3/6 FAITH MATTERS: We are all just passing through

If you are from up north, one of our guests these days, welcome.

If you are a year-round resident of the area, you know why the roads are more congested, and stores and restaurants are busier: Through month’s end, it’s “the season.”

This season, so far, has been less seasonable than usual.

People like to joke with pastors about the weather, as if we have an inside track to the one in charge.

I admit, I’ve apologized to snowbirds for cooler-than-usual temps the past month.

I expect God to take care of those promptly, though. Manatee County’s average high these days is 75. By month’s end it will be 79 — more climbing to come.

Then our winter guests will head north again.

Did you know that the Bible calls all Christians temporary residents of this world?

Adam’s son Abel, his great-great-great-great-grandson, Enoch, as well as Noah and Abraham: They agreed with God. They were aliens and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13).

They were seeking homeland, “longing for a better country, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:14,16).

Peter portrays believers in Jesus after his resurrection the same way. He calls our time here a “visit” (1 Peter 1:17).

He describes his original readers, people in what today we call Turkey, as “strangers” (1 Peter 1:1), though presumably most had lived there all their days.

What do you do if you’re only visiting someplace briefly? Pack light. Make plans when and how you’ll head home.

So it is with all who trust in Jesus’ blood, instead of their own supposed goodness, which couldn’t be good enough for God (or why did God’s Son die in place of the whole world?).

We know that we won’t hang on to anything we have. We’re just passing through. We’re eager to go home.

That’s why I love the unusual start to the oldest Christian letter not in Scripture.

Clement, head pastor of the Christians in Rome in about 95 A.D., wrote, “The gathering of God ‘visiting’ Rome to the gathering of God ‘visiting’ Corinth ...”

What he said next, I tell you and all fellow visitors: “... to those called, made holy by God’s will, through our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance from almighty God through Jesus Christ.”

Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564. For more information, see Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald, written by local clergy members.