When a new child is born, a new crop is planted, a new project, phase, degree, career, friendship, resolve, marriage, house is pursued, we feel fresh excitement and anticipation. We enter a new chapter feeling hope about the future. We invest a lot of dreaming, planning, energy, and often money in our beginnings.
But there is not nearly as much help available teaching us how to end well. Probably because the demand is much lower. We typically don’t relish thinking about or planning for endings – because endings are most often goodbyes. They are chapter closings that often leave us feeling regret, grief or confusion or some ambivalent mixture of all of them.
But the end of a chapter is often more important than its beginning. When a person dies, we can see much more clearly who they really turned out to be which is eternally significant. When a crop is harvested, we know what the season and farming diligence actually produced. When a chapter of our life ends, sometimes we can see, at least to some degree, how the fruits of our dreaming, planning and efforts can continue to positively impact not only our lives, but also the lives of others.
There will be a God-given time to end every chapter in our life. Some endings will feel sweet and clear; some will feel sad and confusing. Therefore, it requires a different kind of wisdom to end well than to begin well. It demands Spirit-wrought humility and Spirit-empowered faith to trust God’s sovereignty, wisdom and goodness in those transitions.
“Seven Last Words” is our Lenten theme and they are the sayings of Jesus from the cross as recorded in the Gospel narratives. This week’s word is, “Finished,” focusing on the passage from John 19:30 when Jesus said, “It is finished.”
Can you share a story of a time you’ve celebrated an ending?
Can you share a story of a time when an ending has been sad?
What do you think was finished, or ended, at the crucifixion?
What are some ways you’ve seen the work Jesus did during his life continue, in your home or church or community?
What are some ways you, or those around you, try to make sure that the story and love of Jesus aren’t “finished”?
Join us in worship on tomorrow, Wednesday, March 24, at Noon or 6:30 pm (or watch our livestream on Facebook at noon) when one of our members shares a reflection based on the last word, “finished.” You can register online for our in-person worship.
At First Lutheran, we are a community of disciples of Jesus Christ working for the transformation of the world. Throughout our history, we have remained committed to drawing on our Lutheran (ELCA) tradition of using meaningful worship, content-rich learning and warm hospitality to care well for our congregation, the surrounding community and the world.