As the Christmas holiday is upon us, I have had some free time to reflect. It definitely does not feel like Christmas. The hustle and bustle is not nearly extreme as it is back home (which is refreshing!). Decorations do not adorn every corner. Christmas music is not embedded in my head. It’s summer time here so that’s weird. I can’t watch A Christmas Story 7 times tomorrow. I do not have to worry about going on Christmas Eve to get last minute presents (Sorry family, mainly Walker and Tripp!) I missed spending Sunday before Christmas with my Sunday school class. But the main reason it doesn’t feel like Christmas is the fact that I’m not with my family. With family and friends on my mind the Holy Spirit spoke a message through His word in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth.
Matthew 1:1-17. Here Matthew writes the boring, perhaps insignificant (to many folks including me) record of Jesus’ genealogy. I suppose any follower of Christ should know that this is in fact significant considering it proves Jesus was a descendent of Abraham and a direct descendent of David, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s family line.
I decided not to skip over this section this year. After all, there may be something the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me by reading all these names most of which I’ve never heard of. Man, I started having all kinds of thoughts while reading all of these names. Just think how precise God’s plan was to send the Savior of the world to earth. Just think how long it took to do so. Just think how hidden this must have been to these families. I’m pretty sure Jeconiah the father of Shealtiel didn’t realize how important he was to God’s master plan. I started relating these names to my family and how I am where I am today because of my family line. My core values reflect my parents who learned from their parents who learned from their parents and so on. As I think about all 42 generations (I’m no bible scholar but that’s what my bible notes said!) from Abraham to Christ I have to assume a lot of them felt insignificant in God’s plan to bring salvation to His people. However, I also have to assume these generations had families, friends, and communities who were obedient to God. Yes, Joseph’s righteousness was from God but someone had to point him in that direction. It came from community and families who taught integrity and humility, families who took pride in their family name, families who did community with others, who showed compassion to others, who prayed together, who loved unconditionally, etc…
God’s plan can sometimes be hidden to us. For me, Matthew’s account of Jesus’ genealogy is a pretty good example of this. After all, He said all this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophets. “The virgin will be with the child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel- which means “God with us”. No matter how insignificant we feel we can be assured God is at work and if we seek Him we can be used by Him in significant ways. It may take a while and we may not even realize it!
As I approach Christmas this year, I praise God for my family. For the first time in 32 years I will not be spending Christmas with them so I am appreciating this blessing a lot. I also pray God will use what my family, friends and community has taught me to pass along to a generation who doesn’t have much of a family structure. Regardless of their “family backing” they need to know God is their father and their father loves them. God proved this many generations ago. It’s not hidden now which is why we celebrate.
Quick update- we wrapped up 2014 ministry with a final holiday club last week! The kids learned why God wants us to be Honest, Responsible, Available and that God can give us Peace. It was a great way to close out the year and I really do believe a lot of the youth truly understood these values. We now have a small break and will be starting back the first of the year. Please join me in praying for all of these kids and their communities especially over the holidays. Pray for safety. Thank you. Here are a few pics from the last couple of months!