We long for the glory of heaven though we live as sinners in a sinful world.
James D. Roecker
Homecoming is a big deal for college campuses across the country. There is usually a theme associated with a weeklong celebration of school pride. Parades and football games are hallmarks. Alumni are welcomed back to their college campus with open arms. Homecoming can be the perfect opportunity to reconnect to the alma mater and reflect on the good old days.
This past year, UW–Stevens Point celebrated homecoming under the theme “Blast through the Past.” Stevens Point residents were invited to travel through the decades with the Pointer community. Some of the student activities for the week included a 1950s photo scavenger hunt and a trivia night focused on the 1990s. Each weekday event provided the opportunity to reflect on a specific decade of the past along with all its cultural impact and influence.
As one year ends and a new year begins, the church will do some reflecting of its own. Many churches have the tradition in New Year’s Eve services of reading the names of those congregation members who have departed this life to be with Jesus in the past year. Family members may continue to mourn such a loss, yet they have comfort because Jesus has triumphed over death and sin.
John, in Revelation, describes heaven this way: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The homecoming celebration of heaven that he has won for you and me will be majestic and marvelous. Believers across the ages will be united in the glory of God’s heaven. What an amazing thing to look forward to! What comfort comes to Christians who fix their eyes heavenward toward their heavenly home!
But we have trouble holding on to that vision. So much in this world distracts us: anxiety, grief, loss, and trials. The college experience brings its own distinct challenges and struggles. Really, each season of life is unique and brings different struggles and temptations that lead to fixing our eyes on things or solutions other than God. We find ourselves enslaved by our sin.
None of us can stand confidently before a righteous and holy God with the corruption of sin we have at our core. Because of it, God threatens to bar us from his heavenly home. In humble repentance we fall on our knees at the cross of Christ. His Holy Spirit’s work of faith in our hearts clings to that cross, a source of comfort and confidence. In Christ we have freedom from sin.
Paul encourages the Christians in Galatia this way: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). God, through his Son, has lavished his grace and love on the world. Through faith we receive God’s blessings: forgiveness and new life. Each of us has a line in God’s book of life with our name on it.
Our life’s journey continues so long as God sees fit. We long for the glory of heaven though we live as sinners in a sinful world. Our feelings and frustrations will fluctuate and change with each new day of grace God gives us. We can rejoice in our Redeemer who never changes. We can be confident Christ will go all out for our heavenly homecoming celebration.
James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 105, Number 1
Issue: January 2018
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