1 Chronicles 26:12 “These divisions of the gatekeepers, through their chief men, had duties for ministering in the temple of the Lord, just as their relatives had.”


I’m willing to bet that those of you doing the Daily Walk are skimming through this section of Chronicles, where every chapter is this long…ummm…chronicle of who did what and who was related to whom.  Perhaps you’re wondering why those sorts of things are listed at all…why all of the Bible isn’t just narrative or teaching about spiritual truth.


Most of the time I wonder that, too, but this summer I have been coming to understand these sorts of listings in a different way.  During July I’ve had a lot of company, which has encouraged me to get out and do some things that I might not otherwise have done.  One of those things has been to visit the places of my family heritage.  I went up to Williamsville, VT and saw the church where my great-great uncle, Charlie Fisher, preached.  I went to the cemetery where most of the Fishers are buried, including my grandmother and my father, and where I, too, will one day find my rest. 


Then I went to Eaton, NH, which is the ancestral home of the Robertsons.  I saw Crystal Lake, which used to be named Robertson Pond.  I found Robertson Corner and the old Robertson homestead with the monument that told of William Robertson founding the town.  And I found a man who let me in to the Little White Church, which the Robertsons built, and which is now just used for special occasions.  I will be returning there to preach sometime next summer as a benefit for the church and for the adjacent cemetery, which holds my great-grandfather, and all the Robertsons in-between him and William (whose tombstone has fallen over and is broken in two places).


The historical records of Eaton contain many things like the book of Chronicles.  They tell not only that my great-grandfather’s father and grandfather built the church, but also who bought pews in the church and for how much.  They tell about who gave money to buy post-master Samuel Robertson a prosthetic leg, and they list church members and officers.  To most people those records evoke a yawn.  But to me, they are sacred story.  They tell me about the people who shaped our family in the following generations.  They make my ancestry real, and gave me the sense that I wanted to continue their legacy by helping the Little White Church today and to honor their memory by fixing the stones that mark their graves.


I think the inclusion of these genealogies and lists of people, families, and assignments in Scripture are a way that Israel passed on part of their sacred story.  Some may read it with a yawn, but for those whose story it represents, it is a source of self-knowledge and insight.  Seeing your ancestor named as a Levite who tended the Temple of the Lord must be like me reading that Robert Robertson built, financed, and was a deacon in the Little White Church in the 1870s.  It tells me about who he was, which tells me about who I am.


So, be patient with these listings.  It’s not critical that you read every word…skim if you would like.  But recognize that a listing of who was who and who did what is part of sacred story.  Our histories are holy, even if the people in them might have been scoundrels.  They remind us that these are not just stories in a vacuum.  These are stories of real people, who lived and died, worked and danced, and tried to follow the will of God.  Pause for a moment of blessing over their scriptural resting place before moving on.


God of both our past and our present, help us to show honor to those who paved the way for us.  Amen.




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