Oct 17 – The Kirk, New Glasgow

There’s nothing like a quick history lesson…

a stern talking too by someone whose memory goes back further than ours

is sure to raise our hackles – roll our eyes –

and convince us that “our elders are stuck in the past.”

That, at least, is what happens at my house.

I believe that I have wisdom to dispense to my children

I am a self-proclaimed treasure trove of family history – a teller of tales;

recorder of (my own) mistakes, explained in all their misery

so that my children will not repeat them in their own lives…

but my children are at the age when my (oft repeated) stories

bring condescending smiles and knowing nods –

“yes, we know dad…”

occasionally, they can finish the story for me.

What is true for me is – quite likely true for many of you.

Involved as we are in the business of living, one with another

connected by relationships of birth and of choice

we are compelled to share the things that have shaped us, so that we might be understood.

It is true in big families and small. It is true of our working relationships.

It happens in neighbourhoods, in hockey rinks; at Rotary meetings, town council

and at the society for the preservation of cardboard cups

otherwise knows corporately as Tim Horton’s (TM).

History matters to us, even when it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone else

and nowhere is that more evident that in the family of God.

We catch Paul giving one of his favourite students a history lesson.

It may not look like history –

but Paul’s idea of time has been changed forever

by his encounter with the Risen Christ,

so trust me – it’s history.

The way he describes the state of the world – people’s lawlessness and faithlessness –

is part of his personal history, and by grace he has moved beyond it.

He has claimed his salvation – taken up the proclamation of the gospel, for which he shall soon die.

But with this quick history lesson, he is urging Timothy to remember his own history.

Remember the lessons of your youth

remember the stories of faithfulness and grace that have been shared with you.

In good times and bad, cling to those sacred stories that make up the history of your own faith,

and then be bold to share them.

Paul’s fears were not for the kingdom – that was guaranteed by God –

but that the story of God’s promises might continually be told.

Paul’s dream was that we might gather around those stories

and be strengthened, encouraged, and changed by the power of God that was in them.

This history lesson is part of our history.

Those treasured stories are still being told – Paul’s instructions have been followed, and generations of Timothy’s have endured “in season and out of season” in the the work of evangelists.

Today as a congregation, you celebrate you history in this same mission.

The gospel has been (for the most part)

faithfully proclaimed – joyfully received – for 191 years.

Today we struggle among people with itching ears

faced with the tough decisions – of justice and mercy, peace and love –

big questions of ethical and moral importance,

and everyday, practical questions

that come to any who would follow in the way of Jesus.

We have been charged with faithfulness is telling the story –

“Remember what you have learned”, your elders said.

be faithful to the traditions that we taught you”, the church declares

“let me tell you how we used to do it”, says the matriarch of the flock

who is driven, believe it or not, by her love for God.

I know you have heard those things.

And some of you have rolled your eyes, smiled indulgently and said;

yes, of course – we know this story…”

but you need not fear the hearing of it

and believe it or not, your continuing presence tells much of the story for you.

The church – at her best – is constantly telling her history in the present.

Your mission groups, your pastoral care groups,

your coffee clubs and bible studies

all these things help to tell the story of God’s people here

that is both very old and absolutely fresh every day.

The story of God’s history among us in Christ

may not be the favourite story at the morning coffee klatch.

Reminders to “keep the faith”

may cause younger members of our congregations

to smile indulgently, roll their eyes and say

yes, we’ve heard this story before…”

Our friends and neighbours may have itchy ears;

disinclined to humour us when we try to share our story with them.

But with Paul, I solemnly urge you to be true to your history.

continue in what you have learned…

proclaim the message;

be persistent… as God’s beloved people,

and continue to carry out your ministry,

following the model of Christ – by the power of the Spirit – for the glory of God.



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