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“Great Memories and Future Hopes”
  This morning as I was heading out the door on my way to church I encountered a most beloved and cursed ‘snow.’ It was falling fast and furious and before I could get in the car I was covered. I began to worry about the road conditions and the bridges I would cross before I would even get to downtown Charleston, let alone St. John’s. Snow and I have a love affair. I love snow, for about a week a year. My early childhood was spent in North Carolina where we averaged about one week of snow a year. No school and out came the sleds. Hot chocolate and snow cream.  Then we moved to South Carolina and that week a year turned into one week about every three years. Not as much, but still enough to continue loving the sight of snow falling and covering the earth. Everything turned a beautiful white where snow created this winter wonderland for those that loved its beauty. Certainly my love of snowy conditions is not everyone’s, but let’s remember, I grew up in the south and we never got so much of it that we tired of it nor did it ever interfere with our lives for long. Of course, my point here is to mention how familiar things from our childhoods can bring back a whole host of wonderful memories.  Those memories came flooding back for me this morning.
What is it that causes wonderful memories to rise to the surface for you?  Snow? Thinking about your childhood? Remembering your days as a student? Your marriage? The birth of a child? Remembering the touch of God’s hand upon you at some point? There is something for all of us that brings back memories, and of course, most of them are good, but some are bad.
When I spend any time reading in the Old Testament I feel as if I am reading about the memories of experiences God’s children had for thousands of years. Over and over again God comes to His people through the prophets and priests and patriarchs telling them they are His people and that He is present with them.  He watches over them and He wanders through the wilderness with them. Everywhere they go, God is with them. And we read the memories of how God’s children experienced love, judgement, watchfulness, even punishment. But the people also remember that no matter what they did or do, God never leaves them or turns his back on them, even if they wander away from him. All these memories point to the presence and care of an ever loving God. When reading these memories, that truth consoles me.
When I read the New Testament, the stories and memories being told bring to mind the promises of Jesus that speak of a future hope for the world. As Jesus reveals that he is the Christ and Savior of humanity, the hope for our reconciliation with God is born, as is the hope of our eternal future in the kingdom of God. No more is God’s story just a memory of what is to come, it is now the hope of what is present and forever. It is the gift that has arrived, been opened, and shared with everyone who is interested. Jesus is the present and future hope of all humanity.
If you’ve ever seen snow fall and cover the earth, you know its beauty as it blankets with purity that which is less than beautiful. And so it is with Christ. His life, death and resurrection become the cover which falls over our sinfulness and makes us presentable to God. His purity and sinlessness covers our sin as it offers us forgiveness.
I suspect this article carries the snow illustration further than it perhaps should have gone, but the power of memories and the assurance of the presence of God and his gift of a Savior bring us to the place where we can see the hope Jesus brought to the world. Think back to your memories and remember how they formed you into the person you are today.  It is the memories of God’s promise, and the gift of Jesus, that form us today as people with hope. We will overcome the struggles of the present day. We will create new memories that assure us God is present and watching over us. And with that assurance, our memories and our hopes define our future as the people of God and the Church of Christ.
Blessings and peace, dear friends.

Pastor Butler +