Stories

One of the best things about Christmas is the stories. When I was a kid, we used to always act out the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, complete with my brothers in their bathrobes holding hockey sticks as their “staffs.” There are the stories of getting a gift we wanted or didn’t want. Stories of our grandparents getting an orange in the foot of their stockings. We all have favorite stories to share.
As I’m preparing to preach on Sunday, the story is the one about Joseph finding out Mary is pregnant with Jesus. We have been in the Old Testament all fall, and it is so great to get into Matthew, but I can’t believe how much better I understand the story having heard the stories from the Old Testament.
More than any other gospel writer, Matthew wants to connect the story of Jesus with the story of the Jews. I have found reading Jesus’ genealogy fascinating. Matthew includes four women—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. It is interesting first that none of them were Jews. I think that is God starting from the beginning to use his chosen people to be a light to ALL the nations.
But it is also interesting that the stories of these women all are stories about struggling families. Tamar is wanting to be taken care of after her husband has died. Rahab has had to turn to prostitution to survive. Ruth is a widow who is faced with taking care of her mother-in-law in a foreign land, and Bathsheba had her husband killed by David so he could take her for his wife.
So it is no surprise that the story of God coming into the world to live with us through Jesus would also happen in the midst of a struggling family. What should Joseph do? Divorce Mary like the law says he should do? Let her go quietly?
This is a season that seems to bring out the struggling in our families doesn’t it? If you are an over-spender, you have probably over-spent. If you don’t get along with your spouse, this stressful season isn’t helping.
But there is a greater story than our struggling stories and we are part of it. God is with us in this time. God is not afraid of entering into suffering. He became a crying human baby. That is the beauty of the story. We are part of the story of a light, shining in darkness, and darkness not ever being able to overcome that light.
That was Abraham and Sarah’s story, Tamar’s, Rahab and Joshua’s, Ruth and Naomi’s, David and Bathsheba’s, Mary and Joseph’s and it is yours. Thanks be to God.
Advent Blessings.

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