My brother and I took off a few days last week to spend time with some of our extended family. We have not gone back there in almost 15 years for any other reason than funerals, so it was past time. Much of our mother's family has never left the area where several generations of Houghtons, Jamesons, and Garretts lived.
At the end of the month, I am preaching a homecoming service at New Salem UMC in Banks County, Georgia. I served New Salem when I was in seminary nearly 20 years ago.
I remember when I was in high school that I said a term that my mother seriously chastised me for: “white trash” – referring to folks from the poorer side of town. Her words burned into me. “Sky, you are not that far removed from that situation yourself.” And she was right. Southeastern Kansas is incredibly impoverished. Related to that, when I lived in Banks County, Georgia, my salary was $13k, which at the time was the median income for Banks County.
Some folks would be ashamed of talking about such a past, or admitting that they have family in such situations. The reality is I cannot deny my roots, nor would I want to. I am blessed with a large extended family that blesses me. And I suspect when I go down to Georgia in a few weeks, I will realize how blessed I was when I was their pastor.
It was once said about Jesus (by one of his disciples, no less), “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was secluded by hills, and had a bad reputation for having no culture and a rude dialect – the “white trash” of lower Galilee.
From poverty and the unlikeliest situations, our Savior and Prophet arose. God’s chosen are everywhere… and come from everywhere.