The Things We Keep
Greetings from your pastor! I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying a good week. As I’m continuing to settle in here as your pastor, I’ve been giving thought to all the books and other things I’ve collected during my years of ministry and considering what I really need now and what things can be let go of because they have served their purpose. I’ve also got an eye toward the next household move, and what’s going to be required when that occurs. Though I’ve known people who’ve seemed to move easily from one place to another, I don’t think it’s ever an easy process. For some of us “keepers” and “collectors,” it can be especially difficult.
Over the years, I’ve nearly always had some organizing or decluttering book in my reading stack. Many of them have been helpful, but I think the trick is being ready to read what they have to say. In recent years, I’ve read books that range from Marla Cilley’s gradual method of decluttering, to Marie Kondo’s take-no-prisoners approach. Most of these books have been about what organizing and decluttering can do for oneself; how they can make one’s own life better, right now. There’s nothing at all wrong with that way of thinking about it.
But most recently, I read a little book called, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. The forward includes the rather startling statement: “The only thing we know for sure is that we will die one day…you have collected so much wonderful stuff in your life – stuff that your family and friends can’t evaluate or take care of. Let me help make your loved ones’ memories of you nice – instead of awful.” The author then proceeds to discuss what is essentially a process of serving one’s family as well as oneself in the act of downsizing and decluttering. How we manage the meaningful objects in our lives really is a gift to those who come after us, if we do it well.
I remember the process that my husband and I went through after both his parents died and it was time to put their house up for sale. The linens, the china and crystal, the kitchen ware, even the furniture; all those things were easily sorted out among the family. Then everyone else went home, and my husband and I, who lived nearby, were left with...the basement. What stands out in my memory about that experience is the number of things we came across that had obviously been kept, but we didn’t know why. Had they belonged to someone in the family? Did they represent some important event or memory? We simply didn’t know. And so, anything that wasn’t useful to us, or donatable to charity, was discarded. I still wonder sometimes what we might have thrown away that we would have wanted to keep, had we known the story behind it.
I’ve since seen over and again how many people wait too long to do their own “death-cleaning;” to decide for themselves what they want to convey to the next generation, and to say why, and then to let go of the things that have served their purpose. We think we’ll still feel like doing it ten or twenty years from now, but often, we don’t. Or, perhaps it just feels like such a big project that we don’t want to tackle it…yet. Margareta Magnusson, the author of the book I mentioned, claims to be “between eighty and one hundred,” and says she’s actually “death-cleaned” several times, as she’s passed from one season of life to another.
I think that sometimes we wait too long to sort out not just our “stuff” – the objects we’ve collected – but also to sort our mental and emotional and spiritual “stuff.” We hold on to ways of thinking that no longer serve ourselves or our families, just because “that’s how we were raised,” or, “that’s who we are.” We hold ourselves and our loved ones back when we can’t distinguish between what are simply long-held habits and traditions, and what practices and attitudes actually move forward the values that are most dear to us. What are your most important values? What are your greatest treasures? What do you need to let go of in order to clear the way for conveying those most important things to the next generation?
Ultimately, “who we are,” rests in our relationship with God, in Jesus Christ. It’s a perimeter of being that’s both broad and narrow; broad as we operate within God’s amazing creativity in making each of us unique and in displaying the “variety of wisdom” referred to by the writer of Ephesians; yet narrow in the way that the use of our individual gifts eventually directs us all as a Body back to the goodness and mercy of God.
So, what do you need to let go of? What are the things that you want to keep? What choices do you need to make to identify what’s really of value to you so that you can pass those things along to the ones who’ll come behind you? They’ll be grateful you made the effort.
With prayers for your journey,
The sermon text for this Sunday, August 19th, is Ephesians 4:1-16, as we continue our short series on this New Testament letter that contains principles and promises for the Body of Christ. The sermon title is, “A Worthy Life.”
This Sunday is one of our Summer Choir Sundays – That means you can come and rehearse during the Sunday School hour (at 9:00 a.m.) and sing with the choir that day, even if you are not a regular choir member. Other Summer Choir Sundays are August 26th & Sept. 2nd.
On a personal note, I’ll have friends visiting this weekend from Asheboro, and I expect them to be in worship with us this Sunday. I’ll point these dear ladies out to you during worship, so you can extend a special welcome.
Capturing Hebron Memories – Beginning next Sunday, August 26th, we’ll be capturing video recollections as part of our 175th anniversary observance. These will be brief recordings of your special memories of Hebron Church. A sign-up schedule will be posted on the main office door, so please give some thought to what you might like to say, and then sign up for one of the appointment times listed. These recording sessions after worship will continue for several weeks, as we’re approaching our anniversary observance this fall. We thank Megan Compton for coordinating this Heritage175 Oral History Project. The videos will be shown during our Heritage weekend in October.
Hebron Day School - Our day school program starts back up on September 4th. If you know a child who could benefit from being part of this half-day program, please make sure parents or caregivers are aware of the opportunity to register at www.hebronpresbyterian.com. There will be a day school open house on August 30th, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Remember our Mulch & Clean-up day on August 25th, to get the grounds ready for the return of our students. Work will start at 9:00 a.m. and go until about noon, and volunteers are needed.
Women's Bible Study - Our Tuesday and Thursday Bible study groups resume on Sept. 4th and 6th. The Tuesday group will be using a Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel. The Thursday group will be using a Precept study on the gospel of Luke. For more info and to register, contact Lori Alford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stewardship Kick-off September 9th - We seek to be good stewards of God's gifts all year long, but on Sept. 9th, we'll kick off our annual stewardship emphasis. This will be a time to give prayerful consideration to your giving plans for 2019. Dedication Sunday will be October 14th.
Wednesday Night Special – Beginning October 3rd, we’ll enjoy a weekly meal together through mid-November. Our study this fall will be taken from a book called Concentric Circles of Concern by Oscar Thompson. The “concentric circles” concept helps us look at how we talk about our faith in the context of our personal relationships. Our Wednesday evenings together in the fall will conclude with a Service of Thanksgiving on November 14th.
Heritage Concert, Friday, October 19th - As part of our 175th anniversary heritage celebration, there will be a concert on the Friday evening before our Heritage Sunday, featuring the Hebron Boys and other musical guests.
Heritage Sunday, October 21st – Hebron Presbyterian’s 175th “birthday” as a congregation will be celebrated with a special service of worship and a luncheon to follow. Our guest preacher will be the Rev. Walter Mann.
Our Operation Christmas Child "Packing Party" is set for Friday, Nov. 2nd. Watch for more details, and in the meantime, pick up a few more items to place in the tubs in the hallway outside Holman Hall. Thanks so much for all you've donated so far!