Scripture Passage: Matthew 1: 1-17
An account of the genealogy* of Jesus the Messiah,* the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,* 8and Asaph* the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,* and Amos* the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.* 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,* fourteen generations.
I know what you’re thinking. What an odd scripture to use on the day before Christmas Eve, the day when we are almost there, almost ready to emerge from the darkness into the glorious Light. The truth is, we usually skip over these verses. I mean, they’re full of hard-to-pronounce words that none of us want to have to read from the lectern and, frankly, they’re kind of boring. Am I right? In fact, these verses are NEVER included in the Lectionary, regardless of what year you use. So….why? Why are we reading them? Because the story itself is buried in the details…
I suppose God could come into the world with no help from us, with no help from all those faithful ones who came before us. But what would it mean? Why bother? After all, the name of the Christ child is “God With US”. Doesn’t that mean something? God did not just drop the baby out of the sky like some sort of Divine UPS package. The story is incomplete without those that came before. And it is incomplete without us. Because without us, without every one of us, without EACH of us, God never would have come at all. God came as Emmanuel, “God with US”, and calls us into the story.
And what a story it is! It is a story of those that were called and those that ran away, a story of some who were exiled and some who wrestled, a story of scared and wandering people sent to new places and new lives with new names. The story includes prophets and poets, priests and kings. It is a story of movement between darkness and light and, always, a hope for a Savior. This line of David shown by the writer known as Matthew is 42 generations of God’s people, six sets of seven generations that lived and questioned and prayed and worshipped and wondered and sometimes shook their fists at God and then handed it off to the children that followed them. Now you might remember that the number 7 is one of those numbers that connotes perfection or completeness, the hallowed finishing. So, six completed ages of the history of God’s people waiting and watching and walking the journey brings us to the seventh, the New Creation, the beginning of what is next.
The Incarnation is the mingling of God with humanity. There’s no way out. The Divine is even now pouring into our midst and we are changed forever. But we have to birth the Godchild into our lives. Knowing that we could never become Divine, the Divine became us. The world is turned upside down. And so God stayed around to show us how to live in this new world. The writer of Matthew is right. All this DID take place to fulfill what has been spoken by the Lord through the prophets. The Light is just beyond our sight, ready to dawn, ready to call us into it that we might continue the story. We are all walking together. As Ram Dass said, “we’re all just walking each other home”.
Open your eyes. The Light is about to dawn.
God did not wait till the world was ready, till nations were at peace. God came when the Heavens were unsteady and prisoners cried out for release. God did not wait for the perfect time. God came when the need was deep and great. In the mystery of the Word made flesh the maker of the Stars was born. We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, or to share our grief, to touch our pain. God came with Love. Rejoice! Rejoice! And go into the Light of God. (Madeleine L’Engle)
Grace and Peace,