Episode 1. A Time to Remember
These days – so many of us suffer from what sociologists are calling short termism. And one of the things we do is we forget the past. The Good things that God has done. Maybe, maybe it’s time to remember One of the terms that you hear bantered around these days by sociologists, people who […]
These days – so many of us suffer from what sociologists are calling short termism. And one of the things we do is we forget the past. The Good things that God has done. Maybe, maybe it’s time to remember
One of the terms that you hear bantered around these days by sociologists, people who study our culture and how we live, is this word, “short-termism”. Or maybe its two words, I don’t know. And what they’re talking about is the fact that we’re all so focused on spending up big on our credit card and then paying off debt, that we’ve stopped thinking longer term. We’ve stopped thinking about the future and dreaming and planning and hoping.
We’re all walking around looking at our feet because the load that we’re carrying is so heavy that we’re stooped over. And when you think about it, what an incredibly sad way to live life. We work hard all week to eke out a living. To pay the mortgage. To put food on the table. And the furthest we seem to be able to look is the weekend so we can flop on the couch exhausted.
So short-termism is about the fact that we always focus on the short-term. But as well as stopping us from looking forward, it also stops us from looking back. And whilst none of us should be living in the past, it turns out that the past has an awful lot to do with feeling secure about the present and having hope for the future.
Think about it. We’re made up of two things. The first is our DNA. Essentially who we are. Our natural gifts and talents and abilities and skills. And the second thing are our experiences. Take two identical twins. Exactly the same DNA fingerprint. Put one in a loving home to grow up and the other in a horrible home and they’re going to grow up to be two profoundly different people. Who we are naturally is shaped by our experiences. Good, bad. Positive, negative. Beautiful, ugly. And that makes us who we are. The problem with short-termism is that we forget the things that our experience has taught us.
In the olden days, which is what I used to call my parents experience and it’s what my kids now call my experience. Back in the olden days, people were interested in a whole bunch of things from the past. Their ethnic heritage. Their family heritage. Where they come from. The traditions of their communities and their families. Not quite so true anymore. Because we’re into short-termism.
I was talking with a father recently, a man about my age with 3 adult children. And he’s been trying to get some family traditions going amongst this extended family. Trying to establish some family roots for his kids and their children. But his adult children, well they’re not interested. That’s because our culture has shifted from those roots that we used to rely on, to short-termism. Buying the next thing. Making it through to the weekend.
What’s all that got to do with Easter? Turns out, quite a bit. Last week on the program we took a look at this whole Easter thing through the incredibly rich symbolism of the Jewish Passover Festival. Because Jesus was crucified during the Passover Festival. And what He was doing, well He very closely tied it to that celebration of the Passover. The questions is, what is the Passover and why were they celebrating it?
Well, Passover history in a nut shell is this. Israel were slaves in Egypt for 400 and something years. And then, in about 1270 BC, Moses came along and said to Pharaoh, “let my people go.” Pharaoh didn’t so God sent 10 plagues upon Egypt and the last one was the death of the first-born of everyone in an Egyptian household. And Israel was protected from that because God said to them, “You go and slay yourself a lamb. Paint the blood of the lamb on your door posts and you’ll be safe.”
And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. So began their exodus out of Egypt and the 40 years they spent in the wilderness on the way to the land that God had promised, centuries before, to Abraham.
But to make this happen, they had to slaughter a lamb for each household. And paint the blood on the door posts. Roast the lamb with bitter herbs and eat it with unleavened bread. Those were the instructions. But now listen to what God commanded Moses about this Passover for the future. You can read this if you like in Exodus chapter 12:
God said, ‘This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You will celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. Throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove all leaven from your houses for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day will be cut off from Israel.
One the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly and on the seventh day a solemn assembly. No work will be done on those days. Only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the Festival of this unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt. You shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance.’
It was a day of remembrance. A week-long festival of remembrance. To remember the good thing that God had done for His people. And so they did. For the most part they celebrate it every year, this festival. Each year to remember. And over and over and over again, throughout the Old Testament, God reminds them of the thing that He did:
So you shall remember and do all my commandments and you shall be holy to your God. For I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.
Why is this so important? Because when we shape our lives around the short-term, things that pass away, we’re like a cork in ocean. Being tossed to and fro. We don’t have any roots. There’s nothing solid. But when we throw our anchors deep down into God and who He is and what He’s done for us. Then we find a life that, no matter what storm blows in, it’s a life that’s lived on rock solid ground. We rely on the good things that God’s done in the past to know that we can get through the present and get on with the future.
And at the Passover celebration, that final supper with His disciples in the upper room, as Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine, this is what He said:
‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And in the same way He took a cup also, after the supper, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as your drink it in remembrance of me.’
Easter is a time of remembrance. That’s why Christ followers, the world over, get together regularly and celebrate what we now call Communion. The bread and the wine.
I wonder, as we just stop and think and survey the landscapes of our own lives. The good things. The stressful things. The uncertain things. Whatever, good and bad. And we consider how we’re dealing with that.
Let me ask you this question. What if you lived your life, lived it in a way that’s deeply anchored in the rich memory of the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made, on that cross, just after that Passover celebration? A celebration that, for Him and His disciples, was about the very first Passover of Israel from the plagues of Egypt over 1300 years before.
If you live your life rooted deeply in the memory of this act of amazing grace, where the Lamb of God went to the cross and took away the sins of the world, your sin and my sin, how would it change your life today? How different would life be if, no matter what came along? No matter what the world hurled at you today, tomorrow and the next day and week after. You just lived your life in the memory of this Lamb of God who died for you.
Short termism breezes through Easter without a second thought. But Easter is a time to remember. Because that memory can profoundly change our present and our future.