Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig, ELCA missionaries, work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania by developing hospice and palliative care teams throughout the country. They will be concluding this service in July. To support the Hartwigs, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Dear friends in Christ,
Please find our letter for this month below.
Rebecca wrote a piece of music of this title, and it somehow expresses our feelings of transition. Looking ahead, there are a host of new possibilities, which we trust in God to be made good, even as we have anxieties and uncertainties. Looking behind, there is gratitude, some sense of relief and more gratitude. It is never easy to leave community and friends, yet now we must.
Crossing over, in Biblical language this mostly refers to the Jordan River. The Israelites could not enter the Promised Land until they had crossed over that river. That a whole generation was denied the crossing (Moses et al), and that Joshua’s leading of the next generation across the river was just as miraculous as crossing the Red Sea, are signs and warnings and wonders in the history of our faith.
In hospice work, crossing over often refers to the passage from life to death. It is a way of expressing that special time as a process, somehow analogous to childbirth in being fraught with anxiety but, inevitably, something which must come. There is mystery here, as we have had cause to contemplate with close proximity to such recent crossings.
Interestingly, in the New Testament the one reference to “crossing over” that I could find was from John 5:24, referring to exactly the reverse of the hospice meaning: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
We depart from the continent July 17, a day after Nathan’s high school graduation, then rushing to Anchorage for Kirsten’s marriage to Ray. From Aug. 1, we will be based at the ELCA Missionary Apartments in St. Paul, Minn. Over the subsequent several months we will look forward to seeing many of you, sharing our stories and the different ways in which all of us have crossed over. Please pray for us that our crossing might be filled with grace, that we might be gracious within the process and eager for the new promises, yet unseen, that lie ahead. And may we never forget the life to which we have come, in Christ, which is, in a mysterious way, our Promised Land.
Kristopher and Rebecca Hartwig