November 07, 2023
• Rev. Mindie Moore
The Blessed Life Week 2: A Living Legacy
Colossians 1: 9-14
Most of the time when we think about the word “inheritance” we have a very specific idea of what that means. We think about money, homes, maybe a retirement fund that gets passed down.
But the show Strange Inheritance (SLIDE) revealed that sometimes what people pass down to their loved ones can be a little bit out of the ordinary. This show centered around different people who had inherited something that no one would expect and maybe most people wouldn’t even ask for. Here are just a few of the strange things that were left:
Bonnie and Clyde’s personal items and other western memorabilia
The world’s tallest thermometer located at Death Valley National Park
An exotic animal sanctuary
George Washington’s Wallet
The world’s largest privately owned bug collection
Look, all of these sound very complicated to be given. If you’re thinking of handing down something very exciting like that, don’t put me on your list!
But the point of this show is that it shows that inheritance, even when it’s a little odd, it can be valuable, and it’s not always what we expect.
And as we continue our stewardship series “The Blessed Life” and because it is All Saints Sunday, we’re focusing on this idea of Legacy and what it looks like to use the lives we’re living to create something worth passing on.
And so it feels like the perfect moment to ask ourselves this question:
(SLIDE)- What is the legacy you want to leave?
You know, as a pastor, I do a lot of funerals. And even though this might sound weird to some of you, I really love it. I love hearing families reflect on their person, I love hearing the stories and the lessons that they take with them, I love celebrating lives that are well-lived.
But sometimes, if I’m just super honest- sometimes funerals are hard. Because sometimes there isn’t a lot to say. Or the stories aren't so full of love and happiness. Sometimes, when you get to the point where someone has died and you’re looking over their life, what you end up finding is that there’s a lot of broken relationships and pain and maybe not as much to celebrate as we’d hope.
So because I get to do this work, and because I see the different ways that a life can be remembered, I think about this question a lot in my own life- what kind of legacy do I want to leave? What impact do I want this life to have had?
Now, depending on where you are in your life, you might have a variety of responses to this question. Some of you have had to think about this- either because you’ve had a health crisis or you’re aging, so this isn’t a hypothetical question we’re wrestling with. But some of you are like—hey! This conversation freaks me out and I did not come to church to think about my own finite existence today. That’s fair. It can feel kind of weird. I get it.
But I really want to encourage you to sit with that question today, because here’s the truth (SLIDE)-
We create our legacy with the life we’re living now.
Despite how we often think about this idea of legacy, this does not have to be an exclusively future-oriented question. Everything we do, every choice we make, it all creates a piece of our story that someday,
we’re going to leave behind. So the priorities we carry, the things we value, the yesses we give and the boundaries we set...it all means something. It’s all happening in real time and all makes an impact for the future.
And I think that’s what Paul is encouraging this church he’s writing to in Colossae around. To think about the kind of life they are living and the bigger story that they are part of. Because Paul is writing to this group of people that had once been REALLY focused. They had been strong in their faith, they knew what they believed, they know who they were. They were part of this church plant that had really grown and was thriving but by the time Paul writes this letter...it's clear that something has gotten a little bit off course. The people in this church are trying to figure out if they are going to stick with what they know and if they are going to hold on to the things that they've been taught to keep living into their relationship with Christ? OR are they going to get really distracted by everything else that's going on around us?
You know, I really appreciate that that tension because I think that's a tension that so many of us live in today. And even though you know this society happened a long time ago and even though some of the context is pretty different than what we're living in, what we’ve got to understand about Colossae is that it was a place where people were busy. It was a place where work was really important. I mean they were one of the major commerce centers competing with everyone else around them to get ahead, to make some money, to make a name, to do all this stuff that feels pretty relatable to me.
And in the middle of all of that there popped up all these kind of weird teachings about life and faith and what really mattered. And so when Paul gets to them, when Paul writes this letter, he's saying—church, hey! Take a minute, reassess, and remember who you are. Remember
the life that God wants for you. Remember the inheritance that you are living in and all the people of faith who have come before you…and your own role in this bigger story.
Here’s what he tells them about their role in this story, and the legacy they are part of (SLIDE):
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, so that you may have all endurance and patience, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father,[e] who has enabled[f] you[g] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Basically, he’s telling them—something has been handed down to you, but just like that Strange Inheritance show, it might not be exactly what you expect. Because back then, when you heard that word inheritance framed in a religious sense, you would have naturally thought about the original covenant, or promise, that God had made with the earliest Israelites. You would have thought about land and law and a very specific people group.
But what Paul is trying to remind them here is that when Jesus comes along, he reshapes what those promises of God look like. He changes what this idea of inheritance means. And he extends it to more people and beyond a physical place, this promise becomes about the faith and connection to God that is being handed down. It becomes about something spiritual.
Paul says there have been generations of people passing that light and faith down, and we get to take that light and do something with it.
And here’s the awesome part about this kind of inheritance, about this kind of legacy- it can show itself in a lot of different ways. We take the light that we’re given, and then we reflect it in a way that is true to us.
It’s kind of like this prism. You can do a lot of different things with it to play with light. No matter WHAT you do, it’s kind of fascinating. The light changes shape, or color, or size...but at the end of the day, it reflects the same source of light, and no matter what it does, it creates something really beautiful.
And if we take that light that we’re given, if we take that legacy that has been handed down and we use it and make it our own...that’s how faith keeps moving forward. That’s how these legacies live on. And here’s what I want you to know—no matter who you are, no matter what your backstory or current state of being is...we have all inherited a legacy from Christ. Even if you’re like, “I don’t have a single person I can name in my family or my world that I would WANT to inherit something from!” you’re still living in a holy story. Even if you think your own story is too broken or messy or fragile to hand down to someone else, even if you’re sitting there thinking no one would ever want to be part of MY legacy—I just want to invite you to maybe see it differently.
Because Paul could have said the same thing about himself. He could have looked at his own past which was full of some really difficult and terrible stuff and said, “that’s not worth it. No one will want what I have to give.” Because Paul wasn’t perfect and he knew those saints that came before him weren’t either. And that’s true for the saints that came before US too.
But that’s the thing about creating legacy—it doesn’t require perfection. It just requires faithfully showing up. And every single one of us can do that. Whether you’re young or old, sure or unsure, stable or just figuring it out—it doesn't matter. (SLIDE) You can be a living legacy, exactly where you are right now.
And my guess is, a lot of us are creating legacies that we don’t even realize. I mentioned earlier that I do a lot of funerals, and I’m actually
doing one this afternoon. And one of the person’s children sent me their reflection that they plan to share at the service. Now, this child is an adult with adult children of their own And I'm sure there are so many stories that they could have told me about their parent because they were very close. But the story that they’re highlighting in the service happened in elementary school. And it was a story about creek stomping...and I just thought, you know, of ALL of the significant things that this person did with their life, of all the big moments that they shared with their child, I'm sure they didn't think when they were in that creek stomping around in the water, looking for rocks and shells and other things you find in creeks, I'm SURE they didn't think, “This is it! I'm creating my legacy! I'm doing it this and it is a big deal that my kid is going to carry with them forever and they’re going to talk about it at my funeral.”
I’m SURE they didn’t have clue what that meant. But because they showed up, because they loved well, they created something worth passing down.
And that's the thing I want us to understand, I think that’s part of what Paul wants this church he writes to to understand, about living a legacy. It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be overly orchestrated and perfectly documented on social media. It just has to be us showing up and being present and loving people the way that Jesus loves us. When Paul talks about the light that's handed down from those that came before, when Paul invites this church in Colossae to be the light to carry on that legacy and to live in the inheritance of the Saints—this is what he's talking about.
So I’ll ask you again: (SLIDE) What is the legacy you want to leave?
If you’re not quite sure, spend some time this week really sitting with that one. It’s worth your time and it’s worth making some intentional
choices right here and right now about how you want to create it. And if you CAN answer it—then my hope is that you will live out that legacy with everything you’ve got.
Let’s pray as we go into Communion.