The word “heritage” refers to a person, group or nation’s history, specifically relating to events or occurrences that have special meaning to a group in terms of their collective memory. Tomorrow we celebrate Heritage Day – a day that encourages us to reflect on where we have come from, and who we are… and perhaps, more importantly, on who we are becoming and who we will be. We all have a past – a legacy created by those who have gone before us – that determines the course of our lives, and we are all shaping our own legacies by the choices we make. We are creating a heritage, in our families, our faith, our workplaces and our nation, that will be the reality for future generations.
I recently had the privilege of attending the World Methodist Conference in Houston, Texas, and as Methodists and Wesleyans from all over the world gathered together, I was deeply moved by the incredible richness there is in heritage, and in a shared heritage. There is so much strength we can draw from the three hundred years of history that has shaped and formed our denomination and church as we know it today. There is great wisdom in the heritage of our theology and disciplines. There is great comfort and hope in being rooted deeply in something that has stood the test of time and weathered many storms.
As I reflected on this heritage, I was reminded that Scripture urges us to make the Word of God and His commandments our true heritage and our inheritance. Psalm 119:111 notes: “I have taken Your testimonies as a heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart.” As Christ-followers, we can build our lives and faith on the solid and eternal truths of the Word of God. That is what defines us and what gives us a platform on which to continue to build our stories and create our own history. We build on the foundation of God’s love and faithfulness and on the eternal truth of His promises. What an incredible heritage that is! And we are not alone. We stand together with all Christians who live a shared heritage of faith, and with saints throughout the ages who are our “great cloud of witnesses” who urge us on, to lay aside distractions and doubt and to run the race of faith with courage and determination (Hebrews 11:1-2).
As we celebrate heritage day, may we celebrate the people and events that have shaped our nation and made us who we are, and more than that, may we celebrate the heritage of faith we have in the church, in each other, and in the timeless and eternal Word of God. May all of them encourage and inspire us to build a heritage and a legacy that truly honours God and for which those who come after us will be grateful.