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Prayer Tip: A Pastor’s Notebook: The Legacy We Leave

November 21, 2021

Daily Scripture

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NIV); John 13:12-15; 1 Chronicles 22:5c-6, 13-14a

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NIV)

[Moses, before his death, said to the Israelites], Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

John 13:12-15

[On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion], after he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do.

1 Chronicles 22:5c-6, 13-14a

[Shortly before his death], David made extensive preparations before his death. David sent for his son Solomon and instructed him to build a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel. [Then David said to Solomon], “If you carefully follow the regulations and case laws that the LORD commanded Moses concerning Israel, you’ll prosper. Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid or lose heart! With great effort I’ve now provided for the LORD’s temple.”

Prayer Tip

from Angela LaVallie Tinsley, Facilities Services Program Director

When I served as Resurrection’s Funeral Program Director, I often met with congregants to talk about preplanning for a funeral or memorial service. We’d discuss their preferences in what they’d like included in their service-–songs, Scripture, having a visitation or reception, etc. We talked about their faith lives and about other aspects of their lives. We even had a questionnaire for folks to fill out with all of this information.

Two of the questions asked about what kind of legacy people are leaving: “What is the most important thing you have done in your life?” and “At the end of your life celebration, what are the most important things people will hear about you?”

Of all the questions on the form, these were the two people seemed to struggle with the most. I don’t think they struggled because they hadn’t done anything important or significant, but because so often our definitions of “important” and “significant” are skewed. We tend to think these words mean something done on a grand scale and impacting many people-–and sometimes they do. But more often important and significant actions only impact or make a difference to few people.

My favorite answers to these questions were usually the simplest: “I was kind;” “I was a good parent;” “I helped people.” These answers all exemplify lives of love. And isn’t that what we’re here to do? To help make earth a little more like the kingdom of heaven through loving others? I wonder, if we were to keep those two questions in mind as we live our daily lives, how much more intentionally we’d be able to leave behind a better legacy….

Lord God,

Thank you for the legacies left behind throughout history, in our churches, and in our families that have impacted us and shaped us to be who we are. Help us to live our lives, in big and small ways, so that we, too, can make a difference for others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.