I want to begin by expressing my enormous thanks for the love, care and support which has come our way since the death of my brother, Phil. Sue and I have been blessed and encouraged in so many ways; thank you for the cards, messages, hugs and other expressions of love. To be embraced in the arms of a loving church family is a blessing beyond measure.
Paul, in his letter to Christians in Rome, reminds us of what it means to be part of God’s family in terms of our relationships with each other when he writes, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep’ (Romans 12.15). That gives an indication of how we are to experience and live out real Christian fellowship. I know that many of you have been praying regularly for Phil and his family since he was first diagnosed with terminal cancer back in April 2015, and on many occasions he and Monika, his wife, have said how much they have felt lifted up and strengthened by the prayers of many from around the world.
My hope and prayer is that as a church family we will be continue to be filled with the love of God and the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, so that we can always be prepared to come alongside our brothers and sisters who may be finding the going rather hard. And of course, when we experience the tough times ourselves, we need to be willing to be open and vulnerable and not be afraid to admit our own need for help and support.
You may have heard me speak about how amazed I was at the many tributes to Phil which appeared on social media in the days following his death. Even though he was my brother and I thought I knew him fairly well, I had never realised the enormous influence which Phil had had on so many people. For example, one person wrote of Phil, “An amazing man who lived a life that made such a difference in thousands of people's lives.” One word which appears many times in the tributes is the word “legacy.” Phil’s legacy is in the many lives which he touched; his legacy will continue long after his earthly life has ended.
I find that thought to be a tremendous personal challenge. What will my legacy be? What lasting effect will my life have made? Perhaps these kinds of questions are ones on which we would all do well to ponder. A final thought: don’t leave it until it is too late to tell those close to you how much you love them. Take every opportunity to express your love and thanks to those you appreciate. For every one of us, life on planet earth will come to an end one day. Let’s appreciate every new day, and make the most of every opportunity.
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