God’s Word forever shall abide, no thanks to those who fear it.
For God himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.
– Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (ELW 504, vs. 4)
It sometimes feels like there’s not much good one can count on in these days. Economic turmoil? Social unrest? Political ineptitude and duplicity? Persistent pandemic? Oh, yes…we’ve got all those things in spades. And we’ve had them for going on seven months. And they don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. If this is the “new normal” that everyone talks about, then it’s not a very appealing environment in which to live and work and play. There really is only so much hurt and anxiety, death and destruction, that we can bear before we simply break down.
It’s a good thing that the days’ headlines aren’t the only story to be told.
I’ve been at work lately on our annual giving campaign. It’s coming later this fall as we consider our financial support for the congregation in 2021. In pondering how we might invite our members (and non-members, for that matter) to continue and even increase their support for Holy Trinity’s mission, the concerns of the world around us are weighing heavily on my mind. Some of us have suffered and are suffering deeply during these days. It’s not easy to think about support for the work of the church when your job has disappeared or your loved one is sick, even dying. Others among us may not have been touched to the same extent by illness or job loss, but we still must deal with the psychological and spiritual effects of the profound upset around us. That has an impact, too. And how do we realistically plan for the year ahead when we’ve watched our best laid plans for 2020 get shredded? Maybe getting by day-by-day, week-by-week is the best we can hope for. *insert deep sigh here*
As is often the case for me, I found comfort and a renewed sense of purpose in the Scriptures and hymns.
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus meets his worshiping but doubting band of left-over disciples on a Galilean hillside. He gives them a mission: “Go. Teach. Baptize.” He doesn’t sketch out a timeline, or fully develop the tactics for this effort. That’s something the disciples will need to figure out for themselves given the places and peoples to whom they are sent. And, indeed, the early Church did employ a number of different tactics in their going and teaching and baptizing. And the Spirit of God blessed that effort to such an extent that you are reading a blog entry on a church website some 2000 years later.
But in addition to that mission, he makes them a promise: “Remember. I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” In other words, the Crucified and Risen One goes with the Church in its efforts. They are not just turned loose with no support. Christ himself goes with, works through, and undergirds every effort the Church makes. That’s been true regardless of the conditions under which the church has labored throughout the centuries. It is still true today.
God’s Word forever shall abide. I love Luther’s confidence, especially in these days when we’re often told that the only thing we can count on is our present turmoil. And sure…this is a deeply difficult time. But this is also a time to remember Christ’s promise…a promise made in the blood of the cross and affirmed in a resurrection life. You want something to count on? Something to hope for? This is it: God’s Word forever shall abide. That makes these days a great time to be the Church. We have Good News to share and the means by which to share it. I say we take Christ up on his promise, that we roll up our sleeves, and even now, even here, confidently live out the mission to which we are called. Amen?