Immanuel Lutheran Church
Lamplighter: The Pastor's Pen

Time keeps going. Our lives change. No one can dispute these facts, of course. What we get good at, though, is conveniently ignoring the reality that change is inevitable. We pretend as if our lives, our bodies, our minds are the same as they were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. It is not until we are confronted with reality that we are forced to admit again that our lives are constantly changing; like when you see your child all grown up standing on the stage receiving her diploma; or when you look around at those in attendance at a worship service and realize that the people you knew growing up have either moved or have gone to be with the Lord; or when you look in the mirror and see the wrinkles on your face and the gray hair on your head. Time keeps going. Our lives keep changing.

Change can be good, especially when you are moving from a bad situation into a better one. But, change can also cause us anxiety and trouble. “What will I do with myself,” you might think, “when I am forced to retire?” “What will I do when all of my children are out of the house?” “What will I do if I can no longer get around like I used to?” The anxiety and trouble comes, I think, when the changes of our lives remind us that, as Isaiah preached to the people of Israel, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of Yahweh blows on it; surely the people are grass.” (Isaiah 40:6-7). We cannot escape the fact that we are, in our flesh, here today and gone tomorrow.

Yet, our Lord speaks words of comfort into our anxious, ever-changing lives. Despite all the changes – despite getting older, despite constantly new technology, despite the tragedy of losing loved ones, despite having to ‘start new’ yet again – God himself never changes. The end of Isaiah’s sermon, in fact, is filled not with anxiety over the reality of death, but instead with the truth of God’s Word: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8).

Certainly, you will notice a few changes here and there at Immanuel. Every pastor is different, coming to a congregation with different life experiences, different ideas, and different ways of doing the work of the church. And that’s good! If we were all the same, then life would not only be boring, but the Body of Christ would not function like it does.

Paul echoes this in his letter to the Corinthians: “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body”(1 Corinthians 12:19-20). But, even as we are all members of the Body of Christ by the power of God in Holy Baptism through faith, one reality never changes, nor should it. God never changes, and neither do his Word or promises. Though I might preach in a different way, have different ideas, or go about my work differently, my job will always be to speak the same, unchanging, eternal Word of God to you for your forgiveness and salvation. Indeed, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord, “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). And if he, in his glory, never changes, then neither does his Body, the Church.

We can and should do nothing except cling to the word of hope and promise God has for us in Christ. What is that hope and promise? “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23). We cling to the Word of God, because it never changes, and because in it is the promise of eternal life. Otherwise, we will truly be here today, but gone tomorrow.

Pastor Squire