The Begats would make a great rap

Fun fact for your day: Genealogical records in the Bible are known as “The Begats.” Someone somewhere called them that because of all the begatting that went on in those verses, and the name stuck even though no one but people who read only King James even knows what it means. 
The Begats are not scintillating reading. They will not make the NYT bestseller list. They are somewhere after the sacrifice laws and before the precise measurements of the Temple in desirable passage of Scripture to sit down with and meditate upon.
Most people do not find genealogical records fascinating stuff.
Nevertheless, I’m starting Christmas with one of them, and it’s awe-inspiring material.
Matthew 1.2-16 (Skipping a few, as you can see)
Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).
Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).

OK—so we’re not going to read all of them. You can later, if you choose. For now, fast forward to v.16–
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

Good for you—you got through that. And you may or may not have said somewhere around verse 4, “And all those other unpronounceable men in Bible times were fathers of whatever, etc. etc. etc.” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

But there is something important in those verses that is so missable (yeah, I just made up that word) we often . . . miss it. It is four names. Four normal, unremarkable, parenthetical names. Tamar. Rahab. Ruth. Bathsheba. The women in Jesus’ genealogy who, without Matthew’s inclusion, might not have been remembered. And that would be tragic.

See, one thing you have to know is, including them is not normal. No one else did it. No one did it, ever. The women just were not important. Which means Matthew had to choose to include them. And—he chose which ones to include. He did not mention every single mother in each verse. (Thank goodness, really, say all those kids everywhere who have had to memorize the book of Matthew for any reason.) But why these four?

Not anyone’s first pick for a blue-blood bloodline. The first one dressed up as a hooker and seduced her father-in-law. I could not make that stuff up. The second didn’t have to dress up—she already was a real prostitute, so why pretend? The third, though quite a nice young woman, was a foreigner, a widow, and poor. Three serious strikes for her time and place. The fourth? The jury never tells whether or not her adultery was forced or consensual, and back then? It didn’t matter. Guilt was guilt. (Hmmm. Seems we still have a bit of that in American society . . . but that’s definitely another post.)

Why, why, why, Matthew? Why these women? The most disreputable, unwanted, white trash of the Bible? Why not the nice obedient housewives all the others certainly were? It’s like Matthew just pulled up the “People of Walmart” video off Youtube and said, “THIS is Jesus’ family.” Why?

Why indeed. Because if we miss this point that comes first, everything else in Matthew’s gospel of good news means nothing. No reason to read further. And the point is this: Jesus came through women such as these because he came for women such as these. And men. The Walmart video? That IS his family. And we forget that in our efforts to be presentable, perfect, and proper.

Christmas came because of women who were not presentable in any sense. Matthew desperately wants us to remember that fact while we trim our perfect trees and present our well-crafted programs. While we are putting up our Precious Moments nativities and believing our badge of having it all together earns us our spot. Matthew has a message:

Christmas is originally and primarily for those who need it most.

Christmas is not for those who clean up, or measure up, or cover up.
Christmas is for those who just show up. No matter what their past or present.

They show up at the stable, messes and all. They get the joy of belonging to a bloodline that is less than stellar, because their lives have been less. And they find beautiful acceptance at the altar of the manger.

How are you coming to that altar this year?

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