Indeed, they compel us to recall once again the events and people that have shaped our lives either as individuals or as communities. Whether it is the anniversary of a marriage or of a major historical event such as July 4th, these designated days on the calendar help us keep track of who we are.
Anniversaries provide occasions for celebration. Shakespeare lovers everywhere are taking full advantage of 2016, the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s passing, to remind us how much richer our world is because of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, King Lear, Henry V and his dozens of other plays and sonnets. Protestants around the world are preparing to celebrate 2017 as the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses and the religious reformation they sparked, both inside and outside
of the Roman Catholic church.
Anniversaries invite us to reflection. As an historian, I am drawn in this season to rehearse the events that happened a hundred years ago on the streets of Sarajevo, on the battlefields of the Marne, the Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli—the events that have come collectively to be known as World War I. That war turned the course of history as well as that of millions of individuals and families around the world. Anniversaries remind us that seemingly insignificant actions—one assassination in a remote corner of the Austrian-Hungarian empire—can change everything.
Anniversaries call us to gratitude. Birthdays—which are really just anniversaries under another name—allow us once a year to give thanks for the difference that our friends and families have made in our lives.
Anniversaries, especially for the Christian believer, spur us on to hope. As we recall God’s faithfulness in our past, we are renewed in hope for our future.
This year is a year of anniversaries for Houghton College. In this issue of Houghton magazine, you are invited to celebrate, reflect, give thanks and be renewed in hope as you consider God’s constant, creative and redemptive activity in our individual lives, in the life of this college and in our world.
Shirley A. Mullen, Class of 1976