“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Happy New Year! But wait—is it? Happy, I mean. I think for many of us, 2022 may be a new year, but the happiness with which we are meant to greet it isn’t immediately forthcoming. With Omicron surging around the holidays, the economy was once again impacted, travel was once again disrupted, visits were once again postponed, and loved ones were once again sick and in the hospital. We are now two full years into this pandemic, and the “normal” we have been longing for still eludes us.
Thinking about all of this reminded me of the passage in Matthew about the wise and foolish builders. (I knew there was a song that went with it, but I couldn’t remember the tune and I had to Google it. You can find it on YouTube). For the past two years, we all have had the uncomfortable experience of sand shifting beneath our feet, and we have had to wrestle with the unpleasant surprise of discovering that the ground we thought was secure could not support us in the face of the many storms that have washed over us. Things we took for granted, realities we counted on, truths we assumed we could trust, all shifted and melted away in the storm that was and is COVID-19. So much has been lost that we will never get back. Happy New Year? I know for many of us, it doesn’t feel like that at all.
However, in the face of this seemingly unending succession of storms, these words from Matthew’s Gospel remind us that standing on shifting sand is not the only possibility. There is, in fact, firm ground under our feet, and that ground is Jesus Christ.
So what can we count on, each of us, individually, and we at Wartburg Seminary, in the assurance that our lives, our “house” is built on Christ? Well, first, of course, is the promise that Christ is always with us, and we do not have to face the dangers and challenges of this storm alone. The second thing is that in Christ’s presence, we experience God at work in the world, even in this pandemic, bringing good out of evil. The last promise is that this ground is not solid just for today, it also is solid for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. This reminds us that God is continually doing a new thing, and calls us into new life each day.
I don’t know what 2022 will bring, of course—none of us does; but whatever comes, we are able to stand firm on Jesus Christ, and trust in the sure promise of his presence and his faithfulness. And, we can be confident that good awaits us in 2022, even if we can’t see it just yet; in Christ, good always comes.
To that end, we hope you will find your way to the Castle this year. We are being careful, of course, but we are open and welcoming guests. We have exciting things planned this year, and there is much to look forward to. Please put our upcoming events on your calendar, and come be with us!
In the meantime, stay safe, be well, and rejoice in the firm ground on which you stand. In Christ, we are not promised a life without storms, but we are assured that even in the worst storms, the ground beneath our feet will hold, and will not be washed away.
Rev. Kristin Johnston Largen, Ph.D.