Nostalgia Ain't What It Used to Be

September 28, 2013

Martin B. Copenhaver

"No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him." - 1 Corinthians 2:6-13

This morning I picked through musty artifacts in our basement in search of one item and I was waylaid by many others.  There was the "Best Chicken Feeder" award which was given to our son in pre-school, a program from our daughter's first dance recital, an article about our wedding from Karen's hometown newspaper, a note from my mother sent to me at college, the deed to our first house.  I could go on, of course, and I did this morning, wading into all of those items until I was chest deep—heart deep—in nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a very natural and powerful emotion, particularly for those of us who are older.  But nostalgia has its dangers.  If it gives us renewed appreciation for the ways God has blessed us in the past, then it can be a wonderful occasion for thanksgiving.  But nostalgia also can make us idealize the past and in ways that make the present pale by comparison.  So nostalgia can rob the present of delight and the future of hope. 

As Christians we draw on the past in a myriad ways, of course, but our faith is always forward leaning.  We are assured that the good old days, no matter how good, are nothing compared to what God has in store for us.  Paul quotes Isaiah to remind the Corinthians, but perhaps also to remind himself:  "No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him."  So look back, yes.  But lean forward.

Prayer

God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, help me to look back in ways that keep me leaning forward.

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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