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Vol. 78 - No. 3
MARCH 2007

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

Nostalgia
               
When I was a kid in the early 1960s, everyone was excited about The Future. President
Kennedy assured us that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Walt Disney
helped us imagine how we would someday travel in flying cars that would pilot themselves.
(Remember that EPCOT originally meant “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow”, and was
supposed to be an actual futuristic city where people really lived). His competitors, Hanna-Barbera,
laid a similar vision before us in “The Jetsons”. The future was going to be fantastic!
            By the end of the decade, however, we realized that “the future isn’t what it used to be”.
We made it to the moon, indeed; but the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, campus unrest,
and the overall ferment of the 1960s seemed to deflate our optimism about the future. And an
unusual thing came about: instead of focusing on the future, people began to long for “the good old
days”. One of the biggest hit songs of the late 1960s was “Winchester Cathedral”, which channeled
an early 1930s Rudy Vallee vibe (complete with megaphone and “vo-do-de-oh-do”). On “All in the
Family”, Archie and Edith sang, “Boy the way Glenn Miller played” and advised “Mister, we could
use a man like Herbert Hoover again”. Louis Nye paid homage to the 1930s in a show called
“Happy Days” (oddly enough, the same title would be used a few years later for a show that paid
homage to the 1950s–“the good old days” become more recent as time continues its march!)
Nostalgia, the longing for a lost past, became a big part of our culture.
            And it still is. In a delicious bit of irony, the focus of nostalgia has shifted over time from
the 1930s to that late 1950s/early 1960s period that was so future oriented. We look back on the
music, the family values, the optimism, and we wonder: Why can’t we have that now? The music
seems more creative, the politicians more inspiring, the social fabric more intact. We might well
join Stevie Wonder in saying: “I wish those days could come back once more.” 
            There’s even nostalgia in the Bible. When the Hebrew people returned from their exile in
Babylon and rebuilt the Temple, there were some older people among them who were bitterly
disappointed when they saw the new building.. The new Temple appeared so small and
undistinguished compared to the magnificent structure they remembered from childhood (Haggai
2:3). 
            I think, though, the pining for a lost past is especially poignant when we remember the
Garden of Eden. Those really were the days! In those good old days, God and man walked together
in a close and beautiful relationship. They lived in perfect harmony. Innocence and beauty
surrounded Adam and Eve. They didn’t worry about the past or the future–they simply lived in the
continual presence of God. But sin shattered that innocence.
            And we long for it. Deep inside, we long for that lost Paradise. Our dreams of a long-gone
time of wholeness and wonder are ultimately about Eden. We may think that we’re longing for the
1930s, or the 1950s, or the 1960s, but we’re really longing for Eden–a place of perfection and
beauty. Our longings for “the good old days” aren’t really about Elvis and Jack Kennedy–they’re
about Adam and Eve, and the perfect home that we lost. The real “good old days”.
            In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been listening to the great Irish folk group The
Wolfe Tones. One of their finest songs is “My Heart Is in Ireland”, where they travel the British
Isles and meet displaced Irish families everywhere they go. The children in these families have
never been to Ireland...but still, they long for it:
            All our folks are from Ireland, the island of the green
            A county we love, but a place we’ve not seen.
            ...though born here in this land, my heart is in Ireland.
And we, too, long for a land that we haven’t seen–Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the place of
perfection where we were meant to live.
            Jesus came into this world to satisfy that longing deep in our hearts–that longing for “a
country we love, but a place we’ve not seen”. He left a 
place of perfection and beauty–heaven–and
was born into this realm of sin and darkness and imperfection. And He went to a place as un-Eden-
like as you can imagine–to Mt. Calvary, to the cross, there to suffer and die for us. It was a tree that
caused us to be expelled from Eden–the tree of knowledge from which Adam and Eve ate. So it
takes a tree to restore us–the tree of the cross.
            And in Jesus, our relationship with God is restored. Through His forgiving love, through
His precious blood, we once again walk with God, we talk with God, we live close to God. His Holy
Spirit dwells within us. We enjoy a close personal relationship with Him. No, it’s not quite Eden.
To borrow a line from Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch”: “It ain’t the good old days..but it’ll do.”
We are not yet in that place of perfection. We still long for “a country we love, but a place we’ve
not seen.” That beloved country lies, not in our past, but in our future–as we look toward heaven.
But still, every day spent with 
Jesus truly is a wonderful day. “His mercies are new every morning”
(Lamentations 3:23). “The good old days” are right now–because Jesus is with us. And He is
leading us toward that Great Day when all will be perfection.
            I’ll still play my old records and long for the past. I’ll still look dreamily at the retro stylings
of the Chevy HHR whenever I think about getting a new 
car. I’ll still talk wistfully about “the good
old days”. But I realize that, deep down, what I’m longing for is Eden. And because of Jesus, my
longing can be satisfied with every good new day that I spend with Him.
             God loves you and so do I! 

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