Pastor’s Corner for Thursday, September 30, 2010
by Pastor Richard Gates, First Lutheran Church
As someone relatively new to Chariton and Lucas County who is still learning how to navigate the region, signs are very important to me. Street signs. Stop signs. Yield signs. Store signs. Park signs. Restaurant signs. All of them are critical as I learn the locations and the patterns of the area. However, one sign in particular has caught my attention more than any of the others. It hangs on a pole on the north edge of Chariton, at the corner of North Grand and Curtis Avenue. As you drive westward along Curtis, the message that you see on the yellow, diamond-shaped sign is a simple one. Dead End.
I must admit, as a new pastor, that sign is not the one that I would most like to see on my way to the office. It’s not the sign that I would choose for visitors to see on their way to find our congregation at First Lutheran. But there it is. It hangs there as a warning and a challenge to all who might proceed further. It doesn’t help that Curtis Avenue itself seems to match the particular enthusiasm of the sign by becoming a rock road at this point, complete with potholes that grow larger and more hazardous each day through this season of rain. “Dead End” indeed.
Although it is not the sign I would choose, perhaps it is the sign I need to see each day. Yes, it is a challenge and a warning. But it is also a proclamation. And an invitation. And what an invitation it is! Look again at what that sign is saying. “Here, in this place, there is an end to death.” If I go just a few feet further, I see another sign…a cross hovering above a bell tower. The message of that cross echoes the message of the yellow, diamond-shaped one. God’s message in the sign of that cross is that God has ended death. Through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, death has been conquered. Here, in this place, at the foot of the cross, life begins. The apostle Paul, writing to the early church in Corinth, shared a similar message with them: “What is old—what is dead—has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17).
Each of us encounters dead end signs in the journeys and travels of our lives. They may not look like a yellow, diamond-shaped warning sign. They may not look like a road of rock and potholes. But the cross does stand above each of them. And from that cross, God announces, “Yes, this is a dead end. It is an end to death. This is also where life begins. Resurrection life. Kingdom life. New life. It is my gift to you.”