Josiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father
David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. –2 Kings 22:2
Sloan Wilson (1920-2003) was an American writer famous for two novels adapted into films in the last century (The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, 1955; and A Summer Place, 1958). I read many of his books during summer break from college one year. I’ve kept in a personal memory box a paragraph from Wilson’s book, A Sense of Values, 1960. Here’s the paragraph I’ve saved—what Wilson had to say about genes and generations…
I am always struck by the beauty of the pattern of any man’s ancestry, the great number of pools from which any person’s blood is drawn, the infinite complexity of the conditions which result in human life. My own beloved daughter inherited golden hair like my Aunt Susan’s, and my son Steve wears my mother’s face. I have the eyes of my father, and my daughter gets her lithe body from Amy. The bulky shoulders of the old train maker who married a barmaid still carry many a burden for me, and the laugh of my German grandmother warms the house every time my daughter hears a joke. Train makers, whale catchers, immigrants, barmaids, clergymen, farmers, the sane and the insane—what a marvelous crowd of people stands behind each of us, sometimes laughing, I like to imagine, sometimes crying, but with the superior knowledge of the dead, always understanding, always ready to urge us on.
The saints of the Church are also always understanding, always ready to urge us on. What is true of genes and family appearance is analogous to our spiritual lives. We are shaped and formed spiritually by those around us, especially family. What parents do, children often repeat. The Scripture above states King Josiah walked in the way of his father, King David. Every Sunday, the back cover of our bulletin lists names of saints we’ll remember in the coming week. Their lives shaped and formed the spiritual sensibilities of succeeding generations. We list their names each week in order that we may walk in their ways.
Beginning this month and into June, my Monday evening and Thursday morning Bible studies will be about saints. From week to week, we will remember and discuss those whose names appear in our Sunday bulletins. Hopefully, we’ll find ourselves being shaped and formed by these saints from the periods of history in which they lived. The good news for those who attend Monday evening and Thursday morning is that a different saint will be discussed each day. Attend Mondays and Thursdays! Bring a friend!
I look forward to your participation. Summer approaches, but it’s always worth the time to be shaped and formed by those who lived for Christ before our own years began. Saints to be discussed include Monica, the mother of Augustine, and Seattle, chief of the Duwamish Confederacy. Dates and times of our meetings can be found by scrolling down (if you’re on a computer) or by turning a few pages (if you’re holding a hard copy of this newsletter).
Shaped and gaining form with you in Christ,
Pastor Doug Heagy