This weekend, my extended family traveled from throughout East Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, and Florida to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It was so wonderful to see my grandmother so happy as she was able to spend time with all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Most special to her was being able to spend time with her surviving sister.
My grandmother is a special person, handing down a wonderful heritage of faith. By personality she is quiet and usually not assertive. She has always lived a quiet life while raising her family, working a job, and studying her Sunday School lessons. Above all, she is steady and consistent. She has lived her entire life of 90 years within 5 miles of where she currently lives. Of those 90 years, she has spent almost 70 of those years at a single Baptist church that she joined when she married my grandfather who passed away nine years ago. Of those 70 years at the Baptist church, she spent 60 of them teaching Sunday School classes from children to senior citizens. Before marrying my grandfather, she was baptized into membership of the Methodist church down the street, at a time when Methodist churches in the rural areas of the South were almost identical to Baptist churches.
So much has changed in 90 years. I feel sure the pastors of both Methodist and Baptist churches of 1921 would not recognize the many changes. Some changes have been for the better, but I fear some have been for the worse.
The one constant throughout those 90 years has been my grandmother. Regardless of political, theological, and organizational changes over the years, my grandmother kept going to the same church. While the world and the churches around her kept changing, she kept going to the same church each week, and teaching the same Bible stories to each generation. In looking at my grandmother’s life, I realize the backbone of Christianity is not based on the latest church growth fad or book, the latest music style, the outgoing and charismatic pastor, the cool youth group leader, or the latest political or social statement. The backbone of Christianity is based on those quiet and unassuming people of faith who consistently provide the stories of faith to the next generation.
I celebrate not only my grandmother, but also the pastors and leaders of the church who never tried to cast her aside for the latest fad or a younger and more ‘cool’ teacher. I have seen too many pastors and leaders cast aside teachers who were not ‘fun’, ‘cool’, or ‘entertaining’. The pastors who allow quiet people of faith to consistently deliver the wonderful story of Christianity to the next generation are few, and I praise those who supported my grandmother.
The seeds of faith planted by my grandmother can be seen not only in her children, grand-children, and great-grand children but in all those who have went through her care in Sunday school for all those years. For over 2000 years, Saints like my grandmother have passed the wonderful story to the next generation, and it is now our job to pass it down to the next generation.