A Few Scandals on Your Family Tree?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
In the South where I grew up, everyone cared about who your ‘people’ were.
And they had all the patience in the world to hear every single detail of the family tree. Sometimes even strangers helped add a few branches onto the story. Fortunately, my Mama and my Mamalu (that’s what I called my maternal grandmother whose ‘people’ lived in a house next to the Big Oak, our hometown’s most important landmark and thus, quite an impressive heritage) were experts at researching and recording genealogy.
I not only discovered that our family was sufficiently notarized for me to be eligible as a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), but also the more elite club of Colonial Dames. Why, Mamalu even somehow managed, in the early 1980s, to fully document that our ancestors went back as far as the Magna Carta and thus linked us as relatives of Princess Diana of Wales. This did interest me momentarily, but only long enough to justify my love of Laura Ashley dresses.
I say all this because I know that some of you like to skim over the Matthew account of the genealogy of Christ. And yet, this list is rich with story and meaning, just like the Secrests, Hastys and Chastains of my own kin. These names were put in the Bible for a reason, though we may actually find a few of them a bit shocking.
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife… Matthew 1.1, 5-7 NIV
Let’s face it; Jesus’s ‘people’ were a mixed bunch. And yet, God chose each one of them for His family. Let’s consider three women in this list – perhaps an unlikely group of mothers. Boaz was the child of Rahab and Salmon. Yes, that Rahab, the harlot. The one who helped Joshua and Caleb escape, and thus saved her own family during the fall of Jericho. Rahab turned from her former life of running a house of ill repute inside the city wall, to being a God-honoring wife and mother.
Her son, Boaz married a foreigner – Ruth the Moabite, who was not only from an alien culture, but she was a widow as well. Yet she was willing to risk being a stranger in a strange land in order to support her mother-in-law Naomi, one of Boaz’s relatives. Thus she too began a new life and commitment to a new God and she gave birth to Obed. Obed’s son was Jesse whose son was David, the shepherd boy who grew up to be king.
And we all know that David, though ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ was not perfect. In fact, it was from his union with Uriah’s wife – Bathsheba – that his son Solomon was born. Bathsheba made mistakes and paid dearly with the loss of her first child by David, but is still counted as worthy in the lineage of Christ.
Do you see that families are imperfect, but still can be used in God’s plan? Something else we find in the South is that there can be a whole extended family made up of folks who aren’t exactly relations, sometimes known as ‘kin in other skin.’
Yes, they will be showing up during the holidays.
One author recalls that “All my childhood friends had aunts and uncles who weren’t, as well as people who joined their people on every family occasion, so much so one tended to forget they weren’t linked by blood. There are wide-reaching benefits to this familial fluidity, not the least of which is what it teaches our children. That the safety net is large. That love isn’t confined.” [Southern Living Blog, January 2014]
Whether officially your ‘people’ or just ‘kissin kin,’ open the doors wide and embrace them all.
under the mercy, Cindy