Whakapapa (2)

Lent Study 2024


Jesus prays for his disciples
Whakapapa (2)
Image: Jesus prays for his disciples

Picture courtesy of www.lavistachurchofchrist.org

Whakapapa is commonly used to describe genealogy, which is what I mainly focused on yesterday, but it actually has a deeper meaning in the Maori context and in the context we are looking at in John 14:15-31, this week's Lent series reading (repeated today).

For Maori it encompasses human rights, land ownership and the connection to God. In other words, whakapapa encapsulates not just ancestry, but the interconnectedness between matter and spirit; between humanity, creation and God. Whakapapa literally translates to building layers on top of one another. It is about building a foundation; knowing where, who and what we are connected to. Which is what Jesus is talking to his disciples about in the reading.

They have been travelling together at this point for 3 years. Jesus has been central to their lives - they have become a family, while being fully aware that Jesus is the head, He is the Messiah, how are they supposed to go on without Him?

Jesus reassures them that he will not leave them spiritually orphaned, he offers them a forever family. Jesus says that God - Father, Son and Spirit - will come and make a home with those who love him and obey his teachings. Jesus says that He is in the Father and that his disciples (including future ones) are in Him and He is in them. The Trinity provides the base layers of the foundation for us as individuals and together as God’s church. It encompasses our right to be “children of God”, to be inheritors of the Kingdom of God, which is eternal and will never pass away, and our right to be able to come before God’s throne in prayer as his child and be heard, to call Him Father.

In a very real way knowing our ancestry - where we come from is a part of knowing who we are, impacting our identity, and our birthright and in the reading of John we find our Chrsitian birthright. When we are ‘born again’ we are not just washed clean and acceptable to God, we are NO LONGER ALONE. We are born into a new family, a flesh and blood family here on earth, bound to our brothers and sisters in Christ through God’s abundant love for us, and we gain a new ancestry through Christ, in the many saints and martyrs who have gone before us.