Every individual inherits a history, family, and community. The legacy of what has gone on before our time continues through our lives in ways that I find hard to comprehend. The stories of my great grandfather and his sons are, for the most part, lost to me. Yet, I know they continue to touch and influence my journey. My father's adventures are often mythical in the telling. Yet, the impact is very real. Even the friends and extended family shape my life in ways I do not fully grasp, more often than not for the good.
I know I am part of a fortunate minority. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a child in Darfur with the legacy that is shared by far too many. I cannot even begin to grasp what it would be a child dealing with the reality of Aids, no parents, unending civil strife, or the absence of any meaning chance of education or employment.
I also know that every human being share the legacies. First, our forefathers have squandered more opportunities than you or I will ever know.
Second, so have we. Candidly, the indictment applies. We have “kept up the family tradition-traitors and murderers, all of you. You/[We] had God's Law handed to you by angels-gift-wrapped!-and you/[we] squandered it!” (Acts 7.53)
Third, we can each make a difference in the moment at hand. Yesterday's history does not need to be the end of the story. We can act with compassion in the moment at hand. We can extend mercy to each unconditionally in the present. We can accept, love, and cherish, protecting those that cannot defend themselves.
The legacy we leave to others need not be the same as our past. It can be more and better. We can be the generation that writes a new history. We can be the change that makes the world a better place. We can be the people that realize God invited us to be part of heaven on earth in this time and place. It is all here, now.
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