Picture Advent -Day 12: Ancestors

Picture Advent -Day 12: Ancestors

by Kimi Floyd Reisch

#ONAPictureAdvent 2020

Matthew 1:1-17 (Good News Translation)

This is the list of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, who was a descendant of Abraham.

From Abraham to King David, the following ancestors are listed: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers; then Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David.

From David to the time when the people of Israel were taken into exile in Babylon, the following ancestors are listed: David, Solomon (his mother was the woman who had been Uriah’s wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers.

From the time after the exile in Babylon to the birth of Jesus, the following ancestors are listed: Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was called the Messiah.

So then, there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from then to the birth of the Messiah.

As a person descended from people who organized the society by clans and tribes, in Scotland and Ireland, and in North America, I have always felt connected to my ancestors. When I pray, I feel them surround me and joining me in a gloriously beautiful cacophony to the Divine Beloved. Over this long year, time and time again I have – like too many of you – been called to pray as another crossed over to walk with the ancestors. Which brought me back this week to consider this passage from Matthew.

When I was a kid, this was the passage I always wished they would skip when it came to the readings in church. It did not seem like the important part of the story. But as an adult it has drawn me in again and again.

I cannot help but think how astounding it is and what a call for justice is written in the recitation of names. While it is still rooted in patriarchy, this list contains the names of five remarkable women. Each is unique and calls us to speak for different aspects of the experiences of women over the history of humanity, but it is the mention of his mother was the woman who had been Uriah’s wife that really speaks for the power of this section of Scripture. It is a stark way to highlight that she had so little power, even her name was taken from her.

This passage speaks to me more this year as we navigate multiple pandemics. We should not forget those lost to Covid this year. We should also not forget those lost to racially biased violence against Black, Latinx, Native American, and Asian people –often at the hand of law enforcement. And we cannot forget the loss of far too many of our transgender and nonbinary siblings in love who will not celebrate with us as 2020 turns into 2021. All three of these groups (and too many others) deserve more from our world and from our faith. Jesus did not call us to practice a faith that only recognized celebrations. Instead, we are called to a faith that pushes the world ever closer to being the just world Jesus imagined.

There is another side to this – some of us have been disconnected from knowing our ancestors. Human experiences and trauma have fractured lines, and some of us will never be able to fill in the spaces and names on a family tree. But ancestors do not have to be just those who share our blood. My godmother is as much a part of my identity as any of my grandparents. Ancestors and family are the people we choose- not just the circumstances of our birth. Jesus was the child of God, Mary and Joseph. But his family included all who walked the road with him.

Chosen family is family, as same-gender-loving and gender expansive people know.

As we move toward the end of 2020, which ancestors will you remember? Which stories of them will you tell? How will those stories inform your commitment to the work and ministry of Jesus?

Prayer: Divine Beloved, we move closer to the day when we remember the birth of a child who would change the world. Today we remember the generations of people who came before us, including all of the ancestors of Jesus – both those named and those no longer remembered by name. As we work to change the world until it is as Jesus imagined – a world filled with love and compassion for all people – be with us, guide us, lead us.  Amen

Tomorrow’s word is Kindness.

We invite you to join The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ on Facebook over the next few weeks as we Picture Advent. How do you envision the words of Advent? What images come to mind? This year, as we are all far apart on Advent, maintaining social distances to keep us safe, join us in a new tradition and participate in #ONAPicture Advent. We’re inviting you to use each day’s theme to inspire a daily photo – either a new picture or an older one. Each afternoon, we will post a new reflection for that day’s word with a focus text, prayer, and an image. Then, post your chosen image as a response to our thread. At the bottom of our reflection is the word for the next day, allowing you to consider what the word means to you. And PLEASE COPY – use this chart to have your own #ONAPictureAdvent within your faith community.

Here is the entire list.

Word of the Day Date
Hope 11/29/20
Prepare 11/30/20
Wait 12/1/20
Listen 12/2/20
Affirm 12/3/20
See 12/4/20
Promise 12/5/20
Peace 12/6/20
Tender 12/7/20
Comfort 12/8/20
Home 12/9/20
Ancestors 12/10/20
Kindness 12/11/20
Nurture 12/12/20
Joy 12/13/20
Open 12/14/20
Awaken 12/15/20
Courage 12/16/20
Truth 12/17/20
Provide 12/18/20
Grace 12/19/20
Love 12/20/20
Shine 12/21/20
Blessed 12/22/20
Rejoice 12/23/20
Glory 12/24/20