May 13, 2018 • Five years ago, I shared the following at my grandmother’s funeral. I happened upon it again recently and thought it was fitting to post today: Mother’s Day.
My name is Luke; I’m the oldest of Glenna’s grandchildren. And so I’d like to talk about her today from the grandchild perspective. It’s interesting how today, in her grandchildren, you can see little traits and gifts that have been passed into the lives each of them.
My grandma was a great Scrabble player. I remember a couple of years ago, my family visited Grandma and Grandpa back when they were in Texas, and we played several Scrabble games everyday all weekend long. And all weekend long, I was soundly beaten by my Grandma. She was a formidable opponent. This knack for rearranging and playing letters is reflected today in her grandson Matthew’s fascination with writing and decoding codes.
Her gift of hospitality is downright legendary in some parts. It’s a gift that formed the backbone of a pioneering youth ministry with this very congregation in a time when most had never heard the word “youth” used as an adjective to describe the noun “ministry.” Her hospitality gift that can easily be seen in her granddaughter Rachel who continues to bless by welcoming them into her home, both on this side of the globe and on the other.
My grandmother was also remarkably creative. Today, when I look at my cousin, Glenna’s granddaughter, Annalea playing with my daughters, I see some incredible imagination. Whether they’re imagining themselves as superheroes or fairies, or — I kid you not — “the mosquito busters” I see that creative streak passed from my Grandmother into the imagination of Annalea.
My grandma had an epic craft closet decades before HGTV or Pinterest. She made cards, she wrote notes, she scrapbooked, she handmade Christmas stockings. This creativity, can be seen in her grandson Logan’s continual stream of fun and ridiculous ideas that drive middle schoolers wild in the outreach ministry where he loves kids that few others even want to be around.
As for me, that’s easy. Being at the shallow end of the gene pool, I got my Grandma’s sarcasm. If you don’t know, she had a great sense of humor, and I always enjoyed the back and forth banter. She was the kindest smart aleck I ever knew.
Scrabble prowess, hospitality, creativity, humor. All gifts that today can be observed in her grandchildren. All interesting, but none are the most important thing that my Grandma passed on to the next generations.
There are a couple of letters in the Bible that I return to frequently. In Paul’s first and second letter to Timothy, Paul, the older, wiser, weathered, apostle wants to embolden his young colleague Timothy. Paul exhorts Timothy to stay the course, to continue to preach the Gospel message with clarity, passion, and boldness. He tells Timothy how to establish leaders in the church. He exhorts Timothy to remember the power and glory and goodness of God in these pages of encouragement and exhortation.
And then, Paul says something strange. He says, “Timothy, remember your grandmother.” Paul, the great apostle, speaking to Timothy, the young leader of one of the world’s first churches, summons all of his rhetorical ability to spur on his friend in the ministry, and says, “Remember your grandma.” Paul reminds Timothy of what has been passed on to him, the faith itself, the great message of what Christ accomplished. Paul says, “Remember where you’re from. Remember that you have been gifted with knowing God and his good work from childhood. Remember what has been given to you by your grandmother.” Why?
This gift, the good news gift, the gift of faith in the One who has done everything for us when we could do nothing for ourselves, that’s what Timothy’s grandmother passed on to him. That’s what Timothy’s mentor, Paul, did not want him to forget.
That’s what my grandma passed on to me, and to Rachel, and to Logan, and to Matthew, and to Annalea, and to her great grandkids. That’s the most important gift, or message, or trait passed from my grandmother to me. This one outstrips all the others.
It’s this gift that makes us able to be here today as we are: sad to see Grandma go, but happy to know where she went. And it makes us confident of our reunion with her in heaven. We’ll spend eternity together in God’s presence, the way it was meant to be. (And that’s a good thing, least of all because I’ll need eternity if I’m ever going to beat her in Scrabble.)