Thursday 16th September 2021

'She's going to bottle it' I said. Mrs F stared at me across the sofa 'take your negative pants somewhere else...I believe in her'. Raducanu served. An Ace. She'd won the US Open. 'Never in doubt' I said. Mrs F stared at me once again, shook her head and said nothing. It was a phenomenal achievement. First qualifier ever to win a slam and she did not drop a set in ten matches. She's 18 years old. The plaudits will keep coming for this incredible sporting feat and the future is indeed bright. Andy Murray said of her: 'What she did in New York was very special, a huge boost for British tennis and gives hopefully the governing bodies an opportunity to capitalise on that and get more and more kids involved in the sport. It's great what she did and a huge opportunity for British tennis now.' Only 18 and already her legacy is being spoken of.
The match was played on September 11th and was a juxtaposition to the sombre mood of reflection of New Yorkers and millions around the world on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Rob Halligan, the singer/musician/songwriter who we have hosted in Alnwick many times, was one of those poignantly remembering; his own dad had been in the World Trade Center on that day and lost his life. Rob blogged about it and reflected on his journey: 'The day after 9/11 I decided that music was the one thing I had that I could use to make a difference in this horrific story and to make sure Dad’s death wasn’t going to be wasted. It was a journey to get there. Faith was an issue. The “Father Forgive” written at the front of Coventry Cathedral screamed at me, how on earth was I going to do that? It’s easy to bang on about forgiveness and turning the other cheek, but when the rubber hits the road, what do I really think and believe?......I chose to believe, yes. God is love – Love Is Bigger....And that’s how it started. Love is bigger than this mess of a world we live in. We hear about that mess all the time and so seldom celebrate the triumphs over that mess. And so, using music to make a difference became my thing. Singing the stories of people who don’t have a voice, raising awareness and money for the plight of some of the most vulnerable kids in the world. So this is the Legacy I want to celebrate. While the news talks about the horrors of the day and the destruction that followed, I’ll scream about hope until I don’t have a voice left. I’ll try and shed a little light while there’s still light to shed and I'll keep on singing. I’ll celebrate the 1000’s of kids in Bangladesh, Lebanon, Syria and Ethiopia that I’ve met. I’ll champion the little girl in Bangladesh we sent off at the 11th hour for life saving surgery and is now a young adult studying medicine. I’ll celebrate the love of a family who invited me into their shack on the Syrian border to thank us for giving them some hope, the kids who go to the school we built in Ethiopia who are helping their families climb out of poverty'. This is Rob's hoped for legacy and he's already seeing it coming to fruition in his lifetime.
Two vastly different stories on the same day conjuring up a huge range of emotions. Both speak to legacy.
I wonder if we think of legacy enough? Some are huge. The actions of Rosa Parks in refusing to give up her seat for a white man in 1955 turned the tide in apartheid immediately comes to mind. And what of our own legacy? We all have a sphere of influence, all of us. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with that, I passionately believe that we do. We carry the baton for our leg of the race. What we hand on is directly proportionate to how we've run, acted, spoken. What will we leave behind that speaks to the goodness of God in our lives that we want others to see? For all his failings, the Bible records of David that 'he served the purposes of God in his generation' and that 'he was a man after God's own heart'. Whatever time and place you read this, I pray that God will open your eyes to your sphere of influence and with open hands, ask Him to help you leave a legacy of grace, compassion, justice and love with those you encounter today. Who knows, your actions and words today could change the direction in someone's life for good and a journey towards Jesus.