My Tribute To…

A funny thing happened this weekend – I got to watch my own funeral.

Perhaps funny is a poor descriptor, allow me to explain. I love small group ministries. I believe that it is THE model of church in the New Testament. There is nothing better than “doing life” together with those God has placed in your life. Our church is revamping our youth small groups, and we have a huge need – somewhere around 100 small group leaders. Our senior pastor allowed one of our youth pastors to preach this weekend in “big church”, to cast the vision and need. A week earlier I was asked to be a part of a video shoot to be used during the sermon. I played the part of a small group leader who welcomed his 6th grade boys to their first meeting. Through a series of funny and heart-wrenching vingettes, I followed them through their lives, through their ups and downs. Fast forward to the end of the video – its a cemetery. My “boys” are standing over my grave, remembering our times together, so surreal. One finally speaks up and says he has to go, he was asked to take over my small group and they meet in a few hours.

The video and plot were simple enough – effective in getting the message across. But as I processed what just happened in the video the Holy Spirit began to speak to me. One day I will be gone, dancing in the streets made of gold with those that went before me. But what about those that I leave behind? Oh, I tell them every day that I love them, I’m not shy to express how I feel. But do they know the depth of my love? The Holy Spirit started prompting me to pen a Tribute to those I love. My first was to my mom about 10 years ago. To this day she reminds me how special it is to her.

A Tribute – Written tributes are wonderful ways of expressing our love and appreciation to those we value. I especially feel that this applies to our parents and is a wonderful way to demonstrate the Biblical commandment to “honor.” My interest in this was spurred on in the early nineties by an excellent book by Dennis Rainey “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents”.

Write a very personal expression of thankfulness using specific traits and recollections. For instance, if it is for your mother, this is not a general tribute to motherhood, but a very personal expression of tribute to your mother. Let the writing reflect you. Don’t stumble over, “I’m not a writer.” However, do take the time to edit carefully, getting some proofreading and formatting help if necessary. Some of you have pain from your childhood and will find this very difficult for that reason. Can you focus on some positive aspects of your upbringing? Carefully format in as large a font as possible for the size of paper you are using. Experiment with color but don’t use too much. You may be able to place in a photo.

Print out on a good printer in the best resolution on attractive paper. Consider framing and using a mat if possible. With matting a tribute printed on 8.5 x 11 paper can be placed in a
11 x 14 frame, which is a dignified size.

Don’t procrastinate. You will not be sorry you did this.

A tribute is most meaningful of course when delivered while the recipient is still living. Hand deliver it if at all possible and perhaps at a special moment such as a dinner out. However a tribute written after death can still be meaningful to others.

So today I begin my Tribute series. For those of you who bless me with your daily readings of this crazy little blog, I hope you will allow me this indulgence. Tomorrow my Tribute will be to my dad, and then my wife, sister, and my 4 girls. My prayer is that through each Tribute you will see your Creator and maybe, just maybe you’ll be prompted to write your own Tributes too…before it is too late.

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