Welcome to the Monday/Tuesday Mailing Vol 2, Ed 17 –
My big break in my genealogical research came this last week as I was reading an article by a local genealogical society, and discovered my ancestor listed in the article! That is always a pleasant surprise. . .well, not always pleasant, as in the case of horse thieves, and deserters, and the wife of a distant relative who ran a house of ill-repute. . .but it is always a surprise.
My 7th great-grandfather, Claus deGraff, immigrated with his parents in the 1640’s from the Netherlands. Go back nine generations and my 16th ggf was Louis IX, King of France! Pretty crazy, eh?
Over the years I have gotten nostalgic in the midst of the research. I admit that. I have recently found myself standing in front of a pre-revolutionary war home here in New York, which an ancestor built and lived in. I can only imagine (and research) all that went on there. In the meantime, there is nostalgia.
We all know nostalgia. It is that sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. We’ve been experiencing it in our church life. We long for the time when things will go back to normal, we say. Back to what was good for us, what made us feel safe, what gave us comfort. Nostalgia can do that for you.
Nostalgia can also blind us. It can blind us to the injustices of the way things were. I have often prided myself in not being able to identify any of my ancestors who owned black slaves. Until I moved here, I did not realize that my ancestors perpetrated another evil – that of the massacre of the Native Americans who were first on these lands. Nostalgia would have me stop before I learned these things. . .I am grateful, and humbled that I have discovered this.
What does our nostalgia about the church tell us? It often tells us that we had fond memories of the times before, but I am smart enough to know that fond memories do not always mean I want to do that thing again. I loved backpacking when I was a youth and young adult and I saw some great beauty in California and Colorado while backpacking. I never want to put the pack on my back, or sleep on the ground again. Period. I can be nostalgic and see things clearly.
Many times we remember back to “good old days” without looking at what was sacrificed then, and what might be sacrificed now, to “return” to those days. Every age has its own trials and pitfalls. You know this.
The antonym of nostalgia is contentment. While this word has its own issues, especially in light of the social changes we are seeing around us these days, being content with where we are, and where we are heading at least moves us forward into hopes and dreams. And this is good. As a church, looking forward means that we may just see who in this world needs to hear the good news of God’s love. . .and that we can then share that.
Ah, the ramblings of a pastor on the way out. Keep looking ahead!
Thanks for thinking along with me. . .