|To mark the tenth anniversary of one of my students’ ordination I was invited to preach in the church she serves in Columbus, Ohio — St. John’s Protestant Evangelical Church.|
After worship a young man on leave from serving in Iraq, decked out in his military fatigues, approached me. He thanked me for my words and then gave me a gift. It was an Iraqi currency note, colored pink and gray with writing in Arabic printed on one side. On the opposite side an unknown Iraqi person had scribbled a note with a pen in Arabic. And on that same side were printed the English words “Central Bank of Iraq,” and the face value of the note: 250 Dinars.
How much would this bill be worth in American currency? I knew the answer to that question immediately — absolutely nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. The picture of Saddam Hussein on the note said it all. This was a worthless bill, a relic from the days when Hussein ruled Iraq with a cruel hand. When Hussein’s government came crashing down along with his statue, the bill this soldier gave me became nothing more than a piece of paper.
I couldn’t help reflecting on the irony. Just a short time ago this bill would have been a prized possession for an Iraqi citizen. He or she would have been glad to have it, grateful to receive it, maybe even to fight over it. Now it had gone the way of the Dodo bird.
|It’s the same with almost everything we value. Today’s currency becomes tomorrow’s scrap paper. Today’s celebrity becomes tomorrow’s “has-been.” Today’s fashion becomes tomorrow’s laughingstock. Today’s security becomes tomorrow’s empty promise. Nothing we human beings create ever lasts. |
So where can we find something of permanence? Where can we find something of real value that will stand the test of time? I believe you and I, as followers of Jesus Christ, find it in words like these:
I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
For us, the resurrection of Jesus is central to our worldview. It is there for us when everything else goes the way of all flesh. While others scramble to find something of value in their bank accounts, or governments, or celebrity status, or even their jobs or families, we know none of those things has any ultimate significance. We can hang on to the resurrection even when the good things in life fail us.
See you during Holy Week and then on Easter Sunday to remember and celebrate the only thing that truly lasts.