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Jesus Knew the Math!

June 9, 2018

 

Pastor Toby exclaims.. "I've Got People!!", after discovering and meeting relatives of her birth mother living not too far away in Indiana.........

 

At a recent family reunion, a group of twenty-somethings enjoy a day hike on the Appalachian Trail, a group with roots in Northern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, a group that barely knew each other the night before......

 

My wife's first cousin who we've never met speaking via Facetime from a village in Syria exclaims "We love you, You Must Come and Visit!"......

 

I have stories; you have stories; the Bible is full of family stories, sometimes stories of triumph, sometimes troubling stories of family dysfunction and conflict, but always stories with the power to touch us in ways that have the power to change our lives. 

 

Scientists tell us we are born with an innate need to be connected to each other within social networks, and families are, after all, the original version of the social network. Family trees represent family networks, and they've become big business on the Internet, where there are a number of websites which can assist you in building your own family tree. Recently, I took the plunge on one of these websites, and I've been able to quickly build an online family tree for my kids going back as many as eight generations to the early 1700's, including ancestors in Germany, the British Isles and Syria. 

 

But the math of family trees can become overwhelming! If you have 4 grandparents, you also should have 8 great-grandparents, and on and on so that in 8 generations, you can have as many as 256 direct ancestors. Playing with the math a little more, it takes 30 generations to reach the possibility of having 1 billion potential direct ancestors!!!! Of course, because of the intermingling of families, your total number of Great X 30 grandparents is a lot less than one billion, but the point is that we probably have a lot more ancestors from the far corners of the globe than we may think. In fact, if the records existed, we would all be able to trace our family trees back to a small region in Central Africa. 

 

Jesus understood the math. Jesus knew that as humans, we constantly struggle with conflict between individuals and between different groups, but he also knew that we were all from the same family. In his book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg writes: "Jesus saw the divinity in all people, and he challenged all men to see the good, the God-self, in all people with whom they associated." 

 

May God bless you as you enjoy your family gatherings this summer.

 

Jerry Kahrs

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