Writing a blog for Digidisciples has been a bi-monthly commitment for me for long enough for it to seem normal, part of the way life is. Sometimes it’s been easier than others. The discipline of writing about a particular book of the Hebrew Scriptures has certainly been challenging at times. It’s forced me to think very hard about where the culture of the 21st Century and of Christians within it meets with the very different culture of the chosen people across the millennia before Jesus arrived.
Now, luxury of luxury, in what might be the last blog post for Digidisciples in its current form, I have the choice of three books! I’m drawn to Malachi, the last book, and to the end of the book. As he brings his words to an end, Malachi is inspired to direct his readers to look forward to the day, “the great and terrible day of the Lord”, when God will make all things right. For the evil, it will be a time when they will be burnt up. For those who revere God, the sun of righteousness will bring healing.
I don’t suppose that Malachi suspected that his words would be the last in the Old Testament of our Bibles. Prophets had come and gone over the centuries. There was no reason to suppose that they would cease to arrive. Yet there was silence for four or five centuries until the promised return of the prophet Elijah took place to prepare the way for the Messiah.
Reading Malachi again has set me thinking about endings. Sometimes we know something is going to end and we can respond with that in mind. We know this phase of the Digidisciples blog is coming to an end. My response takes that into account. When I kissed my father goodbye three years ago I knew it would be for the last time. I saw him in his last few hours as he lay unconscious. A few weeks before that, I didn’t know that when he kissed me goodbye it would be for the last time. When we don’t know that something is for the last time, we can easily be left with the wish that we had done or said something more or differently.
I don’t think Malachi could have done better if he had known his would be the last book from a prophet for such a long time. What more could anyone ask for but a promise that God would act and make things right, that justice would prevail?
The other thing that has occurred to me about endings is that we don’t know what life after the ending will look like. From what we know, the Jews of Jesus’ time had fairly strong ideas of how Malachi’s promise would work out. They had expectations about the new beginning. When Jesus came he was resisted, hated and killed by some who seemed pretty sure about what the Messiah would be like and certain that Jesus was not he. Others, who were more open-minded, were able to welcome Jesus and enjoy what God was actually doing.
We all face endings: in personal relationships, in ministry opportunities, in personal abilities and in many other ways. We may have advance warning of the ending or not. As Christians, we look forward to a great and terrible day of the Lord when Jesus will return. We don’t know when it will happen but we know it will be an ending of what we know and a beginning of something new. Life after any of these endings could look very different from anything we might imagine. I pray that we each have the confidence to step into the unknown, knowing:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
[And yes, I know I’ve strayed out of the three books for this month.]