Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Family Trees

Saturday night is our church Mother and Daughter Banquet and I will be speaking. Yikes! I've been working hard on the devotional message on "Legacies" which led me back to my roots.

One of the neatest things I inherited from my parents was a thick genealogy book on the Ruth Family. Through that voluminous tome I can trace one branch of my family tree back to 1717 when Joseph Ruth, a Swiss-German Anabaptist immigrant left Europe and landed at the Port of Philadelphia.

His son, Henry Ruth, born somewhere around 1690 in Europe, purchased a farm in the southeastern PA area around Salford. What amazes me is that most of my family still lives in that area of PA.

Henry had a son - John Ruth, born in 1725, who became a weaver. John's son, Henry, purchased a farm of 145 acres which was valued at $755 - a far cry from real estate in that area today!

This Henry had a son Jacob Ruth, who followed in his grandfather's footsteps to become a weaver. Jacob had no sons, but he did have a quiver full of daughters - 7 of them! Poor man...I wonder if that's what drove him to an early grave? Might make an interesting story someday...

Jacob's daughter Amelia was born in 1812 and married a man by the name of Shoemaker. She died at age 29 birthing a son, Jacob in 1841. Jacob's daughter Hannah, born in 1866 married a Swartley. She named her son after her father Jacob in 1895.

In 1930, Jacob had a daughter - my Mom - who married my dad and of course, they had me. The Ruth Genealogy book was published in 1972, so though I'm listed in the book, none of my children are.

Now, I know, the last thing you wanted to read here today was a long list of "begats" so I'll stop with the names. But the really cool thing as I looked through the book was the number of preachers listed in the family - not necessarily from my particular branch, but in some of the other family lines descended from Henry Ruth. Most of them are Mennonites and most lived and worked in the Southeastern PA area.

I feel so blessed to have received such a legacy of faith along with their strong work ethic and values. To be in ministry myself and be passing on this faith of my ancestors thrills my heart.

But the truth is - all of us who claim to be followers of Christ have a strong "family" history filled with examples like David, Abraham and Moses. We are part of Hebrews chapter 11, the faith chapter, living our lives according to His plan and passing on a legacy to future generations.

Consider these powerful words from the song "Future Generations" by 4 Him:

"I won't bend and I won't break,
I won't water down my faith
I won't compromise in a world of desperation.
What has been I cannot change
But for tomorrow and today
I must be a light to future generations."

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