Friday, December 28, 2012

There's Room at the Manger for You

Reflections on the Readings
A Meditation For the Season of Christmas
The Year of Faith 

There’s Room at the Manger for You

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Some things we don’t discuss at the dinner table.  A young child may ask a probing question about someone in the family that is skillfully sidestepped with someone suggesting, “How about we play on the trampoline this afternoon!”  And the child unaware of the indiscretion she committed is satisfied that she’ll have someone to play with after her dinner has settled. 

Skeletons in the family closet.  They are not meant to come back to life.  After a generation or so the stories and their characters go to the grave.  In Matthew’s account of the story of Jesus Christ the good, the bad, and the ugly come tumbling out of the closet.  There they are.  Immoral skeletons of adultery, prostitution, and murder are also a part of the story of Jesus Christ.  

It reads somewhat like a telephone directory:  Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brothers... you get the point.  After about the first ten ‘begats’ it is tempting to skip on down to some more interesting reading.  But you’ll miss out on some important information if you do.  For example, women are included in the genealogy.  Their inclusion is a little unusual in a Jewish genealogical account.  But there they are:  Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah.  Bathsheba and David committed adultery together.  It is interesting that she is listed in Matthews account only as the wife of Uriah.  All three women are Gentiles (Canaanite, Canaanite, Moabite, and Hittite, respectively) and three of the women apart from Ruth are associated with sexual immorality.  

Matthew’s account reveals that there is Gentile blood in Jesus’ lineage.  Secondly, he diffuses any argument suggesting anyone in the line discredit Jesus’ Messianic qualifications.  Solomon is the son of a hastily and immorally arranged marriage of King David to the wife of Uriah.  Yet in all that, Solomon as the royal son of David, is not disqualified to succeed his father David to the throne. 

Matthew give us his genealogical account not to bore us to tears but to remind us that the story of Jesus is a story about how Christ came into the world to save sinners.  As we approach the creche we recall the miracle of Christmas.  Christmas is a season to rejoice in the miracle of the incarnation.  In that manager we witness the wonders of true love.  No greater love has ever graced time.  God embraces our frailty - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)  The miracle of Christmas is that God rushes in to embrace us - the Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature. 

Christmas is a holy season.  It calls us to a majestic, joyful, and triumphant adoration of the Son of God.  God is with us to lift us into the heavenly places.  The majesty of Christmas is love’s pure light shining from a manger somewhere in Bethlehem.  No wonder we sing ‘Joy to the World, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.’  That’s wonder.  That’s real joy.  That’s majesty and power and dominion - grace without measure and an inestimable love wrapped in our humanity - no crying he makes - perfect, contented love, all is at peace!  He shall be called the Prince of Peace.

And then there is the mystery of Christmas.  It is the story of the mystery of the Incarnation.  “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,”  we sing.  A friend of mine suggested we might say Happy Incarnation rather than Merry Christmas.  Angels look deep into this mystery for the Incarnation is the beginning of the mystery of our salvation.  

As we look into what is our salvation we see God who is love.  The mystery of iniquity - that original mark of our separation from God - that chasm between us and God  -  is not too great for that baby in the manger around which we gather this Holy Night.  

There’s room for all of us here.  Here is where everyone great and small can meet the one who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.  Our journey to heaven begins here for in this manger we gaze upon him who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Amen

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at   His website is:  

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