Tomorrow is Heritage Day in South Africa. If I were to celebrate my heritage what would it be? I suppose at first glance you might classify me as a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) yet that doesn’t describe the unusualness of my upbringing – raised in Northern Ireland in the protestant community, but raised to be non-political and non-religious. My mum thought it best to bring us up with the freedom to choose for ourselves – in the end we all choose Jesus. You see God had a secret weapon in our family – a praying grandmother. While my Dad’s mum didn’t live to see the whole family come to faith she was around to see me take my first steps – she got to attend my baptism shortly before she died. What she didn’t see was my parents and brother also come to faith over the following years. I discovered that this quiet, hair-in-a-bun lady, whom I didn’t know very well was a prayer – over many years she prayed with her best friends for our family’s salvation.
My mum gave me a heritage of freedom and acceptance of different people and the freedom not to be confined by a culture or tradition. My grandmother gave me a heritage of faith – the freedom to believe. What heritage will I pass along? What will be my legacy? I hope that I combine the heritage of two ladies who so often misunderstood each other. The freedom to celebrate different cultures and the liberty not to be confined by them – a kind of best of Malawian, Northern Irish, South African and anywhere-else-we-stop-along-the-way culture.
Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
God recognises and celebrates our cultures – our differences do not need to be divisive. But underpinning all our cultural diversity is our common faith and common saviour. I want Jesus and obedience to God to be my lasting legacy.
Psalms 119:111-112 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. 112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
I pray that the heritage I pass on is a combination of what I received – a celebration of freedom and the acceptance of Jesus. That I would be as accepting of people and cultures as Jesus is, but also that the law that I adhere to would not be dictated and limited by culture but by God’s eternal standards. What is you heritage?