A while back I found an old journal of mine that I hadn’t seen in many years, a journal so old that my handwriting was completely different. The journal was from 1975, the summer of 1975 to be exact. I was 19 and working in New Hampshire at a tennis camp for rich kids from New York. I was halfway through college and my entries in the journal reflected some of the upcoming decisions I would have to make. I was beginning to try to figure out whether to go to seminary or law school or graduate school. But what really caught my eye and caused a rush of emotion was when I came upon a few sentences that had to do with a developing desire to meet up with a brunette from Mississippi with a double name. Mary Ward and I had met that spring back in Spartanburg. She was dating a friend of mine and there had been a little spark in the air when he introduced us to each other. From that little spark a definite interest had grown and my journal revealed that the first thing I wanted to do when I got back to South Carolina was call Mary Ward and ask her out. “I wonder if she’ll remember who I am,” I had written.
The words took me back to a time before I even knew if she would actually be interested in me and it was like I was reliving the excitement of the beginning of that relationship. In just a matter of weeks my whole world was going to change pretty dramatically and here I was just beginning to think of what that might be like. The words on the page took me back to the beginning of a new love and I had a rekindled appreciation for the relationship and all that has gone on over the years between us. To revisit the beginning of something is to re-appreciate its value.
The eighth chapter of Nehemiah depicts a time when the people of Israel have been taken away into exile by the Babylonians but now have been returned to Jerusalem after Cyrus and the Persians have defeated the Babylonians. In the eyes of the faithful, they have been rescued once again much like their ancestors had been rescued at the Red Sea. Nehemiah the governor, and Ezra the priest, gather all the people together and they read from the Book of the Law. As they read about how God loved them so much to rescue them and promised to multiply their descendants, the people are taken back many years previous. They get to relive the beginning of the relationship between themselves and God himself. A new sense of appreciation breaks out and they are moved to a new and deeper faithfulness to the God who has loved them so generously for so very long.
In the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus has been baptized and gone through his wilderness experience. Now he returns to Nazareth, the place where he grew up, and he goes to the synagogue and reads from the prophet Isaiah. Much like the gathering in Nehemiah, here the listeners revisit the beginning of their relationship with God. They too develop a new sense of appreciation.
And Jesus takes all this and says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Today God is acting in a very new way but in a way that started so long ago. It’s not that God has changed his mind but the love of God is being made new and fresh starting right now in the person of Jesus Christ. What the people may have forgotten, or taken for granted, or wandered away from, or just not appreciated for a long time, is now brand new. They feel it in a brand new way and their lives will now change in dramatic ways.
The love of God is ancient. It started so long ago. But today it is fresh and new. Sometimes just remembering how old the love of God is can help us feel how very new it is each and every day. God has loved you from the beginning of time. God comes to us through Jesus Christ. Remember the old love of God and be made new in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Ash Wednesday – February 13
7:00 am; 12:05 pm; 5:30 pm
Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist
Childcare provided at 12:05 and 5:30
Wednesdays in Lent: February 20 – March 20
12:05 pm – Guest Preacher, followed by luncheon
5:30 pm – Holy Eucharist
6:00 pm – Supper
6:30 pm – Guest Speaker for Adults and Programs for Children and Youth
Childcare provided at all times
February 20 – The Right Rev. Lloyd Allen, Bishop of Honduras
February 27 – The Right Rev. Kee Sloan, Bishop of Alabama
March 6 – The Right Rev. Santosh Marray, Assisting Bishop in Alabama
March 13 – The Rev. Thomas Joyner, Associate Rector of Holy Trinity in Auburn
March 20 – The Very Rev. Ian Markham, Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary
Adult Inquirers’ Class Led by the Rector – Sundays in Lent
If you are an adult and would like to be confirmed by the Bishop on May 12, or if you just would like a refresher course in the faith, development, and teachings of the Episcopal Church, an Inquirers’ Class will be held during the Sunday School hour on the Sundays in Lent, February 17 – March 24. This course covers all matters of things Episcopal with attention to what distinguishes the Episcopal Church from other denominations, personal prayer and stewardship, Holy Scriptures, Church History, the Sacraments, the Liturgical Church Year, symbols, and the Book of Common Prayer. Presentations will be made each week with dialogue and questions encouraged. We will meet in the Library.