"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, November 13, 2009

The past doesn't make your present or your future

My church recently celebrated a Homecoming Sunday. For those who are not in the “church know,” that is a time when former members come back to the church to renew old friendships, hear good music and preaching, and of course, eat lots of good food. The problem is, that it is very easy on those days to remember a time when a church had more people, more money, more staff, more programs, etc. This leaves us in a feeling of the good ole’ days are over and things just ain’t gonna be the same. We focus on these material and temporary things and not necessarily look at the important part of the spiritual well-being of the church. Are we growing in our faith, are we reaching our community and beyond with the knowledge of God, and are we experiencing true worship?

The poet and philosopher, George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I think he was speaking to us on a couple of levels. From a personal level, we need to learn from our mistakes. We need to learn to forgive ourselves and others then get past it, not dwelling on it. On a church level, we need to continue looking forward to continued ministry and not become fixated on the temporary things of our past. My mom goes to the same church where I grew up and they still provide an active and vital ministry in their community with 20-something people as they did when there were 200 people….and in many ways a better and more heartfelt ministry.
Janie, a friend of mine from church, told me that she was riding along the highway recently and saw one of the vintage Dodge Darts alongside her car. Remember those (at the time) fancy push button transmission buttons? They are certainly a reminder of days gone by. It seems that more and more cars that I owned as a high school and college student are being seen with antique car license plates. As this friend and I continued to talk along these lines, her thoughts were so good that I asked her to write them down for me to share with you.
“Remember when life seemed simple? Less complicated? We all have memories of a time when life seemed much simpler. Our lives today are filled with so many pressures. So many demands. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go back to a time when life was simple and we all could feel peaceful? In an attempt to bring back pleasures from the past, manufacturers have re-made cars to look life our favorite muscle cars, furniture to look like the furniture we grew up with and CD’s to compile each decade of our favorite music. We can even go to Cracker Barrel and purchase candies and gifts from our yesterday.

“We see commercials promoting quality time with our families by having game nights and dinner together at home. As cozy and wonderful as these things are, they can only provide temporary comfort and peace that we as humans so desperately long for. Only by having a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus, can a lasting peace be found.”

After our conversation, I began to think that this is the secret to looking back and looking forward. Jesus can help us take our past and move us forward through His love. As my friend Kirk Talley sings, “He can bring us past our past, and then we can go on.”

So for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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