Paul met Timothy in Lystra, the young son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. As such, Timothy embodied one of the earliest divisions in the Church.
But Paul saw something more. He saw a vocation in this young disciple, who was recommended by some of the adelphoi, the brothers, the Church. So Paul had him circumcised (I wonder how that went over) and brought him along in a kind of pilgrim seminary as he traveled from Phrygia to Galatia to Mysia to Troas to Macedonia.
Just like someone once saw you, despite and because of your background, and invited you on this journey in order to discern whether God is calling you to develop those skills you will need to proclaim the Gospel from Phrygia to Providence, from Galatia to Glouchester, from Mysia to Manchester.
Elsewhere, especially in Paul’s last letters, those written to Timothy, we get an idea of the advice which the aged Paul, already persecuted, beaten, arrested, deported and imprisoned had to share with this young disciple.
In the fourth chapter of his second letter, Paul gives a final piece of advice to the young, now Bishop, Timothy, the reflection of an old man looking back on his life and trying to find a few words to help a younger disciple to live by.
It’s good advice, the kind thing I wish I’d thought of for a Rector’s Conference.
Always, Paul tells Timothy “be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
And then, Paul, thinking back on the trials of his own life writes some of the most beautiful words ever set to paper:
“I am,” the old man says, “already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Paul to Timothy. Paul to us.