Last updated on September 18th, 2021
I think back on how well prepared I stood with my hopes high at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany at the check-in counter a month ago, holding a thick folder full of documents – and how frustrating it was then to have to retreat having accomplished nothing. Due to the current pandemic regulations, the usual way to enter Canada as a pastor was not possible.
“6 You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes. 7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared.”- Haggai 1:6-7
Easy come, easy go it is often said. At first glance, the words of the prophet Haggai do not seem particularly helpful. But each of us probably has been in situations in which this is exactly what happens. Where all human planning and effort, all precaution and far-sighted strategy is in vain and there is no reward at the end. Of course, this “entry to Canada” pales in comparison when we look at the immensely more dramatic and cruel images surrounding the withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan. This comes amid discussion of the ultimate efficacy of the tremendous investment there was of all kinds of resources by the international community, when all is said and done.
Haggai draws his sobering conclusion in the context of the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The people of Israel were allowed to return to their homeland after their exile and had even received permission from the King of Persia to rebuild their holiest sanctuary. But people essentially care only about their most immediate needs: the harvest, food and drink, clothing, and making ends meet – even 20 years after their return! So it happens that the temple lies in ruins. That is why Haggai says to his people: We must not stop with only the immediate. All this is in vain, as long as God’s house is not also rebuilt. Sometimes there are more important things than one’s own personal progress or caring for one’s own well-being: a common goal that is worth striving for. In a sense, this is what we are experiencing as the election campaigns both in Canada and in Germany heat up: it is about the future of our society, our world and our children. Haggai’s warning suddenly rings as true today as in his day! “Reflect upon your ways!” he advises his compatriots.
And I think this is also a good motto for us at the Martin Luther Church, so that we do not forget to ascertain God’s will in all our planning, and doing or not doing. May His blessings guide us and help us keep an eye out for each other. I look forward to continuing, together with all of you, to build upon this house of God – which is so much more than a building – and to be his living foundation.
Stay well and true in God!
Pastor Annika Klappert, September 3, 2021