Sunday, November 30, 2014

women of Jesus' genealogy: scandalous, broken, & redeemed

     Our church, my beloved CCCOV, began our Advent Preparations this morning. One of our ways of doing that was by giving out Women Advent Devotionals written by some of the women of our church themselves! I was honored to be in the mix. Here is my original contribution:

     I’m in love with the Christmas season. When stores hang up their glittery ribbons and red cups begin to stock in the back room of Starbucks stores around the world, my heart rejoices. I love snow flurries and long walks in them that turns my nose and cheeks a vibrant red. I love celebrating Jesus’ birthday in a hundred different traditions. If I’m not careful, that’s all that Christmas becomes for me.
     Especially during this time of year, you might feel obligated to sugar coat yourself. You might think that Jesus (or your kids, or husband, or friends) need your peppiness more than He (or they) needs your heart. It’s time we’re honest with ourselves, honest with one another, and honest about our sacrifices.
     I struggle with deep loneliness on a daily basis. If I hadn’t chosen to begin to take daily victory over it in 2010, it would have swallowed me whole by now. I am beyond sensitive and emotional. Most days, I measure my worth to be loved in my abundance or lack of inappropriate thoughts or my silly productivity. In the words of Taylor Swift, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they've thrown at me.
     I’m broken. I‘m a sinner. I am not perfect.
      I’m also brave. The moments when I open up and let the church see my true colors - that’s where I find life. Jesus fills my deep void when I healthily commit to Him and then to His church. I’ve read this truth recently that states that we’re on this earth simply to walk one another home. We can’t walk each other home if we’re too busy in our errands that go nowhere for the Kingdom or if we’re too worried about our self-esteem being hurt in the process of vulnerability.
     The five women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 are apart of this sinning humankind in situations that seem to chase us wherever we go.  We have more in common with the people in Jesus’ lineage than you might think. 
     Those five women are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
     Tamar was an adulteress that tricked her father-in-law into laying with her in order to receive more power, only to create more chaos in her already frantic life.
     Rahab was a prostitute. She was greatly used by God, but we remember her as an adulteress woman. Imagine how her community’s confusion when she all of the sudden came under God’s calling for her life.
     Ruth is remembered as a godly and loyal woman, as she should be. But she is of the Moabite heritage, a rebellious people, and disgrace was associated with her name.
     Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, caused much turmoil wherever she went. She was an adulteress. Her husband, Uriah, was soon murdered by the man she was having sexual relations with, King David. They soon learned that covering up lies just creates more lies. Opening up with the promise of repentance was - and is - the only light at the end of the tunnel.
     The Son of God grew in Mary’s womb, but because she became pregnant, Joseph had the power to have her stoned in the culture they lived in. Instead of the virgin that she truly was, they had every reason to believe she had committed adultery. At the age of thirteen, she already had wrinkles on her face from shame. She had almost lost everyone. But Mary had an even more powerful strength given from God for the specific calling on her life. Imagine her gratefulness when Joseph decided to join her in that faith, too.
     Disgrace. Hopelessness. Sin. Brokenness.
     These women are all in the family tree and blood of Jesus Christ. The blood that cleanses us from all similar sin.
     Jesus doesn’t see our weakness as our worth. He came for our weakness. In this Advent season, we have the privilege of celebrating this. Jesus is perfect, but his earthly circumstances surrounding Him were not. His lineage is the perfect example of the kind of people His children are - sheep in need of someone to guide them.
     As we go through this next season and beyond, we need to reflect on why the Holy Spirit chose to highlight these five women in the genealogy of Jesus.  Their names could have been hidden for the sake of Jesus’ family being less messy without them. But God hand-picked their stories to reveal His faithfulness to us. We’re not alone in our struggle. The only way we can truly worship the Lord this Christmas season, is if we let go of our unrealistic expectations for ourselves and, instead, give ourselves as a gift. Like the innkeeper, we’re overbooked and just plain exhausted. Give Him your weariness. Jesus came to give Himself to us. He wants our journey, our heart, more than our turns-to-rust gold. This won’t be glamorous. But if it’s real, it’s Kingdom worthy. In the beautiful chaos of popsicle stick snowflakes with your kiddos, multitudes of hot drinks, and masses of presents, let His Presence revive your dry bones this Christmas.