Last year at Christmas, my sister got me one of those DNA kits from Ancestry.com. It’s the test where you spit into a tube that’s supplied, and then mail it back to find out where in the world your ancestors came from. When I got the results, they more or less confirmed what I already knew: that I’m a European mongrel when it comes to pedigree. My people have connections to England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and Switzerland.
These DNA test kits have certainly created a groundswell in the number of people looking into their family roots. People want to know who they are, where they came from, how location and history may have shaped their families, their personalities, and maybe even the life path they’ve chosen.
I’ve been doing genealogy since I was in high school; one of my great aunts turned me onto some of the stories on my mother’s side. I’ve tromped through more than my fair share of graveyards and spent hours in state archives. I love knowing the stories about ancestors who were part of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys in Vermont, or became farmers in Ohio thanks to land grants after the Revolutionary War, or served as an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church. Those stories provide a sense of connection to people and places, both historical ones and present day.
Stories are an incredibly important part of our faith journeys, too. We rely on the stories in the Bible to learn how God has been at work throughout all of history in people like Moses and Miriam, Mary and Joseph, and Paul and Barnabas.
Throughout Advent and Christmas we speak stories that most of us have heard many times before; we never tire of telling them or hearing them. They are so familiar, yet new every time. The Gospel of Matthew goes to great lengths in its first verses to enumerate the genealogy of Jesus back through King David to Abraham. There are three groupings of 14 generations; a total of 42 generations listed between Abraham and Jesus.
And yet we have our own stories about how we came to be faithful followers of Christ. What is your personal faith story? Who were the ancestors, friends or teachers that played a role in nurturing your faith? Those are important connections to acknowledge, be grateful for, and most importantly to share – with family, friends and even strangers.
We may indeed be proud of our Irish heritage, our Ivory Coast forebears, or our Japanese ancestry. But the most important connection is the knowledge that we are beloved children of God, created in God’s image along with all of humanity. To fully know who we are, we have to know whose we are. If we are in Christ, that’s the only pedigree that truly matters. Thanks be to God!
I’m praying that as you gather with loved ones during this holiday season that you will find the opportunity to share a bit of your own faith story. Maybe it can become a new family tradition – a part of your Christmas DNA? What a gift it would be for your family to hear about the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ has brought into your life. May you share with them the “Joy to The World” that comes with the light, love, and wonder of a babe born in a Bethlehem manger.
In God’s care and service,
PHOTO BY KELLY SIKKEMA ON UNSPLASH