Genesis 19:26 tells us Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Many other places in the Bible, though, tell us we are to remember. To tell yesterday's stories to our children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4 is all about remembering who God is and how God has been with us, and telling those stories to the kids.
Tonight the rain is coming down outside and I am looking back. I didn't intend to look back. I came into the office tonight to sort through files. (One of the things I try to do is leave a sparkling clean set of files for whoever follows me.) So I have been sorting...tossing...keeping... writing notes on files that need to be re-labeled.
I keep finding things. A wonderful Advent hymn a friend found on the United Methodist web site years ago. I look at the hymn and the words are a gift.
There is a file on The Green Room. Some of you may remember that TUMC got creative as we tried to reach out to young adults, and Trinity opened up a coffee shop in downtown Elkhart. As a place where young adults -and people of all ages- could gather. The coffee was good, the food was just fine, and the music was cool...but we closed it after a few years.
Fifteen years ago Trinity had three Sunday morning worship services. All were wonderful and all were essentially the same. We weren't reaching a new generation. So one of the files I came across is all about the creation of a "Contemporary Worship Task Force." Our leaders were putting that together as early as January of 1997. There are song lists. Some of them would embarrass us now, I suppose. And I remember that week after week, long after the "Celebration!" service was begun (bet you had forgotten that name!), our staff got headaches as we worked through the "bugs" in our primitive sound/projection system. We wanted our worship to glorify God and we wanted it to be excellent in every way...and some weeks it was!
There are names, too. Names of people I married. Names of friends, of saints, like June and John and Helen, whose funeral services I was privileged to lead. People whose faith and love and sense of humor and generosity has marked me forever.
So tonight I am looking back. And I don't feel salty at all. I feel blessed...thankful...gifted.
The words to that Advent hymn by a Jesus follower named Kilgore? They are in part these: I am here in the stars, in the dark of the night. I am always within you, and I am the light. I am who I am, sings the God of my soul. In your waiting and home I am making you whole.
Sometimes stopping and looking back is a very, very good thing, you know?