On Tuesday, Leigh and Katy Jo and I will board a plane that will, God willing, deliver us back to Germany where we will begin our last semester of service at the school. Today, I’m feeling a little apprehensive about it. We’ll be arriving a few days late because of ticket issues with the airline, which means I won’t be able to kick-off the new semester until it has technically been underway for two days. Given that my teaching style renders me perpetually behind schedule, I’m nervous. But it isn’t just that.
It is surreal to know that a place that has had such an impact on you will soon recede from your rear-view mirror. I’m apprehensive about the business-as-usual side of the work, but I’m prematurely gloomy about the fact that, when I set foot in my classroom on Thursday, it will be the beginning of an end. This, combined with the anxiety of locating and applying for positions in the United States, has rendered my insides a tangled mess o’ stress. One thing comes to an end; ergo, another thing must begin.
This week found the Church celebrating the Feast of Epiphany, the season in the Christian year commemorating the theophany of God – that is, God’s manifestation and subsequent revealing of himself in the person of Jesus Christ. To mark this shift in reflection, some churches read the Visit of the Magi story while others study the adult Jesus coming to his cousin John for baptism in the Jordan. What is significant about both stories is that they reveal beginning-of-the-end moments in their own way. The Magi (traditionally known as the “Three Wise Men”) recognized that something extraordinary had come to pass – something that would completely redefine not only their understanding of the world, but perhaps how they lived and breathed within it. And, waist-deep in the murky waters of the Jordan, the hoary derelict known as John the Baptist rasped, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” While he didn’t understand why Jesus was coming to him, he recognized the dramatic reality-shift wrought by the act.
Our lives are full of little endings and little beginnings. May we come to trust in the one who set our true beginnings in motion, carries us faithfully through lives full of displacement and re-establishment, and holds our ultimate endings in his capable hands.