Christmas Letter 2022

Christmas Letter 2022

Dear Church,

Think of how much of your life – no matter how old you are –  you’re still looking back to your childhood and how you were brought up? Origins have long shadows; our childhoods are often our forever touchstones! Our families are unquestionably (and for better or worse), the first world we ever knew. Or perhaps, more importantly, how we came to know the world.

As we prepare for Christmas each year, we look back at Jesus’ birth and his family too. Matthew and Luke’s gospels contain beloved stories from the beginning of Jesus’ life – the exotic Kings and the barnyard animals. There are also those long lists of mostly unrecognizable names (genealogies) that appear in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. 

Jesus participates in the patrilineal line the Hebrew Bible trace back through David, Jacob, Abraham, Noah and Adam. Jesus is a descendent of Kings, leaders and Patriarchs who received God’s promise to the Hebrew people. His forbearers establish Jesus’ role as the inheritor of God’s throne.

But there are four women’s names listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus’ family tree: Tamar, Rehab, Ruth and Bathsheba (who is called the “wife of Uriah” in this passage). Sometimes, it’s important to focus on the exceptional stories…

Our written Advent devotions (to be included in the E-pistle each week) will focus on those four women (and some latter day saints too {though not Mormons!}) . They aren’t traditional Christmas stories, but they show us the human side of Jesus’ history,  revealing imperfections in Jesus’ family.

These stories remind us that Jesus’ forebearers were not just mighty Kings, power-packing Patriarchs and faithful leaders. There were also scoundrels and fighters,  wastrels and home-wreckers, bad parents and half-hearted believers in his family tree – just like in ours.

Jesus was one of us. Jesus came to save folks with messy families… people like you and me.

God’s promise and love come to us at Christmastime not through perfectly manicured Divine circumstances, but through all too human – read that ‘messy’ – human relationships. God is never only about history, Jesus’ or our own; Christmas is about what God is doing for us now.

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany rehearse and reinforce God’s ability to act in our lives. Because we’re talking about God’s actions, they show up unexpectedly, surprising us in both ‘what’ and ‘how.’ God’s help comes out of the blue (from heaven?)!

As we move into a new church year… and our holiday preparations… and one of the holiest seasons in the whole, holy church year, I invite you to look for God.

Look for God in ways you don’t expect God to show up or to act.

Rather, look for God in the exceptional stories.

Look for God in people who are too easily overlooked or discounted.

Look for God in relationships we have not measured or treasured sufficiently.

Because, church, that’s how God works. In the long shadows of a cold, dark night. Or the corners of a back alley where you think nothing good is happening. Or through characters we hardly consider the most godly, much less the most promising of folk.

God is bringing Salvation to us. Forgiveness, Wholeness, New Life, Justice. But you may miss God’s offers if you aren’t paying attention…

Merry Christmas, church