In our world of internet, ordering anything (groceries, clothing, cars) with a click on a touch-screen and news traveling the world in seconds, I have the sense that some of us are frustrated. We aren't totally frustrated with computers and devices (I use mine every hour, including to write this blog). We even tolerate the internet, though we see its many dangers and snares. But I wonder if our frustration relates to the feeling that, in the midst of changes that rush past at the speed of digital communications, something has been lost. One of those things might be our heirlooms.
The dictionary defines heirloom as "a
valuable object that has belonged to a family." On this coming Sunday, just before the 4th of July (our country's birthday) I want to reflect on this definition.
First, heirlooms are valuable. Many of you have voiced your frustration that our country's heritage isn't viewed as either valuable or necessary. The struggles of striving for freedom and the growing pains of a country that has moved forward in fits of ineptitude mixed with moments of unimaginable heroism are the bookends that have formed us. And we must revisit those, mull over the good and the bad and learn from those harrowing times. Then, remember that history is a great teacher but a terrible home. We can't live there (we can't find the living among the dead [Luke 24:5])!
Second, heirlooms are valuable things that are corporately owned. In our nation and in our Church, we possess lessons, states-people, events, infamous personalities and heroes that brought us here. As humans and Americans we all 'possess' these heirlooms (whether we want them or not). Our corporate DNA includes Billy the Kid, William Whipple, Willie Nelson, Billy Graham and Billy Carter (all 'famous' Williams). Whether they were good or bad (or totally unknown) does not matter. They are in the air we breathe, the dirt beneath our feet and our corporate consciousness. We own 9-11, 3 Mile Island, the Vietnam War, Roe v Wade, Gettysburg and even the highs and lows of a small town called Abbeville. It is all a bit like what an old pastor said about Jesus ... "you can't wash Him off your hands, you can't get Him out of your mind, you can't wear Him off." We own, as our heirlooms, all of these things and people. Acts 4:32-33 shows the Church owning and sharing it all ... including the glory of the resurrection and the betrayal of the grave.
But we must be careful! In the Bible, Ezekiel was told to eat a scroll containing God's Word for the people. It was sweet in his mouth but became sour in his stomach. It is a reminder that truth has a sweet and sour element. Our society has a propensity to purge, forget or rail against past people and events that are distasteful or disagreeable. History books are rewritten with the "correct" history based on editing by politically-correct writers. Church doctrine is rewritten based on the context of society rather than on the truth of the Gospel. Older people are dismissed as being outdated and irrelevant. And we forget and lose something of who and what we are. Because when we flippantly throw away our heirlooms, we rip the very fabric of who we are as a nation and as a Church.
John Legend writes a love song called "All of Me." There is a line in the song that expresses his love for "all your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections." Maybe this is how we should look at the journey from there (July 4th for America, Pentecost for the Church) to here. Maybe it is wisdom to accept, reflect upon and treasure the bumps, bruises, victories and failures that we have encountered along the way. Maybe, without the highs and lows, we will lose our way and have no heirlooms upon which to base our perspective or build our future! Randy