Day Seventeen: The Legacy We Long For

Psalm 125
2 Kings 2:9-22
Acts 3:17-4:4

One of the most sobering realisations for me as a parent is that I’m leaving my greatest legacy behind right now in the way I influence my children, for bad or for good.

How I pray and make time for God,
speak to my husband,
respond to authority,
encourage responsibility for household tasks,
spend my money,
articulate my values,
behave in a crowded parking lot,
admit my struggles and weaknesses,
say I’m sorry …

… it all has a monumental impact on
the adults that they are growing into,
the relationships that they will pursue,
and they way in which they, in turn, will raise their children.

Legacy. It’s not as much about what we leave when we die, as it is what we instil in the world around us while we are living.

And that impact, though small or seemingly insignificant at the time, can be passed down from generation to generation to generation.

In today’s Old Testament reading, the powerful prophet, Elijah, is asked by his younger travelling companion, Elisha, for a “double portion” of his spirit as an inheritance when Elijah is taken away by the Lord (verse 9). He is asking, in essence, for the blessings and privileges of an eldest son: permission to carry on Elijah’s ministry.

In his reply, Elijah indicates that he has no right or power to give God’s gift to someone else, but he knows that should Elisha witness his ascension into heaven, it would be a sign that God had, indeed, passed the prophet’s mantle on to this young man (verse 10).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Elisha asks, striking the river Jordan with Elijah’s fallen cloak.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies with its parting (verse 14).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” the people of Jericho ask as they point to the foul spring water that is poisoning their land.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies as it is purified by salt and a powerful proclamation of healing which holds true even to this day (verses 21-22).

Likewise, the words of the apostle Peter on trial before the ruling council for performing an act of healing outside the temple are about choosing the legacy that they long for.

On the one hand is the legacy of ignorance through which they disowned and killed the author of life; on the other, the legacy of prophets and of the covenant that God had made with their forefathers: to be a blessing to all people by turning from their wicked ways (verses 17 and 25-26).

We, too, are heirs of the prophets; recipients of an ancient and eternal covenant with a Holy and Mighty God who will, one day, restore everything to order.

The choice, too, is ours: to shroud ourself in blissful ignorance, or to take up a prophetic mantle and become agents of liberation and healing in this generation and the next and the next ….

Today, if possible, throw a few pebbles into a pond and watch how far the ripples reach ….

Reflect on yourself as a pebble cast out into the centre of your family, your community, your country, your world.

What is the legacy you are leaving? What is the legacy that you long to leave?

Day Five: A Love That Lasts

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Hosea 6:1-6
1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

What do Doris Day, Natalie Cole, Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, and Celine Dion have in common? A little song that I’m sure you know ….

When I fall in love it will be forever
Or I’ll never fall in love.
In a restless world like this is
Love is ended before it’s begun
And too many moonlight kisses
Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun.

When I give my heart it will be completely
Or I’ll never give my heart
And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too
Is when I fall in love with you.

Love. It’s what we are all looking for. A love that is constant. A love that is reciprocated. A love that will last.

Complete the phrase “when I fall in love, it will be …” with your own words.

Everyone has an idea of what love should be that has been passed down and patched together through music and fairytales, family stories and photo albums, poets and philosophers, and, most importantly, our own experience.

It’s why God is Love is one of the most intimate and relatable images for engaging with the Divine Mystery. And it is the good news of God’s great love for us – just as we are in this very moment – that enables us to desert the dead idols of our old lives and embrace the holy, hope-filled, love-alive lives to which Christ calls us.

As Paul points out to the young Christians in Thessalonica, their deep conviction that  God loves them very much has given power and meaning to their faith, their labour, and their hope for resurrection.

Think back to your conversion experience (it may have been a single moment or a gradual deepening of your love for God and desire to live in relationship with God).

How did your awareness of God’s great love for you impact or change your life? 

Do you still live with a deep conviction that God loves you very much?

How does that conviction find expression in your faith, in your work, in your future hopes, in your daily choices and way of living? 

As you reflected on those questions, I wonder if you felt – as I did – a twinge of pain, a moment of guilt because of a passion for God that has waned over the years.

The accusation of God through the prophet Hosea certainly pierces my heart as I consider how often my best intentions to walk closely with God vanish before the demands of my household, my irritation with others, the rush to find some time to rest before the next appointment or activity in the diary:
“What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew”
(Hosea 6:4, The Message).

The season of Advent invites us to consider that our longing for a love that is constant, a love that is reciprocated, a love that will last is a dim echo of the deepest desire of God – a desire that leads to the crude shelter of a stable and the rough splinters of the cross.

Perhaps you would like to write your own version of a “covenant” or a “vow” to God today as both a response to God’s great love for you and an expression of your great love for God.

 

 

Chasing Rainbows

Amidst all of the spring-cleaning of the last few days, I came across a rosary that I had purchased in order to experiment with a variety of prayer techniques set out in a course on deepening our spiritual roots and I remembered the richness that it had offered me in terms of new ways of connecting with God.

I cannot recall how it came to be cast aside, and caught up in a pile of junk in my dressing table drawers.  Most likely I had gotten caught up in the junk of life – the rushing around, the busyness, the routine, the administration.

Rediscovering it has started me thinking around the significance of symbols.

There can be much power in symbols.

Each time a rainbow appears in the sky, God remembers God’s covenant with Noah and spares us from the wrath that our stubborn, self-seeking, disobedient humanity so greatly deserves.

Whenever a rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.  Genesis 9:16 (NIV)

Yet when we see the rainbow, is that the first thought that we share with our children as we stare in open-mouthed wonder at all the pretty colours bursting out of the canvas of darkened sky: that God is renewing a covenant made thousands of years before our time, yet honoured even today?

And what symbol have we adopted in turn to remind us of the covenant that we made with God when we opened our lives to God?  A crucifix? A WWJD bracelet? A Bible? A pebble?

I think that the God who uses stories and symbols, elements of every day lives to help us remember how much we are loved and at how great a cost, can be honoured by each of us finding a symbol, a talisman, that we keep close as a regular reminder of our commitment to and covenant with God.

What will your symbol be?