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10.06.19 A Telling Faith, 2 Timothy 1.1-14 Sermon Summary

by on October 7, 2019

It’s World Communion Sunday. We share worldwide faith and communion because ours is a telling faith. One person tells another, one traveler tells another, one generation tells another. A telling faith is always one conversation away from extinction. Ours is one generation away from vanishing. Are you telling anyone about your faith?

It’s a heartwarming picture: Lois raising Eunice in the faith; Eunice raising Timothy in the faith; Timothy planting, consulting, and pastoring churches. But ideal pictures can make us envious. Not everyone has a family like Timothy’s. Some parents and grandparents raise children in the faith and the children choose another path. Others of us wonder how our lives would be different if our parents had raised us in the faith.

No matter how different our families may be from Timothy’s, one thing we have in common: We are here today because someone told us.

Second Timothy is important for all of us, even though few of us are in the situation of the letter. We aren’t church leaders threatened by persecution. Few of us refer to ourselves as “apostles, heralds, or teachers.” This is a letter between pastors, but within it is wisdom for the whole church. Part of that wisdom is how we can have a living faith—the kind of faith Timothy is commended for having.

How can we have a living faith? This passage offers us three parts to an answer. First, Timothy was part of a community. He became a pastor through the laying on of hands. Hand-laying is a symbol of continuity, like getting a diploma at commencement. It says you’ve been given a tradition—tradition being a Latin word meaning “handing on” or “handing over.”

Faith isn’t something we invent. It isn’t a me-and-God, God-and-me thing. Faith is something created through community. The first community is the authors of scripture. The second community is the generations of people who keep scripture—those saints of the tradition who were guided by the words preserved by the first community. Next is the worshiping church in its prayer and ritual. Lois and Eunice are examples of the community Timothy had. He had a living faith because he was part of a community.

Second, Timothy had the Holy Spirit. He is reminded that God gave him a spirit not of cowardice, but of power, love, and self-discipline. He’s told to guard the good treasure of his living faith with the help of the spirit living in him.

If a living faith needs the community that stretches back through time and around the world, it also needs the Holy Spirit which can be more individual and here and now. Timothy had a living faith because he was part of a community relating him to the past; and he had the Holy Spirit relating to him in the present.

Third, in order for Timothy to have a living faith he had to be personally involved. He was told to rekindle the faith living in him. Now Timothy was co-sender with Paul for six letters in the Bible. He was Paul’s loyal disciple and church delegate, and he came from generations of faithful people. And still he needs to “rekindle” the faith.

We rekindle fires when the flames burn low, when they are at risk of being extinguished. There’s more to burn but kindling is needed. Fires burn down—and faith begins to wane—out of neglect, when we stop paying attention. It can happen when the logs are too big—we have too many ambitious projects going. Fires burn down if the logs are too far apart—when we have a lack of fellowship with others. Or when there isn’t enough air—our lives lack the Spirit blowing through our prayers.

Whether you’re a pastor or not, whether you’re a Timothy or a Paul or not, three things help us to keep a living faith: A community, the Holy Spirit, and being personally involved. When we have a living faith, we can have a telling faith, and a telling faith will live—a telling faith will even outlive us.

The bread and cup of communion are a form of kindling. When Jesus took and broke the bread, giving it to the disciples after walking to Emmaus, their eyes were opened and they declared, “Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked to us on the road?!” If your faith needs rekindling this week, then come to the Table of the Lord. Listen again as Jesus tells you the faith. Then you can tell the faith to someone else.

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