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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, October 4, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Timothy 1:1–14

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.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

One of the most memorable and impressionable experiences of my childhood involved overnight stays at my grandmother’s home. A devout missionary Baptist, my maternal grandmother was fond of singing the Lord’s Prayer before going to bed. Rather than join in, I simply delighted in listening to her rendition with its haunting, almost bluesy melody, most always sung in a minor key. While I did not know it at the time, hearing her prayers would years later lay the pattern for my own sense of faith, one that like her own was resolute but open to the mystery and sorrow of life in the minor key. In an indirect, but perhaps intentional way, the singing of prayers was one way that my grandmother bequeathed faith to me. It is remarkable then in Paul’s letter that in praising Timothy’s sincere faith, Paul acknowledges the faith of two notable women in Timothy’s life: his mother and grandmother.

In their book on the Ten Commandments, theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon suggest there is nothing quite as theologically provocative as a belly button. It is a sign that we did not nor cannot create ourselves. The navel is a fresh reminder that parents birthed us into being and that faith is not so much caught or taught as given from one generation to the next. The laying on of hands, to which Paul refers, is also a sign that we employ within worship, of not only faith, but also the mantle of its joys and responsibilities, transmitted from one person to another. The faithful witnesses who serve as a bridge between God and us put into our lives a gift that is to be celebrated but also used as we seek to live joyful and loving lives.

Who has helped birth your own faith? Who has kindled inside you a belief in your own belovedness and longing for a better world?

It is in you, O’ God, that we see who we truly are. We give thanks for those that lead us to recognize you and embrace our identity. We lift our hearts in gratitude for those that cradle us when our faith is fragile or threadbare, who plant within our anxious minds a desire to seek you. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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