey, we don’t know what the world will be like over the horizons of time. It could be peaceful; it could be a Neville Chamberlain false peace; it could be war, famine, and heartbreak. It could be all the above.

But second, Jesus has promised that He will be with us, even to the end of the age. We are not alone. The Holy Spirit knows how to help our letting go, our anxiety, His creativity, and the hope we carry for the future.

Oh, by the way, about my addiction. I never saw the first season. So I’ll watch it in the coming weeks as I transition away from Downton Abbey.




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3 Responses

  1. Theresa King

    I’m standing in awe of you Bishop. You are my hero! Thank you for liking such a good show! But also, thank you for loving your wife enough to gut through it and then it be something you share and look forward to… together. Also, I appreciate your thoughts and comments about “change” and “transition”. Many of God’s children are in such positions in life and I appreciate your comments as they have ministered to me. Thank you, Sir!!!

  2. Lisha Doss

    Dr. Beacham:
    As my husband and I read this we were tickled to know that you shared this common interest and hopefully enjoyed the Dowager’s humor! We still recall your wonderful laughter in the cafeteria at Emmanuel and at FSPHC during 1983-1986. We so enjoyed your sermons then and I’ve also enjoyed your more current teachings at the Appalachian Conference camp meeting in June 2014. Some of my notes from your class “We are to be instruments of grace – revealing truth” and “fear blocks the flow of God”
    You were our Pastor then and we love you still! “Press on”

  3. Benny

    Bishop Beacham,
    Thank you for this article, the part that spoke to my heart and encouraged me was the three aspects of change. I recently was led by the Lord to resign my pastorate of 16 yrs. We were formally with World Missions from 1985-1998, serving in Kenya and Ethiopia. We find ourselves now in the neutral zone, praying and seeking the father for clear direction and praying for creativity to know what’s next. We were told to ” Take a Risk, a step of Faith.” The unique thing is that we find ourselves; my wife Deborah and I, in a no mans zone as we have been observing/keeping the Feasts of the Lord(Lev. 23) for the past eight years. You are right, there is much Change ahead of us all. I have thought about and quoted something you said several years ago in SC; the church is a mile wide but only an inch deep, this is so true; wish more Christians would look at the Hebrew Roots of our faith- very enriching, enlightening and definitely would lead one to a “Holy life “. Not sure where we fit in any more. Would appreciate your prayers.
    sincerely for Him, Benny

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