Thursday, May 19, 2011

Carpe Diem…

I had a great phone call a couple weeks back. A church member said, “Shane, I’m working on a plan with a local funeral home for my funeral, whenever it comes. Will you talk with me about it?”

YES! Absolutely! Thanks for asking!

Now please, don’t get me wrong; I don’t love morbidly dwelling on sad things. And I pray those plans we made won’t be implemented for many, many years! But this is one discussion we pastors really encourage. In fact, when asked, I pulled out a worksheet I’d got from a wise mentor that includes all manner of items for exactly that conversation. At our church in Lexington, the pastoral staff made known we’d love to chat about ‘planning for the future.’ By which we meant both the immediate term,and the final, unavoidable end.

But why?! Isn’t that…strange? Maybe, though I wish it weren’t. Again, it’s not that I wish people ill, or relish gloom and doom. I believe God’s a God of Life! That anyone focused on the hereafter misses the point of Jesus’ declaration, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is at hand (i.e. in our midst now)!” That said, while God seemingly plans for our lives to persist- in some fashion- eternally, for earthly existence, God set a finite time span. We don’t often enjoy pondering that inevitability, I hope. There’s more exciting stuff to think about. But because our lives are so precious, so limited, we should strive to make them count. Or to use another word I’ve wrote about before, we each will leave a legacy. Thus, a question we all can- should- ponder is, “What do I want my legacy to be?”

Of course, before putting too much pressure on yourself, remember that not every decision has eternal consequences. We have only the time we have. And that’s quite a bit, considering. Still, rather than avoid the topic perpetually, I bet we’d feel better about ourselves, our legacy, the lives we lead if we’ve paused to plan where we’d like to go, and how we’d like things to end. It’d probably make our days feel more seized. Yes, those plans will, invariably, need updating. Nevertheless, it’s helps to know what you’re building for so you can build as well as possible.

This Sunday, we’re being asked to bring pledge forms to church to commit a certain amount of money, time and effort for the church’s work over the next year. Thank you, again, for those gifts, for considering our ministry together a worthy investment! And remember, in a grand sense, this church is part of your legacy. The lives we impact, the souls we care for, the neighbors in need we lift up. Because you help with our expenses and initiatives, the good work Plymouth Creek does is the good work you do. In fact, something we’d cover while deciding a final plan is the people or organizations you’ve supported over time that you want to support in death also, and whether you’d made such provisions in your wills.

In other words, for all the dramatic-seeming heaviness of the idea that you’d talk with a pastor or funeral home director about your final plan, it’s really just a continuance of everyday stuff. What’re your favorite hymns? Whom do you love and want to be around? Where do you want to live? What do you spend your time and money supporting? What kind of future do you want for your family? All you ask then is, Can I do something now to make that all happen still when I’m gone? Sure, it takes a bit of courage; death is still scary, whatever we believe about God’s eternal love for us. But courage we’ve got, and a commitment to good stewardship. Which, I was reminded recently, can be extended not just during the annual pledge drive, but even to our final days, whenever they may be.

So if you want to have that conversation, call me up and we’ll chat. In the meantime, thanks for all you do now, and the love you’ll continue to share during the many years I pray we’ve left together.

Grace and Peace,
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