Journey to the Manger: Advent 2019

Don’t Look Back…

The podcaster’s words grab me, “Nostalgia, or at least remaining nostalgic for long periods of time, is a sin. Looking back, attempting to return to what once was, is faithless living.”

I literally shuddered with defense when he called nostalgia a sin. Don’t misunderstand, remembering days gone by was not his focus. He talked about the desire to return to better days instead of looking forward.

I looked it up in the dictionary.

Nostalgia means the “state of being homesick or a wistful and excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.” (Merriam Webster)

Hmmm… he might be right.

I’m reminded of the newly freed Israelites who complained and voiced their desire to return to slavery.

Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.

Exodus 14:12, ESV

I think about the comments I hear others make about our country and politics. I listen and laugh as my friend fondly recalls our teen years when carrying quarters in our pocket was a reminder to call home. I hear my hubby’s longing to return to a time when we stayed up late on Christmas Eve assembling toys.

More importantly I notice my own desire to encourage parents to enjoy the years when their children are young as if this is somehow better than what I enjoy with my children now.  When I get stuck in the remembering, I miss the here and now. I miss the joy of landing the dream job she worked so hard to get, or the new Christmas tree in the new house in the new state where he lives. Looking back causes me to forget the wonderful place this family is experiencing now and the places God is moving us toward.

Whew! I hate to admit my faithless living but his words ring true. I light the second Advent candle and sigh deep with repentance.

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I wonder if Mary thought about the good ole days on the way to Bethlehem. Did she wish for easier times? Second guess her decision to say yes to God? Is it possible she despised the government’s demand for the taking of a census. Heavy laden with child did she yearn for the comfort of her bed or bemoan the loss of her youth?

And what about Joseph. As he walked mile after mile did he worry about taking care of his pregnant bride? Did he ever consider returning?

Though the scriptures don’t reveal their thoughts, I can imagine doubt along the way. But it didn’t deter them. Didn’t stop them in their tracks or cause them to go back. The very fact they kept going is testiment to their faith.

Hebrews describes faith as forward looking to things hoped for not things once lived (Hebrews 11:1). Podcast words become my sign, “Going back, attempting to recover the past, is faithless living.”

Lighting the second candle reminds me Advent is a eyes forward, looking ahead journey. Bethlehem calls me to take the next step, remember with joy how God brought us to this place, and look foward expectantly to coming days.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

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