My wife gave me a gift of DNA through ancestry.com this past Christmas. Some of you are familiar with this. You receive a kit that has instructions for providing a sample of your DNA that you mail in and in a few weeks you get a report that tells you where you came from. It turns out my ancestors mostly came from Western Europe, Ireland and Scandinavia. A smaller percentage showed traces from Iberia (Spain) and the United Kingdom. By percentage it turns out I am mostly of Irish descent.
I could have told them that. Oh well.
I've been working on my family tree and have most of my family, including parent, grandparent and great grandparent siblings. With my new DNA information in hand I will now continue this exploration in earnest! (That means I'll be paying a monthly fee to ancestry.com to acquire documents.)
It seems I'm not the only one interested in their ancestry. And so I wonder, "Why is that?"
As always, there are many, varied answers to that question. Knowing our ancestry can provide clues to our long range health outlook for one. We might discover we are related to someone famous, or infamous. In some cases we might connect with relatives we never knew we had.
But, then, my next question is, "Aren't we all related?" I mean, Biblical literalists would argue we all come from the first human couple, Adam and Eve. That can be problematic. My daughter once asked me how the sons of Adam and Eve could have wives if Adam and Eve were the first humans. She was about six years old at the time. On the other hand, if you happen to know Hebrew, you know Adam is not a person's name, but, rather a word that means humankind. Either way we are probably related in some way, don't you think.
Of course, many people don't want to be related to everyone. That would mean they would have to treat them more like family. The crazy uncle that attends every family get together? Family. That neighbor you don't get along with? Family. The person that doesn't believe the things you believe? Family.
Here's the harder one: Your enemy? Family.
You see, if we cannot accept our human connections, the family of humankind we become a little less than human. It's like the Spiritual that sings, "If one of us in chains, none of us are free."
I believe this because of my faith in Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Some might say, "But didn't he say HE was the way and truth and life?" To which I answer, "I think it depends on how you view that claim." If you focus on the claim absent of the life lived, the embodiment how a person lives when God is in charge, then it's possible you could draw a very exclusive conclusion to the statement.
But if you understand the claim in the context of the life lived, a life of inclusion, forgiveness, grace and compassion, then you might be more open to the possibilities faith outside of one's own. And I'm just thinking of the many different ways people come to Jesus within the Christian faith experience.
Widening the circle of faith even more does not diminish the call of Jesus to love one another. The work of reconciliation God initiated in Jesus, and claimed by Paul in Second Corinthians is reconciliation into the life of God, a God that is making all things new, recreating the world, transforming the world, and making us human (think humane) once again.
It's about being family.