“None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” Rms. 14:7-8
We have been through a year like none other. Every single person, to one degree or another, has been challenged by a world turned upside down by the very real threat of disease. Add to that the very human battles that have emerged in a most contentious political year, we are right to say that this past year has reminded us that our earthly days are a mixture of sorrow and hope; kindness and selfishness; danger and safety; fear and peace.
We turn to face a new year and we would do well to start our spiritual work by admitting that both good and bad await us. A life of faith is lived in this kind of a mix. Not just a wild year past, but every year lived on earth is time broken and blessed.
The faith question becomes–How are we to live in these in between times? Quite frankly, I am getting a little tired of the fear. Caution? Yes, of course. We owe it to one another (especially our elders) to stay safe and be smart as we work our way into health again. With careful science providing clear guidance, we know how to do this. But fear? No, of course not. The Church, we the people, are called to remember that no matter what comes–life or death writes St. Paul—“we are the Lord’s.”
Daniel Simundson, Luther Seminary professor emeritus, wrote the book entitled, “Faith Under Fire.” The title of the book itself acknowledges that good people will suffer in a world full of danger. In the book, Simundson writes,
“God does not leave us as the level of death and despair. Though we are not always ready to hear it, though the pain is still so intense that it blots our every other sound, though we may need to continue in lament for a time longer, the end of the matter is settled once and for all. The story always ends in hope.” (Faith Under Fire, page 71)
Good people will die too young. Innocent people are victims. Sickness and disease and accident will not go away. But even with those things being true, we can live powerful, “out there” lives as Jesus has called us to do. St. Paul, sitting in his jail cell writing to the Roman congregation, remembered that his story in Christ would end in hope. We must do the same as we live out our days with whatever the new year will bring.
Pastor Greg Johnson