Two years ago, geneticist Yaniv Erlich announced a major breakthrough in genomic studies. His team at Columbia University set a record for the largest family tree ever created, made up of 13 million people, spanning 11 generations, going back 600 years. Using information from various online ancestry databases, they went through the painstaking process of looking for genetic links between people and generations all over the world. [1]

In an interview with The Atlantic, Erlich was asked about how all of us are related as human beings. He said the prominent theory is that all we have to do is go back 75 generations. And there, we will discover, as we pan the camera out to the highest and widest possible lens, that we are all related to one another. [2]

WHO ARE YOUR ANCESTORS?

If you’ve ever done genealogical work on your own family tree, you know how special it can be to discover stories about your ancestors. I remember learning about my dad’s father, Fernando deVega, who died when my father was young. He lived in a Filipino fishing village called Cavite, on the mouth of Manila Bay. He was a mapmaker by trade and was employed by the Filipino government to take boat trips along many of the Philippines 7,000 islands to map their coastlines. His work was foundational to modern Filipino mapmaking.

My mother’s father, Genaro Rojas, also made a living on the seas. He was a merchant, distributing commercial and retail goods on an island named Mindoro. He made a name for himself shipping Pepsi Cola products all throughout the country.

Both of my grandfathers were young adults during World War II, and they both helped the Allied forces defeat the Japanese. My paternal grandfather provided maps, and my maternal grandfather provided espionage and reconnaissance on the Japanese soldiers.

Stories like these make my DNA tingle, just as yours does when you hear about your ancestry.

ANCESTRY: OUR SPIRITUAL DNA

This week, we begin reading the book of Acts, which is the church’s family scrapbook. We will read about our earliest Christian ancestors, the first disciples, who took the message of Jesus Christ and started the first faith communities. We will hear stories of faithfulness and courage, as they expanded the reach of God’s love to wider and wider circles of people throughout the ancient near eastern world.

In learning about them, we will rediscover aspects about ourselves. We learn about our own calling and our own character. We remember that we are the product of past faithfulness, and we are responsible for transmitting that faith to those who follow us. Most of all, we remember that no matter what we face as a church, we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Join us this Sunday, as we hear a message from Acts 2:42-47, and may the “awe and wonder” of the early church inspire us to live faithfully today.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

 

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