Nostalgia – Devotional Series
I love this time of the year, from Thanksgiving to New Year! The period of Advent really. I love the sights, sound and smells of the season. It is a delight for the senses!! So nostalgic!!
When we smell the first pumpkin spice of the season, do we just smell pumpkin? Or are we transported to another time and another place, savoring the aroma and the memory?
When we hear the first Christmas Carol of the season, do we just hear music, or dumb carols? Or are we transported to when we first played it or sang it, experiencing the excitement we had as a child?
When we see the first Christmas Tree of the season with its warm glow of twinkling lights, do we just see a tree, an ugly tree? Or do we remember the wonder we experienced as a wee kid staring at the twinkling lights? I remember sitting in the living room with just the tree lights on, staring at it for hours it seemed, mesmerized by the warm glow and twinkling lights.
These sensory delights can evoke memories in us, mostly of happier, better times.
I found a definition of “nostalgia” in Dictionary.com. I like how they phrase their idea of nostalgia:
“. . . a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends.”
And in this strangest of times I think we can add:
“ . . . a desire to return to a former way of life.”
I think we are all longing for that!
For me, I think of nostalgia as a fond remembrance of something, a memory of something, someone, or some time that fills me with an overwhelming sense of well-being.
In this season of Advent I think we experience a deep spiritual nostalgia that we don’t truly understand – a nostalgia for our heavenly Father and our heavenly home. We have a deep longing for God and communion with Him. Why is that? Is it because He created us this way, with this desire? Is it because Scripture confirms we were created to have fellowship with God? As Christians we believe He has taken up residence within us in the person of the Holy Spirit and that He restores the fellowship we had with God before the Fall. Is this why we long for Him?
I don’t believe this is the whole story. I also believe that in the depths of our being, our soul remembers His presence. That is why we recognize His presence. We see His presence in people. We hear His presence in music. We feel his presence within us. How do we know it is God? How do we know it is His presence? I believe it is because we know Him, but also because our soul remembers Him. Our soul remembers communing with Him.
So, when we are faced with the authenticity of His presence, we know what it is. We know we are in God’s presence. When we talk with a holy person, we know they are holy. Why? What makes them holy? Their prayer life? Their goodness? No, I don’t think so. I believe it is the presence of God in their lives. We know it! We sense it. We recognize it.
When we play or listen to a piece of music that feels like pure communion, we know we are in God’s presence. Why? Is it because of the beautiful melody? Is it because of the intriguing harmony? No, I don’t think so. It is the presence of God the Holy Spirit in the piece. We know it! We sense it. We recognize it.
God is our Father and heaven is our home!
There is a reference to this idea of heaven being our home in Philippians 3:20-21:
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables control,
will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
This Advent, as we “eagerly await” the Saviour, may we enjoy the sensory delights of the season! And as these delights evoke earthly nostalgia and memories within us, may we be reminded of this idea of spiritual nostalgia and let it draw us closer to God.
May we be drawn deeply into His Holy presence this Advent season and may we have an encounter with Christ that will change us forever.
O Come, O Come Immanuel
O come, O come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the son of God appear.
Immanuel shall come to Thee,
May we look forward to Immanuel’s coming to our hearts and may we recognize Him.
written by Dorothy Gates, Music Department, USA East