The sequel to ‘My Big Fat Greek wedding’ was released last month here in South Africa, and features the same protagonists, Toula and her zany Greek family making their way through another chapter of life.
In some ways the Portokalos family resemble any family today. In the sequel, patriarch Gus Portokalos continues in his mission to see to it that everyone who is not a Greek gets educated in what it means to be Greek and why that is preferable to what they originally are. Laying claim to being a direct descendant of Alexander the Great, Gus at least has the honesty to find out whether his claim is true and submits all his family information to ancestry researchers.
Gus never really doubts that he is a direct descendant of Alexander the Great and Toula intercepts the reply from the ancestry researchers and tweaks it to provide Gus with the confirmation he is looking for.
While it is a movie with a lot of charm and is worth two hours wiling away a weekend it illustrates a point, and that is our need for connectivity to the past, a heritage. As far as Toula is concerned, Gus doesn’t need to know the actual truth, he is as Greek as anybody can be Greek.
We all come from somewhere and it’s a good thing to be proud of our heritage. My heritage includes the family name Watridge, from 1820 British settlers to South Africa; the family name Jefferies of Franco-German origin through William the Conqueror, a Norman who invaded England; the family name Tamlin of Welsh origin; the Legg family name, of Scots heritage; the family name August of Italian origin (so that’s why I like pasta so much!).
If I had the means I might be able to trace my lineage from Adam and Noah through Japheth and Magog, who was the founder of a number of Celt tribes, the original Irish and Welshmen. My wife’s family name hails from England and in the course of time, people groups from all over the world migrated and mixed with all other people groups to which they went. There is no modern equivalent except perhaps what is going on in Europe right now with Middle Eastern and African migrants flooding into Europe.
People with an English heritage like my friend have found their way back to England, mixing their original heritage with a South African flavour. The truth is that we are all related to one another, from a point just after the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat. We are all connected to a heritage, a lineage. From the ark and looking backward we are all descended from Adam into the people groups we see today.
We all bear the marks of Adam’s original sin; no people group is more virtuous than another, and none is less virtuous than another. We have different social models and different political organisations however we are all recognisably the same family.
As useful and as interesting as this is, its fact but not truth. We all come from somewhere and it’s good to know that however it can distract from what is real. It can be argued that truth is simply what is from God’s perspective.
John the Baptist was ministering to the Children of Israel, trying to lead them to repentance and as recorded in Matthew chapter 3, he tells the Pharisees and Sadducees that they shouldn’t try to refer to Abraham as their father as that would count for nothing in the Kingdom. The Pharisees and Sadducees used their relationship to Abraham as a mark of arrogance and a justification of why they didn’t have to listen to John’s message and repent. They were genealogically correct but that wasn’t the point of what John was getting at.
From the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of Mark:
33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
The truth is we are part of God’s family by adoption, grafted into the vine and if we live in Him, then we are part of a far greater heritage than lineage by Adam. The second Adam (Jesus) is greater than the first Adam and he has many brothers.
In Adam we all bear similar markers; we:
• Wear clothes (as Adam and Eve did after the fall, at the beginning),
• Procreate (fill the earth and subdue it),
• Sin (all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God),
• Seek to organise and classify the natural world, and indeed all that can be classified, doing as Adam did.
In Christ, as Christians we all bear similar markers; we:
• Have made a commitment to Christ,
• Repent often,
• Read and apply Scripture,
The truth is that the heritage of God’s spiritual family will endure when all else no longer does.
When the teacher of the Law, Nicodemus, came to speak to Christ (as recorded in John chapter 3), Christ explained that ‘flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit’, and that Nicodemus – as proud a history and heritage as he had with the Children of Israel – needed to be born again to enter the Kingdom and family of God.
Father Abraham had many sons. May sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you. Let’s praise the Lord.