“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy:1:5
Not every child is as lucky as Timothy. We don’t all have pious mothers, and many who don’t still grow up to find Christ. We can’t inherit our faith. However, it is true that parents influence us, and I thought Mother’s Day is a good time to remember and celebrate that.
Did you know that when people are asked who had the greatest influence on their faith life the most common answer given is “my mother”? (I’m sure grandmothers are in the mix as well.) Children don’t “catch” their mothers’ faith through book learning or Bible reading, even if that goes on. They catch it from seeing a person who lives her life for Christ; a woman who practices what the Bible teaches. I remember reading years ago that children learn in three ways: by example, by example, and by example.
So to all of us who are mothers and grandmothers, let’s pray every day to be good examples of piety to our children and grandchildren — not the fake, whitewashed piety of the Pharisees, but the real deal; the kind they will respect and want to imitate. And if you’re not a parent, don’t worry! You’re still called to be a role model to younger Christians. You may be the Sunday School teacher, the Youth leader, the mentor who will always be remembered and cherished for pointing the way to Jesus.
Maybe some of our other authors and readers have stories they would like to share. Who were the women who modeled true piety in your life? Was it a mother, grandmother, Sunday School teacher or friend? I’d like to hear about them.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before us, looking to Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1
Have you ever heard a Christian talk about their ‘life verse’? Well, this one from Hebrews is mine. To me, this verse and this whole chapter is about persevering in the Christian walk. How do we do that? By keeping our focus on Jesus, and being inspired and encouraged by the example of other faithful Christians.
In the last chapter, we heard about all the great people of the past, who endured trials for their faith, even before the promises of God were fully revealed. It’s been called “the hall of fame of faith.” This hall of fame is not yet complete. Now we’re the ones running the race while the host that went before cheers us on. Sometimes we’ll get tired; sometimes God will discipline us; sometimes sin will trip us up. We need to keep going, with the help of Christ and our fellow believers.
Who’s in your faithful “hall of fame”? Your parents? Your pastor? Your childhood Sunday School teachers? Your spouse? A friend? Write down your list, and then say a prayer of thanks for those who have molded and shaped you, and helped you to keep going.
I have a reoccurring dream theme: I’m lost or I’ve lost something. Time is passing and I’m searching and becoming more and more anxious. Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I’m going to be late and/or unprepared. It’s not a good dream.
For some reason those dreams made me think about the church and all the things I would lose if I weren’t part of it. Of course one thing I wouldn’t lose is my salvation, because like all good Lutherans I know that God chose me and gave me faith, I don’t earn it by going to church or by the things I do there. But my Christian life would be only a shadow of what it could and should be without the church.
At church, I learn more about Christ and the life of faith. I learn through Sunday School, Bible study and sermons. The Bible becomes a living part of me, not a reference book I have to refer to. I learn through the example of others. There are so many people at church I admire for different things. People at church have taught me about generosity, self sacrifice, leadership, compassion, joy and any other Christian virtue you can think of. Better yet, the folks at church encourage and support me when I use my gifts for the good of the congregation. In fact, church was the place I found out that I had gifts to share!
Church is the place I go to worship God (a good reminder in case I drifted away during the week) and where I receive the sacrament of communion, which strengthens me for the days and trials ahead. I get to sing! Don’t you think singing always makes you feel better? You don’t even have to sing well, just lose yourself in making a joyful noise to the Lord. I see friends who celebrate and mourn with me and who pray for me whenever I ask.
So, I am puzzled. Who would want to lose all that in order to find a few more hours to sleep in, or go to the mall or watch sports on TV? What do you find when you take time for church? What do you lose when you don’t?
“Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:25