Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Happy Anniversary! The month of October is anniversary month at Schoeneck, and this year we will be celebrating the church’s 278th anniversary. Instead of just celebrating on a single day, we will be taking the whole month to thank God for His faithfulness in preserving our church through so many generations. Each Sunday we will set aside a moment in worship to tell the stories of different members of Schoeneck, either past or present, who gave their lives to be servants of God. We will learn about how they glorified God with their lives and how we can go and do likewise. In a way, we will be taking time to look back, and we will also be taking time to look ahead.
In our commitment of faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord emphasizes the importance of looking back. God commands that we do it, and it is actually to our benefit that we do. Psalm 78:4,5-7 declares, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord…He decreed statues for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.” This psalm tells of the importance of passing on the stories of God’s greatness from one generation to the next. Again, God commands that we do it. Why? A clue is found in verse seven. The result of sharing our testimonies of God is that this new generation would then “put their trust in God.” Passing on our faith stories helps others to believe. It makes God real for them so that they too would want to believe in Him and follow.
We have to do this. We have to keep on sharing the recorded history of God’s deliverance and mercy to our congregation. By doing so, God is brought closer to all of us. Our love of Him is increased, and our commitment to Him is strengthened.
Next to sharing stories of the past, we also look to the future. Just as important as it is to think of where we have been, we also have to remember that God calls us to the now as well. These stories of God’s praiseworthy acts of year’s past are meant to quicken and bolster our faith, but they aren’t meant to stagnate it. We can easily get lost in talking about the “good-old days” and forget that God calls us to do something today. We can easily succumb to holding on to the baton given to us by the previous generation instead of taking it and continuing the race. Our ancestors have done a good job in being faithful to God’s call to let His light shine in their time. What will we do to keep that light shining?
Joshua in the Old Testament gives us a great example to follow. Like us, he too was handed a baton, and a pretty big one. Moses was the leader of the people of Israel. He brought them out of Egypt and guided them through the wilderness. Before Moses died, he gave the reigns of leadership over to Joshua. It would have been easy for Joshua to look at the profound ways God had used Moses and think, “There is no way I can live up to that!” It would’ve been easy for him to wonder how he would ever be half the servant of God Moses was. But he didn’t. Rather than live off the revenue of Moses’ achievements or get stuck in feelings of inadequacy, Joshua heard and responded to the Lord’s command to keep on going. God said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them” (Joshua 1:2). Joshua’s response? We read, “So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” (Joshua 1:10-11). Joshua did not hesitate. He saw that there was work to do, and he carried on the Lord’s mission. Maybe he had a moment of fear of how he might measure up to Moses. But in that moment, perhaps he remembered that though Moses did great things, he was simply a man with a stuttering problem who allowed God to use him (Exodus 4:10). And look at the result.
Like Joshua, we too have work that God has given us to do. We have children who need to be taught about the salvation of the Lord. We have a community in need of the Gospel and God’s hand of mercy. We have a confused generation in need of God’s truth. Looking at the past, we see the hard labor others have given for the Lord. Can we give the same to God today?
Revs. Garritt and Sanette Fleming, Pastors