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October 31, 2019

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A solemn process - and for the record.
The Washington Post reports that House of Representatives voted today on a resolution to formally establish the procedures for the more public phase of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. This was the first official vote taken by the entire House in the matter of the potential impeachment of President Trump. The results came out as follows: 232 yea, 196 nay.
Adam, Seth, Enosh; Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared; Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The descendants of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah. The descendants of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.

The descendants of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first to be a mighty one on the earth.

Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim, from whom the Philistines come.

Canaan became the father of Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Gir-gashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites.

The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 19 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg (for in his days the earth was divided), and the name of his brother Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the descendants of Joktan.

Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah; Eber, Peleg, Reu; Serug, Nahor, Terah; Abram, that is, Abraham. 

- 1st Chronicles 1:1-24
Most of us have the tendency to fall into a stupor when we see a genealogy in the Bible. But if we take the time to pay attention, genealogies can tell us a lot about the guiding principles and heartfelt beliefs of the people who compiled them. 1st Chronicles begins with eight entire chapters of genealogy of God’s people. It connects the first human (1:1) - the adam - to the first generation to return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile - “Now the first to live again in their possessions in their towns were Israelites, priests, Levites, and temple servants.” (9:3) Those who wrote the books of Chronicles were members of one of those first generations. They were a people who had lived through the worst possible trauma, trying desperately to make sense of that trauma by connecting themselves not only to their physical roots but their historic and mythic ones as well. They needed to tell this story in order to link the promise of their renewed lives in their homeland to that of not only their ancestors and their stories, but above all, to the God who created all that is and was and shall be.

Creating genealogies is a way of naming names, of taking stock, of making visible those who the writers do not want to be forgotten. It is a way of counting and sorting - of remembering and marking down who the writers considered worth including, and silencing those who the writers want ignored. When we read a genealogy, it is important to also consider who was not included and why. Whose stories were being suppressed by the writer’s choices?

One might think that the vote today was merely a procedural vote, and therefore not as important as the votes that will surely follow: the House one on the actual articles of impeachment and, ultimately, the vote in the Senate that will determine the fate of this presidency. But as the first official vote of this process, it is worth paying attention to who votes for what, who crosses lines in unexpected ways, and why they choose to do what they do. 

At this point, many of us are cynical (with good reason) about the words and deeds of so many of those we have elected to serve us in Washington. They say one thing today, another tomorrow, and yet another the next. Many of them no longer express even the slightest embarrassment at the inherent contradictions between these strings of conflicting statements. They don’t seem to care even though we all have direct access to videos that proves they said things they later pretend they never said. 

Yet the ritualistic solemnity of a formal House vote - a vote that creates a record that names names - asks those very officials to stand up and be counted in a much more significant public way. It reminds us that their votes are telling the story of what they believe in - of how they see the world, what (and who) they hold dear, and who they dismiss and choose to silence with their choices. Pay attention to this vote. Pay attention to the next, and the next after that. A list of names is not just a list of names. It is a record of each person’s real values that can never be erased.
The impeachment process is only going to get more and more intense as we move into the public hearings phase and then to the trial of the president in the Senate. Stay informed of what is happening as it continues: there are many good resources to do so, including podcasts and daily summaries of events. Each side will be telling a story about who and what America is to them. Listen to these stories and take note. What kind of America do you want to live in? If your representatives are not telling the story of the America you want to live in, call them and let them know. If your representatives are telling the story of your America, call them and thank them.
Loving God, you spoke creation into being through your Word, and you invited the first human to co-create with you by naming all that you had made. Keep us mindful that a list of names is more than a list - it is a story being told. Remind us that we too, like the adam, co-create with you as we write the stories of our own lives. Help us remember to always follow your guidance: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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