“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Our society always makes a big deal about entering into a new year. This is especially so when that new year also brings with it a new century or decade. Now, technically 2020 is not the start of a new decade. There is no A.D. “0,” so the “1” years start the decade. 2021 then will be the start of a new decade. That being said, in popular culture we often view the “0” year as the start of the decade and so we talk about the decades of the “80s” or “90s,” etc. It’s probably easier to talk about the “90s” than to talk about the decade which ran from 1991 through 2000, for example. Regardless, the start of 2020 is a big deal to our world.
People are constantly seeking new beginnings. The changing of the calendar is a common time to wish for such things. People want the new timeframe to be better than the old one. They want better health, or better finance, or better relationships, or better jobs.
In our own congregation, there are certainly things we wish to be better in 2020. We want higher church attendance, we want new members, and we want a more stable financial situation. If you look through our congregation’s annual reports from the past 10 years or so, you will see some trends that we wish were different. You will find that our attendance overall is on a steady decline (25 in 2019); you will find that each year we spend thousands more on our necessary operating costs than we receive in offerings (roughly $16,000 in 2019); you will find that new members have become rarer and rarer.
The reality is that in this world broken by sin there are always going to be things that we wish were better. This is true for individuals and for congregations. Sin causes problems. A world broken by sin is a world full of problems.
In the midst of all those things that people would love to see change in 2020, we have reason to be thankful that some things never change. The author of Hebrews spoke to this. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Our Savior does not change. His work for us does not change. His love does not change.
Because of Christ Jesus, “better,” is coming. In fact, perfection is coming. No matter how good things may look for some people in this world, there is no perfection. There is hurt, and heartache, and struggle all around. Yet, for those who trust in Christ Jesus, that will all end one day. He will usher us into the fullness of paradise where all struggles, and hurts, and heartaches are over forever.
Our Lord has not promised us that our church will overflow with members or overflow with money. He has not promised us that we will not struggle as a small congregation in the midst of a world which does not want to hear the message of God’s Word. What He has promised us is that He will always be with us to forgive us our sins and to lead us to everlasting life.
Therefore, as Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, we continue to work that we may proclaim His Word and administer His Sacraments. He is feeding our faith and leading us to paradise through these Means of Grace. Through us, He offers those same gifts of life and salvation to those in our community. We take great joy in having these gifts of our God. God is working in us and through us.
In this life, all people and all churches have uncertainty to one degree or another. Yet, the Christian has certainty. We have the certainty of a Savior who does not change. We have the certainty of a Savior who gives to us forgiveness, life, and salvation in His Word and Sacraments. We have the certainty of a Savior who promises to be with us no matter what we face. We have the certainty of a Savior who will bring us safely home to paradise. These things will not change because our Savior does not change. Amen.
– Pastor Locklair