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February 19, 2020

By The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

We’ve Come This Far By Faith

And now, as you see, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old. (Joshua 14:10)

For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. (Romans 15:24)

As we sang “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” in Schenk Chapel during eucharist on Tuesday, the song sparked multiple layers of meaning in me.

Tuesday February 18 was the anniversary of the reformer Martin Luther’s death. The Lutheran movement could have fallen apart after the death of its leader, but God has seen us this far.

“This far by faith” is not a straight line, of course. I don’t think Luther and the first generation of reformers could have imagined that their heirs in the faith would gather five centuries later to sing a spiritual written by an African American who was raised in the Pentecostal tradition and later became minister of music for a Baptist church. Yes, “We’ve come this far by faith” – and “we” has expanded well beyond our German and Scandinavian roots.

When we sang the words, “O-o-o-oh, can’t turn around,” I began to think of Trinity. We have made remarkable progress in our first two years as part of Capital! There is much work still to be done, but we mustn’t be overwhelmed. We’ve come this far by faith, and God will continue to see us “this far” and farther! Turning around, returning to the past, is not an option.

These layers of meaning help to explain why I chose two Bible verses to frame this week’s column. In the first, Joshua describes how God has continued to guide him in the years since the death of Moses. In the second, Paul looks ahead to God’s continued guidance for him and for the early Christian community as they journey together into the future.

May we continue as we have begun: by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in God’s holy Word, knowing that the God who has seen us thus far on the way will not fail us!

The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.