Do you remember that commercial? A person would be in a classic execution scene from the old west as their captor asked them if they had any last words or whatever and then he would say, “What do you want on your tombstone” and the captive would reply something pizza related like pepperoni and cheese or sausage and mushrooms. The commercial usually ended in a reprieve for the condemned as their captor asked for a bite… Pop culture banality at its finest…
For some reason that commercial has been playing in my mind for the last month or so since my Bonus Dad Don moved on to glory. I think it’s because since then my brother and bonus sisters had so many good conversations about Don and who he was before Alzheimer’s robbed us of him long before death. At the risk of being sentimental, I have been thinking about what it would be like to put on our proverbial tombstones what it is that makes us… us... In Don’s case it might say something about getting fired for participating in a voters’ rights campaign in North Carolina in the 1960’s or that he was the guy who always used the feminine for referring to God or the one who fed his grandchildren ice cream for breakfast or who loved a good cigar (or even a bad one…). We are, after all, the sum of who we are… I think, for Don, we might just write, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:23)
What would our tombstone say, United, if our church were to have one? Who are we? Would it talk about how we began as a congregational church many years before any of us were alive? Would it say something about the hundreds of families who attended worship and Sunday School and pot lucks and the coffee shop in the day? Would we write about the birth of the UCC and the conversations and covenants that were formed when United became United? Would we write about giving away the building that no longer served us and making room for God to make something new in this old space? Would we write about being a Just Peace Congregation or Open and Affirming or the Creation Justice designations that we are earning today? Or would we simply say, we did our best to do your work, O God. We hope we made you proud. “We served the Lord.” (Colossians 3:24).