Posts Tagged ‘Legacies’

Faith of our Fathers and our Legacies

June 18, 2017

Today is the third Sunday in June, June 18, Father’s Day 2017. This is day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recall the lyrics to one of the stalwart hymns of the Christian Church sung so many times as a child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate in light of recently sharing my personal testimony involving the importance of faith in life.

Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.
We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.
Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
to view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This poem composed on Father’s Day fifteen years ago takes on even more significance this year with the birth of Kingston Edward Simkins, my first grandson, who was born August 11, 2016. This experience has heightened my awareness of “Legacies” and the importance leaving behind a legacy as a faithful man of God. This song by Nicole Nordeman expresses the deepest yearning of my soul: “Legacy”

Reflections on my legacy:ordination, a grandson, and more

August 18, 2016

Ephesians 4--1

Last Thursday, August 11, 2016 was indeed a special day of celebration, as three significant events converged in a remarkable overflow of gratitude to God.  My day began with a time of reflection and expression of my gratitude to God for my ordination to the Christian ministry which first occurred August 11, 1974. Most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I received news around 1 a.m. that our older daughter, Melissa, had gone into labor, as she and her husband, Will, were expecting their first child. We rushed to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 4:41 p.m. on August 11, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

Previously, I had commented on the significance of ordination in a blog post:

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen and set apart to serve as clergy. It is thought of as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps.  A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences a new period of service in ministering to Body of Christ. . . .

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

While reflecting on my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I also thought about the birth of my new grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, as well as the offspring of my “spiritual son” in Capetown, South Africa, Neil Demas, who named one of his sons after me: Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas. I think of these individuals and others who are a part of my life and part of my response to the question raised during August: “What will be your legacy?”

Kingston Edward Simkins

A website devoted to various holidays, offers this definition of the term: “A legacy is defined as what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day.”

Offspring of my "spiritual son" Neil Demas is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

Offspring of my “spiritual son,” Neil Demas, is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

The legacies that are part of our lives at this time we pass on, and they will impact generations to come, as we sow seeds of the Word of God while we live our lives. We anticipate that the seeds that we sow will fall upon fertile ground and abound with fruit, even as this poem suggests:

Legacies

 

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

 

II

 

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

 

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful,” a song which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave: