It’s not hard to figure out from the photo at left that Adam is the classic “cradle Presbyterian.” When he was baptized in 1983, Adam’s father and grandfather—both Presbyterian ministers—were there. The same year, four-month-old Adam was at the General Assembly that reunited the Northern and Southern Churches—bringing his great-uncle and grandfather back into the same denomination. He grew up in his father’s church, First Presbyterian of Tallahassee, and was married there in 2006 during Sunday morning worship. This summer, Adam and his wife, Megan, will travel to Scotland, his mother’s native country, where they will serve the congregation of St. Columba Church, in Ayr. And when he finishes his Master of Divinity degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in 2009, Adam plans to follow in the footsteps of the last two generations of his family and serve a congregation as a pastor.
We may be tempted to read this story as an assurance that our pastors have the “right” pedigree. We might even find confirmation of this interpretation in Matthew, where Jesus’ family connections are so important that his genealogy kicks off the entire New Testament.
But how does this reading square with the rest of the New Testament, where Jesus urges us to pay attention to those whose “pedigrees” are far from perfect? To me, these family histories remind us of our dependence—on our families, our churches, and on God. Unable to stand alone, we first appear in history in the arms of others. And, as we are reminded at baptism, God’s love is also there, holding up each of us even before we recognize it.
This history is at the core of the Christian faith, symbolized by Jesus’ arrival as a helpless infant, told by the believers who cared for each other through hardship and persecution. We walk in a long line of women and men who helped build up Christ’s church.
We are called to build for the future as well. Your gift to the Columbia Annual Fund will support seminarians like Adam as they take their place in line for the next generation. With your help, we will sustain each other in support of our common goal: helping others recognize the presence of God’s love.