Our home in Maine is near Bath. On June 4th a very historic celebration was held there – the christening and launch of the Virginia, a reconstruction of the first English-made oceangoing ship built in the Americas, originally built in 1607. Bath even today is one of the few cities whose main industry still is shipbuilding.
The day was bursting with celebration with thousands attending the ceremony, distinguished speakers including famous storytellers and politicians, a street fair, musical performances, historical reenactments, craft vendors, the works. I had already crossed the day’s events off of my list since Sid and I had instead planned to attend Chaim’s bar mitzvah which, as it turned out, had to be postponed to June 25th due to the Joiners’ exposure to Covid. Well, Covid had it’s way with Sid and me too, for, as some of you know, Sid and I both now have Covid. So we’ve been isolating here at home and plan to do so probably through Sid’s big birthday and our anniversary on Sunday. My thought to Sid on this birthday is the best is yet to come. This year that message takes on a special meaning. Maybe we’ll celebrate by ending isolation!
Who knows? Only God. We make our plans and then life happens. Yet life doesn’t just happen. There is a design, a Divine plan, that is so mysterious and inscrutable that somehow our choices factor in, but in ways that often are not 1 + 2 = 3. And the decisions we make today are not just about today. They are inseparably tied to our experiences from our past, and our society’s past, to hopefully propel us into better choices than ones we may have made in the past. Undoubtedly, if we are striving to live close to the teachings of Yeshua, as we live longer, learn more through experience, and deepen our faith, we grow nearer to Him in our understandings.
Why is it that thousands were so drawn to the Virginia’s celebration? In a state whose whole population is 1.3 million, that is truly amazing!! Also amazing is that the work to rebuild the ship was done completely by VOLUNTEERS! Through years, years of effort and sacrifice. The deep connection and desire to literally be inextricably part of our past is deep within us. As much as we as a society progress in technology, culture, music, literature, art, medicine, in countless ways, we are drawn to, nurtured and shaped by our past, both mistakes and successes. Our past does not just influence our present, it forms and directs our future.
Last Shabbat Rabbi Rich recounted an earlier time in our American history, the late ‘60s, a time of division and dissent not unlike our present times. Starting with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, through the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, through the race riots, Viet Nam War riots, women’s lib demonstrations, free love and drug issues, on top of vast inequality in financial resources, and culminating in the miracle of the Six-Day War in Israel as a precursor, through all of these shaping events and more, society was preparing for something even more miraculous than the Israeli victory in 1967. As Rabbi Rich suggests, it was no coincidence that so many, literally tens of thousands came to faith in Yeshua in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The deep throes of societal suffering brought forth a mass awakening in Him.
History does repeat itself. We learn from and take with us its lessons. As so clearly evidenced by Bath’s embrace of the story of the Virginia, we thirst for that connection and recognize its unique importance in our own lives. We live our days, day after day, country by country, year by year, setting the trajectory of where mankind will go by the choices of each generation, the collective result of the choices of each individual. These days seem not unlike those turbulent years of the ‘60s, in some ways maybe worse, the issues of then magnified with new ones not yet known.
These are the days for prayer for a revival of faith, a reordering of our priorities, a more concentrated effort to serve God and prioritize others’ needs ahead of our own. Our individual and societal choices will determine our future, for HaShem will use those in the ways He designs. Will decisions be made that bring us closer to the light? Or will our choices bring us into further chaos? If the latter, perhaps myriads again will experience a miraculous recognition of our Yeshua as the promised Messiah.
As we arise each day, embracing its beauty, grateful to be alive, praying for others and loving our Messiah, we can be even further hopeful that, no matter what we do, HaShem has this, for the best is yet to come through Yeshua with Him.