Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Looking back

Looking back

There’s a specific reason why I love this place.

Colonial Williamsburg is calming.  With its simple buildings and careful gardens, the colonial town has a kind of hushed reverence.  My wife and I have come here (for perhaps the fifth time?) to get a dose of this peaceful “otherness.”  Away from the divisiveness of our present age.  And the pandemic news.  And all the conflicts.

To get back to a simpler age.

Except, of course, it wasn’t.

Well, it didn’t have our breakneck speed.  And the constant distraction of technology.  But it did have waves of smallpox.  And plenty of divisiveness – imagine the weight of the decision for prominent businessmen and women to choose a side in the developing revolution, gambling everything: livelihood, property, reputation.

And they had rampant injustice of humans being owned by other humans.  One docent told us that half of the population of Williamsburg at one point were enslaved people.

We have social media shaming.  They had public whipping for unpaid debt.

This is why I find history fascinating.  It’s a doorway through which I can see the commonality, despite the differences.  And as I have been reading about and singing a hymn every day this year, I have been reflecting on the continuity of faith and the constancy of Christ.

When Augustus Toplady wrote, in 1775, “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee,” (today’s hymn) he had in view the same gospel truths that grip me.  Our desperate need for the grace of God.  And Christ’s rock-solid ability to save us from our sin.

For Scripture teaches, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)

The evening is glorious.  As we walk around the capitol, the sky is awash in color.  I am reminded that there is a legal dimension to the Jesus’s dependability.  Because his sacrifice never diminishes, never fades in power, I am assured that he will present me “faultless before his glorious presence.” (Jude 1:24)

But tonight, this is the image that speaks to me of Jesus and history.  For he is not simply a remote fixed truth, like a coat of arms in the governor’s palace.

He is an active, living Lord, who breaks into the rhythm of time with his abundant kindness. He awakens hearts.  He reveals his Father’s glory.  He speaks courage and comfort to those in need.

Are those intervals centuries or minutes of a day?

That depends very much upon us.

Jesus, you are the solid rock on which we stand.  Throughout the ages, you have remained the one, true source of salvation.  Break into this day with your steadfast love.

Reader: Can you share with me a story from history (yours or general) that speaks of Christ’s unchanging love?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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