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Summary: This sermon was the culmination of a fund-raising/pledge campaign to underwrite a new staff member’s salary

Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.

2 Kings 4:8-37 (NRSVA)

I’d like to make an understatement…children make life interesting! A couple had been married for 45 years, had raised a brood of 11 children, and was blessed with 22 grandchildren. When asked the secret for staying together all that time, the wife replied, many years ago we made a promise to each other: the first one to pack up and leave has to take all the kids." [1]

In addition, another understatement is that children have needs! One further understatement – it is not an easy task for adults to provide everything children need, even though it is our responsibility to see to those needs.

Today we are addressing the needs of children in our church and community; that is to say that, in so doing, we are addressing the future health and witness of our church. Children are indeed our future.

It is recorded in the Book of Numbers (chapter 32) that when Moses and the nation of Israel prepared to take possession of the Promised Land, one of the tribes said they would go with Moses, but wanted to leave their women and children on the protected side of the river. Moses agreed, but strongly-warned them if they didn’t participate wholeheartedly their sin would find them out. That’s an Old Testament principle we usually phrase something like, you can run, but you can’t hide…what goes around, comes around!

[A mother] was taking a shower when her little girl came into the bathroom and wrapped herself in toilet paper. Although she made a mess, she looked adorable; so mom ran for the camera and took a few shots. They came out so well that she had copies made and included one with each of their Christmas cards.

Days later, a relative called about the picture, laughing hysterically and suggesting the mom take a closer look. Puzzled, she stared at the photo and was shocked to discover that in addition to her little girl’s image, she had captured her own reflection in the bathroom mirror – wearing nothing but a camera![2]

Whoops! Merry Christmas! Be sure your sin will find you out!

The account of the Shunammite woman informs us of one the Bible calls a “great woman”. She lived with her husband in Shunem, a very important little town in a strategic area for commerce and military strength…a place very near Nazareth, where Jesus would be born many years later.

The story is pretty straightforward; the central issue is that the woman and her husband are childless. Although today some couples choose to not have children, in those days it was seen as a sign of punishment from God.

Elisha, God’s prophet, is treated very well by this woman and he announces to her God’s gift of a child to them in the near future. The child is born, and there is joy all around. Several years later the child dies from an apparent stroke. The mother pleads to the prophet, who comes and raises the child from the dead. In returning him to her he utters the phrase that is our challenge today: take your son!

Take your son! It’s easy to read that sentence, take your son, and just simply see it as the hand-over of the live boy to the grateful mother. But, it’s more than that. Elisha is entrusting the restored life of that son to the care of the woman who would share responsibility for his destiny. When Elisha said here, take back your son, he also was telling us what to do with our children and their future.

THE FIRST THING HE WAS SAYING:

TAKE BACK YOUR LEGACY

A legacy is what you leave your children. Legacy is always handed-down…never the other way around. It has nothing to do with the money governed by your will, or the land you grant to your children. Your legacy is dependent on what you DO today; it is certainly not dependent upon what your grandfather did during the depression.

The Shunammite mother had cared for the son to this point; Elisha said, here – your responsibility is not over; take back your son; build a legacy.

Our church has a history, a long one! A lot of good has been done in the name of Jesus in this place of ministry! However, our legacy to our children and their children is not dependent upon someone else’s past accomplishments; our legacy to them is going to be a reflection of the courage, integrity and faithfulness WE exhibit to God right now.

What kind of legacy will we be handing-down to the next generation of this church? For those of us responsible for the ministry and well-being of Bethany United Methodist Church (which is every member) it is not a matter of how well we began, or what good thing we did in the middle – it is all a matter of how we finish.

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