The band R.E.M. in their song “It’s The End of the World” sang, “It’s the end of the world as we know it. It’s the end of the world as we know it. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” Darla and I have been feeling that song big time lately. Charlie and Jasmine were confirmed in the Lutheran faith last Sunday and in a just a few more weeks they will graduate from 8th grade and will be entering high school. Now they are talking about when they can get their driver’s licenses! I remember them at 4 days old and now they are 14! Sometimes I have to tell myself breathe deeply it is the not the end of the world, but it certainly is the end of the world as we know it. A new chapter in life will be starting soon. Like the song though we are fine, we are embracing the changes as we remember their childhood years.
We all go through periods of life when big changes bring the end of the world as we know it. Those are critical moments in our lives that can bring either heartache or a new challenge. Heartache happens when we can’t deal with the fact that the world as we know it has ended. The result of this is that we never move forward we just grieve for the ways things used to be. We may even try to bring the past back in some way. The prospect of a new challenge happens when we retain fond memories of the past but look forward to the new world that is coming and the opportunities it is going to bring. We deal with these end of the world as know it scenarios as our children grow older, as they move away and get married, or maybe as we get older and face retirement, we lose a spouse or a job, or a close friend, or we move to another part of the country, or world. We can go through it when things in the church change and new ideas are introduced and maybe old traditions that have lost their meaning are slowly let go.
The question is always how do we react when the world as we know it ends and a new one begins? I would love it if my children never grew up and moved away. I would like to come home every night and find my kids doing their homework, or spend the next 30 years going to their baseball, basketball, soccer games and track meets. That is not going to happen though, they are going to grow up. I will always have fond memories of the adventures that they took us on and the laughter and joy that they brought to our lives as children but I will also embrace the adventures, sorrows, joys and laughter of their older years. It is the same with the church, we remember what used to be fondly but we also realize that change is going to happen and we look forward to the opportunities that they bring. Chapter three of the book of Ecclesiastes puts it best, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill and a time to heal. A time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
Seasons and times change, that is one of two things that never change, the other one is Jesus Christ who always stays the same. So there are two constants in life, change and Jesus. Everything will always change but Jesus who never does, will be with us through it all. It is the end of the world as we know it and you can feel fine with Jesus.