I’m a sucker for old church directories. I can crack open an old pictorial directory and be in it for a couple of hours before I realize it. Is it just me? Or can you also lose track of time flipping through an old church directory? I love it. Do you keep old church directories or do you throw them away as soon as the new one comes out? You keep them all, don’t you.
For the past three weeks or so I’ve been looking through old Legacy Church of Christ pictorial directories. We’re in the middle of the picture-making process for a new directory right now. And to encourage our people to sign up for the 20-minute procedure, I’ve been pulling old pictures of long-time members to show to the congregation on Sunday mornings. The old photos give us something to laugh about. The bald men in our church family used to sport a bunch of dark hair. The distinguished men among us used to wear huge, round glasses. Some of our ladies….
…Come on, I’m not an idiot.
I love looking through the old directories. It reminds me that we are a family.
We are a family with a shared history, shared stories, inter-twined lives.
Some of us have died. And we mourned the loss together. Some of our children have married each other. And we celebrated the union together. Some of the little kids in these old pictures are now ministry leaders in this church. And, no doubt, some of those now gone would marvel at which ones. Some of us have moved away. Some of us have gone and then come back. Some of us have suffered great loss. We’ve written and performed puppet shows together. We’ve cried together at baptisms and cried together at funerals. We’ve set up and taken down Give Away Day racks and shelves dozens of times together. We’ve fought. And we’ve made up. We’ve grown. We’ve discovered with great joy that God is working mightily in our weaknesses. We’ve been stunned by what he does for us and with us and through us. We have prayed together, had kids together, attended graduations and weddings together, and played Spades and Forty-Two.
I love old pictorial directories. They bring back floods of memories. Rod Stewart and Janis Joplin say every picture tells a story, don’t it? Every page brings a rush of sounds and emotions and images and places in our collective history with our God and his people.
And they remind me that Christians never do anything alone. We belong to our Father and we belong to one another. Through thick and thin, in good times and bad, when the sun’s shining down on us and on the road marked with suffering, we walk together.
The impersonal wasteland that is today’s electronic technology has obliterated personal visitation and replaced our song books. It’s killed off phone trees and made obsolete our sympathy and get well cards. It’s working on eliminating our Bibles. May it never touch our pictorial directories.