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When I was in elementary school, I spent one week of every summer at my Grandma Vinkenberg’s house. She would host my sister, cousin, and me when her church had their Vacation Bible School. How we loved those weeks!
Now in my late twenties, I am beginning to understand the effect those Vacation Bible School days had on my faith formation. And how much the loving arms of a Grandmother taught me about my belovedness as a child of God.
Fast-forward 20 years: I now serve as a pastor in upstate New York and I sadly do not get to see my Grandma as often. When I visit Nebraska, Grandma and I bake, look at pictures, or watch the birds in her backyard. When I am in New York, we stay connected through letters, phone calls, or texting.
On one particular Tuesday morning at 7:42 AM, I walked toward the door of our church. As I unlocked the office door I received a text from my Grandma. She wrote:
“I was out on my deck taking this picture of the sunrise when I got your text. God gives us such beautiful things to enjoy… As I was getting dressed, this verse popped into my mind:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Psalm 19:1
As I came back out to my kitchen, I noticed that all the magnificent sunrise color is gone now that the day advances. Wonder if there might be a lesson here in that we always need to give God glory for His love and blessings and not let that moment pass as our busy day moves on?”
My Grandma’s question prompted me to stop and look at the trees outside my office window and to give God thanks for their beauty.
But my thanksgiving did not stop there. I also thanked God for my grandma, the role she played in my early years of faith formation, and the role she continues to play in my life of faith even now.
The Psalmist proclaims that the world declares God’s glory. I believe that includes the people in our lives, both women and men, who have walked before us and helped shape our faith formation. This might be our parents, our Sunday school teachers, our pastors, the church custodian.
Whoever those persons might be in your life, I give God thanks for their faithful, wise, and experienced witness. These people are and have declared the glory of God in our lives.
Perhaps we are joining the psalmist when we give God praise for all parts of God’s creation that tell, proclaim, and speak to us about the character of God.
Perhaps we should all be psalmists, composing thoughts of thanksgiving and poems of praise for the delightful gifts from God that inundate our daily our existence.
So, in the spirit of psalm writing and giving thanks, I decided to write my own psalm of praise, thanking God for one very particular corner of our wonderful world that declares God’s presence in our lives- the matriarchs:
The matriarchs are telling the glory of God,
And their lives proclaim the work of God’s hands
Age to age they pour forth teaching and encouragement
Even without words, their wisdom is heard
God’s love pours through their strong arms and steadfast presence.
Their homes are like a spacious place
Where hospitality to old and young, friend and stranger is provided
God’s words are their heart’s delight, God’s glory their purpose
God bless these faithful women and the work of their hands.
May God bless all those people in our lives who have declared God’s goodness to us: matriarchs and patriarchs alike.
May God continue to use their words, actions, and love to reveal God’s glory in the world.