In the second letter to Timothy, we have these important words: “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.” Timothy was a third generation Christian — but only on his mother’s side. We know from Acts that his Father was not a believer. What a great influence Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had on him!
I can imagine that when it came time to name him, Eunice — and maybe Lois, too — had a strong say in his naming. In that time and place, the meaning of names was even more important than it is today. Today parents give consideration to what names mean and look up the meaning on the Internet or in a baby name book. But in that culture the aspirations or commitments of parents ended up reflected in the names of their children.
I can imagine that Eunice and Lois conspired to name Timothy, so that when he asked about his name, they could tell him that his name — Timotheos — means “honoring God” or “one who honors God.” I can imagine that time and again he would ask, “Mama” or “Grandma, tell me the story about my name.” They would answer, “Timothy, you’re special. Your name means ‘one who honors God.’ We named you that because we knew that you would grow up someday to honor God with your life.”
It’s a beautiful text, “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.” Imagine the impact that Lois and Eunice had because they were a Christian mother and a Christian grandmother. Timothy received a gift from Lois and Eunice. It was the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. What a powerful and profound gift!
This text reminds us that one of the most important things we can do as Christians is to pass on the faith to others. On Mother’s Day we especially remember the women — mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and those who are like mothers and grandmothers to us — whose faith and faithfulness has nurtured and is nurturing our faith.
A mother or a grandmother can do a lot to shape the lives of her children or grandchildren. But there is nothing that has quite the impact of raising her child or grandchild in the faith. Through her teaching and example, children learn strength in difficult times. Through her teaching and example, they learn compassion and generosity. Through her teaching and example, they learn to laugh and they learn to cry when laughter or tears are called for. Through her teaching and example, they learn the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Every time parents stand before God and the congregation for the baptism of their children, they affirm their faith in Christ, promise to serve Christ as their Lord in union with the Church and they promise to nurture their child in the church that through their own teaching and example that child may be guided to accept God’s grace for himself or herself, to profess his or her faith openly and to lead a Christian life. There is great power in that and in the ability to make an impact on the world that is immeasurable!
Sunday we remember and celebrate women who make a great impact in the lives of many. I look forward to being in worship with you.
Grace and Peace,