Tag Archives: Grandparents

Blood and Covenant

Blood and Covenant (CaD Gen 9) Wayfarer

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you…”
Genesis 9:8-9 (NIV)

As my maternal grandparents entered the home stretch of their earthly journeys, they faced difficult financial circumstances that led to a difficult decision. My grandfather’s medical needs were draining their savings which was threatening the financial security of my grandmother, who would most certainly survive my grandfather, possibly for years to come. A social worker suggested that one solution would be for my grandparents to legally divorce so that their finances would be legally split, allowing my grandmother to retain their savings under her name while my grandfather’s needs would be provided for by the State.

I was quite a young man at the time, and I have a vivid memory of my grandmother asking me what she should do. I remember it because it was the first time that I’d considered both the legality, spirituality, and the tradition of marriage. That led me to realize, perhaps for the first time, that while the institutions of both church and state are involved in the process of a couple getting married, there is absolutely no detailed prescription for marriage in the Bible other than addressing it as a basic, assumed relational construct of human familial relationship and cultural systems. So far in our chapter-a-day journey of Genesis the husband and wife relationship has been assumed but no where has there been discussion of ceremony, process, or particulars other than a man and woman leaving their respective homes and becoming “one flesh.”

So, the relational agreement between husband and wife is assumed and its process is not specifically prescribed in the Great Story. What the Great Story does address is the agreement(s) between God and humanity. In the ancient times they were called “covenants.” Once again, since we’re in the beginning of the Great Story, we are going to keep running into firsts, and in today’s chapter we come across the first “covenant” between God and humanity since expulsion from the Garden. God initiates and makes the covenant never to destroy all earthly life by natural catastrophe.

Just before this covenant, God establishes the sacredness of human life, and it is metaphorically established in blood, or “lifeblood.” The ancients recognized that when blood poured out of a person, they died. They made connection between blood and life.

So in today’s chapter God establishes the sacredness of “life,” “blood,” and “covenant.” And just as I mentioned that the flood was an earthly foreshadowing of what would be the spiritual sacrament of baptism, today’s events are an earthly foreshadowing of the spiritual metaphor in the sacrament of Communion:

Then [Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:27-29 (NIV)

In the quiet this morning, I am once again awed by the connected themes of the Great Story from the very beginning. God is proactive, from the very beginning, in initiating a committed (a.k.a. covenant) relationship with humanity that will bring life in contrast to the death which came through disobedience and the breaking of relationship. And, God is still doing it as I remember each time I choose to step up and partake of the bread and cup as Jesus prescribed for his followers.

As for my grandparents, they chose not to take the social worker’s suggestion. My family helped to find other alternatives for them. That said, I told my grandmother that I did not believe a legal divorce on paper from the State of Iowa could ever nullify the spiritual bond of covenant and spiritual oneness or the chord of three strands woven between them and God. I believe that still. Matters of Spirit are deeper and more eternal than the reach of any human legal system on earth.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The Legacy of Family

Salmon - Boaz - Obed
Salmon – Boaz – Obed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:17 (NLT)

My grandparents came of age as the Great Depression hit America. Times were hard and both my maternal and paternal grandparents got married quickly in small ceremonies with nothing but the official who married them and a pair of witnesses. My Grandpa Vander Well told me that he and my grandmother got married the weekend he finished up his teaching certificate at Iowa State University. My grandmother had traveled to Ames to see him graduate.

When they returned home to northwest Iowa, they did not tell anyone they were married. My grandmother lived with her elderly father. He getting up there in years and her was an alcoholic. Family tradition says that he could be quite a handful. My grandmother lived with him to take care of him, and I can only surmise that there was some fear in telling him about the marriage and what it might mean to leave him and who then would become responsible.

After a couple of months being secretly married, Great-grandpa Bloem asked my grandmother, “When are you going to marry that Herman Vander Well?” My grandmother told her father, “I already did,” and proceeded to tell him about their marriage in Ames months before. His reply: “Well then, get the hell out of my house!”

I love old family stories. They give us a glimpse into the people and the systemic family dynamics that were the foundation for what we experienced as children. They provide context for our own lives.

In today’s chapter we learn that the story of Ruth and Boaz is the story of King David’s great-grandparents. This story is David’s family story that I’m sure he heard told as a child. Once David became king and the great monarch of a unified Israel, I’m sure that interest in his family and in the fascinating story of Ruth grew. It was eventually written down. We’ve seen in recent weeks how interest in the affairs of Royals capture the attention of the masses as Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandson was born.

Today, I’m thinking about Ruth and Boaz and their story. I’m thinking about my own life story. How might it resonate with and impact the generations that, God willing, might follow after me? I’m thinking about the fact that just as my Grandparents coming of age in the Depression helped shape my own life experience, how might my life and times shape the experience of my own grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

Tom’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 11

letters
Image by Muffet via Flickr

If you were to receive a letter today from anyone you have known during your lifetime, who would it be from and what would it say?

As soon as I read this question, my mind went immediately to my grandparents. I was blessed to know all of my grandparents. I lost my Grandma V at the age of 10, but the rest survived into my adult years and got to meet both Taylor and Madison. And while I had a good relationship with all of them and spent generous amounts of time with them, I still regret not spending more. In the final years of their journey I was busy getting started on my own path with family and career. Time, distance, and distraction kept me from visiting more often.

So, I would receive a letter from one of my grandparents in their own unique and beautiful handwriting. Pick one. I don’t care which. In the letter I would read of memories and family history. They would tell honestly and transparently of their own life experiences both comic and tragic. They would share previously untold stories about my parents. They would share life lessons with me and give me good advice. They would reflect on their own journey and lend new perspective to my own.

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