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‘Something I learned from my grandparents’: God blesses faithfulness

Faith Matters

Did you know that Grandparents Day was on Sept. 8 this year? I admit that I didn’t do anything special to commemorate it, and neither did my church. Shame on us!

However, the month of September has long been a time to honor my grandparents because both of my grandfathers’ birthdays are this month. I’ve had the wonderful blessing of strong relationships with all four of my grandparents, two of whom are still alive well into their 90s.

May we never take such cross-generational relationships for granted!

One way that I honor my grandparents and others of their generation is to learn from the way in which they lived their lives. Their lives are the answer to the question, “What kind of world do I want to leave for future generations?” I learn so much from reflecting on their lives: managing to survive both the Great Depression and World War II, then raising children through the tumult of the 1960s and 70s, and eventually doting on and encouraging my millennial siblings, cousins, and me.

Such reflection leads me to think of stewardship. Fall is a popular time for stewardship series in churches in the United States, though our stewardship must include more than what we put in an offering plate. My grandparents sacrificed an incredible amount for the well-being of future generations. We must do similarly.

Signs of catastrophic climate change are all around us, and our stewardship of the world is at the center of the changes we see. Psalm 24:1 declares to us that “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it,” and the book of Genesis reminds us that God has granted humanity covenantal dominion over God’s world. (NRSV) How we practice that covenantal dominion-stewardship in relationship with God and other people-has profound consequences for both current and future generations.

At this point, I am sure that debates about the “Green New Deal” and contemporary politics flare up in our minds. We should encourage those debates because our covenantal dominion over the world is very important. However, we must avoid getting stuck in punditry and social media vitriol. Our actions have consequences right now! While we discuss and debate, we must also take the small and faithful steps of just stewardship in the here and now. One small and faithful step is to join in the effort to go “plastic foam-free.”

Communities and businesses around the country and the world are kicking the plastic foam (brand name Styrofoam) habit as a step to prevent unsightly litter and toxic pollution. United Churches of Lycoming County is working to help our community join this effort and lift the standards of our stewardship.

I personally do not have children of my own yet, let alone grandchildren, yet I recognize my responsibility in stewardship for the sake of future generations. My efforts often seem paltry compared to the scope of our current issues, yet I am confident that God blesses each step of faithfulness. That is something I learned from my grandparents.

The Rev. Joseph Hopkins is a pastor for Avis United Methodist Church.