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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
Recently, someone came to the church with some quilts. She said she is trying to figure out what to do with them. The quilts were made by herself and by her mother. They were beautiful! And not only were they beautiful, but they are now antiques, and they are in good condition. I suggested that she give them to her children, but she said that her children don’t want them. I struggled to grasp that. Who wouldn’t want a piece of art created with love by their own mother and grandmother? But, I know who, many people in our culture today, that is who.
I know that things handed from generation to generation are only material possessions, but they represent something else. In past times, and sometimes today, people pass heirlooms from one generation to the next, a piece of furniture, a Bible, a clock, dishes, land, etc. And while these items may not be the most attractive to a passerby, they hold a particular value that can’t really be measured, because they were a unique connection to a person and to another generation, and for that reason, they were treasured.
If someone doesn’t want another item to add clutter to their home, I can understand that, but there is something happening in our world that greatly troubles me. There is a trend in our culture today to discard everything from the past, including skills, knowledge, and the wisdom of past generations that enabled those generations to survive.
It is not only material things that people pass on. They also pass on their traditions, skills, stories, values, wisdom, faith, and an identity. And these are actually more important than first meets the eye. These provide the younger generation with a particular identity, with the security of having a place to belong, with a sense of belonging to a particular people, of being part of a larger narrative, and remembering the history and wisdom of past generations.
But what is happening in our culture today, is that many young people don’t want any heirlooms, and much more significantly, they don’t want any connection to the past. They don’t want the morals, the values, the skills, the faith, the wisdom, or the advice of their parents or of past generations. All they really want is their parent’s money or a place to live. Our culture is working unceasingly, and with much success, at breaking youth from their connections to their past. And the all-important question that someone better begin to ask is, “What is our culture replacing it with?” When our culture has successfully discarded the morals and traditions and values of the past, it is free to replace them with anything it can conceive of.
I know that each person must form their own identity. That is part of growing up, and it is important, as each person must make faith and a value system their own. But cutting off one’s roots and throwing out all connections to what made us who we are, is not only unwise, it is dangerous. Nobody forms a belief system or a value system out of nothing. We either sift through the traditions and values of our heritage to form our own, or we blindly accept the values, the narrative, and the idols of contemporary culture and make these our own.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day, many will take mom out to eat, or send flowers or cards, or come home for the day. These things are nice, and they are certainly appreciated by moms. But a much better way of honoring our mothers is to listen to her stories, to learn to treasure what she treasures, her faith, her teaching, her values, her wisdom, her labors of love, all that has made mom who she is.