This week Chris and I are watching the remake of Roots, the powerful miniseries based on the book by Alex Haley, who traced his ancestor Kunta Kinte’s journey from Africa to America as a slave in the eighteenth century, and continues the story in each generation to the present day. The fact that this new version is also marvelously acted makes it that much more difficult to watch this shattering story of one family’s continual wrenching apart by human cruelty and the forces of evil across generations of history.
Kunte Kinte is a remarkable character because he refuses, at great personal cost, to forget his true name. He so imprints his ancestral identity on his daughter, that this remembrance is passed down over the centuries. Kunta Kinte reminds me of verses from Deuteronomy 11:18-19, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This is how the Lord commanded the Israelites to keep his commandments and to teach them to the next generation, to never let their identity in God be lost.
Through our baptisms, we have our own identity in Christ, and we believe that God has called each of us by name. How do we treasure this identity, this relationship with our Creator? How do we teach who we are in God to our children, in such a way that it leaves a mark across the generations?