Growing up, I felt like certain months had themes one had to consider. May was a time of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. In my younger days, both seemed to involve flowers: Flowers we had to go plant at the graves before Memorial Day, and on Mother’s Day, flowers we had to wear on a lapel of our suit. I also remember my dad’s flower had to be white because his mother had passed away.
Perhaps it is no wonder then that as I prepare to write the May column during Easter week, my mind is thinking about memorials and remembering people. Memorial Day and considering loved ones who have passed away can be a good thing. Those special memories can be enlightening, enriching, as well as sobering about the whole journey of life.
In that vein, I learned something valuable that I want to share with you during this month when memorials are so prevalent in our thoughts. I had a senior pastor in Erie who believed that as pastors, we need to mention for people to ‘Remember the church in your will.’ Interestingly for this column, I recently began working with a lawyer to prepare a new will for Sylvia and myself. In our previous will (made in 1992), we had put in a clause that if we both had died, 10% of our estate was to be given to a local United Methodist Church, chosen at the time by our executor. Our thinking was two-fold: First, we tithed in our time of living, and that seemed an appropriate action when we died as well. And second, we did not know in 1992 if that executor would be my brother or one of my sons and we did not know what churches we might have served during our ministry. So when it came time with this new will for writing that paragraph, I was informed that case law in Pennsylvania had changed to the point that we should put a dollar amount instead of a percentage. A percentage would make things very complicated for the executor. Additionally, due to a variety of legal factors, we should name the specific churches rather than leaving it to the discretion of the executor.
I share this information because some of you may well be including the church and giving to God in your will. And if you are not, I would encourage you to do so. Remembering the special way people have lived and the way God has helped us in this journey of life is good. This is true as we live and even when we consider the time that we complete our journey in life. God is a God of blessing, with special people and special times of remembering. Thanks be to God.
Pastor Dale Reese