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"My Father's Name Is Abraham"

September 09, 2018
By Pastor Bill Te Winkle

I am Ashkenazi Jewish. It is in my DNA. Literally speaking, I am 1.7% Ashkenazi Jewish, according the lab results which studied my saliva. Now, this is good news!

All my life I told people I was ‘100% Dutch’.  I am happy to report that this is not close to the truth.  Somewhere in the not so distant past, between 1710 and 1800, I most likely had a grandparent who was 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.  My other past generations of grandparents were Scandinavian, French & German, British & Irish.  I have so many new holidays to celebrate and cultural traditions to learn!

Being Ashkenazi Jewish allows me to claim a heritage with Abraham. Yes, that Abraham, in Genesis.  You remember the scene: it was a dark, clear night. Abram stands outside his tent and God promises him that not only will he have a son born to his wife, but he will have more offspring than the stars in the night sky.  And here I am to prove it.

Sharing the DNA of the Jewish people does not make me a member of the Jewish faith, however.  For that, my mother would need to have been 100% Jewish, and I am not going to ask her to take a DNA test at age 88 (though it is tempting).  I am and will remain a Christian, thankful for that call on my life.  But I am equally thankful for the promise of Scripture that the Jew and the Gentile (everyone not Jewish) will dwell together with God. (Read Ephesians, among other sources).

It took a Greek-speaking Lebanese woman to show the Jewish Jesus how wide was the wide expanse of God’s love for all of humanity. (Mark 7:24-30)  So, for those Jewish by faith, those who are Ashkenazi Jewish by blood, and for those who share no Jewish DNA, God’s love is the same. 

And your father’s name is Abraham too.  Let’s have a family reunion! 

Shalom,

Pastor Bill