Summary: Will our works withstand the fire?
Your Legacy: Will It Make It Through The Fire?
This morning I want to talk with you about your legacy. This is the first Sunday of a new year and once again we have the unique opportunity to make changes to our lives so as not to repeat our failures of 2006. Last week I shared with you about peace, faith, love and hope. As you may recall, I told you that we are the hope for the world and it is our works within the world that brings hope to others. These "works" that we perform on a daily basis becomes our legacy – they will remain long after we have departed this world for the next. This morning I want you to think about your legacy.
Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as "money or property left to someone by a will; anything handed down as from an ancestor." In other words, a legacy is what you leave behind. It could be money and/or property and it could be the acts that you did that helped someone else; those things which others will remember about you. The latter is the focus of my message today and as is common with me, I will take the left field approach in hope that it will make this more memorable for you. Please come with me as we attend the funerals of three individuals named Larry, Paula and John.
I. Three Funerals
Larry: Larry grew up in a home with a God-fearing mother and a father that did not have time for all of that "religious non-sense". Although Larry was forced to go to Church as a child, his attitude was more like his father’s. Because of this attitude, as soon as he was old enough, he stopped going to Church and began to live his life. Larry lived his life to the fullest, for there was nothing that he would not try or experiment with until the day he died. During his life he only worked part-time jobs to support his "night life." Shortly before he died, Larry had an experience that changed him internally. He was lying in bed one night thinking of something he’d heard in Church as a child. He’d heard that Jesus loved the sinner and for some reason he could not get that out of his mind. That night while lying on his bed, Larry repented. He did not live long enough to share his experience because he died of a heart attack two days later at the age of 30. His mother decided not to have a funeral, but a grave side service only. Larry did not have any true friend and so only his family attended the services. The minister stood before the family and said a few words about living right and closed with a prayer. The mother was crying heavily over the lost of her son. There were no songs, no long lines of people to tell stories about things that Larry had done, it was just his family.
Paula: Paula was a hard worker in the Church. She sung in the choir, was an usher, assisted the trustees, helped with the announcements, everything. If there was a ministry to be involved in she was there. She would sit on the front row and was always the loudest in saying "amen" during the sermons. When something was not right within the Church, Paula would point it out and demand repentance for all those involved. Two weeks before she died, Paula grew ill from a viral infection. As she thought about her illness, she decided to write out what she wanted at her funeral (she felt it was best to be prepared just in case.) She listed everyone she wanted on the program and what should be in the obituary. On her last night, she fell asleep and did not wake up. Paula’s funeral was elaborate. All of the big named preachers around town were in attendance. There were songs and poems and all sorts of comments being made about how wonderful a Church worker she was. People were crying and shouting as the services went on for 3 hours. When the services concluded, everyone thought her funeral was one of the best they had attended in years and was befitting of someone who worked so hard in the Church.
John: John was active in the Church although he did not do half of the things that Paula did as far as working "within" the church. He was not one of those who were always up before the congregation, he preferred to be in the background. His funeral was ordinary without a lot of fanfare. None of the big named preachers in town came, it was just an ordinary service for an ordinary Christian. After his funeral, there were a lot of people who came up to his wife and shared with her how John had blessed them. Their revelation about John’s kindness brought peace to her grieving heart.