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Take It With You 02.20.2022

The ancestral lineage of Jesus has been recorded according to the custom in ancient times, providing great historical documentation. Matthew’s first chapter opens with the “genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.” Many find reading the detailed list laborious, but it is quite remarkable, including five women, which is uncharacteristic of “ancient patriarchal societies” says Timothy Keller in Hidden Christmas. Those listed are flawed individuals, both Jews and Gentiles, both men and women, many labeled by various kinds of immoral deeds and deceit and dysfunction. Today, we can read this ancient list of names, even the failures and outsiders, and know them to be included in the family of Jesus. 

Today science provides a way for the everyday, ordinary person with the opportunity to take a personal DNA test that can determine ancestry. Family records with names and places and occupations can be found. In our searches, we find flawed people, families experiencing hardships, perhaps a thief or a murderer, just as we discover soldiers and missionaries, explorers and farmers and artists. Each of us is a mixture of genetics from these decades and centuries passed, each generation influenced by the cultures and societies of their time. Keller says a genealogy is saying, “This is who I am.”

In thinking about the ancestors of Jesus, what meaning is there for us? Keller says, “First, it shows us that people who are excluded by culture, excluded by respectable society, and even excluded by the law of God can be brought in to Jesus’ family.” Looking around the world today, we see situations where power corrupts and hate excludes; we see dysfunction and immorality. We can break the cycle of our past… or present; we can choose to live a different way. Keller reminds, “It is only what Jesus has done for you that can give you standing before God.” Grace alone invites you and me. When we place our faith in Jesus, regardless of our sinfulness, we, too, can be included in the family of God. Without fear or shame, we can share the Gospel story by telling our story of grace, by simply saying, “This is who I am… in Christ!”

As we gather again today continuing to explore the DNA of Snyder, we find faithful and obedient people, visions that reach beyond these walls, and influence inside and outside our community. We find flawed folks, faithful and forgiven, who gather in this place. He calls us sons and daughters in the family of God.

~ Donna Oswalt