Thursday, July 16, 2015

Roads, Walls & Soldiers' Toilets: Reflections on History and Survival

Yesterday, we drove down a Roman Road. It was very straight and, after nearly 2,000 years, very usable.

Of course, over the milennia it has received maintenance, upgrades, paving and modern markings. All over Britain there are ancient Roman roads still in use.

We took that Roman Road to an ancient fort called "Housesteads." Really, a ruin. You can still see the outlines of many buildings. From an archaeological perspective, it is remarkably well preserved, but trust me, you don't want to use these toilets. Though the latrine was built to the highest level of sanitation technology known in the world at that time, it is now a curiosity, useful only to teach us about the past.

Preservation is a wonderful thing, as is learning about the past. Ruins are one way to recognize our history and to feel connected to those who came before.

But there is an even greater connection, a living connection, when we are still using the items our ancestors made. I have seen this in the castles, church buildings and cathedrals we have visited, too. Some are simply museums, showing old items and teaching facts -- often in creative and interactive ways. I love re-enactors!

Others are stil residences, places where people live, eat, laugh and cry. Or they house vibrant congregations who continue the tradition of worship. They don't live and worship exactly as their ancestors however. They have electricity, running water, projectors, updated language, new styles of music, different clothing, new forms of art and communication mixed in with the old. Historical, yet living. Renewed and transformed, yet connected to centuries past.

How is your church or organization? Is it a museum to the past or a living community? It's worth thinking about.


CYC does a good job of balancing tradition with renewal. It's a 100 year old ministry to teens. Send your highschoolers along to this amazing two weeks in August on the southern coast of Maine. It's not too late to sign up for our 100th anniversary conference that starts August 2, 2015.  

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