A couple of weeks ago, I had cause to use the church minibus, and as only its cassette player remains usable, grabbed a tape from a rarely used drawer in my living room, in the hope of listening to one of my many compilation tapes recorded back in the day. Imagine then my surprise when I discovered that it was previously a tape that had been installed in my old answering machine and which contained recorded messages 23 years ago. I listened, fascinated by these one sided conversations as they took me back to a different time of my life.
Then the priest in charge of Brunswick, the machine fielded many voices from the past relating to church business including some parishioners who sadly are no longer with us, and another who rather than the then church youth worker is now my wife! (Millie who was sharing the bus journey with me thought she sounded a lot posher back then!). There was a message from my close friend apologising that he and his wife couldn’t make it up to Manchester as she was “unwell” (the cause I later learned was her pregnancy of my godson now aged 21). Perhaps most poignantly, were messages of encouragement from my late father, moved as I was to hear his supportive voice again after over 11 years.
I was reflecting on these things as I prepared to preach last Sunday in church. Our subject was the person of Timothy, and again reading one sided conversations: letters witted by Paul to others in support of Timothy, and indeed letters written directly to Timothy as well, I was moved by the fatherly support offered to his protege. Both Timothy’s gifts were endorsed as well as advice given to hold before God his weaknesses too, that they might be transformed.
Of course one way that we to can receive affirmation and encouragement is to place ourselves before God through scripture. Paul’s last ever letter was written to Timothy, shortly before the former’s death and includes these words:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work”. 2 Timothy 3; 16 & 17.
May we be supportive voices to one another and look also to be supported and built up by our God.