By The Rev. Jay Sidebotham
I sometimes compare the spiritual journey to a road trip on the highway of life. In order to move forward, it helps to keep on eye on the rear view mirror. In other words, if we’re trying to anticipate the way God will act in the future, embracing courage to move forward with hope, it’s helpful to look back at the ways God has acted in the past. Perhaps that is why, again and again in scripture, a retrospective view is indicated through genealogies, a way of remembering God at work in history.
The First and Second Book of Chronicles run on parallel track with the First and Second Book of Kings. But while the Book of Kings starts with King David, the First Book of Chronicles takes us all the way back to Adam, in perhaps the most extensive genealogy in all of scripture. Truth be told, this kind of biblical material, name after unpronounceable name, can derail the most well intentioned Bible reader. Some might wave the white flag. Others might just fast forward. Some names are familiar. Many, if not most, are not.
But as you make your way through the Bible, take the time today to read these names in these three chapters, perhaps out loud. If you come to a name that is hard to pronounce, say it with conviction. (As Luther said, sin boldly.) If you have a Bible you don’t mind marking up, highlight names you know. If you run across names that spark curiosity, investigate. As you read aloud, imagine these names read in an ancient gathering. Imagine the meaning and purpose people could find in that retrospective glance, reminded through the reading of these names that God has been active in their community for generations.
Celebrate the good news that God has acted throughout the generations. Let that celebration help you move forward in your own journey today.
It’s been said that in the journey of faith, we don’t need so much to be instructed as reminded. In what ways has God acted in your own history and in the history of those you love? Take some time to give thanks for them.
Who are people you have known, perhaps in preceding generations, who have paved the way for your own forward movement?
Gracious God, we give thanks that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, encouraging us in the journey of faith. May we live this day as a witness for those who surround us. Amen.
The Rev. Jay Sidebotham is Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois