Sermons

Summary: The church, in embracing the constant of time, relives the life of Jesus each year over the course of time. Holy Week is about remembering. Remembering all these events, events that have reminded us of God’s faithfu

Bibliography: Finding Christ, Finding Life: Memory

There was a movie released several years ago about a teenage boy named Marty who hung out with an older scientist friend. The scientist had created a time machine out of an old Delorian, and without meaning to, Marty climbed into the Delorian and found himself in the time of his parent’s teenage years. Marty was faced with the need to recreate events in that past day and the task of returning to the present, and by the way, faced a very different future.

You may remember the movie. It was Back To The Future starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

This week at the box office, there is a new release of an old classic by H. G. Wells, The Time Machine. In that story another scientist who has created a time machine goes forward in time hoping to find great advances but doesn’t like what he finds at all. I haven’t seen this remake but I seem to recall the scientist returns to his own era, disappointed about the future and his inability to change it.

Humanity is fascinated with the concept of time. Perhaps it is because it is an element we cannot change.

I would imagine each of us have wished for a time we could have gone back and did something differently, taken back words we have said, or spoken up at a time we didn’t.

When we are young, we think adulthood will never get here. We long for the day we can be old enough to make our own decisions and be on our own. We wish to jump into the future.

But when we are older, it seems like time is speeding down a track and picking up speed with each passing day. We wonder where time has gone. So many parts of our life seem like only yesterday. We don’t know where the time has gone.

Time has us trapped. We cannot go back when we want. We cannot go forward when we want. Time it would seem is an element over which we have no control and cannot change.

The church, too, has focused its attention on the attribute of time. Sometimes, when everything else about life is so chaotic, when so many elements of life are out of control, there can be comfort in the unending cycle of time. To everything, there is a season, and a time, and a purpose under heaven. Time remains steadfast and constant.

One aspect of time involves recalling events of the past and considering their relevance for the present. Another aspect of time includes speculating on the future, attempting to understand how events of the past and present impact the future. There is concern about what the future will be. What hope can we have for tomorrow?

One way in our personal lives we have dealt with the element of time, the precariousness of what time holds for us in the future is through story telling. By telling a story we can bring to life events that happened in our past. We can see those events happening again. Often, in our story telling it seems like the events happened so recently. In a way, we have managed to circumvent what we cannot change, time.

But its more than that.

When we retell stories, they bring to life memories, and they help to recreate in us who we are. Those stories bring to life influences of who we have become - and also the people we are going on to be.

*****

There’s a children’s story that’s not too old I use to read to my boys, that’s based upon this ritualizing of past events that happens in story telling.

In the story, a Mother rocks and sings to her baby son. The words that she sings are these:

“I’ll love you forever.

I’ll love you for always.

As long as I’m living,

my baby you’ll be.”

As the child grows, how this event of rocking and singing takes place changes slightly, but some elements of this encounter between mother and son remain the same. There is always rocking - a physical symbol of the love between this mother and son; and there is always this song - the verbalization of the love between them.

And then one day, the roles have reversed but the ritual is the same. It is the son who holds and rocks the mother and sings the song because the mother has become the one who now needs cared for. Yet the message of love that flows between them has been preserved in this ritualized memory that they share in this song:

“I’ll love you forever.

I’ll love you for always.

As long as I’m living,

my mother you’ll be.”

It was a story my children wanted me to read to them over and over again when they were little.

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