Cara Shonamon l NTS Class of 2015, 2016
Master of Divinity Degree Program, Master of Arts (Theological Studies) Degree Program
“If we do not live out a life of holiness for the next generation, they will not know what holiness looks like.” This is the line from Dr. Noble’s Doctrine of Holiness class that got me thinking…
One of the many events that takes place in the summer Olympics is the 4 × 400 metres relay. The runners that each run once around the track, must successfully hand off the baton to the next runner. If the baton is not handed off successfully and is dropped, the team can’t win. This is what happened in the 2008 summer games to the U. S. men’s team; the baton hit the ground, and the U. S. men lost.
Handing off the baton well is a key aspect of running the race and finishing the race. Hebrews 12:1 reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” This verse follows Hebrews 11—a chapter that lists those who have gone before and who have been faithful. This great cloud of witnesses is made up of those that have successfully handed off the baton faithfully, and now cheer for the next generation to do the same.
Holiness, defined simply, is the greatest commandment given to us by Christ found in Matthew 22:37-39, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Christ calls us to love God and love others. This is the basis for a life poured out to God.
Nazarene Theological Seminary is “preparing women and men to be faithful and effective ministers of the gospel.” The seminary is committed to hand off the baton of holiness to the next generation; and that charge to my generation is to faithfully do the same. I am thankful to come from a family that is committed, as is the seminary, to hand off the baton well. Each generation has the choice to take the baton or not.
My great-great-grandpa Emill moved to Omaha, Nebraska from Sweden where he met Christine from Denmark. They fell in love, got married and established a homestead west of Hastings in Nebraska. They started out by building a sod house. It was in that house that my great-grandpa was born. Later they built a house out of wood, but sadly one night their house was struck by lightning. Everyone ran out of the house and they all stood together and watched as their house burned to the ground. Great-great-grandmother Christine looked at Emil and said, “Do you remember how we used to get the family together every morning and have prayer together?” Emil said, “Yes Christine, I remember.” Christine then said, “We are going to do it again aren’t we?” She went on to ask, “Remember how we used to hitch up the horse and go to church every Sunday morning?” Emil said, “Yes.” Christine replied, “And we are going to do it again aren’t we?” And so they did. They had 10 children in all, some of them passed away at a young age, but Emil and Christine took all of their kids to church every Sunday and got the family together every morning for prayer. My great-grandpa, one of Christine and Emil’s sons, went on to be a preacher. Two other children of Christine and Emil went on to be preachers and one child went on to be a missionary! My Grandpa went on to be a preacher and a missionary. His daughter, my mom, went on to be a preacher and a missionary.
This is my promise to all of the generations in my family that have gone before me: I promise to continue to hand off the baton to my kids some day and teach them what it means to love God and love others. The choices that we make to hand over the baton to the next generation will effect many, many generations to come.