Preparing for Worship – Kathryn Keller.
I descended from a heritage of faith. My maternal Grandma, who passed on earlier this year, and Grandpa, who has been with us in Dallas for much of the pandemic, told us for years that they prayed for all of their grandkids by name, together, nightly. For a handful of years during my childhood, they trekked some of us older cousins to Glorieta, New Mexico, for missions week at the Baptist retreat center.
I am struck by a particular phrase in our epistle reading today (2 Timothy 1:1–7) where Paul states, “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.”
When I drift back to my memories in Glorieta, I recall feeling inspired by the missionaries’ callings to lay down their lives, learn new languages and move to a faraway land. I remember world maps in front of which smiling older women and men pointed and delighted in their stories of their home away from home. The good news of Jesus Christ was being preached to the ends of the earth. The world was bigger than my own. This reality stirred an emerging faith living in me.
Come to think of it, other fond memories left their mark of life on me from those sacred trips. I recall the delight of spying on black bears trying to open our trash cans on early mornings. I can feel the anticipation of standing in line behind my fellow hikers waiting to sniff the butterscotch-scented bark of the ponderosa pines. I recall hours of careful consideration in the gift shop over the perfect treasure on which to spend the $10 my great grandmother had gifted each of us.
Sometimes it’s tempting to more heavily weight the religiously oriented memories and inspirations when talking about faith. I’ve spent too many years doing just that. Although I’m grateful for the nightly supplications my grandparents made on my behalf, I’m becoming equally grateful for the opportunities to experience God through nature, connection and love.
Today as we worship, I invite us all to set aside our preconceived notions of faith. Let’s be open to how God might rewrite what it means to have a faith living in us. Let’s see what the Apostle Paul is so sure about.