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Passing along the gift of faith

A young man waited at the end of the line after the prison service to ask if I knew his aunt. She is a pastor in our county, and I was happy to be able to say, “Yes, I do!”

It speaks well of being part of the family of God, and I was also able to honor his respect for his aunt. As we talked, I could see that he physically resembled her, and apparently her faith lives in him, at least enough that he was in worship.

Talking with the young man reminded me that I like the way the letter to Timothy begins. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you” (2 Timothy 1:5 NRSV).

In my family of origin, my great-grandmother was the one I remember reading her Bible daily and going to church regularly. My grandmother was the one who believed in me the way she said God believes in all of us. She and my grandfather started my college fund as soon as they knew I was expected rather than waiting until after I was born.

My parents were the ones I saw living out their faith daily. Mom, even with a debilitating illness, celebrated every day she had with family and friends. Dad was one of the most ethical people I have ever known. He was someone who had many skills and delighted in teaching others how to do things.

Because of my mom’s illness, he was the one who usually took me to church, and I was fortunate to be able to sit with him in church long after I became an adult.

Fortunately, there are friends, teachers, co-workers, and extended family, along with others, in all of our lives who model the faith for us and who encourage us and guide us along our life journey.

We live out our faith in community. We watch each other and observe how we handle both the big and little events of life. We pass along traditions, ways of doing things, and priorities. It is important to pass on actions filled with love and welcome rather than prejudices and hatreds.

Another gift of passing on our faith in the midst of community is that we can point out to others when we see God working in their life. In the midst of the difficult times of our lives, our faith tells us that God is there: sometimes strengthening, sometimes directing, sometimes carrying, always comforting and loving us. We can seldom “see” it at the time, but it is magnificent to hear one of our friends or mentors telling us that it is happening. It gives us hope!

May the precious words and images that you share with others help to pass your faith along.

The Rev. Gwen N. Bernstine, Executive Director, United Churches of Lycoming County.