Enduring Legacy

This past week I served as the Chaplain-in-Residence at Camp Allen, our diocesan summer camp down in Navasota. This is one of my favorite places on earth.

There’s something about camp, and the way it can form us. And there’s something about enduring relationships that are formed.

I was having dinner one night this week with Lacy Largent, a friend and the spiritual director at Camp Allen. We were talking about exactly this idea.

In her role at Camp Allen, she gets to know clergy and their families in a way that few other people do.

She gets to see us away from church, and in a relaxed environment.

She gets to see clergy kids grow up.

And she also was alo the last person we saw before we moved away from Texas.

The boys were at summer camp that last week, when all the final packing was done and the moving truck showed up. And when it was all done, we loaded up the cars and headed to Camp Allen.

After we picked up the boys, Lacy saw us and stopped us.

She knows me. She knows my boys. And she wanted to pray for us.

And this past week she remembered that interaction and that prayer.

My ministry is richer because of people like Lacy, who have prayed for me and encouraged me and walked alongside me.

And my boys’ faith is stronger because of people like Lacy, who have prayed for them and encouraged them and helped them to know and love Jesus.

I’m sure you have people like Lacy in your life, too…

Paul and Timothy certainly did.

We’re starting 2 Timothy today, and want to set the scene for you first.

Timothy was Paul’s protégé and missionary in training. In verse 2 of today’s reading Paul calls him “my beloved child.”

He was actually the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, and Paul took him under his wing until Timothy himself became a leader in the fledgling church in Ephesus. He accompanied Paul on several missionary journeys, and was even listed as the co-sender of six of Paul’s letters in the New Testament.

I’ve even got a meme about it.

Last week we talked about the two types of Paul’s letters. Today we have a general outline.

Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy from a Roman dungeon, knowing that his own life would soon be coming to an end. So this is an affectionate…and probably lonely…letter to his son in the Christian faith.

Paul is using these last words to assure TImothy of his prayers and giving him guidance in leading the Ephesian church.

And the words that really stood out for me are verses 5-7…

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I’m sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you…

Paul is reminding Timothy of the legacy that launched his ministry, and encouraging him to take the next step in that legacy as he shares the faith with others.

We are the inheritors of that legacy. A legacy that started with Jesus, and was carried down by the apostles, andPaul and Lois and Eunice and Timothy…

And it continues down through us to the people we impact.

The letter makes clear that the Christian faith is entirely communal and familial, extended through time.

There is someone…a Lois, a Eunice, a Lacy, that cared for us and encouraged us and showed us what it means to follow Jesus.

Our faith is rooted in our legacy.

And our job, for the sake of the future, involves preserving that legacy.

This past week  at Camp Allen was a time capsule, of sorts. It started with the retired clergy conference. And I finally met a priest who had a huge impact on my life. Jim McGill was a priest at the cathedral in Houston, and (in a previous life) at noon every Wednesday I would sit in the back of the chapel, hear a sermon and receive Eucharist, and then go back to work.

I was able to tell him about that, and thank him for how he shaped me for my future ministry.

And he had no idea who I was.

My week at camp ended with a young adult retreat, with folks from four different parishes. As it happens, I’ve attended all four of those churches.

And I met a couple from Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.

Let me back up…I had been introduced to the gathering as one of the people who helped start a new church plant in Dallas called Uptown. That was nearly 20 years ago, and that church plant is thriving.

The husband came back to church because of the community at Uptown.

And he and his wife came up to say thank you.

We don’t always get a chance to thank the people who have impacted our lives.

And we don’t always know the lives we’ll impact.

Who is part of your legacy?

Who are the people that shared and showed the love of God to you?

Who are the people that made you feel welcome, that made you feel important, and made you feel loved?

Who are your Eunice and Lois and Lacy?

I mean it. Who are they? Let’s hear some names…

And who are the people in our lives that we have the opportunity…and the privilege…to love and encourage and share the faith?

Who are your Timothy’s?

I mean it. Who are they?

I’m going to sit down right now, and in these moments of silence I want us to pray for them. Amen