My Heritage

While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21 Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said,        Matthew 1:20-22 (CEV)

Lectionary texts: Isaiah 7:10-16, Psalm 80, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25

Have you ever done a family tree when you were in school? I remember doing one when I was in elementary school and how difficult it was to make the names fit into the little boxes on the tree! I had 31 letters in my first and last name and my parents and grandparents also had long names. I needed a big sycamore tree to hold the names of my people!

Some of my classmates found out they had princes and dukes in their ancestry. Most, however, were like me; they came from hard-working farmers who raised their family and died within a 50 mile radius of their birth.

I’ve been reading Matthew and Luke’s gospels and some history in a study Bible and considering Jesus and His heritage. Did you ever wonder why God chose a poor girl from Nazareth to be the mother of His Son? And Jesus’ earthly father was a carpenter, not a rabbi. The King of Kings was born, not in a palace, but in a smelly animal shelter. He took His first nap, not on satin sheets but on straw in a manger. What was the purpose in God doing that?

I was born in a Midwest hospital to a woman who’s career was being a wife and mother. She only finished 8th grade. My father was a truck driver and finished only 10th grade. They were proud of their families who were farmers but they wanted something more for their children so they decided to choose a different life from their parents. They were raised in different denominations of the Christian faith. Their “mixed marriage” was a big deal in their communities and in their individual denominations, which would not allow them to marry in a church. They married in the priest’s home.

When I read about the events of Jesus’ birth and consider mine, I know that Jesus understands where I come from and welcomes me into His family with open arms. God’s message to me and all His children is, “You are welcome here. Come on in to the stable and see the Messiah who has come to save you!” I am not defined by where I was born or how I was raised. I am defined by a Savior who is the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. He came to us in the most humble of circumstances and yet that did not diminish who He is still today! I come to worship Jesus and talk to Him – just as I am. I am broken and messed up and Jesus washes my feet and every other part of me and makes me brand new, every day.

Come to the manger this Christmas. Do not just look with your eyes and see a baby in a stable. Look with your heart and spirit and see your LORD and Savior. Come just as you are, whoever you are. And receive the truth that because of Jesus, you are a child of the Most High God!

Just As I Am written by Charlotte Elliott (1835) and sung by Willie Nelson

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

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