I don’t normally make much of a to-do about Advent, Christmas, or other holidays in the so-called “Christian Year”. My Reformed tradition (commonly called “Calvinistic”) seeks to limit its observances to what can be found or deduced by “good and necessary consequence” therefrom. However, I’ll nod away from the Puritan branch of the family towards the Swiss, and note with the Second Helvetic Confession (1564), that those holidays focused on the events of Christ’s life, are in themselves indifferent, if not made binding on the consciences of believers.
The Advent tradition calls on Christians to focus on prophecy, both that related to his first coming as Messiah of Israel, and his second, in which he will judge the living and the dead. Hence, after an adult Sunday School class that went through Samuel and Kings, the Advent text on which I am now meditating is Matthew One, with all of its begats and Old Testament names (after the Greek Septuagint, for those who don’t recognize King James’ Ezekias and Hezekiah as the same man).
Jesus came and freely owned himself kinsman to Abraham and Isaac, who prevaricated with the Egyptian Pharaoh and the Philistine Abimelech out of cowardice; with Jacob who defrauded his brother Esau; with Judah who committed incest with his daughter-in-law Tamar while thinking he was just finding a prostitute; with the fallen woman Rahab and proselyte Ruth; with adulterous King David; with backsliding Solomon, who despite all his God-given wisdom, allowed his foreign wives to lead him into coldness towards his own God; and all those unworthy descendants of David who ignored or persecuted the prophets, and thus got their people conquered and exiled to Babylon.
Yet, the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brethren—despite all their issues, failures, and baggage. It is for them, and us, that he became man, worked righteousness, suffered death on the cross, and rose from the dead on the Third Day. So, if the sinless Son of God is not ashamed to call the likes of Judah, Rahab, Manasseh, and Amon kinsmen, there may be hope for issues-ridden people like you and me.
Have a joyful Advent and Christmas season!