Christmas has arrived and with it Advent season. I don’t know about you but sometimes the classic traditions of the Christmas season fall flat for me. Now I’m not saying that they can’t be wonderful and in fact they often are but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. Sometimes the decorations, and the music, and the food don’t satisfy the longings of my heart. That might be a problem except those things, while a blessing to many, often, aren’t the things that God has promised will ultimately satisfy our hearts. Thankfully, God’s solution to the longing of our hearts is Himself. Ultimately, Christmas is our opportunity to celebrate God coming to earth as a man to do what we cannot so that the longing of our hearts might find satisfaction.
Of course, we know that Jesus is the reason for the season but even with that knowledge we can find ourselves off course. Life bombards us with pain, confusion, and doubt. We can begin to feel unworthy (It’s true we’re not, I know I’m not), too broken, too lost, too far beyond God’s good plans for his children. When we are in that place the Christmas season can cause further harm. This should not be. In fact the first Christmas shows us that Christmas is for all people, particularly every person who feels unworthy, broken, lost, or beyond God’s ability to work good in and through their lives.
The story of the first Christmas begins with a statement of God’s good plan for our broken world. Matthew 1:1 states, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah…” Admittedly, the word genealogy, when mentioned in the Bible, tends to cause a bout of drowsiness to wash over me. To combat this, I quickly skip ahead to where the “good stuff” is. But to do that anywhere, particularly here, is to miss out on the little details of God at work, carrying out His good plans. First, we notice that Jesus genealogy fulfills God’s promises to Abraham and Isaac. The genealogy shows us that God is faithful.
That of course would be enough. But digging deeper, we notice something odd. In a culture in which women had little status (genealogies reflected this fact in that only the male descendants were listed), the list of Jesus male descendants is broken five times by women. What is more surprising is that these women, and their stories, largely, do not fit into our mental image of the types of people God uses to do his work. These women felt unworthy, experienced brokenness and loss, and I expect couldn’t fathom how God could and, more importantly, would use their lives to bring about his good plan.
The lives of these five women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, offer encouragement to us when the traditions of the Christmas season do not. Their lives proclaim that God is not limited by our choices and our circumstances and that he loves to use us as we are to bring about his good plans. During this advent season we will be looking at these five women and the ways that God used them to bring His Son, Jesus, to the world so that the longing of our heart might find satisfaction.
Our hope is that all who need to hear this message will come. We welcome you to invite friends and family who are suffering and who feel that Christmas and Christ Jesus are not for them. God has made it clear that he loves them and desires good for them and he wants them to know that.
Each Sunday, beginning this Sunday, December 2, we will hear from one of these women. We will finish our advent series on Christmas Eve with a look at the mother of Jesus, Mary. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.