You are not alone. Come share the journey.

October 2 Service: World Communion Sunday

Sunday School Activities

It’s All Yours
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Parkminster United Church
Sunday, October 2, 2022 – World Communion
What do you treasure in this life? Family, friends, this faith community for sure. Many things that we treasure aren’t material items – but sometimes we have things that unlock a connection to those people and places that we treasure most. I’d love to hear about the things you treasure after the service today or in the days ahead if you’re willing to share.
As I reflected on treasures this past week, I looked around my room and my house and my heart and I reflected on the things that I treasure. One item I treasure was very near at hand… on my hand, literally. I often will wear this ring that belonged to my maternal grandmother.
Here’s how it came into my possession. When I was about 14 years old, I was watching my mother go through her jewelry box. It’s hard to describe the fascination that it had for me… my mother’s jewelry seemed exotic, mysterious, from another time and place. It belonged in the movies. As I watched, I saw this ring, which I had never seen on my mother’s finger. “What’s that?” I asked. “That’s your grandmother’s ring, it had belonged to her grandmother,” she answered. My grandmother had died when I was less than a year old. I never got to know her – my memories of her are through stories, photographs, and this very ring.
“Why don’t you ever wear it?” I asked, already suspecting I knew the answer. “Not my style, I guess” my mother said. “Oooh,” I said, probably sounding like someone scheming, maneuvering. “I love it.” And my mother plucked it out of her jewelry box and dropped it in my hand. “It’s all yours.” I probably wore the ring a lot when I first received it, always on special occasions and with great care, but then it languished in my own jewelry box for many years, until just recently when I was going through it again and remembered this treasured ring.
So out it came from that safe space, and I put it on my finger, and… here it is, connecting me to generations of women in my family, as I hope it will one day connect my girls to us. I love this ring. Every time I put it on, I think with gratitude of my mother, carelessly, generously gifting it to me, and of my grandmother, who I never had the opportunity to talk to, but whose hands must’ve been shaped just like mine – so much so that I never had to have the ring re-sized.
What do you treasure? I am sure you can think of many possessions, as I can, and of what they signify. But that’s the trick in the question… what do we really treasure, the items or the
meaning for which they are the repositories? What do I treasure, this ring, or the way it brings memories of my mother and grandmother into sharp, bright focus? In our Scripture lesson this morning, Paul treasures Timothy’s tears. Did you notice that? Paul says, “When I recall your tears, I long to see you again, which would fill me with joy. 5 I’m reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and now, I’m certain, in you as well.” (2 Tim. 1:4-5).
Timothy’s tears are a container for memory, and the memories they conjure in Paul must be rich… the memories of three generations of faithful followers of Jesus. Paul recalls Timothy’s grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice… I wonder what he remembers about them. Did they convene a church to meet in their house? Did they dedicate Timothy to be a follower of the way of Jesus when he was very young? Did they lose something or someone they loved because of their faith? Does Paul remember a specific word of encouragement, a prayer of blessing, a gift of support for his work? Paul treasures Timothy’s tears. We don’t know why Timothy was crying, whether it was something to do with his parting from Paul, or Paul’s imprisonment. Perhaps Timothy feared he would never see Paul again, Paul who died, in the end, at the hands of the Empire. Perhaps Timothy’s tears were tears of joy, at the accomplishment of some great task, planting a church, sharing the faith. But there is something in the words that follow that leads me to believe Timothy’s tears had to do with fear or pain. Paul seems to be giving Timothy words of encouragement for some difficult tasks he was facing. The author writes, “That’s why I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God didn’t give us a spirit of timidness, but a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:6-7). Rekindle, Paul says, the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of my hands. There’s a story behind this, and it sounds to me like a faith story. The gift of God Paul alludes to here is surely faith… faith is the great treasure passed on to Timothy by his mother and grandmother and confirmed by Paul. Paul reminds Timothy that this faith brings with it the Spirit of God, available to equip him with all he needs… with power, with love, with self-discipline. This is our holy calling, Paul tells Timothy. We gratefully receive the grace of God, and we pass it on, like a precious family heirloom that we don’t want to be lost. We receive the tiniest smidgen of grace and faith… tiny as a little seed…as a drop of water… and we allow it to be implanted deep in us until it grows into something large enough to carry us through life, like some gorgeous balloon that can be lifted on the gentlest current of air. We receive the gift of grace, and we allow it to come to life in us and we pass it on.
But here’s the thing: Faith isn’t fireworks; it’s not meant to dazzle. Faith is recognizing our tiny place in relation to God’s enormous, creative love, and then filling that place with our whole lives.
One of the most damaging messages that has sometimes been communicated to people throughout time who are struggling in their spiritual lives is that faith is somehow antithetical to doubt, fear, ambivalence, or confusion. Having faith does not mean that we will never struggle with unbelief, distrust, questions, or anxiety. Having faith means leaning hard into God’s abundance. Having faith means pursuing the sacred and the things of God even when the pursuit feels challenging. Faith is not deciding once and for all to follow God. Faith is living within God’s extravagant decision to love and pursue us. Faith is trusting God one step at a time, day after day after day. For the long haul.
God chooses us long before we are capable of choosing God. On this World Communion Sunday, the knowledge that God chooses us, outside of our own capacities and capabilities, awakens another kind of knowledge in our hearts. If we understand ourselves as called by God, bidden by grace to do this work of receiving faith and passing it on, we can also understand this: there will be bread for the journey. All over the world this morning Christians are gathering around the table of God. In many languages, in many places, people will be reminded that God welcomes us to this table and sets before us good and nourishing food and drink. Reversing the usual course of things, the One who is unimaginably great serves the ones who are infinitesimally small, encourages us to take the bread and juice, and we may be told, “It’s all yours.”
Every time we approach the table where bread will be broken, we confess our own brokenness and our participation in broken systems. We confess our broken relationships with one another and creation. We confess our brokenness and come to be made whole by broken bread. Throughout Scripture, God’s not working with the polished and complete, but broken people again and again. Here, in our brokenness is what God wants to use to fuel the fire of faith. And so, it’s all ours. It’s all yours. This mysterious, wonderful, challenging gift of faith that we are called to live out. It’s all yours. It’s all yours, good people of Parkminster: the mysterious gift of faith, the treasure passed on through countless generations. It’s all yours, visitors, friends, seekers, travelers: this holy calling that provides us with the power, love, and self-discipline we need to travel through our nights of tears and our mornings of joy. It’s all yours, countless people throughout the world, who will draw near to God’s table this day: the bread of life and the cup of blessing, bread for the journey and the wine of arrival. It’s all yours. Open your hands and your hearts and receive it. And then, give it away. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Rev. Heather Power