A Faithful Legacy

Happy Tuesday morning!  Here is Sunday’s sermon.  I referenced Kathie Lee Gifford’s tribute to Frank, which you can find here if you haven’t heard the whole thing.  I strongly encourage watching it!


Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
August 16, 2015

Ephesians 6:10-20

A Faithful Legacy

Did anyone happen to see Kathie Lee Gifford’s tribute to her late husband on her first day back to work this week?

As many of you may know, former NFL player and Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford passed away suddenly two weeks ago at his home in Connecticut. Almost every type of news outlet I follow picked up this story and paid tribute to Gifford. They paid tribute to his athletic abilities, to his well-respected career, to his success in broadcasting and to his work with the Special Olympics. The tributes, Kathie Lee said when we returned to the Today Show on Tuesday, were “extraordinary.”

But those were not the things that Kathie Lee wanted to talk about when she paid tribute to him on national television. Do you know what she talked about? His faith.

Kathie Lee said that we all knew the “public” Frank – the football player, the hall of famer, the Emmy-award recipient, etc. etc. But she wanted to share something about the man that she knew, about the “private” Frank that most people did not get to see. She spoke of his great faith, reflecting that he was the happiest, most contest-est person at this point in his life. She talked about how his upbringing shaped that faith. Born into nothing in the Depression, sometimes with no food to eat or clothes to wear, the Gifford family was grateful for all that they had, even when it was not much. They diligently found a church every time they moved to a new community and worshipped together as a family. “They had nothing,” Kathie Lee said, “But they had their faith.”

Even if you did not follow the “public” Frank’s life and career, as Kathie Lee spoke with tears in her eyes, with a smile on her face and with visible hope in her heart, you could not help but be grateful for the legacy of the “private” Frank, for his faith. You could not help but reflect on that ways that you, too, could live your life in a way so that one day you would leave that same legacy behind. It was clear by the number of my friends and by the news outlets that shared this touching tribute that many others felt the same way.

I could not get Kathie Lee’s tribute out of my head when I started reading over this passage from Ephesians.

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. {Ephesians 6:10}

Frank Gifford was a phenomenal athlete and a very talented broadcaster, but those were not the things that gave him strength, hope, courage, healing and purpose. His faith is what gave him strength, hope, courage, healing and purpose.

You see, it does not matter if you have money, fame or some sort of high social standing. I suppose it might be nice; but that is not what is going to sustain you throughout your entire life. Your faith is what is going to sustain you throughout your entire life. God has the power to do what no money or status could ever do. God walks with you through every step and every different stage of your journey through life. God shines a light in the darkest of places. God breaks down barriers that we, as human beings, have put up around us. God infuses peace in the midst of war. God gives us strength from within, even in those moments when we feel weak, broken and hopeless.

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. {Ephesians 6:10}

Frank Gifford did not need the things that made him famous to give his life meaning and we do not either. We do not need to be football stars or broadcasting legends. We do not have to have big houses or fancy cars. We do not have to fill our schedules with every activity that comes along. We do not have to own every fancy and expensive gadget out there. And we do not have to create some sort of perfect image for the rest of the world to see.

We do, however, need our faith.

Kathie Lee said that, “[Frank’s] world got smaller as his God got bigger.”

Think about that for a second. As he let God further and further into his life and into his heart, he realized that he did not need the “stuff” that the world tells us we need to be strong. He just needed God.

That is what we need. We do not need the “stuff” around us to stand strong in this world. We need God. We need to use God’s strength to make us strong. We need to “put on the whole armor of God,” as the scripture says, so that we are able to stand strong in this imperfect and broken world.

The world can be one hell of a challenging place to live in. But this scripture calls us to “fasten the belt of truth around your waist,” to “put on the breastplate of righteousness” and to put on a pair of shoes that “will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.” {Ephesians 6:14-14}

(And somehow I do not think Paul was talking about cute heels.)

We can make this world a better place, but we are not going to do it with fame, prestige and material possessions. We are going to do it with our words, with our steps and with our actions. We are going to do it with our faith and we are going to do it with the help of God.

Paul wrote:

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic power of this present darkness. {Ephesians 6:12}

I would argue that our struggles today are very similar. Every day we are up against a world driven by violence, consumerism and hostility. We see news reports of wars, shootings and tragedies. Our political campaigns are driven by negative marketing. The internet facilitates a medium for anonymous hatred to be spread.

This is the world that we are up against, but this does not need to be the world that defines us. Our faith is what should define us. In a world filled with hatred, we can speak with love. In a world filled with violence, we can act with peace. In a world filled with darkness, we can shine a light for all to see. In a world wrought with hopelessness, we can pray for God’s hope to fill our hearts and the hearts of everyone who is struggling.

Kathie Lee talked about a trip to the Holy Land that she and Frank took several years ago and how they visited the Valley of Elah were David slayed the giant, Goliath. She said that their tour guide commented that the miracle of this story was not that David slayed the giant, but that David put his trust in a living God – and that was all that he needed to win that battle.
We need to put our trust in that same living God.

We need to put our trust in that same living God so that we can rise up against the darkness in this hurting and broken world. We need to put our trust in that same living God so that we can be strengthened in our lives and so that our lives can have purpose. We need to put our trust in that same living God that washed over us with the waters of baptism so that we can be cleansed and redeemed every single day. We need to put our trust in that same living God so that we can live out the Gospel and continue writing the Christian story.

Paul says that we do not need to do this alone.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. {Ephesians 6:18, NRSV}

We all have a spirit within us that will help us strength our faith and put our trust in a living God.

It is already there. Use it. Let that define your life. Let that create your legacy.

Let your legacy be strong. Let your legacy be meaningful. Let your legacy be faithful.

Thanks be to God!

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