Honoring the Past, Empowering the Future

A devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:2-7.  

Whenever I get to the pearly gates the apostle Paul is the first person I’ll reach out to for chatter over a cup of coffee.  Educated, well-traveled, a small business owner and a man of languages, and egad what a writer!  He knew how to encourage, challenge and mediate, all in the right dose, and always with the person, congregation or town he wrote to in mind.

This text, which opens his second letter to Timothy, is more of the encouraging kind, and it reminds me of so many of our Christian communities.

I love that Paul looks back, honoring the past, specifically naming Timothy’s mother and grandmother, exhorting the value of a faith passed on from one generation to the next. Congregations with multiple generations of families can look back, to parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, and consider all they’ve done to encourage our faith, from baptism, first communion, confirmation and on into adulthood.  The faith of our ancestors now lives in you, lives in us, and lives in our children, our children’s children and will for generations to come.

I love how Paul recalls Timothy’s tears, and wants to rejoin his friend to be filled with joy.  It conjures up language from another Pauline text, Romans 12:15, that we are to Rejoice with those who rejoice, Weep with those who weep.  It’s a gentle reminder that emotions are often best shared within a community of people that care for each other. Perhaps a community not too unlike your own.

I love how Paul reminds Timothy to rekindle the gift of God within him.  Look back and celebrate, what was, yes, of course, but make sure to also fuel the fire of faith that burns within you.  Fuel that fire so that it may glow brightly.  Brightly enough so the light of Christ can be seen in you by others.

And I love how Paul describes exactly what God has gifted his friend, and has gifted us.  No, God did not give us a spirit of fear, ours is not a life to be lived cowering in dark corners hiding from our Creator and each other.  Instead God gifted us a spirit of power, and love, and a sound mind.  These are gifts to be used, tools to be put to work, a palette of paints to mix together and apply, bringing our world life, light and brilliant color as originally designed.

As we begin 2018 may we mimic the wisdom these few brief verses contain.  May we pray for one another, constantly, by day and by night.  May we honor the past, celebrating generations of faithful Christ-followers that brought us to where we are.  May we hold each other close enough to remember tears; close enough to desire reunions that bring joy.  May we rekindle the fire of our faith anew, a faith that glows brightly wherever we go.  May we remember the gifts we’ve been bestowed, for they are many.  And may we use those gifts, to share this kingdom of God within our spheres of influence, both locally and beyond.  Amen.

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