Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Christ of Christmas

The Christ of Christmas - December 3, 2015
Readings for Advent, by Calvin Miller

"Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered King David .... and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called Messiah." -- Matthew1:5-6 and 1:16


One Man's Family
In older versions of the Bible, these genealogies are called the "begat" passages.  This idea of "begatting" means to sire a child, to conceive a newborn baby.  It is a genetic word, as we modern people might see it.  But God uses these "begat" words as a calling to His lost family.
So the begat passages seem dull to you?  Read them again and think of how God elevated the idea of family by choosing to work with one man's family to redeem the earth.  These begat passages are not just names.  They are the footprints of a timeless God walking through the generations, until His tread is reduced to the bare foot of the little baby Mary held in her arms.
All international and civil struggles could be cleared up if we could agree on this one-man's-family view of the human race.  God has always held this view.  He created Adam and Eve, and from them came the human family.  But God's bright hopes for His family were spoiled.  Adam and Eve lost Eden.  Their quarreling children Cain and Abel marked the earth with ruin.  Their grandchildren fostered quarreling nations who brought death and dying to a never-ending reign of bloodshed.
But God never gave up His plan that this one family united in love and eternal life would redeem the world.  So in time the genealogies would spiral down from generation to generation until at last came the family of Jesse, from whose lineage came a line of kings.  Then one day Mary held an infant in her arms.  From this child would come the completed dream of God:
"When the completion of the time came, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying 'Abba, Father!'  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God" (Galatians 4:4-7).
So the begat passages remind us that God is the Father of all who will call Jesus Lord.  Once we call Him Lord, we begin to love the God who sent His son as the final name in a long line of begats.  In Him is our hope.  He is God's finally begotten Son, God's only begotten Son.  Because of him, we call God "Abba, Father."

An Additional Reading
Read: John 14:23-26
Jesus' words to His followers sound for all the world like a family in conversation.  His words are reminders of how much He loves them.  They exist as instructions on what to do in certain situations, news about a friend who's coming to live close by.  Our homes and families can sometimes be sources of struggle.  But His reality is for every family a source of constant care.  Doesn't that feel good at Christmas?

Lord, the family of God is my family now.  How odd they sometimes look: different colors, different languages, different customs and values.  Thank You so much for making me a part of Your worldwide dream of calling Your entire human family back to the adoration of Your only begotten Son.  Amen.

[From The Christ of Christmas -- Readings for Advent -- 31 Days of Devotions by Calvin Miller, 1999, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee]