WORD FROM THE PASTOR: September Memories

September is back-to-school time, and tends to bring forth in most of us a flood of childhood memories.  We think of the smell of fresh new pencils and erasers...the sight of reams of unused looseleaf snapped into binders...the thrill of seeing our friends again after a summer apart.

Most of us treasure our memories of childhood and youth...of school days and friends from the past.  Replaying these recollections in our minds can be a delightful experience of recapturing former joys.  But such memories can be a two-edged sword–sometimes they can torment us as well as delighting us. Because those days we remember are gone...and we can’t bring them back except in memory.  Stevie Wonder sings,

I wish those days could come back again...

But alas, those idyllic days of our childhood aren’t coming back. And that saddens us.                     Because inevitably, those past days are going to look better than the days we live today.  As MeatLoaf sings in a song that (ironically!) is played at almost every wedding reception:

It was long ago and it was far away

And it was so much better than it is today.

And as Bruce Springsteen says:

Glory days, oh they’ll pass you by

Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye..

It’s easy to let our memories sap away any joy we might take in today.  Compared to those ideal days of childhood and youth, today looks pretty poor indeed But of course, our memories are selective.  We tend not to recall painful things.  My childhood took place against the backdrop of nuclear fears (with a bomb shelter in the school basement) and political assassinations (John, Martin, Bobby).  If I sit down and think about it, I really don’t wish those days would come back again.  But when I’m dreamily reminiscing about my wonderful childhood, I tend to forget the fear and violence that filled the world.   It’s so easy to idealize our past and despise our present.  But often the past, when it was actually happening, was not quite as flawless as we remember–and going back to it might not necessarily be a blessing.  As Charley Pride sings about his childhood home:

It’s nice to think about it, maybe even visit

But I wonder could I live there anymore?

While treasuring the past, we also want to cultivate an appreciation of today.  Those “glory days” of the past are certainly special.  But today is a great day, too.  As a famous verse from the Psalms declares: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”  (118:24).   And the Bible also tells us that “God’s mercies... are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23). My loving God is with me today!

Today brings me opportunities to walk with God, to know His love, to celebrate His gifts.  Today I can show love to those around me.  Today I can once again be touched by God’s forgiving love in the crucified and risen Jesus.  Today I can relive my baptism, as once again I die to sin and rise to new life through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today I can be made new by God’s power (“the inner man is being renewed day by day” - II Corinthians 4:16 ).

God gives us life one day at a time.  That’s why we pray “give us this day our daily bread”.  That’s why, when God gave the special bread called “manna” to the Israelites in the wilderness, they had to gather the manna afresh every day.   They could not save it from one day to the next or it became foul and full of maggots.  (Exodus 16:19-21).  This underscores the fact that God’s blessings come to us anew every day.  This day is a gift of God to me!  This day is a precious thing.  My childhood days were precious things, too–but today is equally precious!  Because today I am touched by the loving mercy of God.

September brings, for most of us, memories of school and youth.  We treasure those memories.  But we don’t let them rob today of its uniqueness and beauty.  Today is a great day!  Receive it with gratitude, and live it to the glory of Jesus our Saviour!

God loves you and so do I!

But of course, our memories are selective.  We tend not to recall painful things.  My childhood took place against the backdrop of nuclear fears (with a bomb shelter in the school basement) and political assassinations (John, Martin, Bobby).  If I sit down and think about it, I really don’t wish those days would come back again.  But when I’m dreamily reminiscing about my wonderful childhood, I tend to forget the fear and violence that filled the world.   It’s so easy to idealize our past and despise our present.  But often the past, when it was actually happening, was not quite as flawless as we remember–and going back to it might not necessarily be a blessing.  As Charley Pride sings about his childhood home:

It’s nice to think about it, maybe even visit

But I wonder could I live there anymore?

While treasuring the past, we also want to cultivate an appreciation of today.  Those “glory days” of the past are certainly special.  But today is a great day, too.  As a famous verse from the Psalms declares: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”  (118:24).   And the Bible also tells us that “God’s mercies... are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23). My loving God is with me today!

Today brings me opportunities to walk with God, to know His love, to celebrate His gifts.  Today I can show love to those around me.  Today I can once again be touched by God’s forgiving love in the crucified and risen Jesus.  Today I can relive my baptism, as once again I die to sin and rise to new life through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today I can be made new by God’s power (“the inner man is being renewed day by day” - II Corinthians 4:16 ).

God gives us life one day at a time.  That’s why we pray “give us this day our daily bread”.  That’s why, when God gave the special bread called “manna” to the Israelites in the wilderness, they had to gather the manna afresh every day.   They could not save it from one day to the next or it became foul and full of maggots.  (Exodus 16:19-21).  This underscores the fact that God’s blessings come to us anew every day.  This day is a gift of God to me!  This day is a precious thing.  My childhood days were precious things, too–but today is equally precious!  Because today I am touched by the loving mercy of God.

September brings, for most of us, memories of school and youth.  We treasure those memories.  But we don’t let them rob today of its uniqueness and beauty.  Today is a great day!  Receive it with gratitude, and live it to the glory of Jesus our Saviour!

God loves you and so do I!