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Breathing New Life by Jessie McDaniel

December 18, 2013

The following reflection was written by Jessie McDaniel, a senior in SLAM. Thanks for your thoughts, Jessie!

Matthew 1:1-17

Today’s scriptures are the kind that I would skip entirely when I was a kid. My eyes would come to the long lists of names that I couldn’t pronounce for pages and pages and I would pretend like these names didn’t exist or matter. Whenever these names came up during sermons when I was older, I would once again tune them out. I now realize that I felt so disconnected from this part of scripture because I never got an explanation as to why these particular people were important.

Finally, my own belief system gave me an answer. As a believer that God put intention into everything that is and everything that will be, I know these names serve a purpose. The importance of these names is now clear to me. It may not be about the people, but what these people represent. They are the living place of God in the lives of a people displaced and without a home.

The list of ancestors leading up to Jesus is a way to connect our history to our present. When we name our predecessors and acknowledge their trials and triumphs, we also name ourselves as inheritors of that legacy. When we understand more deeply our past, we are better able to give life to the future. Jesus’ lineage is one of struggle and empowerment. It is filled with strong women and men and some women and men who may not have been so great as well. The first part of the reading is a preamble. These names are a window into the lived history of Israel and the kingdom of the Jews of those times. I once heard that the kingdom of god is not elsewhere, but here with all of us. It struck me to think that God’s kingdom is not some untouchable existence. It is right here in the lives we choose to lead.

jessie blogIn Advent we are welcomed to the idea of preparing for God’s arrival in our lives. Every 14 generations God breathed new life into this people who endured despite the odds. I now ask, what are the times that God can breathe new life into us all? And more importantly, are we prepared?

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