Tuesday, December 10, 2013


     I must have gotten my love for Christmas from my grandmother.  She loved Christmas and she loved having her family there.  In my childhood we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at her house.  The family gatherings, the food, the gifts, the decorations, all these things embedded a love for the holidays in my life.
     After my siblings and I grew up and had families of our own, it of course affected her holiday gatherings. In her later years, because she loved family so much, she began studying her genealogy.  On the one or two occasions a year I would get to see her, she would update me on what she had found that year.  There was always an interesting character she would talk about and you could just see the twinkle in her eyes as she would tell story after story from the history of her family.
     My grandmother passed away years ago and I’ll see her one day in heaven.  But when I do I have a question for her.  You see, since she passed away, I have learned about some family secrets that I didn’t know.  I want to ask my grandmother why she didn’t mention certain people in the family tree.  I’m also curious as to why my grandfather’s first brief marriage was never mentioned.  When my cousins get together every once in awhile, sometimes there is a new “Did you know about …” that surfaces. 
     Secrets.  We all have them - chapters in our lives we hope nobody finds out about.  You went into marriage with a few chapters in your life you hope your spouse never discovers.  You took your current job with some things in your past you hope your employer never finds out.  There is an event, a night, a financial dealing, perhaps a spring break that you just as soon would stay buried in your past and have no one find out about.
     I have good news for you.  Christmas is for you.  Christmas is for people who have a secret.  In the lineage of Jesus was a secret keeper.  Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob who God chose to be in the lineage of Jesus.  For 22 years he kept his secret of selling his brother Joseph into slavery from his father.  For 22 of Joseph’s birthdays when his father relived it all over again, Judah never said a thing.  He never confessed and never gave in.  For 22 years he never broke. 
     Because of his secret, Judah lived his life wondering when God was going to get back at him.  When destiny brings him face to face with his brother Joseph again, he thought for sure God was bringing the hammer down.  But instead, Judah finds himself in front of a brother he had wronged, totally forgiven.  And God decided to use Judah, not Joseph, to bring the message of salvation into the world.  It’s because those are the kinds of people it’s for.
     You may feel alienated from God because of your secret.  But God does not feel alienated from you.  Do you know why?  Because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas He sent a Savior to remove everything that alienated mankind from Him.  When Jesus died, He died for your secret.   And God used a secret keeper to be in the ancestry of Jesus the Messiah in order to let you know your secrets don’t have to keep you from God.  Do you have a secret?  Then Christmas is for you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


     As a kid I remember going to a lot of extended family Christmas gatherings.  Relatives I rarely saw would be there.  Of course, there were the cheek pinchers and the hair messer uppers, which as a kid I hated but I tolerated.  But we also had relatives show up that caused whispers and stares.  And even as a kid you knew there was a feeling that it would have been fine if that branch of the family tree hadn’t shown up.

     You know what I mean, don’t you?  Are you having family at your house this Christmas?  Is there anyone in your family you wish wouldn’t come?  Or you hope they don’t stay very long?  Maybe you’re traveling to see family at Christmas and I know what you talk about on the way.  I hope Uncle so and so isn’t there or I hope Cousin what’s her name doesn’t show up.  Of course, they’re probably saying the same thing about you.  But we all have some bad apples in our family tree, don’t we?  Well, Jesus was no different. 

     When we think about Christmas, our tendency is to think about a baby, a manger, a star, and Bethlehem, and shepherds, etc.  There is a tendency to jump right into the night of Jesus’ birth because for most of us that’s the imagery of Christmas, and it should be as we think about Jesus being born in a manger.  But as I began to think about Christmas this year, I was reading all the accounts in the Gospels.  As I was reading Matthew, something really stuck out to me.  There is more to Christmas than just the birth of Jesus.  Matthew begins his story of Jesus and Christmas with a genealogy.  He wrote his Gospel targeting the Jewish people.  And in order to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to prove that Jesus came from the lineage of King David because the Bible said that’s where the Messiah would come from.  So he didn’t start at the manger, he went all the way back to Abraham.

     Matthew goes out of his way to make sure we don’t miss the fact that Jesus comes from a long line of people, many of whom are an embarrassment to the Old Testament and the Jewish race.  He must have reveled in the fact that in Jesus’ ancestry there were all these people who were just like him, a tax collector, who couldn’t come to God based on their own righteousness.  Men and women like him who knew if they were ever going to get to God it would take more than work and good deeds.

     There is more to Christmas than just the birth of Jesus.  It means we can have access to God, not based on our goodness, but because we know we’re not good.  We know our past is questionable.  And Jesus never condemned anyone and He doesn’t condemn you.  To condemn you and me for our sin would be like condemning the sun for being hot and condemning the water for being wet.  It’s just what we are.  And it’s because of what we are that God sent Who He did – a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.