Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

Reflections on my ordination and my legacy

August 11, 2020

August is a special month, and I recently published an article in Medium.com recognizing this month as “What will be Your Legacy Month.” August 11 is especially significant since it relates to a milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 46 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry.

Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage from Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I publicly acknowledge that I had heard and accepted the call in 1974 at age 32.

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen, and set apart to serve, considered 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 with a higher level of service in ministering to Body of Christ, expressed in Ephesians 4:11-13:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness 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 wrote an original psalm inspired by that experience, and I later dedicated to other fellow servants who continue to respond to God, those who heard His voice and answered

The Call of God

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 of God resounds like a repeated name
From the lips of a beloved friend who knows us.
We wait and clearly hear our name and see the flame
Lighting the path to fulfill God’s divine purpose
As we choose to embrace a higher destiny.
This holy calling only God can verify.
We know our ears cannot hear; our eyes cannot see;
Yet from the depths of our heart, we cannot deny
That we have truly heard and seen what few will know.
We must, therefore, arise and strive to reach the place
Where the mighty rivers of understanding flow,
And we must never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.
In the unbroken line of all those ordained of God,
We stand. Having heard, we rise to heed the call of God.

August 11 is a “double lovely” day since it is also the birthday of my 4-year-old grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, who answers, in part, the question raised in the monthlong celebration of What will be Your Legacy Month.”

Kingston and Grandpapa Johnson love to read together

Kingston Edward Simkins is part of my legacy that I believe will extend for generations to come. The lyrics to “The Blessing,” a powerful benediction by Elevation Worship featuring Kari Jobe and Mark Carney, express my innermost desire:

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”

August: “What will be your legacy month?”

August 3, 2013

 The Torchbearers by Charles Umlauf depicts the teacher passing the torch of knowledge to the student.


The Torchbearers by Charles Umlauf depicts the teacher passing the torch of knowledge to the student.

August is “What will be your legacy?” month. Gone-ta-pott.com, holiday website, offers this definition and elaborates upon the month-long celebration with this comment:

“A legacy is 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. . . What Will Your Legacy Be Month is a month for people to reflect on their past and present actions and vow to make positive changes that will affect generations. We have to remember the seeds, whether positive or negative, that we plant in our children’s lives. This observance is about making the right choices so our children and their children will make the right choices. Everything we do will grow and reflect our teachings. So teach your children well.”

This holiday website offers tips on how to create a legacy as well as information on how to celebrate the holiday, along with other valuable material. ”

Victoria Lynn Dunn, Director, Leadership Initiatives for Women of Color at The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, provides another perspective and describes in poetry:

The Life That Becomes a Legacy

The life that becomes a legacy

is never merely measured in days

never simply seen through the haze of unmet expectations

and dreams deferred.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

is never merely one that teaches

but is one that reaches toward the mark

pressing whether or not it makes it—today.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

keeps kindly in view tomorrow

and mediates its sorrows

with joys unspeakable

and sometimes spoken.

 

The life that becomes a legacy

becomes that legacy

despite a history of many things

shattered

broken.

 

But never destroyed

for even broken things and broken wings can fly

Contrary to the black bard Dunbar,

for there Is one far greater than he

and HE wrote your story before ever any bird was caged

HE set the stage of the play that would become the great drama of life.

 

And HE never sees anything too broken not to care

too broken for repair and, in fact, delights in repairing broken things

broken dreams

and making them new.

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.

Paul exhorts Timothy, as a father to his son, to be an example of the believers in what Timothy says, in what he does, in the way he lives, in faith and purity.

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. The video below is a reminder to Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave: “Find Us Faithful.”