Ah, remember when…
Friends of ours have a son who is in his late twenties; after an evening of listening to us converse, he asked his father, “Is this what old people do, sit around and try to remember stuff?” We all laughed out loud; it was partly true. When we gather with family or old friends it is good to reminisce, good to tell stories, good to remember the Old Days. On our recent trip to Phoenix, I was reading a magazine on the airplane, an article about Nostalgia. It really struck a chord with me. Mary and I had just spent a week visiting with family and old friends. We did not spend a lot of time reminiscing, but there was some of that. It is easy for me to get caught up in the past. I was a history major in school after all.
The magazine article spoke of a “nostalgia epidemic” in this country, in Europe, in China, and India. With change happening so fast and the future so unpredictable, nostalgia can feel like a safe mental space to be in. Looking back, (always selectively of course) is easier than peering into the uncertain future. But nostalgia, a longing for the past, can have a dark side as well. It can be used by politicians to stir up anger against present threats to “our way of life” (Hindu nationalism in India for example). Nostalgia can be used politically, economically, socially, in many and various ways.
“Looking Back, Moving Forward, Growing Deeper” is our theme for this program year. So, in a sense we are being nostalgic this year. We are looking back and remembering past glories. But that is only a part of what we are doing. It is not our goal. The past reminds us who we are and where we have come from. We move forward into the future that God has planned for us, both as individuals and as a congregation. The future is uncertain and can be scary. We are more comfortable with “what has been” than “what will be.” But God does not promise us certainty. God does not promise us control. God promises us love and asks for our faith. Faith is what Jesus commented on when he met new people, even foreigners. How do we move into the future, with faith? We ask God to grow us deeper into divine grace. When faced with fear, we gather and worship. When scared, we pray. When confident or lacking in confidence, we praise God. We grow deeper and so the future becomes a little less scary and the present becomes a place to look for God at work. Resurrection has been the foundation of our faith from the very beginning. So, we look beyond every cross that we encounter to see the empty tomb. We are an Easter people, from the very beginning, and into eternity! Praise the Lord.
~Pr. Bob Albing