What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding
While most people may be under the impression that the gospels begin with the story of Jesus’ birth, the truth is that we Christians start our story at the end. In fact, the people who study the Bible most carefully agree, and the New Testament writers confirm it, the Christian story begins with the end of Jesus’ life: his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his conflict with and trial before the religious authorities, his sentencing and death, his dead body lying in a tomb until the third day … and then his resurrection.
In other words, like T. S. Eliot says, The end is where we start from.
Now suffice it to say that this message doesn’t sound like a great way to sell the Christian faith: “Hey, friend, you gotta come join my faith community.” Why, what’s your message? “Jesus’ death is our beginning.” Really? No thanks.But take a second look and it begins to make sense: God joins us in our endings (physical suffering, even death on the cross) so that we can start something new with him (living by grace through faith, loving the world because of the promise of eternal life).
Endings are all I can think about lately. It’s just about all I can do not to pout incessantly at Matt’s departure from Calvary. Ours has been a vital, creative partnership in ministry these past three years. And I am grateful that Calvary has benefitted in so many ways from his service. But I also know that this end marks a beginning. For Matt it means he is one step closer to becoming an ordained minister. For us, it means that we have been called to sit up and pay attention to the times: What is God calling us to do with this ending? How might we start from here?
You see, the truth of the gospel is that just when we think every good thing has come to a screeching halt, God is up to something new. “Behold, I am making all things new,” God says (Revelation 21:5). And, if we think that any ending in this life is the last word about our church, or us, we have missed the meat of the matter: The God who created out of nothing in the beginning, will take the messy apparent endings of our lives and start something new... “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do!,” as the hymn says.
So, lift up your heads, look forward: God is about to do something new. … Already we are anticipating with great joy the arrival of an Intern this September: Carrie Smisek (See page 11). But there is oh so much more that God can and will do! The only question is whether we will be stuck in the endings, or trust that with God in Christ, the end is where we start from.
Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Lori A. Cornell