The Rev’d Derek Arnold
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If you think God hasn’t got a sense of humour, well you are very much mistaken. Just look at the reading from the lectionary for today. This is my very last reflection and the last one for this year from the Mission Community. They will start again on the 3 January 2022.
THE READING Matthew 1.1-17
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
Not a very interesting start to the New Testament, one might say. But presenting this genealogy was one of the most interesting ways, if not in the reading, that Matthew could begin a book for a Jewish audience. Because a person’s family line proved his or her standing as one of God’s chosen people. And I think deep down, like the Jews, all of us would like to know about our heritage, our family line.
Just look at the interest in the recent programs on the television called ‘who do you think you are’, where celebrities search their backgrounds to see if what they believed about their heritage was true. There are websites where you can look for lost relatives. People search faithfully to find out about their family history. We often have enquiries in The Mission Community to find out where great, great grandfather is buried.
But some people, as they dig, and we saw it with some of the celebrities, find out embarrassing things about their ancestors. Sometimes too much searching will find thieves, mixed marriages, and other “skeletons in the closet.” But it is these people in our past who have shaped what our future looks like. Sometimes we can learn so much about who we are, through learning about our heritage. Sometimes it is exactly these people who teach us the most about life, love, integrity, and serving God.
Jesus was a man who knew his roots, but why is it so important for us to know the family tree of Christ? I think the genealogy of Christ is given for two reasons. One, to show that he was human, flesh and blood like you and me.
But more importantly, to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one destined to fulfil God’s plan. He was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, and a direct descendant of David, thereby fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah line. This is the first of many bits of evidence recorded by Matthew to show that Jesus is the true Messiah.
Jesus used his roots to prepare him for the ministry he would have. He was not hindered or advanced by his background. You may or may not know your family background and history, but don’t let that hinder you from serving God. The question is not what is in or happened in our pasts, but what is our future!
THE COLLECT for Third Sunday of Advent
O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen