I don’t know how it is at your house, but we haven’t even cleaned up from Christmas and the music of Silent Night is still in my head, yet somehow it is time to prepare for Sunday. The ‘relentless return of Sunday’ seems even more relentless this week. I often take the Sunday after Christmas as vacation, but since the RevGal Big Event with Dr. Wil Gafney (or ‘preacher cruise’ as my congregation calls it) embarks on Jan 6, I will be in the pulpit this week.
Our passage for Sunday is the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, and the genealogy of Joseph’s family. Matthew 1:1-17
At the end of Advent, we had the end of this first Matthew chapter, when Joseph receives a visit from the angel. I referenced the genealogy in my Advent sermon, and look forward to developing some of the themes from that in this coming sermon.
Where is your sermon muse taking you?
I love the women who are mentioned by name. There are so few mentioned by name women in scripture that it’s always worth lifting it up. I don’t like the way commentators often manage to insult the women as they try to praise them. “Look–Jesus is related to a prostitute and an adulterer!”. When I can, I try to lift up the truth that when women’s stories are told by men, it’s always worth wondering how the woman might have told the story for herself. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba would surely tell a more nuanced version of their stories than scripture did, and commentators often do. Bathsheba is not actually mentioned by name. She’s mentioned as the “wife of Uriah”. Since we just preached her story this fall, hopefully people will catch the reference.
I love the adoption part of this story. Jesus is related to Abraham, David, and my husband’s favorite biblical name, Salmon through Joseph’s genealogy. And Matthew makes it clear later in chapter 1 that Joseph was not a part of the normal ‘birds and bees’ mechanisms that caused Mary to be pregnant. As an adopted child, I love the idea that Jesus was adopted too. I’m also a birth mother, and so I super love the idea that God knows what it is like to place a child for adoption too. And even if adoption is not a part of your life, this text is pivotal for all of us as we recognize that we become a part of God’s family by adoption.
Paul, in the 8th chapter of Romans, writes:
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—” (Romans 8:15-17a)
He develops the theme further in Galatians 3:28-29:
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”
If we belong to Christ, we are Abraham’s offspring. And Jesus started that journey through adoption, becoming Abraham’s offspring because Joseph said “yes” to the angel and adopted Jesus.
Matthew’s genealogy is also perfect in its imperfection. Have you researched your family tree? I don’t know about you, but I want to discover I’m related to Lady Godiva, Florence Nightingale, and Joan of Arc. I end up discovering I’m related to cattle rustlers and people who stole land from indigenous people to settle the American West. The family tree of Jesus is similar. Yes, the big names are there for him, but Matthew doesn’t try to clean up or ignore the shady behavior of the patriarchs. Which begs the question of why we feel a need to do so with our own stories.
What other themes do you see in this genealogy? Ideas to share for a time with the children? Prayers or liturgies you’ve written? Art you’ve created? Add it all here in the comments.
I hope your Christmases were merry and bright, and that you get a chance to stop and breathe sometime this week.
Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood and the Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book,There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
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