Traditions Tea: Reflections

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

                 Philippians 1:3-11

Joy-filled prayers…for others. Affections of Christ…for others. Partnering in the gospel for all of one’s days…with others. Partakers of grace…with others. To the glory and praise of God. This is what was made known to me as I sat and saw the women of the Lord before me at the Traditions Tea on November 9.

The Traditions Tea is an annual gathering that the Women’s Ministry has held for several years now. It is a time to gather together, honoring senior women in the body of Christ and giving thanks to the Lord for the abundant blessing they have been in many lives. Five or so women are highlighted each year. They are interviewed beforehand, and their life stories are shared aloud by younger generations at the Tea. We will be posting online some of the highlighted women through the next few months, so stay tuned for their stories, if you were not able to attend.

This year was the first time I had been a sitting participant and able to enjoy listening to the stories and testimonies of these women. It was a blessing beyond what I anticipated, and still resonates strongly upon my mind today. I do not believe a story went by that afternoon without causing tears in my eyes and praises to rise up in my soul.

As these women have grown and lived and increasingly become the “older generation,” they have learned to live up to the “Titus 2 Woman”: women who teach younger generations the ways of the Lord. And this is how: by their faithful participation in the gospel and their abounding affections for others.

We who are younger often become very zealous. We are zealous for opinions, for decisions, for doing the right thing, for bearing fruit, and for countless other good things. But, very often – as I see so clearly in myself –  this zeal is left wanting, when life is lived zealously without love.

These women, however, these women think much more as Paul did: they set aside their zealous, passionate opinions, and hold fast to the One who gives them the grace to selflessly think and act and live…for us, the younger generations. We are in their hearts.

These women, they have the years of wisdom that only experience can bring. And these women, they love us. Even in our “youthful”, passionate, zealous, whipper-snapper styles and often loveless states, they love us.

Even as our great zeal and extraordinary passions make our eyes bug out and must cause us at times to look like chickens running around with our heads off, they are tender with us.

They are patient with us. They pray for us. They find joy in us. They yearn for us. They rejoice over us. They remember us. They hold us in their hearts.

They have Christ’s affections for us.

The good work that God started in them the day of their salvation is so much further along than it is in most of us. They know this, and yet, as I heard of these women’s lives and have seen in many among them lately, they remain selfless before us. They give their whole hearts to the ministries of grace that God has lavished upon each of them, and they love us “youngins” selflessly.

Many, many thanks to you, sisters in Christ who have gone before us young people; many thanks for your patience, your love, your affections, your prayers, and your steadfast eyes upon the Lord. By your prayers and selfless love we are helped, as we learn to hold you in our hearts, as well.

And so, again, we thank you! O most blessed sisters! Many lavish thanks to you, who share in God’s grace with us! Your crown of glory from your Redeemer awaits you! And, even now, as you live a life of righteousness we see that you are crowned with the most beautiful of crowns. May you continue to wear it brilliantly, to His glory and praise:

Gray hair is a crown of glory;

it is gained in a righteous life.

Proverbs 16:31

IMGP6243

Might we, too, grow in this grace of selfless love, O Lord? Might we, too, who are “young” today, one day abound more and more in love for those who come behind us? Who view the younger generations with patience, and demonstrate glorious grace to them as we hold them in our hearts? May our lives, too, O Abba Father, be lives lived to the glory and praise of You, just like our sisters who have come before us.

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