I love working on my genealogy as a way of discovering my heritage. I have learned a lot about my family members. I am quite proud of some; others, not so much. Most of us define who we are based on whom and where we have come from, from the identity and heritage of our “people.” And yet, today, families are changing. Within my own so-called “traditional” family, we now have members from five different countries and four racial/ethnic groups. Most of us don’t share heritage and identity. Our shared commitment is to the future of our children and grandchildren—our legacy and their inheritance.

Who makes up your family? I am increasingly aware that shared gene pools or heritages do not a family make. Today we often form families through formal or informal extended relationships of trust, nurture, and love. We see this most often among those who have been ostracized by or who live far away from their families of origin.

Ephesians speaks of an inheritance granted originally to Jewish Christians (the “we” of the chapter) that is now shared with Gentile Christians (the “you” of v. 13) through their redemption received “in Christ.” Jews had always defined themselves by their differences with rigid laws in place to prevent interaction with Gentiles. But Ephesians insists that when we come together in Christ, we are defined not by a shared heritage but by a shared inheritance. Heritage looks backward; inheritance looks to the future. Heritage, though meaningful, fades in importance compared with what we share and will grow into as we live together in Christ.

So, who makes up your family? Who makes up your church family? Do all these family members share the same heritage or the same inheritance?

God of us all, plant in me your vision of the ingathering that leaves out no one. Help me honor the beauty of our differences and the unity that can ground us in Christ. Amen.


1 Comment
Log In to leave a comment
Lectionary Week
December 30, 2019—January 5, 2020
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah delivers happy news, a promise from the Lord of a brighter future day. God will bring back the scattered peoples to their homeland, and their mourning will turn into joy. The psalmist encourages those in Jerusalem to praise God for all that God has done. God gives protection, peace, and the law to the children of Israel. The author of Ephesians encourages readers with confidence in God’s eternal plan. God’s will is to send Christ and adopt us into God’s family. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The opening to John helps us understand the eternal scope of God’s plan. From the beginning, the Word has been with God but then becomes flesh and lives among us to reveal divine glory.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 31:7-14. How do you continue to celebrate God’s goodness, even if the Christmas season has been difficult for you?
Read Psalm 147:12-20. What is your doxology—your command and faith claim—today?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Consider the author’s question, Who makes up your family? Do you define your family by looking back to your heritage or looking forward to your legacy and future generations’ inheritance?
Read John 1:1-18. What does it mean for you that Jesus is cocreator in the beginning and takes on human life and suffering as Emmanuel?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.