10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” 17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
At my local library, there is a model of a family tree; it was made over a hundred years ago, in honor of the reunion of a family that still has deep roots in my community. The ‘tree’ is made up of carved wooden branches, with each branch representing a member of the family as it was at the end of the 19th century, when the reunion was held. Had the family continued to add to the tree, to account for all the additional family members that were born since that time, that small tree would now be the size of one of the large bushes that ring the library’s parking lot!!
We are all part of a family tree; just like Jacob was, as he was the descendant of Abraham and Isaac, and in today’s scriptures, we hear God telling him that he too would have many descendants, who would one day spread to the ends of the Earth! Just as if the family tree in the library had been kept up to date, Jacob’s tree would stretch out for miles – quite an impressive thought! However, our family trees would also be quite large and intricate, as if we were to dig deep enough, and far enough back into the past, we would find many branches that would connect us to each other.
We are just branches of that tree, and so are our children. As single parents, our part of the tree may look a little different than that of some of our ancestors, as our families will have only one branch instead of two for the parents, but our branch will be as strong and as important as any other, and will sustain the branches that belong to our children…and one day to their children.
The important thing to remember when looking at any family tree is the strength of the roots, if the roots are good, and carries the love we share for each other as a family, love which nourishes and supports the branches; the tree will be healthy and will survive, for it is the love that binds us together as a family.
Unfortunately, not all family trees are healthy, as the roots may not be as sturdy, and not all of the branches healthy, but even when our trees are ailing and in need of support, there is good news: as followers of Christ, we are part of a bigger, and stronger family tree…that of God’s family, and that tree has the love and power to nourish our branches, our faith, and our children. This nourishment comes from all those around us who share our faith with us, and flows into the lives of our children.
In this way, we too are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as we share faith in the same God, who watches over us all like a perfect parent, and promises to never leave us, even if our branches become troubled, God’s grace supports, uplifts and comforts us.
It is God’s love for us that nourishes the true branches of the our family tree, as it is our love that reaches out to support and sustain our children as they grow into adulthood and beyond; the same love that they will pass on to their children…and so on…
Let us Pray
God, thank you for making us branches on your family tree. Thank you that even if our branches become weak, or our roots turn bad, that your love sustains us and carries us through the trials of our lives, and gives us the faith to continue to grow. Help us to share this faith with each other, and to pass it on to our children, so that their branches can be nourished by your grace, and grow in the light of Christ.