25 Days of Christmas – Begat, begat, begat…
When we think about the Christmas story (the Jesus story not the Santa one) we turn to the accounts in the Gospels. Most services quote from the account written down in the Gospel of Luke. In chapter 3 of Luke we get a genealogy of Jesus in standard Jewish form. There is not one female mentioned in that listing. In the Jewish culture that would be the norm. But Jesus wasn’t normal! Let’s jump to the book of Matthew. This book was written by a Jew to a Jewish audience but God through Matthew wanted to make a point that Jesus wasn’t just any guy. He was THE guy!
If we look at the very first chapter of Matthew we are presented with Jesus’ genealogy or as I like to call it, the begats. Years ago I would just skip these parts of scripture because I found them repetitive and boring. I mean, I couldn’t pronounce half the names and who really cared about all these relatives anyway? As I have grown older I have come to respect genealogy. Maybe it has something to do with having many missing gaps in my own genealogy. Maybe it has to do with the interest I’ve found in the subject through ancestry.com. Whatever it is, I read this passage in Matthew with real intention and a better attitude. And I noticed things I hadn’t really noticed before.
For instance, the Matthew account included five women! That is significant. And several of those women had some shady things in their background. Yet they are in Jesus’ family tree. They were forgiven and redeemed. That means I haven’t done anything that would prevent me from being part of His family tree either. I’ve been forgiven and redeemed. That’s good news to me! I can’t change where I come from but I can change where I’m going with Jesus’ help.
Over the next few days we will take a look at these five women who were deemed significant enough to be listed in Jesus’ lineage. But as we prepare to go there I challenge you to take a look at your roots. Where do you come from? What traits define your family? Some of you may have great roots and it is my prayer that you continue to grow in both your family and in your walk with Christ. But if you don’t have the roots you need, I pray that you embrace adoption into my family, Christ’s family. It’s littered with imperfect people and we can always use a few more. If you have questions on how to become part of this family, feel free to contact my husband or myself or a local pastor. It is my prayer that you find peace in the loving arms of Christ this Christmas. Hope to “see” you tomorrow!
25 Days of Christmas – The Meaning of Christmas
Today is December 1st. It is twenty-five days till Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. In many places around the world and here in the United States, Christmas has lost its focus. We get caught up in the commercialization of the holiday. We focus on the gifts, the trees, the decorations, the food, the time off from work, the family gatherings. None of these are bad things just not the ONE thing we should be focused on. The true GIFT of Christmas is Jesus Himself.
Ten years ago I hit one of those bumps in the road that shook me up and made me reevaluate my life, my priorities. My three children had been having some physical issues and I was told that I just had to deal with the fact that they were mentally disabled. I couldn’t nor wouldn’t believe it. So I kept searching for answers. By fifth grade we had an answer, sort of. We knew the family of conditions that caused their problems but not the specific disorder. But at least now they qualified for Make A Wish. Make A Wish was wonderful and we enjoyed the wishes as well as the community of support we found through that organization.
By now you might be asking, “What does this have to do with Christmas?” Let me tell you. Out of the best of intentions my kids lost perspective. They started to expect people to give them things. They would no sooner open one present then be asking for the next. The tree overflowed with gifts but the true meaning of Christmas was buried under all the strewn about wrapping paper. I had to do something. So I put my foot down. I figured that Jesus only got three gifts (from the wise men) so put the kids on a three gift limit. And I set a monetary cap. The rest of our budget would go to someone who needed it more.
It worked! Fast forward ten years and I have children who would rather give than get. When they think of ideas for presents they are always thinking of a way to give a gift that also helps some one else. And the best gifts are those that would make Jesus proud.
Jesus did things different than the rest of the world too. He came to give, not to receive. The Messiah was assumed to be a warrior savior, one who would physically free his people. No one expected a carpenter’s son from Bethlehem who would hang out with fishermen and tax collectors. But I am getting ahead of the story. Over the next 24 days we will come to know the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Some of the story you may know. Some may be new. Either way, you will gain a new perspective on the one they call Jesus Christ. If you get nothing else out of reading these devotionals this month, it is my hope you will take a step out of the rat race and find the peace the Christmas Season should give you. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!