Rev. Peter J. Eckardt, Associate Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are blessed to have you grandparents here with us today. You are a blessing to your children and to your grandchildren. And I’m sure that the grandchildren who have grandparents here with them today feel that way as well. It’s such a blast to have Grandma and Grandpa come by. It’s fun and exciting to spend time with them. And grandparents are a blessing to you grandkids not just because they’re the ones who spoil you and maybe give you treats that your parents wouldn’t give, and play games with you, and spend extra time with you, but even more importantly, because they are examples and models for you. They model virtue and character, the wisdom that they have gained over many years. You children, should be watching and learning from your grandparents. And we ought to honor our grandparents; just as, God says, we ought to honor our father and mother, so also we honor the fathers and mothers of our father and mother.
God says in Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” You grandparents have been a part of this training up, not only of your own children but of your grandchildren, in many and various ways, and by your examples and have thus blessed them.
In this second reading we just heard from 2 Timothy, we get this beautiful Scriptural example of the importance of grandparents, here of a grandmother. St. Paul gives a shout-out to Timothy’s Grandma Lois. He says to Timothy, “I am reminded of your faith, a faith that dwelt first in your Grandmother Lois”—your Nana Lois—“and in your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Paul knew how important it was that Timothy had a faithful mother and faithful grandmother, who passed down from one generation to the next what was most important to them, their trust in the Word of God and in Jesus. And so Timothy learned from his grandmother and from his mother, the faith that he had in Christ Jesus.
And at the end of that reading, Paul talks about a different kind of ‘passing down,’ how he received the faith from the Lord and is now passing this down to Timothy and to the church. He says to Timothy, “follow the pattern of the sound words you have heard from me, and the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” and “guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” So children, guard the good deposit entrusted to you—first, what is given to you in the Word of God, but also those good things, the faith and example, that are handed down to you by your parents and by your grandparents. Watch them, learn from them, and follow the pattern of their sound words.
In this first reading from Genesis, we have a touching example of a grandfather blessing his grandsons. Israel blesses Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh, with his hands on their hands, and in his blessing, he speaks to them of his God, the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, the God who has been his shepherd. As he blesses them he teaches them the faith, passing down to them the truth about God, that he is the shepherd who guides and takes care of them and that “he has redeemed me from all evil,” he said. And so he blesses the boys.
But what’s really fascinating in this account of Israel blessing his grandsons is that Israel is also being blessed at the same time, in a way. He is blessed by his grandsons. For he says, to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold God has let me see your offspring also.” This grandfather has such joy, not only that he was given to see his son again. He thought he had lost Joseph, when his brothers had sold him into slavery and brought back his robe of many colors to Israel with the blood they had put on it; he thought he had lost his son for good. But now, God has blessed him, not only by giving him Joseph his son back, but—blessing upon blessing—Israel has lived to see his son’s children and to have them sit on his knee and to talk with them, embrace them, and bless them.
And so, this is the way it is, isn’t it? Grandparents, parents, and children, we are blessed by each other. Children, you are blessed by your grandparents, to have them in your lives. And grandparents, I’m sure you feel so very blessed to have your grandchildren in your lives. And the most important way that you grandparents are blessed by your grandchildren is by their example of faith and trust. So just as you pass onto them wisdom and sound words and patterns of Christian virtue and behavior, Jesus tells us that it is the little children who are models to all of us of faith. He says in this third reading, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God.” Of such—you children, in the way that you trust in the Lord God your Savior and believe this Word that is given to you and you trust in Jesus Christ with all your heart, you are an example to all of us, and to your grandparents, how to believe and how to trust in the Lord, your good Shepherd with all your heart, not doubting but firmly believing.
And so we are all blessed by one another. And for all of us, for everyone here, and the whole Christian Church, there is one Person in whom we are blessed more than anyone else. There is one Grandchild and Child who blesses us beyond all others, and that person is Jesus Christ. Because he is God Himself, is the Son of God the Father, but because he became man, became one of us, he is also the Son of Mary. And so Jesus had real grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. And he is the one Grandchild in whom we are all blessed. It is of him that we sang this verse in the Psalm, that “the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, and his righteousness to children’s children.” Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, died for your sins to forgive you and rose again to give you eternal life. In him all of us are blessed eternally.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.