This is the 16th in a series of daily Advent reflections based on the Daily readings. To see the other posts in this series click on the Advent Reflections link above, or in the right-hand sidebar under categories.
Today, a few images of our amazing island home, this world, to which we belong. The more we recognize that we belong to the world and don’t own it, the more likely we may be to value it and take better care of it. Friday we had an overnight fog which left a wonderland of hoarfrost on Saturday. I hadn’t had any time until Sunday afternoon to try to capture the magic. Here are a few photos from my afternoon walk.
As we begin this final week before the celebration of the birth of Christ, the appointed readings start us at the beginning of the Gospel stories. Today’s reading is Matthew 1:1-17 Click on the link to read the text on Oremus Bible Browser. Matthew begins his Gospel by providing what he calls ‘an account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham’ Then follows a long list of Jesus’s descendants, from Abraham, through David all the way to Joseph and Mary. 42 generations. Why should we care?
Many people today are becoming fascinated by their own genealogies. There are many internet sites that can help to find ancestors and build a family tree. Knowing our roots can be important to us.
Matthew wants it to be clear, right at the outset of his Gospel, who the man Jesus was. Not many could trace their ancestry through David. Herod had no royal blood-lines. It was important to Matthew to show just who Jesus was. One of the ways he does this is by setting out the list of names in six groups of seven (shown in three groups of fourteen). In those days numbers were very significant. The Jews understood seven to be the number of perfection – of completion (on the 7th Day God rested and made it holy – God’s work was perfected with his creation of the sabbath).
To be the 1st person in the seventh set of ancestors meant Jesus was finally and perfectly completing the line. Jesus was completing the story of God’s people. He was none other than the long awaited Messiah – God’s anointed.
Matthew declares Jesus to be the Messiah, then provides evidence through this list of ancestors. This is a theological list, not necessarily an historically accurate one.
The good news for all of us, as we move through the gospels, is that we discover, not only does Jesus have a human ancestry, but he is also the begotten Son of God. ‘Fully human and fully divine’ is the theological way we state it. Jesus invites us to become his heirs – to become his family – and in so doing to actually become adopted children of God. This is one of the main points of our Christian baptism. Not only are we ceremonially washed clean of our sins, made members of the body of Christ (the church), but actually adopted into Christ’s family. Baptisms, whether of infants or adults, are not about providing a sentimental ritual for families. They are a serious business, where a person is committed to Christ and to taking his or her part in bringing about the Kingdom of God as one of God’s own children. When Christ returns we will see the completion and the perfection of the kingdom of God on earth. Hallelujah, we belong, because we received an invitation – I know you did, everyone did. Did you RSVP yet?