Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thinking about my legacy......

Over the last week or so I have been really stuck on the thought of "Legacy".  Exactly what is a legacy and why is it so important?  So one day I was scrolling through Facebook and one of my friends had posted this piece......

    by Susan V. Bosak
    Chair, Legacy Project


    The concept of legacy is a powerful life tool for all ages and a catalyst for social change

    Legacy is about life and living. It's about learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.
    Where do you think it's best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old-growth forest or an open field? Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it's planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier. That's legacy: an interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us.
    Elizabeth Elizabeth Tiam-Fook

Yes, I loved this so much.  I love the idea that a legacy is about our life and how we are living it.  It is about knowing and learning from our past and the generations of our past and then living in a way that is building for the future.  I have been so drawn to this concept of leaving a legacy for my children and grandchildren.  And after reading that short paragraph, I have a much better understanding of how I should be thinking about my legacy.  

 I believe that one aspect of my legacy has to do with children and their importance in the kingdom and FOR the kingdom.  I spent much of the last 35 or so years either working with children, writing about children, speaking about children or being with children.  My earliest testimony at age 4 is evidence for me that Jesus knows about children and speaks to children.  I am convinced that somewhere along the way, the western church has lost and/or forgotten this verse pictured above.  People have been sold a bill of goods that says all we have to do is entertain the kids - keep them busy - so that the adults can learn/worship without distraction.  Sometimes you might hear that children learn better at their own level so it is best to keep them away from "adult" worship.  It seems so funny to me whenever I hear these arguments, since that is exactly what was happening just before Jesus spoke these words!  The disciples were telling the moms and dads to keep their kids away, that Jesus had "adult" things to do and speak.  Certainly he was much to busy to spend time with the kids.
I don't only see this as unfortunate for the children, it is sad and such a loss for the entire congregation.  When we exclude children from any part of our worship experience, we are cutting off those roots of legacy.  How do we expect children to connect with Jesus and come into an active and vital worship life if they are not allowed to be "planted" in our corporate worship times, surrounded by the legacy of older saints.  It should come as no surprise that so many preteen/teenage children choose to emulate their friends and schoolmates who "worship" video games or sports, and find church boring and not relevant when we suddenly decide they are "adults" and should worship with us. They don't have roots that have taken hold in those pathways of the older people.  The good news is that each one of us, regardless of the customs or traditions of our local church, can make a difference in the life of children around us.  We can have conversations with our neighbor children, our nieces or nephews, children in our churches.  We can really live out that scripture above..... we can welcome a child into worship.    We can smile and acknowledge them.  We can offer to sit by them (and give mom or dad some much needed assistance).  We can appreciate ALL the people that Jesus is talking about in this verse.  Those with special needs (who may be aged as an adult but have very childlike behavior).  Those with disabilities. Those struggling with dementia. Those who might not understand the "rules" of behavior of your particular church.  The person who has just met Jesus. The homeless or needy.  Really, the list goes on and on.  The point is that Jesus welcomes ALL of his children.  From birth to death.   When you consider the story of the tree and where it should be planted, this makes sense.  Let's all change the legacy we are leaving.  Let us all be those strong, sturdy, deep-rooted trees that welcome those new plantings and shelter them with love and care.   Yes, this is my Advent challenge to you.  See yourself as a tree and find a new young tree to nurture.  You will be building a lasting legacy.

Jesus, thank you for Facebook that brings your thoughts and ideas to mind.  Thank you for reminding me of your heart for us.  What an amazing love you have for your children - no matter what their physical age or ability. Holy Spirit, keep this thought in our minds as we walk through this Advent season.  A time when we are all waiting for the arrival of Jesus.  Give us grace to show your love to those around us.  Amen 

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