Draw what you are able to of your family tree, going back at least a couple of generations if possible.
Many people today love to spend hours researching their ancestors and trying to find out as much as they can about them. These days you can even have a blood test and be told the ethnicity of your blood sample – 20% Scandinavian, 30% African and 50% Eastern European! People are often appalled at the humble circumstances many of their ancestors lived in but that was life for most people until really quite recently.
Share a few stories of special individuals on that tree; did you have a rogue, an eccentric, a Lord or a Lady?
Now put yourself at the top of a new page and draw the tree going downwards from your generation.
Let us consider the word ‘inspirational’:
One man I consider to be my inspiration is not a blood relative, in fact he had no children of his own but in many appointments as a Salvation Army Officer, including Head of a boy’s Correctional Centre in Haiti, he and his wife were inspirational role models to many thousands. I met him when he was retired and a soldier at a Corps I was appointed to, at a time when my
children were just becoming a bit more independent and I was looking to develop my pastoral ministry within my new timetable. He shared his books with me, and his time. His wisdom and love of studying God’s word was a real inspiration especially because he always said ‘study is nothing if it does not change you and the way you care for others’.
The shape of my ministry has been so different since the time he inspired me, always trying to learn so that my pastoral care could be better.
The writer to the Hebrews speaks about inspirational people:
He is referring to the list started in the previous chapter, using it to encourage the readers to persevere so that they might win the race of life. People like Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, not forgetting the prostitute Rahab. These were people of faith, people who were able to do God’s work by faith and able to inspire others by their example of faithful living. We
know they were not all perfect, they all were very human, but through faith they persevered and can, the writer suggests, be used to inspire us to continue in times of trial. Can you imagine having your name on that list? Wow! And yet we can all inspire others to faithfulness, to endurance, to perseverance. It is about us being human and yet being prepared to be known for our faithful fulfilment of God’s will in our lives.
The writer to the Hebrews was writing to baby Christians in the early church; we have the opportunity to be inspirational to the next generations, blood relatives or not, by being one of a great cloud of witnesses.
How can that fit into your life? By offering care and concern, prayer and support, to those around you. By being human and yet showing your faithfulness to God’s will and purpose in your life? Maybe just a card or a
word in season, or perhaps by just being who you are.
‘Preach the Gospel at all times.
When necessary, use words.’
St. Francis of Assisi
With grateful thanks to Major Wendy Knott (Rtd)
My life must be Christ’s broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o’er filled, a table spread,
Beneath his name and sign,
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.