As I write this, I’m watching the Aretha Franklin’s celebration of life service.  Rev. Robert Smith Jr. posed the question “will you leave this world better than when you found it?”  Such a question is one for all of us to ponder in our lives and one that many of our writers have reflected upon this week.

As she reads Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild, Jan Edmiston wrestles with this as we read in her post at achurchforstarvingartists:

“There are Christians who believe that no matter what happens in this life – environmental disasters, cancer, domestic violence, gun violence – it’s okay because everything will be perfect in heaven.

“And there are other Christians who believe that we are called to seek God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.”  In other words, we will fight pollution, cancer, domestic abuse, and senseless gun deaths because we believe that God calls us to make this earth a little bit more like heaven here and now.”

She recognizes the divide often based on theology and politics, knowing that others are living out their faith very differently than she is.

Are we using our lives to transform God’s kingdom here?

Derek Maul grapples with the concept of truth which is rooted in integrity.  Quoting Philippians 4:8-9, he states:

“I believe the best starting place for us – if we want to move closer together as a people – would be to be more interested in truth than in being right, and then equally interested in verifying before we pass something on as reliable. I am beyond tired of witnessing otherwise intelligent people swallow flat-out fabrications whole and without checking – simply because the lies support conclusions/prejudices/views they already hold.

“So encourage me, friends, by honing your skills when it comes to reliability. And encourage one another with a little more accountability now and then. I absolutely believe this country is worth it.”

Maul wonders if being online gives us the chance to better connect with others and a loving truth or if time on the internet is furthering dividing us.

Does our time online contribute to a life legacy of loving others or does it tarnish our connection with God and Creation?

Writing about a nine-year-old child who died by suicide after being bullied due to his sexual orientation, Rachael Keefe at Write Out of Left Field contemplates the following:

“What messaging are we putting out in the world that makes it right for children to bully a child so much that they end up dead?”

She continues later in the post:

“Like the biblical literalism that leads to condemnation, questioning how a nine-year-old can know they are gay is irrelevant and just deflects the real issue. We cannot afford to remain silent while children are dying by suicide. The church has no place in teaching a theology that leads to death or has nothing to say when a child is bullied to the point of suicide.”

Is our theology leading our lives and our legacies down a road that damages the well-being of others?

The possessions we keep also reflect our legacies.  Kristin at Liberation Theology Lutheran notes:

“I think about what various religious traditions say about our accumulations.  I think about the emptiness and how much I’m liking it, even though I know that the emptiness comes because the cottage is stuffed with our stuff.  I’m thinking about how it is hard to find people who need our overflow stuff.  I’m thinking about the china we have, the stoneware set in the house, and a different stoneware set in the cottage–and now we have no table.

“Zen Kristin wants to keep the emptiness.  Ancestor honoring Kristin wants to keep her grandmother’s stuff.  Christian Kristin wants to share with the less fortunate.  Capitalist Kristin realizes she’s been collecting the wrong things.”

What do our possessions say about us?  What do the lack of possessions imply?  How does the accumulation of items leave this world a bit more cluttered than how we found it?

As we head into the weekend, let us all reflect how the actions of our lives have strengthened this world.  Let us reflect how our behaviors have weakened our planet and its people.  May we remember the eternal connection between each of us, with Creation, and with God.

The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois. Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. She also has chapters in the books Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy and A Child Laughs: Prayers for Justice and Hope. Torigian blogs at

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