The Grand Canyon at a glance is both timeless and transient, epic and ephemeral. Its scale proclaims that it will not change, yet everywhere it shows continual change from erosion by wind and water, from plants digging into cracks and people digging paths along its crags. Its geology shows the result of eons of sedimentation and slow erosion of seismic faults gouged into side canyons. The rocks themselves tell a history of a vast inland sea through tiny fossils. It tells of a persistence that exceeds humanity.
This month we celebrate the birth of Jesus; an event according to Matthew that was forty-two generations in preparation, an event that in a few months transformed the lives of Mary and Joseph, an event that changed everything and changed very little. A few months following our Savior’s birth Herod slew dozens of boys out of fear. And two thousand years later our fears still affect how we feed and house the poor. Yet the growth of Christian love shows a persistence that exceeds humanity.
In my own life I have experienced dramatic events that change everything and very little: school graduations, collision at sea, sonars designed, and church ministries. The persistent flow of culture resists change and eventually erases all but the memories of great tragedies and accomplishments and eventually even memories will fade away. But through all these events I also recognize a persistent thread that I trust links these events into a whole that supports the coming of the Kingdom of God into the world.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11