Heritage Homes

Like many Canadians, my husband and I arranged for a couple of household repairs and upgrades this past summer in order to claim the current government’s tax credit.  When the repairman arrived one day, he mentioned that his company specializes in heritage homes.  I wondered if our old house qualified as a “heritage home.”

According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, heritage includes monuments, countryside, buildings, etc. that are worthy of preservation.  There is no mention of age requirements.  Interestingly enough, I learned that the very words heritage and heritability come from Old French and Latin ecclesiastical terms.  The dictionary reminds us though that the term “heritage” can also mean inherited circumstances, e.g. a heritage of negativity.  It is the latter that is unworthy of preservation.

As I reflected, I realized quickly that all homes (including my former bachelor apartment) are heritage homes because we all bring our heritage to them.  In my case, I bring my maternal Celtic heritage and my paternal Jersey (British Channel Islands) heritage.

More importantly, we bring our Christian heritage to our home ― a heritage of different churches, along with a variety of worship styles and practices.  Sadly though, as God’s truth is increasingly pushed out of people’s homes, governments and schools, we are losing a vital part of that heritage.  With this in mind, it is important that we acknowledge the importance of our Christian heritage because no enduring heritage exists on its own.  It is a living identity that we choose to care about and nurture on a regular basis.

As with other stewardship concepts, stewarding our heritage is a relational term.  It is a matter of our relationship with our past Christian traditions as they pertain to the present, and how these traditions will inspire and enrich future generations of God’s children.

How do we begin to inspire the next generation to live a godly life?  The Bible tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training…” (II Timothy 3:16).  We should be wary, however, of competing secular opinions presented as truths, as well as inherited circumstances of “harmful interference.”  These are certainly no heritage to pass on to God’s children.

As parents, it is indeed our duty and our privilege to train our children in the principles and obligations of Christianity so that they will not depart from those principles when they are grown.  Recognizing that not all families have been raised in a heritage of faith, Parkdale’s ministerial staff members remain available to help us to nurture faith practices in our homes.

Some of the simplest ways to do this are to teach our children to pray and to let them hear us give thanks for our meals.  Remind them often that God loves them and tell them that you are praying for them.  Ask them to pray for you, particularly when they know that you are facing a challenge.  Develop faith traditions and let them see you reading the Bible on a regular basis.  It will all sink into their soul.  Better yet, give them their own Bible and take a few minutes to fill out the genealogy tree inside its front cover.  If your young children or teenagers stray, pray and persevere so that God’s commandments may stay with them, remembering Psalm 119:111-112, “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.  My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”

Like many typical teenagers, our own sons sometimes ask hard faith-related questions.  As a Christian, I embrace those questions and pray that I will know what to say in order to let God’s word be heard.  I always try to answer to the best of my ability.  However wanting my words, one of my deepest desires as a parent is to pass on a strong Christian faith to our children.

That said, most of our family’s faithing in our old house occurs in our “great room” (read: open concept kitchen with eating and family areas).  Coincidentally or not, many of our faith-based discussions happen during our family dinners.  Somehow, it all seems appropriate next to our kitchen with its cathedral-style cupboards, cross-embossed vinyl flooring and the “God Bless our Home” wall hanging.

Where do you do your faithing in your heritage home?

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Hennessy

Chair, Stewardship Group