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Reflections from Pastor Steve

Change, Hope, and Heaven

 “On the highway to heaven …Our Father who art in heaven . . .”

Riverside Lunch in Lindsborg, Kansas was bulldozed to the ground a month ago.  When I was 16, I enjoyed a brief career waiting tables in the café referred to by some as the “Greasy Spoon.” I received a generous tip when I served hamburgers and french fries to two of my customers, my Mom and Dad. I don’t know the cook’s secret, but there were no better hamburgers served anywhere in Kansas than at the Riverside Lunch.

Change happens. The Model A’s garage behind Mom and Dad’s house won’t last. My junior high school in Lindsborg is gone. The campus of Bethany College is missing buildings that stood 50 years ago: Old Main, Anna Marm Hall and the Carnegie Library.

“Pivot,” I’m told, to do when change is inevitable.  I resist; I find change unsettling when afforded the opportunity to “look back.”

Change, I’m told, means we are alive; change can’t be avoided. Old Main can’t be restored. Origen’s (185-254) ) pedagogical view of history allows free will its fullest possible expression, writes Jaroslav Pelikan, and so comes change, sin, wrongdoing and the end of Riverside Lunch.

But God will “lure” us back, wrote Pelikan, when the promised restoration or apocatastasis, happens. Martin Luther imagines the pivot to be on the day of resurrection and of God’s doing. Luther was citing St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians (26-27), “The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”

The future is in divine hands and the apocatastasis, the restoration, will happen by God’s will, insists Luther.  Paul embraced Job’s hope, “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God.”

On Wednesday I introduced Luther’s explanation of the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer to the Confirmation class, “Our Father who art in heaven.” My mind recalled St. Peter’s promise of “universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.” (Acts 3)

That time, when “Our Father’s heaven” is opened to us will come. I’m certain. In the meantime we wait for the “not yet,” confident that on the divine drawing board are plans for the new Riverside Lunch when I’ll not just serve hamburgers to Mom and Dad but sit down and have a long overdue talk.

I thank God for “boldness and confidence” (Luther) and linguistic imagination granting hope to my heart.