Nostalgia and Today

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Around 5 am this morning, at first consciousness, my mind was a tumbling group of images from memories … some years old, some from last week! Pictures of my late wife were a mental slide show, my children were little again, I was standing in my first pulpit so full of eagerness, I was back before the chapel at our now closed school … Isn’t it amazing how vividly those scenes can be recalled?

Nostalgia is the blessing and curse of those of us who are older. The memories can be bitter-sweet, regrets and celebrations inseparably mixed. Yesterday can be a snare to living fully today, too. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Are you trying to navigate life while staring into the rear-view mirror? Think about that idea.  It’s foolish, isn’t it? We need a clear view of the road ahead for successful progress.

A sure way to miss whatever opportunities exist today is to spend too much time flipping the pages of the picture albums of yesterday.  Were the ‘good old days’ really that? Perhaps they were, but the truth is that we rewrite history all the time. We tend to exaggerate the BIG moments – joyful or sad – and forget the context of the ‘ordinary’ that surrounded them. Try to recall a single week from 25 years ago. Unless you kept a detailed diary, whatever was going on in your daily life has been largely forgotten. Birthday celebrations, Christmas, family vacations; they stand out. Deaths, divorce, job loss; they are there, too. But, the skinned knees, little dramas, the frustrations, arguments… they have been swallowed up by the fog of time.

Christians, particularly those of us on the larger side of 50 years or so, can easily become snared by nostalgia in our faith walk.  If we are not vigilant, we will become miserable critics of the state of the church, the youth program, the music …   because “It’s not the way it used to be.” You are right! It isn’t because the world keeps moving, whether or not we keep up.

Churches that lock themselves into some particular era, determined to remain the same – and many do – will lose their effectiveness for Christ gradually turning into museums of yesterday’s faith instead of remaining workshops for daily discipleship. Oh, I hear those sighs that object- “Jerry, Christianity is ancient. Traditions are important.” Of course, they are. “Jesus Christ is the same; yesterday, today, and forever.”

The celebrations of Communion, baptism, Christmas, and Easter preserve continuity in the Christian community.  Novelty for its own sake can lead churches to ridiculousness.  Aiming at ‘relevance’ through compromise is a sure road to spiritual death. But, learning how to share the eternal Gospel of Christ with the world in which we live is what the Spirit desires and that demands new expressions of old truths.

Are you missing out on what God wants to do in your life TODAY, because you’re attempting to recreate the spiritual experiences of another time?
Do you fondly remember a decade when, in your memory anyway, God seemed so close to you?

Rejoice in that! Don’t try to erase yesterday. My great memories of family times with my children are foundational to my love for them today. But, if I attempt to relate to them today, when they are adults, as if they were pre-adolescents, I’ll alienate them from me.  Similarly, grow in your relationship with your Heavenly Father.  What He did for for us  yesterday is basic to our walk with Him today, but those things are past, and He’s doing a new thing in you, in me!

Ask God to help you to see and appreciate what He’s doing today. If you think the Church has gone a little ‘off the rails,’ pray for those who lead, asking the Spirit to make His Presence known – and be ready for God to do a new thing – in you, in your church, in this world!

Here is a word from the Word. “Consider Jesus’ parable – “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be torn, and the patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would burst the old skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.” (Luke 5:36-37, NLT)  “ I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

_______

Do It Again

Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But you have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won|
For you have never failed me yet

Your promise still stands
Great is your faithfulness
Faithfulness
I’m still in your hands
This is my confidence
You’ve never failed me yet

I know the night won’t last
Your word will come to pass
My heart will sing your praise again
Jesus you’re still enough
Keep me within your love
My heart will sing your praise again

I’ve seen you move
You move the mountains
And I believe
I’ll see you do it again
You made a way
Where there was no way
And I believe
I’ll see you do it again

You’ve never failed me yet
I never will forget
You’ve never failed me yet
I never will forget

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Matt Redman | Steven Furtick

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