2 Timothy 1:1-5

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 2 Timothy 1:1-5

The letters to Timothy come to us as words of advice, counsel, and encouragement from the Apostle Paul to a young church leader. In these opening verses, Paul names the two women who have shaped Timothy’s faith. His grandmother and his mother.

This passage sparked our conversations yesterday in two different rooms. In one, a circle of parents of young children and, in the other, the parents of middle school students. Around each circle people were given the opportunity to share stories about who along the way has shaped their faith, and how they did it. It was a privilege for me to sit in those circles and hear what people had to say.

Certainly parents and grandparents played a large role. In some families, the Christian faith was such a deep part of their identity that it wasn’t about what they did but about who they were. In other families, the children (now adults) were basically on their own. Some of the folks didn’t have much of a faith foundation at all while they were growing up.

I was particularly struck by the stories that mentioned seeing college students as camp counselors at summer camp, and even more, by the person who said she was so impressed by the other adults who came along as chaperones, taking their vacation time, to bring kids to camp and spend a week with them there. Especially those adults who had no children of their own attending.

Today there are significant questions among New Testament scholars about whether or not these letters were really written by the Apostle Paul or whether they were written by someone else paying homage to Paul by using his name. I understand those discussions and what is at stake in them but, at the end of the day, what you and I are left with is the witness to the faith inscribed in the letters themselves. That seems to be all that God needs in connecting with us. It isn’t about the “who” is sharing the faith as much as it is about the divine appointment that God has set where we are personally confronted with the witness.

No one knows anything about Lois. She is mentioned here as the mother of Eunice. We don’t know her either. But we can trust that as Lois held her little girl in her arms she dreamed of how God would bless, and use, Eunice in blessing the world. In the stories she told, in her conversation, in how they structured their time, Eunice would come to embrace the faith of her mother and later would pass the same faith down to her own son. Centuries later, you and I are also the recipients of their witness. This is how the Christian faith works.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we are all at different places in our faith journeys. For some of us, this is all brand new. We feel like infants with so much to learn and to experience for ourselves. For others, we have been wrestling with the faith our whole lives. Thank you for those people along the way who took the time to model a faith worth following, a love worth passing along, and a purpose for living much deeper than just looking out for ourselves and surviving another day. Continue to guide us, and to walk alongside us, as you continue to bring models of faith into our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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