george hancock stefanSummative statements are powerful.  Historians are forever quoting Santayana that those who do not know history are bound to repeat its mistakes.  On the other hand, Karl Marx said that it is not important to study history as to make history.  One also remembers the powerful words spoken by President Lincoln that those who have given their lives have made that place hallowed ground.

About four decades ago when my parents left the Midwest and settled on the West Coast, I remarked that I was not leaving Boston for the West Coast because the West Coast had no history. Since then, my family members have moved to Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Seattle. I expect them to keep moving and one of these days find a nice place in Alaska.  However, in their pilgrimage from the south to the north of the West Coast, I learned that there is a lot of history on the West Coast.

Within my pastoral context, I have met many people who have been adopted.  Under the old adoption rules, they could not find anything out about their parents.  However, laws have been changing and in listening to the people who have been adopted more recently, expressions such as “I want to know my future physical ailments,” or “I want to know the history of my family” were frequent part of the discussion.  While some were ecstatic when they found their parents, one person found out that their parents were involved in the Woodstock musical event and continued their involvement in drug culture.

In some of our churches I find that they do this quantum leap from the first half of the first century to their own corner church.  But from the time of Jesus until our time there is a period of about 2,000 years.  The Roman Catholic Church has two thousand years of history, and each one of its three words is packed with historical meaning.  It identified with a historic time and government (the Roman Empire), it defines itself by universality (catholic) and retains the singular (church) by declaring that Jesus Christ has only one church. The First Baptist Church formed in 1609 in Amsterdam and The Baptist World Alliance formed in 1905 are very meticulous in demonstrating that our doctrine connects us with the apostolic church.

I like to travel through New Jersey because it has so much history. There are memorials and cemeteries that tell the stories of George Washington traveling through this state in order to provide freedom to the citizens of this newly founded country. The old churches connect us with the religious revivals and remind us that we are in a place visited by God. God has not just visited us in Israel in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That visitation continues by the presence of the Holy Spirit given to the church on that historic day called Pentecost.

History has been made in the past and history books have recorded the good and the bad things that have happened.  I am thinking that if King David would have had editorial powers, he may have left out some of the things that he has done, but that would have been an incomplete history.  You and I are making history now because our good deeds or bad deeds influence the present and somewhere along the way, they will also influence the future.