The Scriptures don’t report it and it is certainly difficult to imagine it.
At no point are we aware that Jesus was sitting around a campfire with his disciples recalling the time where he was walking on water… “Peter, duuuude, you should have seen your face when you began to sink – I was sure your cloak was getting all wet and it wasn’t from lake water, if ‘ya know what I mean!” He wasn’t at the Last Supper recounting the time of the leftover loaves and fishes; choosing to focus on the dozen with him now rather than the thousands gathered then. He did not stop carrying the wooden Cross on the road to Calvary to reminisce about growing up a carpenter’s son.
Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. And it is so often mental comfort food shared amongst the youth ministry crowd. We can often cling to our own experiences rather than helping others grown into their own unique experiences. We limit our repertoire to what has worked for us… in a different time, different place… without consideration for the time and place where we are now.
Perhaps it is the nature of the age group with whom we minister – We see change and growth so we “Remember when…” Perhaps it is the nature of our faith which is built around a “Do this in memory of Me” action. But, nostalgia does not seem to be the sensibility of the Master.
There’s no better place to serve young people than in the present. Kids don’t remember or need to re-enact our romanticized memories, when screens were for keeping the flying bugs out and kids entertained themselves with Capture the Flag instead of Grand Theft Auto V. When families gathered ’round the television to watch wholesome programming over plates of Spam. When gas cost less than a buck a gallon, but we hardly noticed — seeing as how we walked barefoot, uphill, both ways … in the snow – you know the usual rap.(Unless, of course, you only listen to Motown.)
The faith we share is forward looking. We evangelize towards a open future, not our closed past. The prayer Jesus taught was for our future, the beattitudes call us on how to live towards the future, the commissioning of Holy Thursday direct us towards the future.
Young people need their childhood, not ours. We owe that to them. We owe it to ourselves as well. There is a moment where, if we choose to live in the past, we become dead to the present and fearful of the afterlife of the future