The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent II - God lived your ragged edge life

One of the struggles many of us have is dealing with our family past. I have heard it said that everybody has a horse thief in the family tree. Think about the other kinds of people some us may have in our genealogy. Some of us have murderers. Some of us have slave owners. Some of us have people who participated in brutal genocide. If we take a moment to think about it, we may find that our roots grow deep into the soil of human evil.

God understands our struggle. 

The family tree of Jesus includes an adulterer (King David), a murderer (King David), a prostitute (Rahab), a woman who seduced her father-in-law by playing the role of a prostitute so she could have a child (Tamar), a foreigner – illegal alien (Ruth), a schemer who lied about his relationship with his wife (Abraham, Jacob), and a man who banished his son and his mother to the desert (Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael).

What are we to make of this list of questionable people in Jesus’ family tree?

The Spanish proverb says it well, “God writes straight with crooked lines.”

In the late 1970s, I was a pastor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. One day I was making pastoral visits in the community surrounding the church building. Visiting one of our regular attenders, my hostess, Sarah, began telling me about her neighbor, Rachel. "Who know she is?" I nodded, "Yes, I know." "Well, you know what she does for a living, right? Men came and go from her place all times of the day and night." We talked about how God loves all of us including her prostitute neighbor. I encouraged her to think about the possibility that her neighbor might some day might be sitting in the same pew at the church with her. She shared her skepticism with me. A few weeks later I walked onto the altar and stood behind the pulpit. Looking down on the congregation, I saw Rachel sitting next to Sarah. 

Christmas is God’s story of how God specializes in identifying with those whose lives are on the ragged edge. Maybe you think your history is too soiled to be acceptable to God. Christmas is God entering into your ragged-edged life. 

Ronald Friesen (c) 2016


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