Advent Reflection #21, 2016

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Matthew 1:1-17

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. 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.
For many of us, Christmas is a time we spend with extended family: cousins, uncles, and aunts that we don’t normally see. Often this is a really fun time, though not always. Most of us have a Cousin Eddie (or maybe we are Cousin Eddie!). Do you know who Cousin Eddie is? In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Cousin Eddie is the awkward, crass, and mostly unwelcome cousin that shows up for the Griswold Family Christmas at Clark Griswold’s house. He arrives in an RV that Clark refers to as a “tenement on wheels,” with no money, a family in great need, and all sorts of uncouth mannerisms and habits. Eddie is  the “black sheep” of the family, the odd man out, the skeleton in the Griswold closet (though to be fair, their closet appears to be full of a LOT of skeletons!). We all have Cousin Eddies in our family.
Jesus, too, had a family tree with a few undesirables in it. I’m always amazed that Matthew went out of his way to include the likes of Rahab and Bathsheba. Boaz, the father of Obed, father of Jesse, father of David is pretty important in the Davidic line. Boaz, though, is the son of the former-prostitute from Jericho Rahab. More disturbing, though, is the intentional inclusion of this phrase in Jesus’s genealogy,”And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah.” David’s heir Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. On its own, this will forever be a dark stain on the story of God. Matthew, though, refers to Bathsheba not by name, but as the, “wife of Uriah.” Uriah, you know, the one that David had killed so that he could cover up his sin with Bathsheba and take her for his wife. After all those years, and in such an important and calculated genealogy, why would Matthew include these undesirables? 
It turns out that God is really good at bringing greatness out of darkness, despair, and sin. Barrenness is not an obstacle for God. Age or size does not determine the plans God has for a person. I’m confident that the inclusion of the likes of Rahab and Bathsheba – the wife of Uriah – was Matthew’s way of prefacing the awesome reality of the Gospel, that when we see only darkness and a barred, impassable path, God can and does – AND DID – make a way! God can do amazing things, even through the likes of the Cousin Eddie’s of the world. That’s very good news indeed, because it means that God can do great things through you and I as well!
God almost always uses undesirables, the unexpected, the least likely to accomplish God’s will. Today as you pray, ask God to convict you about those that you might view as undesirable, unwanted, or unlikely to succeed. Ask God to teach you to view them more positively, and to be open how God might use them for God’s goodness, and perhaps even to teach you more about God’s ways. Now, try to be open to this, perhaps even going out of your way to spend some time with this person soon.

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