Several years ago I returned to Stoughton, WI a place where a good chunk of my childhood was spent. Much was the same, much was different. I kept looking for people I would know, without much luck. Part of the problem was I was looking for the familiar in things that had changed. Most of the people I knew back when, had moved on like I had, grown older like I had and what remained was similar, but different.
Even Christ Lutheran Church, the church I grew up in was different. The old building had to be torn down because of structural issues. The new sanctuary still had much of the same wood work, that echoed the old church. Since then that building has burned and they have rebuilt in a totally new place, still taking design cue’s from the old church. One thing has remained the same, the carved image of the risen Christ behind the altar was still there.
In the reading from Ezra today the prophecies that God’s people would return begin to unfold. I wonder if the returning exiles knew what they were getting into. Most likely not, there would have to be adjustments that would not always be welcome. Things would be different, but there is one important thing that would remain the same, God would be with them.
Life is like that, things change, but the hope that surrounds this passage is not so much that things will be like they use to be, but that God continues in all things to be with us. No matter how much things change, the risen Christ is still there!