Andy Williams made famous the song, “Where Do I Begin”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEazBfPVFg, in “Love Story.“ The lyrics start,
“Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be, the sweet love story that is older than the sea, the simple truth about the love she brings to me. Where do I start?”
Where do we begin to tell the story of the love of God, of Advent, of Christmas and the Christ child? Week 1 of Advent starts with prophecy and we light the Hope Candle. Prophecy opens the window of hope in our hearts. The future holds potential. Each gospel writer tackles this differently. The four gospels give us four different lenses into the life of Christ and each has a unique start. Perhaps it is like four news broadcasters telling their impression of a major event.
Matthew, the first gospel in the New Testament, starts with the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew 1:1, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew continues saying who gave birth to whom down to “Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Matthew’s target audience was the Jews and so he started back with Abraham. In Genesis 12: 1-3, when God first calls Abraham, he promises him, “all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God is keeping his promise to the patriarch of the Jewish people through the story that Matthew is going to unfold.
Genealogies tell us who we are and give us clues about what God expects of us. I have friends where the family comes from a long line of musicians and it is as if music is in their blood. When the family gathers, they gather around the piano. Others are born into “the family business” and it is expected someday they will inherit the business. Not unlike While You Were Sleeping and the subtheme that our hero would take over his father’s business. Genealogies speak to our ethnicity, our talents, our network of relationships, our geography and often more. We talk about the “skeletons in the closet,” that weird relative we don’t talk about. We track medical histories through families. My husband was adopted so does not have those “you look just like” pictures or know what medical conditions he has passed on to our children.
So how do genealogies and hope interface? Genealogies speak about lives. There is a past that speaks of a future yet to be filled in. Genealogies tell stories of hope. We hear about our immigrant ancestors overcoming hardships or the stories of war heroes who gave their lives protecting our freedom or stories of slavery bravely endured, stories of inspiration, stories of creativity – stories that point to life.
As we read the genealogy of Jesus, we read of God’s faithfulness to some pretty flakey people in some pretty difficult situations. We read names of men and even women. They are people we may not recognize but they are people other’s believed important enough to record. God sees our life.
Christmas is a time when we realize, for better or for worse, we are part of a network of people we may choose to give gifts to and we come from a network of people who have gifted us. As you think about the people who have brought you to today, who are some of the heroes whose stories you enjoy? Who are the ones that are kept in the closet but perhaps from whom you learned from their mistakes? As you look forward to Christmas, what hopes have been born out of your family’s history? Let’s take time to say thanks to the Lord who has worked through them, blessing you now, and opening doors for your future. Blessings.