During our time in Texas, we lived just a few miles from the Golden Gate Funeral Home. I never attended a funeral there or was asked to lead a ceremony. The building seemed a bit run down and never seemed busy.
Therefore, I was surprised to learn that a TLC reality show had been filmed there with the title Best Funeral Ever.
Golden Gate Funeral Home had developed a reputation for hosting creative and even outlandish funerals. In one episode of the TV series, the original singer for the Chili’s baby back ribs song is honored. The casket was made to look like a barbecue smoker. In another show, one around Christmas, a nativity scene was created with a dozen live animals.
The funeral home also pays professional mourners to cry at the right time, because “not all families know how to show emotions.”
Perhaps their idea is to create the most interesting, creative service to help in the grieving process, but I believe the funeral home exploits some of the most difficult days people can experience by encouraging them to pay lots of money for customized (and sometimes bizarre) services.
In contrast, I attended two funerals over the weekend for mothers of First Baptist Church members. Both services, while different, were very, very moving. Each featured inspiring music to celebrate their loved one and invited those present to sing their faith. Flowers were beautifully arranged. The words were often tearful, but also full of grace and gratefulness. There were little accents in each service that highlighted the uniqueness of the ones who now live in heaven.
It was obvious to me, with no fanfare needed, that each person was leaving behind much love, service, and faith as a legacy.
What Legacy Will You Leave Behind?
Sociologist and preacher Tony Campolo once told about a study in which fifty people over the age of 90 were asked to reflect upon their lives.
“If you had it to do over again,” they were asked, “what would you do differently?” Though there were many answers, three responses were very common.
First, many respondents answered, “I would reflect more.”
Second, they said, “I would risk more.”
Finally, they said, “I would do more things that would live on after I died.”
Reflect more. Risk more. Leave a legacy. These are what our elders say they would do the second time around.
This is what many people over the age of 90 would do if they could do it all over again.
What about you?
Do you ever feel that too much time is spent in “doing” and not enough spent thinking about what you are do? Do you think that important opportunities either have been or might be forfeited because of your fear to take a necessary risk? Do you feel that you are immersed in something bigger and more enduring than your own existence?
What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Legacy focuses on what will endure. It’s about passing on things of lasting value to those who will live on after us.
In John 15, Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16, NIV).
You were made to make a difference and that something good would live on after you are gone. If you could write your eulogy today, what would you want people to say about you when your time is over?
Because you were made to bear fruit that will last, Jesus then says, “Love one another” (John 15:17, NIV). We were made to love one another. Love is what lasts.
Every new day is a new opportunity, for you and for our church, to do the things that will echo through eternity.
What Legacy Will We Leave Behind?
Through time, talent, and treasure, many people have made significant investments in our church. We want that investment to make an eternal difference.
We’re leaving a legacy in the way that we teach our children and youth, charting a course for the next generation. We are committed to telling them the wondrous deeds of our Lord (Psalm 78:4, NIV).
We’re also leaving a legacy of service by sharing spiritual gifts that impact people’s lives. We want to mobilize every gift in service to God’s kingdom.
Finally, we are leaving a legacy that comes through financial giving. There is the investment of weekly and monthly giving, but there are also special opportunities to give such as through The Generations Campaign. These gifts are make a lasting impact.
You may have heard of the poem, “How to Live With Your Dash.” It’s about a man who spoke at the funeral of a good friend. He talked about the year of her birth and the day she died. These two dates would be etched on her tombstone, he said. But between the birth date and the date of her death, there was a dash. The dash made the person who she was.
Your life is made of two dates and a dash. The dash between the two dates of your birth and death are filled with incredible moments: first days of school, graduations, getting married, fun times with family and friends, dressing up for Halloween, Thanksgivings and Christmases and Easter, family vacations, weddings, births, deaths, good times, bad times, times you wish you could go back and relive, times you wish you could forget…you get the point.
That dash is such a small little thing on a tombstone, but it is by far the most important part.
So the big question is: how will you live with the dash? How will we live with the dash?
You and I have a choice. Will we invest in relationships, finding the joy that comes from serving others and serving Jesus, or will we only serve ourselves?
The poem concludes:
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?