Ho ho whoa! You have this family tradition, too.
This is the record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:
I have a friend to the North who deeply, truly and longingly aches for a larger family as he is an only child whose loving mom has died and whose dad, hospitalized now for over a year, suffers from dementia.
I have a friend in the South who has a broken family filled with stories of hardships and heartbreaks, domestic abuse, alcoholism, and financial stress.
Imagine their Christmases this year.
The bag of blessings on the world doesn’t seem to be evenly distributed if you ask some. In the immediacy of a painful story, we can reluctantly agree that some of us have harder lives than others—or at least they experience harder years.
This may be a harder Christmas for you this year. Maybe something is missing. Even more sadly, maybe someone is missing.
Into this void, sorrow, and bleak midwinter, words come that can change all of this. They are from Matthew. He is unsentimental Matthew and unromantic if you compare this gospel writer to the alluring tale Luke invites us into of the birth of Jesus replete with a grumpy innkeeper, a shining star, rugged shepherds, lowly animals, a dinky manger, and three alluring gifts from worldly travelers who, kingly themselves, bow before the One true King.
No, without sweeping fervor or royal fanfare on the birth of the baby, Matthew takes a dramatically different tact. He provides us with genealogy, a lot of genealogy. Of course genealogists love genealogy, but most of us eventually get a glazed look on our faces after the fourteenth or fifteenth map of lines, bars and names have been pulled out or pointed at in a forty-pound book.
Matthew is onto something significant in sharing the family line because this family line is your family line. By your faith, your family tree connects you to Jesus. Maybe you won’t say Jesus is your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great…uncle; but you can say with my friend in the North and the South that you are a part of a family—a loving family, a huge family. And our tradition is sacred. Our tradition is holy. Our tradition lives out each Christmas in the best story ever told by all the gospel writers, and it’s the story of Jesus, the Son of God, not only being here for us, but also dying for us not for what He did but what we will, are, or did do—which is sin.
Maybe you will shed a tear this Christmas. That’s understandable if you’re hurting. Maybe all of us should shed a tear this December 25th or thereabouts—but this should be a tear of joy. Maybe a little salty water will roll down the side of our face as we remember and honor exactly who Jesus is and what He has done for all of us family members who call Him by name. That a tiny newborn gives us salvation not by our merits but by (and through) His endless love is a part of our solemn and beautiful recognition of Emmanuel, God with us.
PRAYER: Thank you for the Christian family I have, dear Lord Jesus. May I love them, and, in turn, may they love me this Christmastime. Amen.