We had a wonderful time on Halloween. Thanks to all the great kids and parents who stopped at our “Warming Station” at Ebenezer and shared hot chocolate, cider, and Veggie Tales with us! Hope you enjoyed your candy and didn’t eat too much.
As I wrote for the kids, the word “Halloween” actually means “Hallow’s eve,” or the evening before All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day). Every November 1st people around the world have a sort of “memorial day” for the people who lived before them. They travel to cemeteries and decorate the graves of their ancestors, not for superstitious purposes, but to remember and to honor them.
In many cultures, and in the Old Testament, as well, your ancestry was very important. Who you are and who you would be was determined by who your parents were. Young men followed in their father’s footsteps, and young women do what their mothers did. Things have changed greatly, for the better, in our country, as anyone can achieve great things (or otherwise) because they are gifted and choose that path.
So, why do we need to emphasize our ancestry? If it isn’t applicable to who I am, why bother? An exaggeration, for sure, but the truth is that even though my parents’ station in life does not determine mine, a large part of who I am relates to who they were. The nurture of my grandparents and parents has left an indelible mark on my life that affects how I think and reason, how I talk and act, and it is important that I understand all of that, especially when I am having trouble relating.
Paul talked to Timothy about positive family experiences. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). These women had a very positive effect on Timothy, so much so that he became a man of faith and became a young pastor.
The writer of Hebrews also referred to a kind of family history when he wrote of the faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11. Listing example after example of people who believed in God’s promises and waited for them to arrive, he points us, again and again, to these who were able to overcome despite their circumstances, because of their faith.
What examples of faith do you have in your life? Did you have a praying grandmother like Timothy? Maybe a grandmother or grandfather who was a faithful example to you? Take some time during this month of thanksgiving to look back and remember those from whom you came. No doubt you might find some things you didn’t want to know. We all have skeletons in our ancestral closets. However, you might find some wonderful examples of faith and faithfulness, or the examples you find may be a reverse example of how to life, showing you what not to do.
I am very proud of my parents. No, they were not “church” people during much of their lives. They believed in God but lived a much different lifestyle when they were younger than I do today. Yet they were faithful, giving, and loving people. There was rarely a time when my parents weren’t helping someone less fortunate. Their example of love for others is one I will carry and seek to emulate all of my life.
The examples of faithfulness for which you are seeking may not be in your immediate family or in your family at all! Perhaps you will find examples for your life in the community, maybe a neighbor who influenced you. Of course, you will find patterns for your life in the pages of the Word of God. Hebrews 11 is a good place to start!
Beyond Hebrews, the main pattern for living found in the Bible is the life of Jesus. Read through the gospels and see how Jesus loved those who needed help, how He reached out to the hurting and the broken hearted, restoring and redeeming them. Then take his example, with a large dose of prayer, and seek out how you can help those who are hurting and those who need to know your Savior.
Are you looking for a church home? Come to Ebenezer! Come as you are and enjoy the beauty of the sanctuary. Sing with us as we celebrate hymns of the faith and some modern hymns. Bathe in the Word of God as we explore its pages both in Bible study and worship. We have plenty of examples you can follow!