December 2015 I am switching to Matthew for the Christmas season, as is our church.
Starts with the genealogy of Jesus. One of the most unbelievable bits of the bible, if I’m honest. The old hymn “god is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year” springs to mind. They say our lives are predetermined and freewill at the same time, but really? All those generations, perfectly even in number from Adam to Abraham to David to Jesus. 3 times 14. All those lives, marriages and family dramas.
Matthew is the Jews gospel, I recall from previous bible studies. But what a moment! Putting the whole damn book together like a mighty jigsaw puzzle, it’s all been leading to the birth of the messiah. Connecting the whole biblical record in one simple equation: 14 x 3. 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything.
OK, read up a bit, and it seems I’m right to find it all a bit too neat. It is argued the numbers have been massaged with omissions and seemingly made up names (at least, some are so obscure that this is the only place they are found). Charitably, some say it’s “symbolic”. Scholars have never figured out why this one is vastly different from Luke’s (most common theory, this is tracing the paternal line, not maternal). The disparity was a major stumbling block for saint Augustine apparently, a big reason for him rejecting Christianity during his youth.
Fortunately my belief has never been based on historicity, my experience mirrors St Augustine’s (when he eventually came back to the fold) “restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease”. So the literal truth or otherwise of this genaology is something I can clear up in heaven.
Actually its a doozy of a prayer he wrote:
Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou was with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispell my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.
Anyway, message received, Jesus is the messiah, the anointed, the true realisation of God’s covenant with Abraham, the king in the line of David, who it has all been building up to. Let’s move on!
The birth of Jesus is told entirely through Joseph’s eyes. He gets a dream from God to tell him to believe Mary’s most unbelievable story ever to explain apparent non-virginity.
It is a fulfillment of prophecy in Isaiah.
We enter December reeling from another crazy mass shooting in the U.S.
I’m finding reading the bible every day is not working for me at the moment, I don’t understand.
Father, life is going too fast and I am having trouble focussing. I feel that my job his becoming a crutch and I am losing focus in my mission. Please give me wisdom and passion.