By Jackie Bussert
Maybe it’s because the Northern Light is now 30 years old. Maybe it’s the galloping change in how information is gathered and how it’s delivered since the Northern Light first came into our churches 30 years ago. Maybe it’s the insistence on the Internet that surely now, print is dead.
Or perhaps it’s because every day in my office, I see the fruit of our labor standing in a row, one copy of every issue of the Northern Light published between 1986 and 2016, and it only stretches 3 feet across the shelf. It just doesn’t feel like much accomplished for 30 years of work.
Then, in a recent devotion, I once again read these words uttered by Job as recorded in the Old Testament:
Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll [that is, a book], That they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever.
Maybe (like me) you don’t so much recall the yearning of Job to have his words written, inscribed, engraved, because it’s the words themselves that always capture the eye and ear, that have become, well, famous. What words did Job want printed so they would be with the human race forever?
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him with mine own eyes—I and not another! How my heart yearns within me. (Job 19: 23-27)
LCMS Lutherans in northern Illinois believe those words of Job. We know our Redeemer lives — that he lived and died to put us right with God; that he lived again, and his followers saw him, in the flesh (it wasn’t a dream); that he lives for eternity and we, too, in eternity will see him, in our flesh, for real.
As Lutherans we believe that with all our heart. We recite it at the grave of every sister and brother in the faith who dies. It’s a promise of a reunion, with Christ, with our loved ones, in eternity, forever, in the flesh.
And Job’s yearning did come true; his words were written down. He likely lived before the time of Abraham, you know, more than 4,000 years ago. Yet we still have his words preserved in writing today. May they be preserved forever.
So then, I look again at my mere three feet of preserved written words from the past 30 years, those three feet of Northern Lights stretching across my shelf. They are the record of what we do precisely because we believe (and continue to preserve) Job’s words about his Redeemer.
It’s the record of LCMS Lutherans at work in northern Illinois, doing what we do because our Redeemer lives and we want others to know about that amazing hope.
Read the Northern Light (in print, of course, but also now here online). It will show you example after example of how we, in this time and in this place, carry words of forgiveness, redemption, and hope for eternity to people who have not yet believed, to those who perhaps live with a darkness in their soul.
The Northern Light is a record of what happens when people hear, and the Holy Spirit works faith in their hearts. They live with joy, self-sacrifice, a desire to do good and tell others.
New Starts…New Believers, that’s the summation of our work together in the Northern Illinois District the past decade and recorded in the Northern Light. We didn’t use that phrase in our first 20 years of writing and preserving but the impact is the same.
I know that my Redeemer lives — that’s the witness of the ages, for all ages, because the words of Job were indeed written down, inscribed, engraved, to be preserved forever.
Is “print” – the way we humans have preserved words or word-images for 3,000 years or more — dead? You tell me. I wonder if Job had tweeted those words, whether we’d still have them. Or used Snapchat … life in the moment…gone in 10 seconds.
But hey, go ahead and tweet those words out today if that’s your mode: “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Change in communication is galloping. The Holy Spirit can use every means to deliver the story of God and his people, and ensure its preservation for the next age. We who work in communications know this and embrace it all.
That line of newspapers on my shelf, a mere three feet end to end, now looks a little different somehow. Thirty years—that’s a lot of good news.