Some days I yearn to live in simpler times. Amidst the clangor and clamor of this frenetic age—24/7 news cycles, pervasive (and invasive) social media, ever-accelerating pace of change, warring world views, animosity and animus between people—I sometimes long for calm, reasonableness, a sense of peace and shared purpose.
Nana, my maternal grandmother, was born in 1886, the daughter of a Civil war veteran. She often regaled me with wonderful stories and remembrances from the late 1800s and early 1900s about growing up in small town southern Indiana. Two stories continue to resonate. On their wedding night, friends gathered in the yard to sing sweet songs to my grandparents. This lovely, long neglected tradition is called a “Shivaree.” Several years later, Grandfather Henry and his brother Fred bought one of the first trucks in Seymour and began transporting commercial and household goods around the area. On several Sunday afternoons, people came from miles around on horse and buggy to see this new-fangled contraption. The men would inspect the engine, kick the tires and sneak a few beers when Nana wasn’t watching. The women fixed wonderful meals of fried chicken, corn on the cob, and green beans loaded with ham, all cooked over a wood-fired stove that Nana still used in the 1950s and 60s. To me it sometimes seems like an idyllic time. The picture is a family reunion in August 1928 in Seymour.
Upon reflection, however, has there ever really been a “simpler time?” I think most people throughout history would emphatically say they did not live in a simple time. Each age, each generation faces its own challenges and calamities, successes and failures, trials and tribulations. My grandparents lived through two world wars, the world-wide flu epidemic of 1918-19, the Great Depression, and any number of personal and daily challenges. They witnessed the advent of flight, radio, TV, computers and space travel. Consider also the Hebrew and Gentile people at the time of Jesus who came together in the early churches. These people faced poverty, persecution, estrangement and death while their worldviews and long-held traditions seemed to be turned upside down.
Technology certainly changes and the calendar inexorably advances one day at a time, yet people in their essence—what they dream about, what they long for, the things that really matter in their families and lives—have not, in my estimation, changed much over the millennia. That’s one reason we can identify so strongly with the real people in the Bible, see ourselves reflected in their strengths and weaknesses, their triumphs and travails. Throughout the ages, one thing has remained constant—the need all people have for Jesus. What an honor and blessing it is to come together and share in the Lord’s Supper this Sunday. We humbly thank Christ for opening the clear path to the Father and for the sustaining gift of the Holy Spirit.
Bruce Fairbairn, Elder