To know where you're going, you have to know where you've come from. Our history is important. Even in high school, though, I was frustrated with the 2nd class treatment history received in our school. It was always taught by assistant football coaches who had little interest in teaching but loved to talk football.
Here's why our history is important:
1] Our stories remind us of God's faithfulness. Even when the generations have been unfaithful, God remained faithful. There have been so many times when we've gotten off track. When we read Matthew 1, there are a lot of skeleton's in even Jesus' family tree! Despite the generations that turned away, the promises God made to Abraham were fulfilled in Jesus.
Even the history of our little church here in Covington reminds us of God's faithfulness. Why did this church get carved out of the wilderness here in what was to become the center of the city of Covington? Why didn't our doors close when the church had dwindled down to only a handful of people? Why is God keeping us? Because he's faithful, and our story isn't finished.
2] Our stories teach us about ourselves. They remind us of what we are capable of: the good and the bad. They can remind us of a past we're not proud of, but they can also help us recall those times of great faith. Our stories provide lessons for us which serve as a rudder to steer the ship. In Hebrews 13:7-8, we're told to think back on our spiritual leaders and imitate their good lives and deep faith. Recalling our history can inspire us as we continually step toward where God is leading.
3] Our stories gives us a foundation on which to build. Our history isn't just a bunch of dusty, old stories. No! We are part of an ancient faith that is not tired and worn out, old-fashioned and out of touch. It isn't comprised of empty rituals and traditions which exist to preserve an institution. We are part of an ancient faith which is rooted and runs deep. It is living and active, and God's life continues to flow through us. It is a faith that has been handed down to us through the prophets and apostles.
This ancient faith -- and the stories of our faith -- provides stability in hyper-changing times. It gives us a firm footing and roots us in an untethered world. It leads us in the Way of Jesus.
Our stories aren't just about our past: they can't be! They must lead us, guide us, and launch usWe won't get anywhere if we are constantly looking back. Jesus said so in Matthew 9:62.
Our memories are very important to us. We'll do almost anything to hold on to them. That's why I take pictures of everything, kind of like a photo journal. "Cheese" was one of the earliest words my kids learned how to say. No matter how important our memories are to us, however, we have no future as a church if our greatest purpose is to be the protector of our memories.
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." We do need to remember where we've come from. Jesus is Lord of the past, but he is also Lord of today and of tomorrow, and he is building a living Church.
There is more story to be written! I hope that what God is doing among us now is the stuff our next generation will celebrate and honor.