From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

What’s Historic?

OK so I’m feeling snarky, but I think there’s some truth in what I’m thinking. I’m reading in the papers, hearing on the TV and radio, about this “historic” inauguration of President Obama. And I keep thinking “Who says it’s historic?” It’s unprecedented to have a black president, but that doesn’t make it historic.

I’m taking nothing away from the man or the President Obama. I didn’t vote for him but I do have hope that he may well do some very good things, and I support that. And it seems that many of my black brothers and sisters are exultant, perhaps because they feel that at last they’re being recognized and valued. And I’m glad for that.

But to say that this inauguration is an historic event is more a sign of our arrogance and shallowness than our acumen and insight. We just do not know what events will turn out to have deep impact on our history and the flow of events. We cannot know until time has passed.  Columbus came here in 1492 – that was an historic event not because it was unprecedented but because of what followed, which revealed the impact of Columbus “discovery”. Leif Ericson was here nearly 500 years earlier than Columbus – that was unprecedented, but had little historical impact.

I think it’s typical of our age, that symbol is so much more powerful than substance.  Maybe it’s because our attention span is so short that it’s only the momentary that impresses us.

But please, for those of us who believe in a sovereign God, let’s stop pretending we can see the future and know what events are historic and what events aren’t.  Let’s celebrate the unprecedented for what it is, and leave to God to reveal the impact of His hand when and where he will.


One response

  1. Gregg Haege

    I could not agree more. Yet, pundits will fill today and tomorrow with long monologs and group debates about today’s impact. I am tired of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy with which we approach the conduct of our nation’s business, just as I am tired of the moral passivity with which we approach the business of Our Lord. INCLUSIVENESS and TOLERANCE represent the decline that has been adopted by our national-level denominations, making me almost refer to them as our national-level “demonizations.” I suppose our national politics is flavored by our personal and collective “moral savor.” We have lost ours, so why do we expect them to reflect any other result? (Matthew 5:13) I pray that St Paul’s continues its course–on the straight and narrow.

    January 20, 2009 at 10:46 am

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