Then he further revealed that the hymnals weren’t even in the church’s possession! They were stored in the rare books department of the Boston Public Library. Most church members – and certainly 99% of the community – have never even laid eyes on these items. Are they ancient? Yes. Significant? Absolutely. Do they remain instruments of worship and service? No, they haven’t served that purpose for a long time, and they will never do so again.
That these hymnals are a part of the past, not the future, appeared to be the final motivation in the sale. One thoughtful woman in the church said, “I have two young sons, and looking forward I want my sons to learn that it’s not about objects. We can take those objects from the past and turn them into fuel for tomorrow.”
What a fantastic perspective, and what an applicable lesson for us all. As one year ends and another begins, a profound choice is put before every person: Will we hold on to the past – preserving, protecting, and perpetuating it – even when doing so becomes much more work than it is worth? Or will we use the past, its gore and its glory, as fuel for the future? Will we take all we have learned, all we have been blessed with, and yes, even all that has hurt us, as the means to continue moving forward?
I am certain that a church older than the Constitution, old enough to have baptized the infant Benjamin Franklin, and solid enough to withstand everything three centuries has thrown at it, will indeed weather this current situation. I just hope that the resources from the past will get put to today’s use, and not be locked away in a vault or collect interest in some obscene-sized endowment.