Most of us don’t often read, much less reflect on Jesus’ family tree, his genealogy even though Matthew’s Gospel begins “the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” That’s followed by a long boring list of names, many unknown to us today. Their stories tell us where Jesus came from and something about who he is. His family tree, much like our own, consists of a motley crew of men and women, some good, some okay and some we’d prefer to hide in the closet. We’ll reflect on a few of their stories as we take the four-week journey of Advent to Christmas. My choice of ancestors from Matthew’s list isn’t random. I’ve chosen people whose stories are told in some detail, all the women named, along with four additional women not named, only one of whom, Naomi, isn’t his ancestor.
Each Sunday of Advent focuses on a psalm of praise from 1st Chronicles 16. It’s an appropriate psalm for Advent as it was sung to celebrate the arrival in Jerusalem of the Ark of the Covenant, the visible symbol of God’s invisible presence on earth. King David appointed Asaph’s family to sing praise to God as the Ark arrived. Their song is a deliberate crafting together of select verses from three Psalms (105, 95 and 106, in that order). The song will prepare us to sing, on Christmas, our own praise for God’s breaking into the world to be present with us.
These devotions follow the ancient practice of lectio divina. This is a prayerful reflection on Scripture that requires attentive listening, reading to know what we see, rather than only seeing what we already know. There are six stages. 1st, prepare to listen as you create space to be still and silent, using the verse from the psalm to focus your thoughts. 2nd, prayerfully read the prescribed passage. The reading should be slow and deliberate, savoring every word. 3rd, prayerfully wonder with the provided meditation. 4th, prayerfully reflect using the suggested question as a guide. 5th, respond to Jesus in prayer, either using the one written or write your own. Finally, live obediently, a reminder that we’re to be doers and not merely hearers of the word. Follow these stages if you find them helpful.
All biblical texts are from the New Revised Standard Bible.
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Reading my Bible has been central in my life since I received my first Bible at 8 years of age. My decades of reading, studying and teaching the Bible gives my devotions a unique and enriching perspective. Reflecting on Jesus' family tree enriched my understanding of Jesus and the salvation he offers.