Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Dear Linwood Friends and Friends of Linwood,
In the last Wednesday e-mail I introduced you to our season long theme for 2013 –
“Footprints of the Faithful.”
It is so easy to get caught up in the moment – to think that our times, our issues, our lives are the center of the universe! There is so much that we can learn from those that have gone before us. God is the God of the present, but has also been at work in mighty ways throughout history and in the lives of those who have gone before us.
It has been said that “Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it”! That, however, is only part of the story. It assumes that all of the past was a mess! It assumes that what has taken place is something that we would not want to repeat! Since history is often told through the lens of wars and conflicts there is a lot of truth here. Certainly we should pray for the grace and the humility to learn from the mistakes of previous generations; and to pray that future generations will learn from our messes as well!
Yet, history is a mixed bag! The stories of the past are not just the stories of destruction, exploitation, and selfishness. There are also stories of amazing faithfulness, incredible compassion, unthinkable bravery, and remarkable vision. Strangely enough, most of the time both stories – the messes and the miraculous – are found in the same people, in the same communities, in the same civilization. So, if we ignore history, we are not just missing out not only on what to avoid, but also on what to learn from and emulate.
But that also is not the end of the story. History is the primary place that God has chosen to reveal Himself. Yes, we can learn of God from the creation – “The heavens declare the glory of God!” Yet, if all we had to go on was the creation, we would have a very limited and distorted view of God. Is God near or far? Is God for us, or against us, or neutral? Why did God put me here? What happens when this life ends? Is there purpose for my life beyond the moment? None of these questions can be answered through creation alone.
God from the beginning has engaged in human history – the interaction with Adam and Eve in the Garden; the call of Abraham and the formation of the nation of Israel; the exodus of Israel from Egypt and their establishment in Canaan; the giving of the law and the voice of the prophets. And then came the critical event in all human history, God Himself entered into history “in the flesh” in Jesus Christ.
So, history is not just the story of humankind’s failures and tragedies (although there are many of both); nor is it just the story of humankind flip flopping between being the good guy and the bad guy (of which there are numerous examples); it is the tapestry upon which God is weaving the story of the redemption of humankind and the defeat of the forces of darkness!
History – all history – is inevitably, hopelessly, and wonderfully spiritual. History – all history – is sacred.
Looking back at the “Footprints of the Faithful” is really a commitment to step forward, desiring that the steps we take – informed, cautioned, and inspired by the past – will unite us with the redemptive purposes of God. We desire is that we enter into history – at this point in time – in such a way that we join in the story that God is weaving throughout history, one that will find its conclusion when Jesus returns. When is that? I have no idea! Except… that day is closer now than it has ever been before!
Blessings on all of you. I am really eager for the new season to be at hand!
Yours in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor
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