As a child, our visit to the local graveyards wasn’t the highlight of my vacation.
When your father is a high school history teacher, a family vacation on the east coast is more than a vacation, it’s a time to learn. So as a child, when we visited Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C., we saw and learned a lot. One of our memorable visits was to the local graveyards. Here we saw gravestones marking the final resting place of histories great people. And as we strolled through the tombstones, we recounted some of the stories of their role in our history. It is similar when I go to a graveside service in a small town. As we head to the headstone, we pass the graves of friends and mentors from town that the people know, and as we congregate, we share stories and memories of these lives from years past.
Yesterday in Matt. and today in Gen., we read a few of those “boring genealogies” that seem to be interspersed throughout the bible. The bane of “Bible in a Year” readers, I admit that like most folk I talk with, I used to skip through them, and wondered why there are whole chapters dedicated to lists of names that don’t mean anything to people today. But then someone pointed out to me that these genealogies are just like the graveyards I visited as a child. Filled with names representing stories and histories, these chapters are slow, meditative walks through our collective history, for their cultural history is our spiritual history. It is the reminder of people like Enoch who is remembered as one of a handful of people in history to have never died (the different wording at the end of his generation (Gen. 5:24) compared to all the others leads theologians to this conclusion) and of Boaz, a co-star in the story of Ruth and ancestor of Jesus.
Today as you continue to prepare for a new year, take some time to think and pray about your spiritual genealogy. What names are part of your history? They might be family or friends, mentors or pastors, authors or preachers. What stories of the faith come to mind as you wander this beautiful graveyard in your mind?