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Nostalgia: Misplaced Anticipation

Lately I am finding myself engaged in nostalgic conversations with people. People telling us about their favourite summer, their favourite concert, the first time they caught a fish and on it goes. As folks share these stories they exhibit an ‘aliveness’ which seems missing at other times. As an amateur cultural anthropologist I wondered “What is behind all this?” My friends are not generally people who live in the past but why do they come to life, in this way, when they recall the past while the present doesn’t animate them in the same way? I believe that it is not really the past that enlivens us, but it is the future and that nostalgia is just misplaced anticipation. Intuitively we know that the joy of catching our first fish or of our first kiss is a foretaste of the joy that lies ahead in the Kingdom of God. Our nostalgia is a God given thing to call us forward into His Kingdom! My Boomer generation are caught up in a frenzy of nostalgia. We are nostalgic about things we never experienced (a whole generation could not have been at Woodstock). This nostalgia is evidence of a deep yearning for that future Kingdom. While all may have the yearning all do not yet have the Kingdom. The task of the Church is to connect people to their deepest longings. We might sometimes feel that we must convince people against their will, to believe, but God has created us all with a restlessness until we find our rest in Him, and an nostalgic anticipation that looks forward to His Kingdom fully coming. Some evangelists look to pummel people into the Kingdom like a heavy weight boxer but I much more prefer to allow the momentum in peoples’ lives naturally carry them to Jesus. I believe it is important that we look for these deep yearnings, which are often unconsciously experienced by our friends, and help them to become conscious of their own longings. Once that is done plant the good news, and watch it grow!

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