Happy Mother’s Day. Was your mother a good cook? Do you remember the Actor Alan Thicke? He was interviewed back in 1989 by “People Magazine” Said this about his mother’s cooking skills:
“She would burn, she would cremate, she would nuke. If you are what you eat, I’d be black. Her idea of a balanced meal was one where you had a 50-50 chance of survival. Modern technology hasn’t improved her technique either. She has a microwave now. She can burn faster.”
I wouldn’t say that about my mother. My mother was a good cook, of course, I was a growing teenage boy and I’d eat anything that was placed on the table. I still have fond memories of my mother saying, “slow down Billy, we’re going to eat tomorrow”. Or “Save some for everybody else, you don’t want your brothers to starve do you.”
There was only one thing that my Mom couldn’t make and that was cream of wheat. She made the lumpiest cream of wheat I’ve ever seen. No amount of raisins, nuts, sugar and butter would make it eatable. Those lumps would catch in your throat.
This is Mother’s Day a day children like to give back just a little of that love. At least that’s what we say. I think children know instinctively that this is the day to get even for all those meals they didn’t like that Mom made them eat whether we liked it not.
Do you like Optical Illusions? I do. I think we’re probably all familiar with the work of M.C. Escher and his pencil drawings like “Relativity” and “Waterfall.” There are any number of famous optical illusions but most of those don’t translate to the big screen. However, there is a certain style of sidewalk art which does. So, I’ve picked a few to show you this morning. I hope they don’t make your head hurt.
So, what’s with the optical illusions? Well, there are a lot of people who live their faith like optical illusions. They aren’t really what they appear to be. They are sort of like hollow chocolate Easter bunnies. A lot of promise but not much substance. All hat and no cattle, all wax and no candle, all sizzle and no steak. We call them Posers or Pretenders.
In our passage for the message this morning, Paul gives thanks to God for Timothy and his sincere faith. Obviously Timothy is the real deal. Listen to what Paul writes: 2 Tim. 1:1-14 (NRSV)
 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
 I am grateful to God – whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did – when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
 Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.
 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.
 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher,
 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.
 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
There’s a whole lot of stuff to be unpacked in this passage but since this is Mother’s Day, I want to look at three brief things. Paul tells Timothy to Remember, Rekindle and Guard.
A. Paul tells Timothy that he thinks of Timothy often and remembers Timothy’s sincere faith. Timothy’s no poser, he’s no pretender. He’s the real deal. He’s authentic. And he learned how to be authentic from his grandmother and his mother. They passed on their knowledge and love of God and love of Jesus to Timothy. Their faith was as natural as sitting down for breakfast or going to bed at night.
And because it was so natural it became an integral part of Timothy’s life and his own faith journey. Paul is remembering their faithfulness and its effect on Timothy’s faith. And because of that faith, Timothy was able to grow and become the real deal because he had seen the real thing in his mother and grandmother.
B. We’re called to model for them, a sincere and authentic faith. We’re called to REMEMBER what we’ve learned and who we are so our children will be able to REMEMBER.
One of my favorite parts of ministry is Baptism. I love it not just for the message it gives, that each child is special to God and already in relationship with God but also because, as we set this child aside and mark it with God’s invisible watermark, which is something high and holy. We also renew our own membership vows. The church, the body of Christ, takes vows as well. We commit ourselves, once again, to live that authentic life so that the children and youth of the church see what it means to live a Christ like life. We want them to REMEMBER the real deal.
The challenge for us is to REMEMBER not only the mothers and grandmothers in our lives but to REMEMBER everyone who helped shape our faith. AND in that challenge we’re called to live a Christian walk which is memorable so our children and youth will be able to REMEMBER also.
A. Then Paul goes into a long description of the faith which Timothy already knows, so why rehearse it again? Paul reminds Timothy of the essence of his belief system so that he can REKINDLE that faith in Timothy. Sort of like fanning the embers of a fire so it won’t go out.
As parents, grandparents and adults we have an opportunity to both kindle and rekindle the faith of those around us, especially our children. You see, they know the proper order of things. They expect us to teach them. They expect us to be their role model. They look to us for guidance and help. They may not always act like it but that’s part of being a child.
And when we take our job, our role as adults seriously and live that authentic faith; when we do a good job it makes all the difference in the world.
A reporter once asked the great theologian, Karl Barth: “Sir, you have written many huge volumes about God; tell me, how do you know it’s all true?”
With eyes laughing, the learned German theologian answered, “My mother told me.”
B. A mother took her six-year-old boy into a doctor’s crowded waiting room. As they waited their turn, he began to ask her all kinds of questions. In half an hour he managed to cover almost every subject known to humanity. To the wonder of all the others sitting in the room, his mother answered each question carefully and patiently. Inevitably, he got around to God. As the other people listened to his relentless “how’s” and “why’s,” it was plain to see by the expressions on their faces that they wondered: “How does she stand it?” But when she answered her son’s next question, she answered theirs too. “Why doesn’t God ever get tired and just stop?”
“Because,” she replied after a moment’s thought, “God is love; and love never gets tired.”
And that’s true. GOD’S LOVE NEVER QUITS. Jesus said, “No one will snatch them from me….” The Apostle Paul said, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God….” and that is the Good News. God never quits loving. And that’s also true of the love of a faithful parent. Moms may get tired, but like God, they never get tired of loving.
When we know we belong, when we know the love receive is trustworthy, true and unconditional we are REKINDLING the faith of our children and youth. We have to REMEMBER that our words and actions can do one of two things: they either rekindle the fire of faith or they can be like a bucket of cold water and douse it.
REMEMBER AND REKINDLE your own faith so you can REKINDLE the faith of those around you, especially the faith of our family and children.
A. And finally, Paul says we are to Guard the Good Treasure. So what is this Good Treasure? Well, I think it’s twofold. Of course, there’s the treasure of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to guard that. It’s not something we lock away so no one can get it. No, the Good News is something we give and share freely.
However, we do have to guard the faith, guard it and nurture it so it doesn’t wither and die. Guard it so it gets easily shared. And guard against letting it be hidden away someplace so it never has an opportunity to bloom.
B. But there’s something else we have to guard as well, we have to guard our future, we have to guard our children and youth. Our children are precious treasures entrusted into our hands by God. And while they may look and act resilient and unbreakable, they are very fragile.
It is difficult to give children a sense of security unless you have it yourself. If you have it, they catch it from you. We each have a deep need for a sense of security, a sense of belonging, a place and a people we can trust. A young child needs that sense of security and trust as well.
Our children need to know that they belong. We should never make them think that their belonging to the family is contingent upon their grades in school or whether they keep their room clean. That attitude only breeds insecurity.
I understand that sometimes it’s not easy to even provide the basic needs like food and shelter. But in talking to folks, I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have a place where we feel like we belong.
An old comic has Dennis the Menace sitting is in his mother’s lap. She has enfolded him in her arms and he’s crying. Mom has this concerned look on her face as Dennis says: “I HAD to come home. I need somebody to be on MY side.”
We all need someone to be on our side. We all have that innate need to know that no matter what happens, no matter what is said or done, there are folks who are still on our side. The Christian family fulfills that need; the Church fulfills that need; Christ fulfills that need. In a Christian home, the parents let each other and the children know that they are not alone. And that they are safe.
We’re called to Guard the Good Treasure both of our faith and our children and youth. They go hand in hand you know. For our children and youth will carry the faith into the future. If we guard it well, they will have a deep faith to carry forward. Guard the Good Treasure.
As parents we all need to know that there are going to be days when absolutely nothing goes right, the wheels are going to come off and everything is going to come from together to apart. The cake you bake will fall and the dog will eat half of the one you bought to replace it. The dozen eggs you just bought will go screaming out of your hand and none will survive. You’ll plan a great meal and have it half way cooked and the oven will quit or the kids will come home and they all have to be someplace in the next thirty minutes and don’t have time to eat.
There are going to be days when you look at your kids and wonder if maybe some alien has taken over their body and brain or swapped them for evil twins. There are going to be days when your kids will look at you and think you’re the meanest Mom or Dad in the whole world.
Plans WILL fall through. Tempers will flare. Feelings will get hurt. That’s all part of being a family. Just REMEMBER, Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble but fear not, I have conquered the world.”And remember that the love of God in Christ and the power of God’s Holy Spirit will help you through those trying times.
God will REKINDLE your faith and eventually fill you with joy. And the Good News is we’re never alone. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
You and I have a unique opportunity to influence children for something good, wholesome and life giving. We have the opportunity to shape children and youth and in so doing shape the future of the church and maybe even the world.
Imagine your opportunity. Guard the Good Treasure: REMEMBER, REKINDLE AND GUARD THE FAITH, yours and that of the youth and children around you.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.