Summary: PENTECOST 18, YEAR C - Let us pass on what has been passed on to us.
On the Antiques Roadshow a man recently shared this story. “My aunt died recently at age of 97. Like her mother before her my aunt was a pack rat. We found many great pieces when we cleaned out the house The most interesting find was a folded up newspaper stuck in the top of a closet. We almost threw it away thinking it was trash. Imagine our surprise when we opened it up and discovered that it was the front section of The New York Herald from April 15,1865 the day President Lincoln was shot.” How often have many of us overlooked something of great worth, thinking that all we had was common trash? A man went to visit a close friend who happened to work on Wall Street. The friend’s office was richly furnished with all the signs of wealth and prosperity. All that is except two pieces of broken concrete. When asked about these two items the man said, “That first one I got on a visit to Germany. It’s a piece of the Berlin wall.” “And the second piece?,” asked his visiting friend. In a quiet voice the man replied, “That one I picked up down the street, It comes from the Trade Towers. I keep these two pieces of concrete always in plain view so that whenever I get overwhelmed by the demands of work on Wall Street I can look at them and remind myself what is of true and everlasting value.” What do you hold as sacred? What helps to remind you in the midst of the demands and stress of common life what is of true and everlasting value?
In 2 Timothy Paul says to his spiritual son Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now dwells in you.” A Spiritual heritage passed down from one person to the next. From generation to generation. From mother to daughter and daughter to son. A sacred trust that can only last if the one in whom it has been entrusted passes it on to the next in line. From Lois to Eunice and Eunice to Timothy. And Timothy to so on and so on. Paul recalls for Timothy how for generations past this sacred trust has journeyed the road of faith. Paul remembers the ancestors of this faith, the ancient ‘fathers’ who served God before Paul or Timothy. The fathers and mothers of the faith, who from the days of Abraham circumcised the sons of promise. Who from the days of Moses kept the covenant. All those who longed to receive what Timothy had come to see, the coming of the Christ. Emanuel, God dwelling in human flesh. Timothy received what they had not because they had passed on the sacred trust of a faith filled hope which prepared him to receive the one that had finally come. Daughter Eunice received all her mother Lois gave her, and passed it on, in trust, to her child, to Timothy. And now it was his. He accepted the promise of God, and found it’s fulfillment in Jesus. He kept the covenant of God, and found it’s freedom in Christ. He now had a sacred trust, to follow the Christ and to entrust to those that followed the call of Christ, to make more disciples.
That sacred trust has now been passed on to us. It is who we are to be as the North Congregational Church in New Hartford Connecticut. For on December 25, 1828 62 members of the Town Hill Church split off from their mother church for the expressed purpose of building a church that would reach out to the growing community of blue collar workers that had been moving into the area seeking jobs. This was a mission church with outreach as their sacred trust, to pass on to a new generation a faith of true and lasting value. Passed on from generation to generation, mother to son and father to daughter and now to us. What will you do with it? Will you recognize the worth of what you have been given and pass it on, Or will you discard it like Thursday’s garbage? Paul’s word to Timothy was “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you.” It is time for us as a church to rekindle the gift that God has given us. It is time to reclaim our sacred trust. It is time for us to become a mission church again. The one who called us and all those who have passed onto us this sacred trust are watching and waiting to see what we will do.
There once was a woman who began experiencing deep levels of depression, which caused her to withdraw from all those around her. Where once she was an active member of her church, now she remained hidden within her own home. Concerned about the change in her mother’s mental health, the daughter sought out a well known counselor in hope he might provide insight into her mother’s psychological condition. As the three of them walked about the woman’s house she complained on and on about how no one at her hurch really cared about her and how they all were mean and unkind. The daughter who had expected from the counselor words of psychological insight was surprise when instead he said, “Madam, I know what your problem is.You are not a very good Christian! If you wish to get better then this is what you must do. As you showed me your home I noticed that you grow African Violets. So you must return to you church and whenever there is a baptism or a confirmation or new members join your church, you are to give them as a gift one of your African Violets. Do this and you will get better.” And so she did and her depression left and never returned. To those who received this floral gift, she became known as the African Violet woman. A sacred trust passed on, and so it goes, from one generation to the next. All bearing witness to Christ’s call upon our lives. Therefore, Since we are all surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, says the writer of Hebrews let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, God is watching, Christ is watching. Those who have gone before us are watching. We have received as a sacred trust, the only gift of true and everlasting value. Now what are we going to do with it?