Dear Church Friends and Family,
When I think of the history of our Church and what it has achieved over the years I am reminded that a lot of what has been accomplished is due to the hard work and faithfulness of those Saints that have gone before us. Past ministers and laity, the Saints of yesteryear, have handed down to us a wonderful Church that has continued to see tremendous progress from the likes of many of you, the Saints of today. If many of the faithful that have gone on before us could some how come back to speak to us I am sure that they would be very proud that their example is still being followed by many of the faithful disciples of today. Imagine, if you will, what people will one day say about us when we have departed from this earthly life, to follow behind, once again, those past Saints who have already received their reward. Will they think of us as being faithful disciples that have left behind a legacy that will live long after us? Will you leave behind a legacy, a living testimony, that others will appreciate and God will use to inspire others.
There is an ancient custom of “walking the bounds” that is still being observed in some Swiss communities. The people of the village gather together on “Boundary Day” each spring and walk around the village boundaries, checking to be sure that the boundary markers have not been moved or covered over. This ceremony is followed by a community meal celebrating the people’s joy and gratitude for what has been handed down to them.
That ancient Swiss custom may serve to illustrate the purpose of this letter—to sketch an outline of our heritage (both, the heritage past down to us by those Saints of old and the heritage we, ourselves will one day leave behind). I’m saying this because we forget sometimes that we are no different than those who have gone before us. Truly we are just passing through and we do not have forever here on earth to do everything we would like to see done in our church and community. Still, we have opportunities to leave behind a living legacy that will inspire others to do the things we couldn’t do ourselves.
Max Lucado, in his book “When God Whispers Your Name”, tells a story of a man named Stefan. He writes: “Stefan can tell you about family trees. He makes his living from them. He inherited a German forest that has been in his family for 400 years. The trees he harvests were planted 180 years ago by his great-grandfather. The trees he plants won’t be ready for market until his great-grandchildren are born. He’s part of a chain. “Every generation must make a choice,” he told me. “They can either pillage or plant. They can rape the landscape and get rich, or they can care for the landscape, harvest only what is theirs, and leave an investment for their children.” Stefan harvest’s seeds sown by men he never knew. Stefan sows seeds to be harvested by descendants he’ll never see. Dependent upon the past, responsible for the future: he’s part of a chain. Like us. Children of the past, are we. Parents of the future. Heirs. Benefactors. Recipients of the work done by those before. Born into a forest we didn’t seed.”
As we think of who we are, as members of Hopewell U.M.C., as Christians who are heirs to the promise that awaits us, may we earnestly do our part and continue what was started, not only by the men and women who have gone before us, but by a living Savior who gives us something to live for and something very special to leave behind.
As we approach Thanksgiving may we continue to experience its purpose and always find something to be thankful for in spite of life’s many up and downs. May we give up something (sacrifice something) for the good of giving something back to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. May our lives continue to be lived that way, remembering always what Christ gave up to give us the joy that is now ours through Him.