Who’s John?

“. . . families and the clans . . .”

Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon; she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.  Korah had three sons: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph; they were the ancestors of the divisions of the clan of Korah.  Eleazar, Aaron’s son, married one of Putiel’s daughters, who bore him Phinehas. These were the heads of the families and the clans of the tribe of Levi.” (Exodus 6:23-25)

Whew!!! Aren’t you glad you’re not the one who’s called to read this verse aloud to the congregation on Sunday morning?  This is part of the genealogy of Aaron, the brother of Moses.  It reads like the many other lists of family connections in the Old Testament – very detailed and very extensive!  Remembering their connections was a big deal for the Israelites in part because it helped them keep focus on whose they were and who they were called to be.  Where they came from helped focus where they were going.

Yesterday I was headed for someplace I’d never been before.  When I got near the facility, a storage unit for our church’s new Thrift Store, I saw that I had to reach it by turning onto Relation Road.  I was intrigued by the sign and had to stop to stop for a photo.  Almost immediately I was transported back to a time when I was a small boy sitting on the edge of my grandparents’ back porch, listening to the grownups.  Time and time again I heard a similar litany.  Someone’s name like, John Smith, would come up in the conversation and someone else would ask, “Well now, who’s John Smith.  Then a senior member of the family (most often my grandfather) would start, “Well, you know John Smith.  That’s Bob Smith’s boy from over on Pond Creek.  You know Bob, he grew up right down the road from where the gas station used to be.   Bob married Alice Jackson from over at Naugetuck and they had four kids.  One of their boys went on to marry your cousin Sue and they moved over to Pikeville.  John married Barbara Stevens from over there at Turkey Creek.  They live up there now at Happy Valley beside of Gus and Pearl Jones.”  Then the other person would respond, “Oh yeah, now I know who you mean.  John Smith from Happy Valley.   He works over there at the factory.  I think one of his girls is dating  . . .”  And the litany goes on – but now we all know John Smith.

Hopefully we can all say we live on Relation Road.  By that I mean I hope we can all feel connected to the love of God and some significant others in our lives, even if it’s not our biological family.  As we end our celebrations of Mother’s Day and gear up for Father’s Day I’m always aware of the many orphans I’ve encountered during my years of ministry.  These are folks who for one reason or another feel disconnected from significant others, and sometimes God.  They might feel disconnected because they have painful memories of inappropriate nurturing and abuse as they were growing up.  They might feel disconnected because of bad choices they’ve made in their lives.  They might feel disconnected because of terrible tragedies in their adult lives.  It’s very difficult for the one orphaned to get a sense of how to move into the future.  Usually they’re talking to me as a pastor or pastoral counselor because they need to find a way to connect somehow, somewhere so they can find their way forward.  They need to find a new home on Relation Road.

I’ve physically moved many times in my life (eleven times if I’ve counted correctly), but I’ve always been blessed to have lived on Relation Road.  I give thanks for that connection with God and others and want a similar experience for everyone. There are many orphans in our churches, workplaces, schools, and other walks of life.  With God’s presence we can help them find a new home on Relation Road.  I pray that God will help me keep a lookout for orphans, and be willing to help them find their new home on Relation Road.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.


My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on May 14, 2014.

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