I’ve spent a fair amount of time this week talking to people about what things used to be like. I’ve been with families preparing for the funerals of their loved ones, who remember what family life used to be like when they were growing up. I’ve had conversations with people living in Cavour Street in Etruria who have lived there through all the changes of the last fifty years. Through the closure of industries, the demolition of one lot of houses and the building of another lot. I heard about how close knit that community used to be. To be honest, I suspect that in these conversations there were, in some cases, rose tinted glasses being worn, but, mostly, the memories of the things being recalled were good memories, that make life today seem a bit flat, disjointed, with communities that aren’t as strong and more people that are lonely and lost.
Most of the people that I spoke to seemed to have lost something that they remember having, and they aren’t sure if they are ever going to find it again.
In contrast, our first reading this morning encourages those who hear it to remember in a different way. Rather than looking back, remembering that things were better then and worse now, they are told to look back and remember that things were worse then and are so much better now.
You see, this letter was aimed at Gentile Christians. It was written to those who knew that in the past they had been completely excluded from God’s people. They were without hope, they didn’t know God. They were in darkness. They had no promise from God for their earthly lives, or for what would happen when their earthly life ended. They were all at sea.
But not anymore. Something had changed. There was a shift from the way that they used to live, and now they lived in a different way.