Leaning Toward the Future

December 28, 2013

Martin B. Copenhaver

"This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." - Philippians 3:12-16

For many, this season is laced with nostalgia. We might glamorize the old days, perhaps being, in John Irving's phrase, "nostalgic for a time that never was." Or, it might be more like it was for my father, who, this time every year, would evidence the effects of a potent mixture of nostalgia and melancholy.

In either case, nostalgia is always suspect from a Christian point of view. That's because we affirm that the good old days--even when they really were good--are nothing compared to what God has in store for us. Even the triumphs and joys of the past will be surpassed by what is to come. That is the understanding that allows the Apostle Paul to testify:  "This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."

The Christian gospel, though rooted in history, is always forward-leaning. We lean like plants lean toward a window, even though they may never have seen the sun. We lean, with longing hearts, toward God's vision of the kingdom to come.

"Thy kingdom come," we pray. It is not here yet. That's why it is still a prayer. But, thank God, sometimes we are given a foretaste. And that is just what this season can offer sometimes--a blessed foretaste of what is to come.

Prayer

O God, help me to lean toward the future with expectant longing for what you have in store for me and for all creation. Amen.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor of Village Church, United Church of Christ, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. A new edition of his book, Living Faith While Holding Doubts has just been published by Pilgrim Press.
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