Christ Lutheran Church is a home mission near downtown Denver, Colorado, that reflects the diversity of the area. Paul Biedenbender, pastor at Christ, says that of its 200 souls, 10 percent are African American, 40 percent are Anglo, and 50 percent are Hispanic. The mission offers weekly Sunday services in both English and Spanish. Here Biedenbender discusses the cultural significance of grandmothers and their unique witness in his congregation.
The voice of a grandmother
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (1 Timothy 1:5).
The voice of a grandmother is unique. It tends to contain the proper measure of wisdom gained through experience, unconditional love, and uninhibited truth (whether we like it or not). In our diverse community, the voice of the grandmother is also very influential. When grandma/abuela speaks, you do well to pay attention. Our congregation is blessed with several grandmothers who are grounded in God’s grace and using their voices to point the next generation to the Savior.
Recently we laid to rest one of those unique voices among us. After blessing Lorene Dickey with 84 years of life, the Lord fulfilled his promise to her in Jesus, crowning her with the glory of heaven. She will be greatly missed, not only as one of the founding members of our mission but also as one of the most encouraging and endearing personalities. Better known as “Grandma,” “Great Grandma-ma,” “Granny,” and “La Grandma,” she always had a warm hug for everyone, from the person attending church for the first time to each of her fellow members who have been on the receiving end for years. Her speech was filled with words of praise to God, confidence in his plans, and reassurance of his promises. God used her to touch the lives of alcoholics, new Christians, young mothers, and a rookie pastor, among so many others.
Three days after the funeral, we celebrated God pouring out his grace in Christ through the baptisms of Davashunique, Ke’arre, Za’Marii, and Ry’Lynn. They are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our member, Brenda Mosley. Two months earlier, Brenda handed me a slip of paper with her daughter’s name and number with the instructions, “Give her a call and set up a time to meet with her.” I found out later that she had given a similar mandate to her daughter: “Pastor Paul is going to call you. Answer the phone and let him come over.” The Lord blessed those encounters. Brenda was beaming with joy that Sunday morning of the baptisms, praising God for his grace on her family. I’m sure Brenda is going to keep in their ears about Sunday school and Bible information class.
And then it happened again. The phone rang, and I didn’t recognize the number or the voice on the other end. “Hi Pastor. This is Alexandra Navarro. My abuela, Aurelia Chavez, gave me your number. I’d like to talk to you about church and baptism.” We met a few days later at Aurelia’s house and I was able to share the message of sin and grace. Soon her children Xzadian and Yasmine were covered in God’s baptismal grace.
May the Lord continue to bless the voices of faithful, Christian grandmothers!
Paul Biedenbender serves as a home missionary at Christ, Denver, Colorado.
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Author: Paul Biedenbender
Volume 104, Number 12
Issue: December 2017
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