I stopped in at the MoBIA yesterday for a long-overdue visit to one of my favourite too-neglected museums in New York City. I wanted to make sure to see the As Subject and Object exhibit before it comes down next week.
One of the first pieces I saw in the exhibit (which was worth seeing, and held so many beautiful moments) was Lynne Avadenka’s Lamentations book from 2009 (images here and here). It was displayed beside a translation of a portion of its text, the last verse of the Biblical book of Lamentations:
Take us back, O Lord, to Yourself. And let us come back; Renew our days as of old!”
— Lamentations 5:21-22
What really struck me was this idea of going back. In this text the prophet Jeremiah is weeping for the past glory of his nation. I’ve been dwelling on this idea of “going back” to church; maybe it’s not so difficult to relate to this desire to re-find the best parts of our past.
But I was filled with pity when I read that text. Surely, in longing for a departed past, the Israelites were held back from courageously moving forward. And for myself, do I really want to go back to church the way it was when I used to be regularly involved?
I don’t have any morbidly sour church history (aside from the pastor who questioned my teenage fascination with Harry Potter), but I’m not the same person I was when I last sat in the pews. The world is not the same place as when Israel last had its glory days. Let’s move forward; let’s figure out our new place as we are now, in the world – and the church – as it is now.
(in case I didn’t hint at this: visit the MoBIA. Now and often.)