Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
~ Psalm 148:1 - 2
Years ago the Quaker theological D. Elton Trueblood wrote, "A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”
What he describes involves a remaining presence after a person has died. Some today might ask, "What will your legacy be?"
Jesus is just days away from ascending to heaven for a final time, and the disciples are hearing more about this "Comforter," that will come and serve as God's presence. Although for many of us who believe that the Creator, Son and Holy Spirit are all one, the Comforter, or Spirit that Jesus speaks of is already present, but not in the form that the Disciples will soon discover.
The idea of leaving something behind as a sign of our presence having been here is something all of us think about. It's not simply a genetic marker through the next generation, or a tombstone that marks where our remains rest. It involves something that is uniquely ours and that will serve as a place, belief, or thought that people will point to and say that you were the author or creator.
Lately I have been thinking about what it is that I want people to remember about me. While I can't necessarily point to one particular thing, I can however, look at the people I have met and come to know, and hope that what has happened is that my life has provided encouragement and support, even on difficult days.
One thing that I realize is that we don't necessarily get to decide how or what people will remember about us! My apologies to those who are so intent on controlling everything in their life, who just suddenly realized that once you die, it will be others who speak of and remember you how they choose!
I'm thankful for the Gospel writers who walked with Jesus and wrote of their experiences with him as he lived among us. His legacy speaks of a time when God came and dwelt among us. Even the word, Emmanuel means "God with us."
While it is painful to think of any one person being executed, it is awful when the events leading to Jesus' death involve recorded words of each step, blood being poured out, and consequently his own mother watching as he took his last breath, hanging from a wood cross by nails.
Our legacy is something that we are living each day presently. It involves not only our actions, but everything about our life, whether intentional or not. It is what others will remember and speak of after we are gone. It is more than just pointing to something that once belonged to us and hoping that the next generation will know it in the same context as we did.
I have a set of china dishes my great grandmother gave to me that was given to her on her wedding day. They are something that I treasure, but my children will never feel about them the way I do because they did not know my grandmother at all. What they will remember is that they were special to me, because they had a special memory attached to them.
Christ lives through each of us and that is our legacy that we may live today and leave for the future. Ours is not the need to leave a legacy, it is the need to share our lives with one another, and simply to love one another, as Christ has loved us.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, as I think of my life, and what I hope others will remember of me, may they look at discover You. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.