November 19, 2018
I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.
The lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, November 25, 2018, Christ the King Sunday, are as follows:
Last week I received the results of my DNA ancestry composition.
My wife had bought me one of those highly advertised kits for Christmas and it sat on our living room coffee table until late September, when I finally felt moved enough to spit into a test tube - which is hard work, by the way - and send in my sample to be analyzed. I confess it took more than a little prodding from the one who gave me the gift and was anxious to know what secrets my saliva would reveal.
Part of my hesitancy was stimulated by a healthy dose of skepticism. What would this exercise tell me that I didn't already know? Anyone who looks at me would already have a pretty good idea that I wasn't going to be trading kilts for lederhosen anytime soon. And I've long given up the hope that I was the latest in a long line of some obscure royal lineage. Wakanda is fictional, after all.
My other motive for suspicion lay in the countless cascade of commercials created by the leading companies of these kits. The competition to kindle a potential customer's curiosity was overwhelming. What special qualities distinguished one from the other? If something was so good and so accurate, why did they need to work so hard to be so convincing?
Anyway, all my questions aside, what I learned was pretty much what I expected. Other than the 0.7% British & Irish, the 0.2% Ashkenazi Jewish, and the 0.1% Eastern European strains, there were no major surprises. My origins are primarily Sub-Saharan African and European.
Yep, my ancestors were brought to the western hemisphere on slave ships and somewhere along the line, they commingled with their captors. No great mystery there! And those forebears, in all their sinfulness, eventually produced me. And for that I thank God daily!
Though I make light of my family tree, I understand why it matters to some people. Rightly or wrongly, our origins become a matter of reputation, status and class in society. Where one is born, one's family history, or where one's family comes from can be a source of pride or shame. We are all familiar with Nathanael's disparaging comment about Jesus in the Gospel according to John: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" [John 1:46]
I'm convinced that the writers of Matthew and Luke felt it was important to include the genealogy of Jesus in their Gospels in order to refute those very issues. The names included are not among the most noble or most saintly. There are more than a few skeletons in those closets.
But here's the point. Like Jesus, each and every one of us, no matter what one's ancestry, has an identity that transcends race, ethnicity, or culture. That identity is: child of God.
Yes, we are all God's children, our earthly beginnings notwithstanding. We are born children of a heavenly Father, who loves us all equally, regardless of our worldly standing, be it one of privilege or modesty.
And as we look ahead to Christ the King Sunday, our readings remind us that we are all citizens of God's Kingdom. Whatever one's station in life, God sent Jesus into this earthly kingdom into the world, to testify to the truth; to demonstrate God's grace to us, and teach us to reach out to one another in service and love, compassion and mercy. None of us is more important or better than the other.
May our message be one of grace and peace each and every day of our earthly lives, and may we deliver that message with confidence and joy as long as we live.
Tuesday, November 20, I will be a part of the Interfaith Thanksgiving service at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Cleveland. That worship begins at noon and features readings and music from many faith traditions. I have been privileged to be a part of this gathering for several years and look forward to it each time.
Our offices at the Lutheran Center will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen on Monday.
May you all enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving!
+Bishop Abraham Allende