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Thursday, December 17

Lisa Johnston

Matthew 1:1-7,17

The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; Isaac begat … So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations … and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Have you ever researched your family tree? I have—it’s fun! But to Matthew, genealogy was serious business. He opened the entire New Testament with this: a delineation of “begats” to show that Jesus met the Jews’ ancestral requirements for the Messiah. Jesus descended from David, Israel’s most revered king, and from Abraham himself. This impressive lineage gave the story of Jesus great power and credibility.

To be honest, I usually skim past the begats in Scripture, so I wondered what these verses might tell us this particular Advent. My heart gave me the answer. In this year of divisiveness, vitriol and world pandemic, I long for basic human kindness. I’m starved for anything that brings us together … that reminds us of all we have in common. For my hurting heart, these verses of Christ’s descent from the family of Abraham don’t just establish his credentials. They give us inspiration.

I remember as an Episcopalian kid being surprised to learn that Christian, Judaism and Islam are all Abrahamic religions. Like St. Cat’s beloved former Great Oak, the arms of Abraham shelter many. Tonight that thought gives me comfort. It’s nice to know that our common desire to love and serve God is rooted in a great, great tree. In our prayers and actions this season, let’s walk away from the darkness of this year and find joy in that love as we anticipate the good news of Christ’s birth. Let us find new hope. Let us strike a match to our blue candles and look to the light.

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