What Is Our Legacy?
A Sermon for October 17, 2021
Veterans Memorial Chapel
By Ch Jim Odell
This is a synopsis, or quick review, of the sermon for October 17, 2021. I am only hitting the highlights of the message, not reproducing the entire sermon.
A few weeks ago, Nancy & I took a vacation to a place I have wanted to see since I was a school child. We went to Plymouth, MA and Cape Cod, to explore the scenery and the early history of our Nation. As I boarded and explored the “exact to size replica” of the Mayflower that sits in Plymouth Harbor, I could not help but think about those first 104 passengers, who signed a “charter” to elect their own leaders to make “necessary laws” and the commitment of all to keep those laws. I wondered if they realized that four hundred years later, a nation as large as all of Europe, would have been built on democratic republican principles bases on the precedent of this one sheet document of their small colony.
I also reflected on myself and my children and grandchildren. What am I leaving them that will count for the rest of history, and also into eternity? Am I leaving the legacy of my values and ideals for them to pick up and move forward into the future? Will those values be for good, or for ill?
As I mused on this, I was reminded how Pastor Robinson read the 105th Psalm in Plymouth, England before the sailing of the two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell. It was read again by Elder Brewster, as a Psalm of Thanksgiving as the Pilgrims knelt on the sands of Plymouth Harbor, MA, thanking God for survival on their way and helping them find a new place for settlement.
This same Psalm was used repeatedly by many of our Puritan ancestors as a thanksgiving psalm and a praise to God, Who was the provider of all they had. They saw New England as the “New Canaan” (Ps 105:11) which would save Christianity from the politics of greedy kings and worldly priests of the “Old Europe.” It also was seen as a protection psalm, from the native population, which outnumbered them substantially. Also it was read on the first thanksgiving, which, by the way, was observed on an unknown date in October (not November) on the second Fall the Pilgrims were in the new world. Thus it was October 1622, 399 yrs ago this month. It gave hope to the Pilgrims because it acknowledged they were dependent on God and His promises, not on their own might of genius.
Let’s look at the Psalm and see how it can help us see how God is working. The first three verses are praise verses. We are to rejoice, praise, and give glory to God for who He is. In particular, we are to tell the “nations,” those who do not know God, of His promise-keeping greatness. Praising and rejoicing are emotions of excitement about who God is. In our world today of economic uncertainty, international conflict, factionalism in our nation, crime, and general distress, it is sometimes difficult to see much about which to be praising God. But as we look a little deeper at the Psalm, we see God using those same “situations” to bring about a better world for those who trust in Him. Please take some time to read the entire Psalm, which we are not able to do this morning. See how God, in the past, took care of His people. Based on the past “kept promises,” we are confident He will take care of us today.
Verse 4 is the clue to our praise in the midst of distress. “Look to the LORD, and His strength, and seek His face.” We have the ability to endure the waters of this life, and leave a legacy here on earth, as well as live with God eternally (1,000 generations, 105:8), all by seeking God’s will in our lives, and relying on His strength and power.
Verses 5-11 remind us of God’s promises and His acts in the past. The same God Who delivered in the past, is not on some kind of vacation or sabbatical during “the age of the modern church” only to return as a judge some day in the future. He is active right now. He has not forgotten the promises He made in the past. He is with us today, just as He has always been.
That does not mean smooth sailing. As we read later in the Psalm, Joseph was oppressed till God had groomed him to be the leader that would save the world from starvation (105:18-19). Israel, went into Egyptian slavery for a couple reasons. But God used those hardships to make them a people who could bring the message of God to the world (105:24-25 & 42-43) and eventually His Messiah. Hard time came to groom them to be the people they needed to be for God to use them.
The same is true for us. As we face the situations of our lives, some good, some bitter, God is continuing to make each of us a person He can use to do His work on this earth.
Why am I here? What is my purpose? Answer: I am here to become a person God can use, and/or to do something positive in this world for Him. If we are living, this is our purpose. When He is finished with us, He takes us home in His time. May we all learn to trust in Him and praise Him for the life He has given us.
The Psalm ends (105:45b) with “Praise the Lord,” literally in Hebrew word, hallelu-Yah. It is said this is a word which cannot be spoken with out giving a triumphal shout out to God. God bless each of you as you praise God for His goodness.
CH Jim Odell