Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God. Luke 12:21
Are we helping one another to hand on what really matters, to the next generation?
I can recall, many years ago now, two of my aunts, Rose and Kate, moving from the home where they had spent essentially three quarters of their entire lives, into an assisted living apartment. On the one hand, it brought them closer to our house, shortening a thirty-minute drive time down to ten minutes. That, we liked!
However, it also meant that Aunt Kate and Aunt Rose had to pare down their living space to a couple of rooms—quite a shift from a nine-room (counting attic level) space where we children, their nieces and nephews, had many wonderful memories. I daresay that the contents of the house would likely have delighted the staff of Antiques Roadshow.
In the end, what happened to all of their stuff? Well, on the one hand, there are enough nieces and nephews among whom to have distributed well-made items that continue to be very serviceable. I can honestly say that these objects carry significant sentimental value. Yet, I must inevitably acknowledge: even emotional attachment to objects is not going to bear ultimate, lasting value when we leave this world. What will matter is our level of attachment to the heart of Christ. Jesus is not a feeling; He is a person, and He is God.
So, am I more attached to the objects Aunt Kate and Aunt Rose handed down, or to the connection I had in loving relationship? Is not the love that they showed us in relationship, framed by their very lively faith, the real lasting inheritance that I can actually take with me to the end of this life, and beyond? It is not going to be enough for me to claim that I have taken good care of the objects they bequeathed me. God is interested in my inventory of spiritual gifts and how I have tended and shared them.
As Pastor of Saint Mary, I am compelled to ask to what degree are we church leaders actively supporting husbands and wives— mothers and fathers— to grow their own relationship with Jesus and, thereby, build up a spiritual legacy for their children? I believe that if we expect young people to want to continue in the Faith, we need to emphasize a whole lot more than simply “church attendance.” I—and each of us, I believe— need to reflect a passionate ongoing pursuit of intimacy with Christ. Discipleship is not a one-hour or even one-day a week commitment. It demands our whole hearts!
I have heard numerous parents comment on not being sure what to do with family heirlooms, like china and crystal—“Our children just don’t put a lot of priority on these things!” I confess that in the past, I have felt sad over this. I am being caused to re-think my reaction. While it can be meaningful to hand on “things” that have been in the family for generations, perhaps in a subtle way, our children are challenging us to work together to demonstrate that the Faith of generations past is worth them carrying forward.
Whether one is aware or not, we desire God…God has planted the yearning there. It undeniably is a huge project, to sustain and grow the spiritual life, but it is worthy of our time, our energy, our passionate pursuit.