Merry Christmas! I have begun a new Bible reading plan, one that I am doing with friends at my church, and I have started journaling again, and occasionally sharing my thoughts online with the friends who are reading along with me. I would love to share with you too, and invite you to join me.

Our reading theme this month is centered around Christmas (of course!) but from a particular perspective. Specifically, looking at the interesting women God chose to have mentioned in his lineage. If you follow along on the reading, I invite you to ask with me, What do you think this says about the kind of God we serve? As we look toward Christmas, ask God, what does His birth mean to YOU? Not just to humanity, but to you.

Today’s reading was Matthew 1:1-3 and Genesis 38. This is the beginning of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ancestry, and it mentions Tamar, who is a key figure in Genesis 38. You really ought to read it! But the very short version is, Tamar’s husband died, and through circumstances, she ended up becoming pregnant by her father-in-law (Judah, father of the Hebrew tribe of Judah). Culturally, this is still risque, but somewhat understandable why she did what she did, for a woman had no place in life if she did not have a son to secure the family lineage, and therefore, secure his mother’s future. We had a great discussion in my small group this morning, with the lovely ladies joining me in this reading plan, but as I took a moment afterward to complete my own journaling, the question I asked of the Scripture is this:

Who did God want mentioned in His Son’s lineage? The answer is, God wanted to mention THE ONES HE HAD REDEEMED.

The ancestry of Jesus is not an account of perfection. Because that would be an illusion. God values honesty, and the honest truth is, there are no perfect people. God values it when we do the best we can to make the most or best and most redemptive choices out of less-than-ideal circumstances, when we are used and abused by people who only have their own interests in mind, or are guided by their fears.

The line of Judah almost was no longer. Judah’s two eldest sons had died, and though his third son did eventually have an heir, this is not for whom Judah’s line became known. Judah had heirs that led to King David and to Jesus Christ because Tamar said, “I have joined this family, and one way or another, I am going to see this family continue.” Their cause became her cause, and the result – eventually – was Jesus.

Did it happen according to Plan A? Probably not – because I think fear, selfishness, neglect and abuse are never God’s Plan A. But it did happen according to Plan R… R for Redemption. God redeemed the situation and the lineage. Through less-than-ideal ways and less-than-perfect people, God still made something beautiful.

This is what we celebrate.

Life.

Jesus’ life, and the people he is proud to call his, because they are redeemed.

Lord, let me see myself and others today in light of your redemption. Not in light of brokenness, hurts, or imperfection, but in light of what You have done, and want to do, if we will let you in. Amen.

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