Nancy and I have been appointed as Co-pastors of a congregation in Jeffersonville, Indiana. We will move at the end of August and so we have begun the sorting, deciding, packing and disposing of all manner of things we have accumulated in ten years. Some of it is ours and some belongs to our children…
It is a very interesting look into our life. So many are things that one or more of us were sure we needed (or the kids thought they could not live without). They now are in a box as we try to recall what it is or why we had to have it in the first place.
As a follower of Antiques Roadshow I daydream that I find some sort of valuable artifact in these boxes of the detritus of our life. Instead I mostly find things that were useful but are no longer, or things to which one of us has some sort of emotional attachment but no present usefulness (and if I were really honest no future purpose either).
It is often hard to discard these things. I, for example, found myself reluctant to throw out files I had not accessed or used since the 1980’s. I contemplated keeping handouts from workshops I gave over 15 years ago and have not offered since. There was that nagging “But what if…”
Institutions do the same things. We hang onto ideas and programs and events long past their useful life. I was in a parish that had kept props, set pieces, scripts and costumes from a Christmas pageant they had stopped doing because it required more time and energy than the people of the parish could devote . These pieces of the past had been stored, and they had gotten wet and were musty. There was no prospect of instituting the gala production again but it took seven years to be able to get rid of these smelly, moldy things. It seems proof that we are reluctant to let go of the past in order to face the future unencumbered.
It takes nerve to let go of the past in order to have a new future. I believe it is right to claim and keep the memories, and retain the knowledge of what it was we valued in the past, in order to make certain what we value and find life-giving is part of what we create in the future. But we cannot be so weighted down with the objects, requirements and details of the past that we cannot contemplate or create a different future.
God does not call us to the same-old, same-old. Our Easter faith is not about being a museum to the past or about resuscitation of our history, but about new life into the future.
So our recycle bins and trash can are full each week and we are taking load of things to find new homes and a new useful life with others as we prepare for our new life – in a new setting – in a land which God has showed us.