We’re on our way to Belfast – and Janet is pretty excited about it. That’s because her family is from the British Isles, and her dad’s side of the family is from Belfast. Nobody else in the family has made the trip over here to see Ireland, so Janet really doesn’t know what to expect. And while we are only going to be there one day, she is quite excited. Today, we went to see a castle on the western shores of Scotland, that has been occupied by families for many generations. It was really quite interesting; especially the part about the additions that each successive generation made to the estate. The gardens, structural changes, the changing political landscape and all the other factors that went into the dynamics of family interactions over many generations. Frankly, the whole situation got me thinking about generations and families.
At home, I have an original Bible page on the wall of my loft from Matthew 1. It starts out, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” and the end of the first chapter tells us of the events surrounding the birth of Christ and the relationship between Mary and Joseph. So in case you are not familiar with this first chapter of the New Testament, it is all about families and the generations from Abraham to Jesus Christ. That’s because Matthew was writing from the the Jewish perspective, to the Jewish people, and the most important thing to them was their history. To validate Matthew’s credibility with his audience, he had to “connect the dots” and tie the Messiah all the way back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.
When you think about it, most of us don’t even really read the genealogies in the Bible. When we come across one, we kind of skip over it and go on to the next section of narrative. And when is the last time you ever heard a sermon preached from a genealogy? Probably never. Because pastors and other religious leaders don’t like to preach about them any more than most of us like to listen to them. And another thing – they are really hard to do right; the average sermon takes more than 20 hours to write – even longer when it comes from a genealogy. And let’s face it, most of the generations listed in the Bible tend to run together after a while – does it really make any difference to the main story?
But the point this evening is that family histories help anchor us; they help us with our identities. Because who we each are is a composite of our environments, our parents, our experiences and our heritage.
But as Janet, and many of you can attest, family history is important. And as Christians, our connection to Abraham, Kind David, and ultimately Jesus Christ should be a source of pride for us. Because we are sons and daughters of God Himself. While it is true that we are adopted sons and daughters, nonetheless, we are told in the Scriptures that we are co-heirs with Christ. Isn’t that great? We have something in common with Jesus Christ that we share in the inheritance from the Father – and that inheritance is eternal life with God.
Now don’t get me wrong – Christ is the real deal – the only begotten Son of God. That word “begotten” means “of the direct lineage” or of the same DNA – meaning a blood relative. And Christ Himself on occasion reminds us of this – even in the the Lord’s prayer, when He tell the disciples, “This is how YOU (emphasis mine) should pray…”Our Father” – Christ never tells us that this is how He starts His prayers to the Father.
But we share in the inheritance just the same – and Christ even lets us know that he first loved us – in other words, we were chosen to be in the family of God. So my encouragement tonight is to act like family – pay homage to the Father. And remember that as Christians, we are commanded to love one another as brothers and sisters – family – as we demonstrate and advance the Kingdom of God on earth. My prayer is that you will take your role as a family member seriously. Because each member of a family has a responsibility to make sure that they exemplify and amplify the family values – and in the family of God – those are are big shoes to fill. So have at it – and may the Father direct your steps and honor your effort. Have a great day!