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GENEALOGY by Nicola Slee; her candid reflection on Matthew chapter 1 verses 1–17

"He came from a dysfunctional family. And I’m not just talking about his mum and dad (the pregnancy out of wedlock, the pronounced age difference) No, it went back much further than that. There were more than a few skeletons in his cupboard.

Take great King David, the one they all wrote and sang about, eulogised in the histories, the family’s pride and joy. He wasn’t all he was cracked up to be, believe you me. He might have been Jesse’s golden-haired youngest, but later, he was conniving and horny, spying on his officer’s comely wife from the palace balcony and taking her for his own, sending soldiers to do away with unsuspecting Uriah returning victorious from battle. Some victory!

Prostitutes and foreigners aplenty scatter the litter: women you’d not want your daughters taking after, even if you can’t help admiring that plucky Rahab. Some came to a very sorry end. That poor Tamar! It makes me shudder to even think of her. Don’t let your children read her story, it’ll keep them awake for nights on end.Best not to ask about the ones whose names have sunk into obscurity, for fear of what you might uncover: what unimaginable sleights of hand, perversions, brutal slayings or tortures. Who now thinks of Nashon or Asa, Uzziah, Joham or Jeconiah, Matthan, Azar or Eliud? Don’t disturb their memories with your inquisitive fingers.

Keep going back and you end up at Abraham, another one no better than he ought to be and a whole heap worse. A right so-and-so; played off his wife as his sister, he did, had it away with his slave girl to get himself a son and then didn’t lift a finger in her defence when Sarah sent her packing into the desert in a fit of jealousy and rage. Worse of all, he was ready to kill his own precious Isaac on some whim of the Almighty. That story has been causing trouble for generations down the family line, still keeps the menfolk and their offspring fighting.

No, not what you’d call a promising pedigree. Not surprising he didn’t turn out a happy family man. Little wonder Jesus stayed single!"

"We can scarcely believe it, God, this story of love’s birth in the world. We rationalise and reason, we read the headlines and we doubt and yet, oddly, we hope, desperately, that it just might be true.

If we’re disbelieving, unwrap our doubt to make a space for love If we’re despairing, unwrap our grief to make a space for joy If we’re angry, unwrap our resentment to make a space for peace If we’re nostalgic, unwrap our sentimentality to make a space for life If we’re cynical, unwrap our scepticism to make a space for hope

Let your story be real in this space."

Work of Christmas Begins

"When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with the flocks, then the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal those broken in spirit, to feed the hungry, to release the oppressed, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among all peoples, to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ, every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say. Then the work of Christmas begins."

- Howard Thurman

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