What shall our future be…?

The future can be a frightening thing –

that has been made very clear in the last several months;

markets rise and fall, and fall, and fall

jobs disappear, businesses are at risk

and we, who are trained and encouraged early on in life to plan ahead –

think ahead – to be ready for the future…

well, now we look forward only fearfully – tentatively –

today is all that matters.

Our life as God’s people has always been a perilous balance

between glorious hope and obvious reality.

It is a delicate thing to yearn for the future glory of God

that we will only know in full when our earthly life is over,

and still live as a faithful, reliable witnesses

to the saving grace and boundless love of God in the present.

We are, as a rule, not very good at it, but still the questions emerge…

what is the future for us? What is in store?

We search Scripture for a clue – we pray fervently for guidance,

we make promises to God and to one another with the future in mind –

and pledge to work towards something better, “God being our helper…”

and still the future seems grim to us…we can read the paper;

we can see the destruction being caused by the carelessness of humanity

our children and grandchildren are asking tough questions

and we are struggling with the answers…but, all is not lost.

When the big picture looks grim – when the global news is dismal, we look closer to home –

and what do we find?

**************************************************

Though our community is shrinking,

and the highway project seems an uncertain feature in our landscape;

though small rural churches are, in every part of the country,

making hard decisions about survival and closure,

we continue to gather, to worship, to support mission (locally and abroad)

and today, we recognize the changing face of leadership,

as we ordain three new elders to their office.

The word on the street is that churches are struggling –

attendance is falling and people are losing interest.

We are fighting for the attention of people pulled in a dozen different directions –

sports, family, job pressures, all work against us – and yet,

we are an active community, with all age groups represented –

we are renovating so that we can continue to be a place to gather and celebrate

and we are doing all this from a position of strength.

We are a good sized community of faithful, hard-working people to whom faith still matters –

and that is something special –

a sign that hope is still in us, that the future, while uncertain, is not at all intimidating.

These may be challenging times, but we have met them with determination,

and have responded with hope;

proving to any and all that we are truly a Good News people.

What shall the future be?

The people ask the prophet – and Jeremiah tells them;

Our days as careless, covenant-breakers are coming to an end.

One way or another, we will discover the foolishness of our previous failures.

Rather than doing everything in our power to keep God at a distance,

God will make it impossible for us to distance ourselves.

“I will put my law within them” God says through the prophet –

and all will know, truly know the beauty, wisdom, mercy and grace that is God.

Don’t look too far into the future – look at your past – remember your merciful God

and live with God in your minds – embrace and believe the good news.

What shall the future be?

We want to see Jesus – to see for ourselves the power that is in him,

and get a glimpse of this wonderful future…

Outsiders shall come with their questions –

which will open up more questions for those on the inside…

to which the answers seem to be “Glory”

Glory is the object of whatever comes next –

and that glory shall come by less than glorious means:

“unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and dies,

it remains just a single grain;

but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

This talk of falling and dying does not sound glorious, at least not for us.

But Jesus call us to embrace the challenge in faith – that is what it’s all about.

Whatever comes, Jesus assures us that the future is of God’s own making;

so glorify yourself, God – and God replies “I have – I am – and I will”

What shall our future be?

Before we look too far ahead, look at the many present victories,

all won with God’s help – gained by God’s grace

then let us look to the future in perfect hope.

For our future shall be glorious, if we live out the present promise of the good news that is ours.

our future is God’s future – full of New life –

full of the knowledge of God that comes to us in faith,

through Christ our hope, our strength, our Risen Lord.

Amen

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