December 10: The Past
Ecclesiastes 7:10 “Do not say ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions. -Ecclesiastes 7:10
The word “nostalgia” is a combination of two Greek words, the one signifying a return to home, and the other signifying pain. It’s strange, but there is something sweet about the pain we feel when, through the power of recollection, we return home to an irretrievable past.
And at no other season is the pull of nostalgia so strong as at Christmas when our hearts ache for the vivid and deeply felt experience of our adolescence. But the Teacher in Ecclesiastes warns us against indulging in nostalgia, warns us against the false comfort of false recollections. The truth is that our memories are unreliable and that our penchant for nostalgia gives the past an undeserved place in our present, from which it threatens to obscure our future.
And God has ordained for us a coming glory that will so outshine our previous experience that we will be embarrassed that we ever invited the moon of our past to eclipse the sun of God’s good future.
And yet, for all that, the past has a modest place in our Christmas pantry. If you run some yarn through a popped kernel of corn it’s just that: a threaded piece of food growing staler by the moment. But when it is taking its place on a long string of threaded popcorn it is something more: it’s contributing to the garland that might justifiably adorn the loveliest tree. Each annual celebration of the incarnation is a further extension of the garland with which the church adorns the ages until the first advent is lost in the second when the Jesus who came proves himself to be the Jesus who returns.
Keep in your Christmas pantry a pinch of the past, enough to whet your appetite for the sure and certain future.
Speaking of garlands: Consider making one from popcorn and cranberries and either hanging it inside your home or perhaps on a tree in your lawn where you can enjoy watching the birds making a meal of it. All you need is the popcorn, cranberries, a needle and some string.
Written by: Joel Tate
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