The Memory Problem

This month I have the privilege of speaking at “Founder’s Day” at Riverview Estates. This is a bit unusual for me, as I have a bit of an cynical streak when it comes to celebrating institutional anniversaries. Churches especially, I have found, transform these parties into something toxic. Anniversaries should mark how our Savior brought a congregation into being, continued to work throughout its journey, and looking forward with hope . Instead, for many churches, they become funeral services for a deceased past. The glories of what has gone are trumpeted, and the betrayal of the present is condemned. This is the ache of nostalgia in all its toxic glory.

Yet, I’m happy to speak at this type of Anniversary for Riverview. Why? It’s because, as a local pastor, I’ve been part of the Riverview community for nearly 12 years. I’ve witnessed the home celebrate it’s history, I’ve seen the way residents and employees strive forward to make it a home which honors the Lord in whose name it was founded, and I’ve been privy to conversations which reach out to the future in Jesus’ name. When Riverview gathers to mark it’s founding the party is not the toxin of nostalgia, it’s the power of memory.

Sometimes it’s nice to be able to leave my cynicism at the door. On March 14 I’ll get the chance.