Grace lived in a log home with dirt driveway along on a stone road. She lived in the family home with her parents and sister, even after her mother and father passed away.
The home had no phone, and until recently had no indoor bathroom. The home was heated with the wood that our youth group stacked for her in the fall. Her garden was almost as big in square footage as the house, and it was filled with fruits and vegetables, which fed them and many others. It was awash with beautiful flowers that adorned the altar of the United Methodist church where she was a lifelong member, and both she and her sister taught Sunday School. When Grace died, well in her 80s, the church was full with those who gathered to celebrate her life, faith and service.
What I remember most about Grace is that, as my sister went through confirmation, Grace served as what that church called a friend in faith. She met with my sister, prayed for her, and stood with her as she was baptized and confirmed.
Never married, never having children, this beautiful woman lived a legacy of simplicity, faithfulness, and, most of all, love. In her later years, she mentored a young girl seven decades her junior in making the most important decision anyone ever makes - the decision to follow Jesus. And by the time she entered heaven, I've no doubt that Grace left behind dozens of spiritual descendants.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul (near death in a Roman prison) writes this to Timothy, his protege in ministry, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also."
Over the course of this weekend, Christian congregations from many different traditions will celebrate All Saints Day. Churches often specifically remember those members who have died in the past year. We are also called to give God thanks for all who have faithfully lived and died and who have left to us a legacy of faith.
In a big picture way, we are here today because generations of men and women, springing from those first timid disciples have shared the story of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, and their stories of being changed because of Jesus love.
In a smaller way, my church receives the spiritual legacy of 40 Methodist Christians who gathered in Montoursville 193 years ago to form a class, our method of planting a congregation. We receive the legacy of the generations since then who have preached and taught, labored and built, loved and invited.
In an even closer way, we are recipients of the legacy of those who have invited us to worship, or brought us to vacation Bible school, or who welcomed us when we took that first tentative step into the church building, thinking for sure the roof would cave in, or who explained to us that Jesus has made it possible for us to have a relationship with God, not based on our worthiness, but on His love.
This All Saints weekend, let us remember and thank God for the legacy of faith we've received, and commit to sharing that legacy with others.
- Leland is the pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Montoursville.