Friday, January 2, 2015
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15.4
A Word of Hope
On this second day of the New Year, it is interesting to consider the fact that you and I are people of the past. We say we live in the present and envision truly hopeful futures, but all those memories of earlier days, both joyful and hurtful, still linger and continue to create the amalgam we call ourselves.
I remember in school when I first started to learn about conjugating verbs, and when we came across that verb tense called “past perfect.” Even then I thought it odd that someone came up with that term in the first place. Could even a verb have had a perfect past? Years later, I discovered that most every word we utter has arrived to us pretty badly bruised in it’s journey from Latin, German, Greek, Romanian or whatever; certainly products of a less-than-perfect past. In its varied and colorful heritage, English is actually a pretty inclusive language.
I’m sure none of us would claim that our past is any closer to perfect than the words we use to describe it and many of us find it difficult to make peace with it. I still sometimes cringe at memories of the rehearsed and packaged answers I used to give children many years ago in Sunday school classes, thinking that was all they would ever need to know. I was taught in those days that the Bible literally contained all the answers for every question people living in our century could conjure up. As my theology evolved through the years, I often regretted those conservative encounters, but now, I’m actually grateful for much of what I learned back then, especially about the Bible stories’ content and where to find them. My past also taught me how not to teach children (or adults!) and that it’s actually okay not to have all the answers; that children are more satisfied with an honest, “I really don’t know,” or “what do you think about that?” than with pat answers they are bound to deconstruct later.
We teach others best when we allow our pasts to teach us first and though none of our pasts are perfect, they are a perfectly good start.
God of wisdom, help us to recall all the evidence of your workings in our past that we may learn to work for your greater good in the future.
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