Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (November 11&12-2017)
Title: REMEMBERING the FUTURE…
Text: Luke 12:13-21
The title of my homily this evening/morning is REMEMBERING THE FUTURE. I wish I could take credit for this clever title, but I really can’t…I borrowed it from the title of a really wonderful book on Christian stewardship written by Gerald Keucher (an Episcopal priest) who borrowed it from Soren Kierkegaard (the 19th century Danish theologian/philosopher and poet). I chose this title because it so effectively expresses what I want to say in my homily tonight/this morning…the challenge I want to leave with you on this Veterans Day Weekend and the culmination of our Fall Stewardship campaign. REMEMBERING THE FUTURE…it sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. REMEMBERING the FUTURE…it’s a real challenge…to live in the present but not allow the cares and concerns of today to cause us to forget the future! REMEMBERING the FUTURE…It is something that each of the 18.5 million veterans and the more than 2 million women and men in active duty did when they “signed up”- serving today to insure that the legacy of freedom and liberty would be enjoyed by future generations of American. And we owe a huge debt of gratitude to each and every one of these women and men!
REMEMBERING THE FUTURE…it’s what the successful farmer in Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool definitely did not do. You see, this man was a FOOL because he failed to look at his life from the perspective of eternity…he was a FOOL because he lived as if he would live forever…he was a FOOL because he spent his final hours planning a retirement he would never enjoy…he was a FOOL because he failed to REMEMBER the FUTURE!
REMEMBERING the FUTURE! A true story: The year was 1888. A French newspaper ran an obituary for Dr. Alfred Nobel…a man of enormous wealth and reputation. His most significant achievement was the invention of dynamite. The man reading the obituary was Dr. Alfred Nobel himself! The newspaper confused Alfred with his older brother Ludwig who had just died. Thanks to this journalistic error, Alfred Nobel had the rare opportunity to see how the world would portray his life and remember his legacy. And Nobel didn’t like what he read in that obituary…which was entitled, “The MERCHANT of DEATH is DEAD…The MERCHANT OF DEATH IS DEAD”. And six years later (in 1894) when Nobel did die, his family and friends were shocked to discover that, in he had revised his last will and testament, and had dedicated his vast wealth to the creation of a series of prizes (awarded annually) to individuals whose achievements provided “the greatest benefit for mankind”. Alfred Nobel did not want his legacy to be “The Merchant of Death” and in the last years of his life he changed his will and he changed his legacy…and today (123 years after his death) we remember Alfred Nobel not as the Merchant of Death but as the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize! Alfred Nobel changed his legacy by REMEMBERING the FUTURE!!
What about us…what will our legacy be…how will we be remembered when we are no longer here? It is an urgently important question. You see, the relevant question is NOT “will you leave a legacy”…the relevant question is “what kind of legacy will you leave for future generations”? Please turn to page #445 in the Book of Common Prayer and read (silently) while I read aloud the words in itallics in the middle of the page…
I don’t know about you, but every time I enter this sanctuary I am acutely aware of the fact that we have this beautiful and inspiring space to worship God, not because of anything we have done, but because of the commitment and the generosity of our spiritual ancestors. And these magnificent windows (which we could never afford) windows which inspire us and enrich our worship, but the only reason we have them is because of the generosity and commitment of our spiritual ancestors… And our magnificent organ, which is the heart and soul of our music ministry, was given in 1936 by one of our spiritual ancestors…Edward Levas!… And today we have an endowment which exceeds $3 million , and over the last five years that endowment has grown and it has generated more that $600k in resources to fund the maintenance of our facilities and empower the mission and ministry of St. Andrew’s Church. Friends, we are indebted to our spiritual ancestors…folks like Carl and Christina Heyer; the Dobbins family; the Jones family; the Levis family; Alice Siner and her dad Nelson Pumyea…and the list goes on and on…These were folks that most of us never knew and who never knew us…ordinary folks who loved enough and cared enough and believed in passing on the great legacy of faith to the next generation…they gave joyfully; generously; sacrificially, and in their giving, they REMEMBERED the FUTURE.
And now, my friends, it is our turn…it’s our turn to step up to the plate and do what our spiritual ancestors did.…and thru the Saint Andrew Society (which we are officially launching this weekend) we have the opportunity to do what our ancestors did…thru our legacy gifts to insure that the compassionate ministry of Christ and the Gospel of Grace will continue to bless this community, as it has blessed it for the past 275 years…to insure that the life-giving/life transforming message of God’s fierce and relentless love will continue tg be proclaimed and the ministry of this church will be strong and healthy and vital for years to come. Friends, I would never ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself…recently Susan and I revised our last will and testament (it might have been the last will that Jim Logan did before he died) so that 1% of our estate when we die will come to St. Andrew’s Church. Tonight/this morning, I am asking you to join us in making a Legacy commitment to St. Andrew’s, so that, 100 years from now, men and women, boys and girls, will look back at us and they will be grateful and they will be thankful (as we are grateful and thankful) for their spiritual ancestors here at St. Andrew’s…folks who cared enough and loved enough…to leave a legacy…ordinary folks who cared enough and loved enough and had the faith and the courage to REMEMBER the FUTURE…to REMEMBER the