I'm curled up in the corner of our couch looking at our Christmas tree. And I'm thinking about where I've come from. The leap in logic there, I suppose, is that the delicate glass ornaments are family heirlooms. When we hang them each year, I think of my grandmother and of the great-grandmother I never met.
There are certain ornaments, when I gently lift them from their paper beds, that send me back in time. I'm younger then, and the tree is much smaller, elevated on a wooden table. And I'm decorating the tree for her, picking out my favorites to go on the tiny branches. The first year we were married, the first year we used them on our tree, the first time I'd seen them after she died, I sat down and wept when I opened the boxes. Memories are strange like that - a curious mix of joy and sorrow. Now, I just smile. And as I sit here today, I'm thankful for the memories, for the rootedness, for the history.
My own sense of rootedness is making me think of the genealogy of Jesus. Perhaps it's because I saw just talking to one of our little friends about it this week. She was telling me about what she was learning in her Bible class.
"The people (Israelites) left slavery (Egypt) and they crossed the sea and went to the Promised Land. And then people said there were giants and they were scared. So they sent in spies to see what it was really like, and they came back with grapes that were this big." She held her hands in a large circle, the size of her head, to give me a scale. "But while they were there, they almost got captured, and a nice lady helped them hide and get out. We didn't learn about this part yet, but I know what happens because I read the story before," she ended proudly.
"Do you want to know something pretty cool?" I asked her. She nodded, perhaps a bit skeptical as to what I would consider "cool."
"That nice lady was named Rahab. And the Bible tells us that she was Jesus' great-great-great-great... (I sped up, thankful she wouldn't actually care about the number of generations between them.) grandmother."
Her eyes were big. "She was what?!"
For most of my life, I just skipped over the genealogies in the Bible. In recent years, though, I've taken a liking to them, particularly the one in Matthew 1. I don't have the space or time to go into the beautiful things it teaches us - so for now, I'll just say, take a look at who's there, and look them up in the Old Testament. It's a speckled family history. If "David had Solomon by dead Uriah's wife" doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will.
But for today, I'm thinking about how Jesus came from somewhere. He wasn't an isolated incident. He didn't come in a vacuum. He came from a particular family line, in a particular place, at a particular time. He was from somewhere. And when he would have told the story of Rahab and the spies, as our young friend did, he would have ended it saying, "And that nice lady was my grandmother..."
In honor of the musings on genealogies, I offer you what will probably be the only Christmas song you'll ever hear that involves Matthew's genealogy. Enjoy.