Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lasting Legacy: Kids, Moms, and Dads

Psalm 127 (call to worship)

2 Kings 2:1-15 (moments with the children)
Deuteronomy 6:1-13 (message focus)

Read an article this week on the civil disobedience of Israeli women who bring Palestinian women out of the occupied territory so they can swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite living only an hour from the shore, these Palestinian women could not otherwise cross the security border and had never seen the sea. The inspiration of these Israeli women? Rosa Parks and her leadership in the Montgomery bus boycott. And where did the inspiration of the Montgomery bus boycott come from? Martin Luther King, Jr., a pastor in the community, learned a lot about civil disobedience from Gandhi. And, Gandhi read the gospels and modeled many aspects of his live on Jesus. That’s quite a legacy.

The Scripture is full of legacy stories and legacy training, though – as I mentioned last week – not a ton on parenting (at least not in the categories in which we are familiar with discussing parenting). Last week, we explored the parent-child attachment with the basic relational guidance sketched out in the Scripture. This week, we look at lasting legacy. For those of us who have children, that work of crafting a legacy begins in the relationships at home, begins with our children. For all of us, though, this is an important consideration. We each have a desire to “make a difference” in the world, the workplace, the kids’ sports program, the flower bed. And, it is little things that make a difference, not frenzied effort, over work, or noses to grindstones:
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Psalm 127:2

If you see me as I am being taken from you it will be granted.
2 Kings 2:10
And, swimming in the sea ...

And, a simple thing that creates a lasting legacy for families: A story by Eugene Peterson (translator of The Message Bible and a church planter and pastor in Bel Air MD), told in his memoir, The Pastor: He writes of his wife, Jan, being asked to speak at an event in Texas. During the discussion, she was asked, ‘“Do you have any pearls of wisdom that you can give us for raising our children?” Her answer: “Have a family meal every evening”’ (2011, p 195).

With each couple, as we prepare for a wedding, I get around to talking about an article I read years ago ... The behavior that correlates with long term relationships is the greeting and departing kiss. Small things make a big difference.

One of the great passages on creating a lasting legacy is in Deuteronomy 6. Deuteronomy is Moses’ “swan song”, his last sermon before his death. That’s legacy time. He provides here the center piece for daily life in the Jewish tradition – note the focus here is on daily life, not weekly worship, but the household and the workplace. That’s where legacy is built. You want a spiritual legacy for your family? Bringing them to church is important, but living the faith at home and at work and at the dinner table, and talking about it with the kids, is absolutely critical.

Deuteronomy 6:4 is the traditional “Shema”, the first and last prayer of the day for an observant Jew:
Shema, Y’Israel, Adonai ...
Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one [LORD alone].
The next verse (6:5) is the central command in all the Scripture:
And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.
heart (lavav) - inner self, mind/memory; the centered and thinking self
soul (nephesh) - seat of emotion; the passionate self
strength (m’od) - muchness; the energized self

Talk - recite them, talk about them at home, on the way, lying down, getting up. This is not talking about commands, this is talking about love, about loving God and being loved by God. There is no abstraction here, no idle theology – just love, love stories. I’m so grateful that there is a new bud on the hibiscus. The heavy rain and wind of last week broke off all the buds and blossoms, and I thought we were done for the year. Thanks, God. The other day, in conversation with some other folks, I was struck by the gift of forgiveness that is our in Jesus. Do you ever keep a “scorecard”, a record, of the things others have done that hurt you? Has anyone ever kept a scorecard on you, brining up to you the things you “always do”, not letting you get a chance at a fresh start? The scorecard against us was nailed to the cross along with Jesus, because he loves us and forgives.

Write - Robin and I, while translating Greek, ... “Eye Heart U”
doorposts - measuring kids height
- let the Scripture measure us, cause us to stand up tall
- bringing everything into alignment, reinforcing, not detracting

This “writing” is not about the text but about the love. A life full of love for God, full of God’s love for us. For Moses’ swan song, he urges us to be lover and beloved, lover of God and beloved of God. That reality can structure our day, be our first and last prayer. “I love you, Jesus.” And, listening, hear him say, “I love you.”

When the day comes that I die and my family gathers to tell stories with the pastor, I expect they’ll say something about loving soccer, gardening, cooking. But I hope they will describe me in terms of my greatest loves – them and Jesus. That’s what I want as my legacy. As Paul writes, in his poem-hymn on love, “Three things remain: Faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13).

Israeli and Palestinian women - story in “God’s Politics” (a blog):

Eugene Peterson, 2011, The Pastor: A Memoir, New York: HarperOne (Harper Collins).

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