The Odessa Record -

By Rev. Mark Squire
Zion Emmanuel Lutheran Church 

Pastors' Corner

We Have a Problem


The past week, our country lost an icon. Unless you live in Ohio, where he was a senator, you probably knew John Glenn as the first American to orbit the earth. In 1998, he also became the oldest person ever to travel into space.

The death of this famous astronaut brings our imaginations back to the great space race of the 1950s and 60s. Many children grew up wanting to be astronauts - to blast off into space, to orbit the earth, even to walk on the moon. However, the country was gripped by fear in 1970, six years after Glenn's retirement from NASA, during the mission of Apollo 13.

"Houston, we have a problem."

This phrase lives on in our cultural memory, through the phrase itself is a misquotation of NASA astronaut Jack Swigert ("Houston, we've had a problem."). Regardless, these words seem always to pop into our heads when something has gone terribly wrong. When Swigert spoke these words, an oxygen tank on Apollo 13 was blown and many systems were failing. He and his companions were 200,000 miles away from Earth on their way to the moon. It was no longer an exciting adventure. Death seemed like a sure thing.

John Glenn's death should do more than remind us of the space race, moon landings and even his own legacy in service to his country. It should force us to face the certainty we all face.

"Odessa, we have a problem."

We're not astronauts in space with our breathable air slowly dissipating, our navigation systems down, temperatures falling and no manual or procedures to get us home. In fact, our problem is much worse! We find ourselves in a situation where, by our very nature, we are born drifting away from our Creator, the one who made the Earth and everything in it, who gave us life and all things. We were born enemies of God, carrying with us the stain of rebellion which the generations before us have passed down. No call for help to other people, no act of our will, no clever action will save us. In and of ourselves, we will drift father and farther from God into the deep, cold, emptiness of death.

Death may be certain, even for the greatest among us, but it doesn't have the last word.

God himself bridged the gap between us and him by sending us his Son in the flesh. This man - Jesus - came to earth to breathe life into a world of death, to fix that which was broken, and to bring light into the darkness. During his life, he did much more than teach people the "Golden Rule." He healed the sick. He opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He forgave sins. And he raised the dead. For us, even for us, he submitted himself to the emptiness of death when he died on the cross. But, even more, God raised him from the dead.

This Christmas, take the opportunity to hear how God has brought us near to him in Jesus. God sent his Son - born of a Virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger - to overcome even death for us. Death may come for us all, but when Jesus comes, he will bring life in abundance.


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