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Tuesday, October 02, 2007
We learn the faith in many different ways – from parents and friends, teachers, and the study of scripture, and from living in the Christian community. We are strengthened by hearing the faith stories of others and by passing on our own. We have a responsibility to nurture this faith and hand it on to others. It is the good treasure entrusted to us. 2 Timothy 1:1–14 Written from a prison setting, 2 Timothy is to Timothy, a young leader in the Christian community. It is a letter of encouragement and instruction to the early church. Labelled “Pastoral Letters/Epistles,” the letters to Timothy were probably not written by Paul – they speak to a church that is more structured than that of Paul’s day. Paul’s name is attached to them, giving them the authority of Paul’s teaching. With great affection the author writes, “To Timothy, my beloved child” and tells him that he is remembered daily in prayer. What a wonderful message to receive from a teacher and fellow worker! Faith is nurtured in human relationships, from generation to generation. As Timothy did, we learn the faith from parents and/or other teachers, and are sustained by the prayers of others. The faith lived in others and now lives in us; it is something alive and growing. The author reminds Timothy and the early church to rekindle the gift of God that they received in baptism, a “spirit of power and love and self-discipline.” We, too, recall the promises made at baptism and look for ways to live out our baptismal ministry every day as we grow in understanding. At baptism, the gathered community promises to support and nurture the candidates. All in the church have a responsibility to hand on to others what has been learned of the Christian faith. The letter encourages the fledgling church, reminding it that God, who saves and calls, is faithful and trustworthy in good times and bad. Paul is described as a herald (one who proclaims a message), an apostle (one who is sent), and a teacher (one who helps others to grow in the faith). The faith is that “good treasure” entrusted to Timothy and the early church – and to all of us. It is a gift of God to guard and to share, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Like the members of Timothy’s community, the ancient Hebrews also waited in hope for God’s salvation. The two readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, Lamentations 1:1–6 and Lamentations 3:19–26, are from a series of poems weeping over Israel’s fate. The leaders have been carried off into exile in Babylon; these poems are written for those left behind. The prophet weeps over Jerusalem – the “widow” who has been left desolate. The second passage adds a note of hope. God’s steadfast love will never end. God’s mercies are new every day. Psalm 137 is the lament of those in exile. How can Israel worship God away from the temple? How can Israel remain faithful in a foreign land? There they must guard the faith treasure entrusted to them. The closing verses of this psalm seem unbelievably harsh, but they reflect the pain and anger of an oppressed people. We are called to serve others in obedience to God’s teaching rather than in the hope of reward. In Luke 17:5–10, Jesus speaks to the disciples about humility and obedience. The disciples feel that they will need more faith. Jesus tells them that even a small amount of faith in God will be enough. It is God’s power that changes things. Faith is the good treasure that is its own reward. As we consider faith, the “good treasure” entrusted to us; what is the nature of this faith? How is the faith handed on from generation to generation? How can our faith lead us to hope when we find ourselves in the strange land? We give thanks for those who have led us and encouraged us in the faith.

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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