The Presbyterian Pulpit
A sermon by the Rev. Dr. David E. Leininger


Delivered 9/7/03
Text: Hebrews 13:8
To read endnotes, click on the the note number, then click on the to return to your place in the text.

A story is told about a Roman battalion under the leadership of a particularly adventurous commander that found itself in an area that was not on any of their maps. Not wanting to turn back, but apprehensive about pressing farther into unscouted territory, the commander dispatched a messenger to Rome with this urgent request: "Please send new instructions. We have marched off the map."(1)

Along the same line...two men lived on a houseboat. One night while they were sleeping, the boat broke loose from its mooring and drifted into the open sea. One of the men got up in the morning and, going out on deck, noticed there was no land in sight. Excitedly, he called to his mate, "Joe, get up quick - we ain't here anymore."(2)

Ever feel that way? Not surprising. Things are changing all around us. Even in church. New services. New times. Change, change, change.

To get the picture, you can think about it from the perspective of a college freshman. They were born in 1985. Some may remember the first President Bush, but most only actually recall as far back as President Clinton. They were just out of kindergarten when Desert Storm was fought and Iraq was first invaded. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as World War I, World War II or even the Civil War. They only know of the Soviet Union, the Cold War and the Berlin Wall from history books. They have never feared a nuclear war. There has been only one Pope. Their lifetime has always included AIDS. They never had a polio shot and likely do not know what polio is. They have never owned a record player. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black-and-white TV. If the TV has no remote control, it is only because it is lost. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what Beta is. The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno. If you asked, "Where's the beef?", they would have no idea what you were talking about. They do not care who shot J.R., and have no idea who J.R. is. Michael Jackson has always been white.

I once heard of a man who came home one day to find that his wife had hung a plaque on the wall which read, "Prayer changes things." Within 24 hours the plaque had been removed. She asked, "What's wrong? Don't you like prayer?"

He said, "Sure, I like prayer. I don't like change."(3)

Sadly, to quote the old bumper sticker, "Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."

In 1970 Alvin Toffler wrote a best seller called Future Shock.(4) In it he said, "If man's 50,000 years on this planet are divided into lifetimes of approximately 62 years, then there have been 800 such lifetimes. Of these, over 600 were spent in caves, only the last 70 have had written communication, and only the last six have had printed words. But of them all the most crucial is our lifetime - the 800th. This one lifetime is the center of history with as much happening in it as in all the previous lifetimes put together... Unless man learns to quickly control the change in his personal affairs as well as in society at large we are doomed to a massive adaptational breakdown."

We can sympathize with the little old lady who stood up after a lecture given by Dr. Werner Von Braun, the father of our space program. She asked him, "Why can't we forget about all these new fangled gadgets and be content to stay at home and watch television like the good Lord intended?"

The letter to the Hebrews, from which our text is taken, knows something about changing times and offers a reminder about how to cope. It was written to a long-established church, one which had had great days and great teachers and great leaders. It had a reputation for generous giving. There had been times of persecution in the past but the members were now relatively safe. Still, there were threatening clouds on the political horizon and our letter-writer was concerned that, with all of life's shifting sands, the stability that these Christians had found in their faith, the Rock of Ages, might be forgotten. So he wrote, remember, in the midst of turbulent times, when the world is confused and life is in turmoil, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

What a wonderful word! The Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus who loved me enough to die for me, STILL loves me and always will. The Jesus of today, the one who nourishes me, encourages me, challenges me, motivates me will ALWAYS be with me. The Jesus of forever is the one with whom I have been promised that I will spend eternity in glory. The same...yesterday, today and forever.

Yes, life moves faster than we like. We get jobs, then lose them. Homes are established, then break apart. Nations and their leaders are up and down. War comes and goes. Friends are born, and friends die. It is easy to think that nothing in the world is tied down and to feel that we are in danger of being blown away or marching off the map. But then we encounter the changeless Christ and hear his invitation: "Take, eat...drink...I will help you make it this to remind this in remembrance of me."


1. Dynamic Illustrations, July/Aug 94

2. Pastors' Professional Research Service, 1/89-2/89 - 2


4. New York: Random House

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