The Burden of Heritage
Where do you come from, and how do you answer that question?
Most people in our culture would tell you that they come from a particular town, the one that they were born in, or the one in which they grew up. I have one senior parishioner who, when I visit is quite pleased that her pastor was born in the same hospital that she was. We both come from a place of common origin. Though separated by and interval of decades, we share and are able to celebrate a geographical connection that binds us together. That same effect is true when connecting with people who may have grown up in the same town, who went to the same school or who worked for the same company. Years don't matter so much as that shared linkage, and that linkage gives us a common point from which to forge new relationships, confirm old ones and celebrate stories that tie in to one another for the simple fact that we are able together to carry a burden of heritage.
Of course, the burden can be light, and it can be heavy. Heritage also comes from the blood, and stories, of our ancestors. What we are, and how we are perceived is not derived only from our geographic journey through life; it also comes from the line of people from whom we receive stories, genes, traits and the multiple complexes that make up our psychological and cultural personalities.
Looking at the first chapters of the Chronicles, and at the second chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, I am impressed with the burden of heritage that constitutes our experience and forms our expectations of God and the people of God. Across generations, we have been presented with many poor, and a few good, models of human engagement with God. We also experience the call of God, again across generations, to embrace fidelity and covenant with God as our common point of origin. That is the true burden of heritage, that when invited we do not come and even when chastised we forget to remain steadfast.
God willing, as you read this post, you will be reviewing your own heritage. In that narrative, may you find witnesses to both our common frailties as well as confirmation of a common witness to the grace and blessings exhibited in our human engagement being belonging to God across the ages. Therein, our heritage is confirmed, and we are redeemed.
Special note: I am on retreat and will not be able to post in as timely a way as I would wish. A more regular schedule will resume this coming Tuesday. I will keep you all in my prayers, and may you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day here in the States and a grace-filled weekend elsewhere...