[1] This October was the first time my grandmother witnessed me in the role of pastor. I was baptizing my first grandson. Around the baptismal font stood five generations of my family. Why were we all standing there? Well, I would say that it was because of my grandmother. My maternal grandmother has heard me talk of my vocation and what I do. She knows that I love God and the people of God. But I wonder if I have ever told her that it just might be because of her influence in my life. My Grandmother Bettie Baldwin was the one who passed on the faith to me.

[2] When I was a child, I spent many hours with my grandmother. My sisters and I would while the time away playing in the neighborhood where my cousins lived, dancing to loud music and listening to my grandmother and her friends talk around the dining room table. They talked of their lives, their experiences and their faith. They talked of how God has always "made a way out of no way for them." I would eavesdrop. There around a table I witnessed their love for God.

[3] I remember the huge Bible that had a permanent position on the coffee table. This Bible was a fixture in grandma's home. I often sat thumbing through it looking at all the pictures that chronicled the history of God with the people of Israel. My grandmother who only had a six-grade education kept a smaller very worn Bible next to her bed. When I went into her room to say good night, there she would sit, glasses perched on her nose reading passages of scripture.

[4] She taught me so many things. I learned about giving as a response to God at her knees. I grew up watching her give generously to her church. I never understood why she did. I always thought her meager salary as a domestic worker and eventually her social security check could be put to better use. Yet she never complained and still doesn't. Even when she does not attend church, she sets aside her offering.

[5] I remember the first time I earned what I thought, at the time, was a decent salary, I told my grandmother and she told me to go to church and be sure to put a portion of that salary in the offering plate. She reminded me that God gave me the strength, health and ability to earn that salary. She told me that everything I had was first given to me by God. Even though I did not belong to a church at the time, I followed grandmom's advice.

[6] My grandmother has also influenced the faith of my son. When my son was five or six I sent him to spend time with "Granny," as he now calls her. Granny took him to church, insisted that he attend the neighborhood bible camp and told him stories. From Granny my son heard stories of faith, just like I did. These stories told by Granny pushed my son to want to know more. When he came back home we began to attend the local St. Mark Lutheran Church. Sunday School and Summer Bible Camp became an integral part of my sons life. It was what he looked forward to.

[7] Recently, my now twenty-eight year-old son thanked me. He thanked me for taking him to church. He even thanked me for making him spend every Saturday journeying on the subway from our house to church for an entire year to attend Confirmation class. He thanked me for ensuring that God was a part of his life.

[8] For passing on the faith to me and my son, I thank my Grandmother.

© December 2006
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 6, Issue 12