Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Hey Everyone!

I hope you’re all warm and safe on this chilly Saturday afternoon. If you hadn’t heard, Silas and I were under the weather this week and have thus been laying low. Both of us, however, are feeling better and are grateful for all your prayers and support this past week. We are blessed to be a part of this community. 🙂

Although it was a slower week, I have done some prayerful thinking about our upcoming Lenten season together. I believe Lent offers us an incredible gift of which we don’t take full advantage. A season of thoughtful reflection about our sense of call and who we are as Christ’s disciples in the world is time well spent.

To that end, I’m excited to share that we’ll be dipping into the book The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prominent 20th century, neo-reformed, German theologian who was both a leader in the confessing church movement of the mid-1930s and involved in a plan to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Consider journeying with me through various chapters from Discipleship on the six Tuesdays of Lent (February 28; March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4). More information to come, but if you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, we’ll be using this version (although any version is fine).

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 29th will be the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany and the last Sunday for our Christmas decoration. Details on un-decorating the church can be found in the Announcements below. During tomorrow’s service, I’ll be preaching from the New Testament text, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. If you’d like to read the texts prior to the service (or during the week), you can find them in the downloadable Order of Worship below.

Beyond those highlights, here are your Announcements for the week ahead:

Intergenerational Study of the Bible for Youth
Our intergenerational study of the Bible meets tonight Sunday, January 29th from 4:00pm to 6:30pm in Darley Hall (note the length is one hour longer). Tonight, we’ll be finishing The Ten Commandments. A bowl-ognese dinner will be offered with the movie. Participants are encouraged to bring microwave popcorn and movie snacks. 

Un-Decorating the Sanctuary
Thursday, February 2nd is Candlemas, the holy day when we observe the Presentation of Christ. Join us at 10:00am in Darley Hall as we take down the inside decorations. 

Wednesday Bible Study
Join us for our weekly Bible Study on February 1st at its usual time–5:00-6:30pm in Darley Hall and on Zoom. This week, we’ll be look at the Apocryphal additions to Daniel: Azariah, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

Men’s Prayer Breakfast
Men’s Prayer Breakfast is happening this week on Groundhogs Day, Thursday, February 2nd at 7:00am.

Cost of Discipleship Lenten Reading Group
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd and will continue until Easter Sunday, April 9th. This Lenten season, you’re invited to join Jason on Tuesdays (time to be determined) in Darley Hall and on Zoom as we explore The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Next Sunday, February 5th we’ll celebrate the Eucharist and have our first of the month potluck. Decorations will be in a Valentines theme, so let’s see if you can work that into your potluck dish. 😉

And, here are your links for this week:

Sunday Worship Service:

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:

Second Sunday after Epiphany

Greetings CPC,

I hope you’re all safe and sound in your respective locations. I have some very sad news to share with you today, that I’m certain many of you likely already know. Lewis Thorne died on Wednesday this past week at his home in Boerne, Texas. Lewis was one of our summer residents who worshipped at CPC with his spouse Nancy when in town. I got to know Lewis and Nancy at our Tuesday morning “read and share” Bible Study this past summer. I know many in our community are heartbroken by this tragic news. Let us continue to hold the Thorne family in our prayers this weekend and in the weeks to come. For those seeking more information about Lewis’s life, visitation times, or the funeral service, you can find it HERE.

This Week
This Sunday, January 15th is the Second Sunday after Epiphany and also the Sunday when we acknowledge Jesus’ baptism. To that end, we’ll explore John’s account of the events that followed Christ’s baptism and Christ’s first calling of the disciples Peter and Andrew. If you’re interested in reading the lectionary texts for this week you can find them at the bottom of the online order for worship, which can be downloaded below.

Also, please remember that we’ll be holding our 2023 Annual Congregational Meeting this Sunday, January 15th, directly after the morning worship service. The agenda for the meeting can be found in the online Order of Worship bulletin below. If you are a member of CPC, then we’re asking that you make every effort to be present in-person or online for this important meeting. For those in town, fellowship will follow the congregational meeting.

Finally, as some of you know, my family and I will be traveling to Chicago this coming week to attend a wedding/family reunion. There will be some young adults staying in the manse taking care of Louis, Ruby, Magnificat, and Weasley (Silas’s bearded dragon lizard). Consequently, I’ll be out of the office from Tuesday, January 17th until Monday January 23rd. I’ll be back on Tuesday, January 24th. Should any pastoral emergencies surface, please reach out to me via text or email. But, don’t fret, I’m leaving you in the very capable hands of our ruling elders. I’m also happy to announce that Dan Smith will be preaching while I’m away.

Here are your announcement for the week ahead:

Annual Congregational Meeting Reminder
Directly after the worship service, we’ll be holding our annual congregational meeting. The meeting will be available via Zoom and those members outside of Lake City are enthusiastically encouraged to join us online for our yearly update and to vote on the 2023 budget. 

Intergenerational Study of the Bible for Youth
Join us for our intergenerational study of the Bible tonight Sunday, January 15th from 4:00pm to 5:30pm (Annex).

Wednesday Bible Study
There will be NO Monday night games or Wednesday Bible Study this week. 

Men’s Prayer Breakfast
Men’s Prayer Breakfast is back this week. Join the men of Lake City this Thursday, January 19th at 7:00am for good food, prayer and Bible study.

Here is your link for Sunday morning worship and the Congregational meeting:

Sunday Worship Service & CPC Annual Congregational Meeting:

Epiphany Sunday

Hey Everyone,

In case you weren’t aware, tonight is the 12th Night of Christmas. So party like it’s 1999! 🙂 This also means that tomorrow, January 6th is Epiphany, the holy day we celebrate the arrival of the Magi.

This Sunday we’ll celebrate Epiphany with hymns and Scriptures, but that’s not all. Don’t forget that we’ll also be celebrating the Eucharist and having our January potluck after the service. For those planning to join us for the potluck, the theme is noodles. You can make any kind of noodle dish from any cuisine in the world. But you all know I’ll be making some ramen noodles. If you’re not a noodle fan, don’t fret–we’ll also be providing a ham.

For those wanting to try their hand at noodle making, bring your dough (or the ingredients if your dough doesn’t require sitting time) to the church this Saturday, January 7th and join me in Darley Hall from 1:00 to 3:00.

This week’s Zoom links, order of worship, and announcements can be found below:

Intergenerational Study of the Bible for Youth
Our intergenerational study of the Bible returns tonight Sunday, January 8th from 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Annex.

January Session
This Wednesday, January 11th, the CPC elders will meet for  our January Session at 10:00am in Darley Hall.

Wednesday Bible Study
Join us this Wednesday, January 11th from 5:00-6:30pm as we return to our study of the Apocrypha with the book of Baruch.

Men’s Prayer Breakfast
Men’s Prayer Breakfast is back this week. Join the men of Lake City this Thursday, January 12th at 7:00am for good food, prayer and Bible study.

Annual Congregational Meeting Reminder
Next Sunday, January 15th, we’ll be holding our annual congregational meeting directly after the morning worship service. The meeting will be available via Zoom and those members outside of Lake City are encouraged to join us online to vote.

Here’s your links for the week ahead:

Sunday Worship Service:

Wednesday Evening Bible Study:

First Sunday after Christmas

Hey Everyone,

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re all still basking in the blessedness of Christmastide. Remember, Christmas lasts 12 days. Some of you need to step up your partying. 🙂 This weekend you’ll get the chance as we welcome in 2023 this Sunday.

Not only is this Sunday, New Year’s day, it’s also the special holy day when we remember the naming of Jesus (8 days after the birth). In that light, I’ll be touching on all three of the lectionary passages this week, as each contributes to our understanding of “naming.” If you’re interested in reading the passages beforehand, you can find them at the end of the online Order of Worship bulletin.

Here are your Announcements for the week ahead:

 Potluck Noodle Party
Next week’s potluck is themed around noodles. You can make any kind of noodles you want. Join us on Saturday, January 7th from 1:00 to 3:00 in Darley Hall kitchen. 

Communion next week
Don’t forget that we’ll be celebrating communion next Sunday, January 8th. If you’re joining us online, remember to bring your communion elements to the broadcast.

First Sunday of the Year Potluck
Join us for our first-Sunday-of-the-year-potluck on Sunday, January 8th, directly after the service. This month’s theme is noodles. Be creative and make any noodle dish you want.

Intergenerational Study of the Bible for Youth
Our intergenerational study of the Bible will return next Sunday, January 8th from 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Annex.

Annual Congregational Meeting
On Sunday, January 15th directly after the morning worship service, we’ll be holding our annual congregational meeting. At the meeting we’ll be approving the 2022 budget, Jason’s Terms of Call, and voting on a slate for two new ruling elders. All are welcome, but only members may vote. The meeting will be available via Zoom and those members outside of Lake City are encouraged to join us online to attend and vote.

Here is your link for worship this week and your order of worship:

Sunday Worship Service:

Jesse Tree Devotionals: December 24

John 1:1-16
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. 

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

There are passages in the Scriptures, that no matter how many times I read them, they still strike a chord deep within my soul. This selection from the first chapter of John is one of them. The Gospel of John differentiates itself from the other Gospels; we refer to Matthew, Mark, and Luke as the synoptic gospels because they share a certain chronology and structure. The Gospel of John, however, offers the reader/hearer a chance to engage in a more theological portrayal of the story of Jesus Christ. While John still includes many narratives about Jesus Christ, his concern is that the storyline supports the central concepts behind them. Consequently, sometimes John likes to wax theologically. Our text for today is a perfect example. 

While the Gospels of Matthew and Luke collectively offer much in terms of the literal story of Christ’s incarnation, John takes us beyond the actual events that happened. John looks at the whole storyline from an abstract, beyond the boundaries of our senses sort of way. John calls Jesus “the Word.” In Greek the word is logos, and it literally means, “word,” “reason,” or “plan.” So when John says that the Word was there in the beginning, and that it was with God, and that it was God, he is making one of the most powerful claims of any New Testament book. In this way, Christ as the “Word” or the essence of “reason” stands in the background of all things in the universe. God’s “plan” is found in our understanding of Jesus as the logos. 

Put differently, the other Gospels give us a storybook narrative through which to comprehend the miracle of God becoming human in the form of a babe. John, on the other hand, makes a much stronger assertion about who Jesus is in this world and in the realm beyond ours. Jesus wasn’t just the earthly Messiah to lead Israel back to a place of power and prosperity. Nor was Jesus only the natural outcome of the ultimate Divine being becoming part of the creation. 

As John asserts, Jesus was and is the essence through whom all things were created. He has no beginning or end; he just is. John holds that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father (as in the same substance). Moreover, Jesus is God, without separation. Jesus may be distinct from the Father but still the same substance and without division. John makes all these powerful claims about who Christ is, in just the first sentence. John conceptualizes the whole birth narrative in a different realm. 

Imagine how differently we might see Christ’s birth narrative without John’s imagery. God sent himself to our world and took on the metaphysical nature of a created human being, chose to be born into this world, and had to face the knowledge of certain death. Despite his sinlessness, the anxiety of earthly death was still cast upon him. In part, the majesty of God’s incarnation is realized in our understanding of who “the Word” is in relationship to the Divine. God sent himself to save us. For me, that makes his “dwelling among us” all the more meaningful, especially during this holy season of Christmas. 

Jesse Tree Devotional: December 23

Matthew 2:1-15
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him, and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out, and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen in the east, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

You’ve probably heard me say it before, but I think Epiphany is one of the most important holy days of the year. I’ve also called it one of the most under celebrated days in the mainline church. I’m not saying it’s never celebrated–churches across the country will observe it in their worship every year. But simply observing Epiphany as the liturgical Sunday in which we acknowledge the arrival of the Magi misses the point. 

As the passage notes above, the Magi had an important role to fill in a couple of ways. First, the Magi are significant because they are a reminder of the Gentiles’ acknowledgement of Jesus’ Kingship. From locations as far as Persia, India, and Asia these wise scholars came because they saw an aberration in the sky. A bright shining star in the west appeared that hadn’t been there before. We don’t know how familiar these astrologers were with Jewish prophetic literature, but we do believe they knew the constellations. And, when something changed that significantly, they set out to investigate. 

When they had reached King Herod’s region, they began asking where the child had been born. They didn’t have GPS coordinates, so they were likely eyeballing the location. When word got back to Herod that there were wise men from the East searching for a king that had been born, he hatched a plan. King Herod met with the Magi, to both gather information and to tell them to return with the child’s location so that he too might “worship” the child.

The Magi finally completed their task. They found the child and paid homage to Christ as a king. Their presence and presents were God’s way of marking Christ as king of the world, extending Christ’s reign beyond the house of Israel, ultimately including us in God’s salvation plan. 

Second, God also used them to protect the infant Jesus. As the story goes, God warned them in a dream to return home through a different route so as to avoid Herod. They never went back to report anything to the king. Because Herod didn’t know where Jesus was, he was unable to target him. Then God also warned Joseph in his dream that he should take Mary and the child and flee to Egypt where they would find safety. Once again God spoke to humans in their dreams to accomplish his will. The Magi’s willingness to heed the message revealed to them in their dreams shouldn’t be overlooked. Because they were obedient, the child was saved from death. God’s provision and protection were realized through the Magi. In these two ways, we can see how critical the Magi were in the story of Christ’s birth. 

Jesse Tree Devotional: December 22

Luke 2:8-14
Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

It’s Christmas and because I’m still a couple days behind on these Jesse Tree devotionals, our passage for today lines up quite well. In it we find the story of the angel and the heavenly hosts who join the celebration. All the other characters and settings in the story are part of our material world–the people, animals, the town, the stable, and even the star. Even God himself had materialized into this world through the babe in the manger. 

Then there’s the angel and the heavenly hosts, who are not part of our material world. They are celestial beings that do not possess the same metaphysical make up as us ground dwellers. They are phenomenal being that exists in multiple realms–our world and in whatever is beyond. They don’t seem to be governed by time, yet step into time at various points in Israel’s history. Our passage today represents one of those times. 

Keep in mind, the shepherds didn’t know this all was going to happen, so you can only imagine their surprise when an angel suddenly stood before them. The Angel of the Lord offers the standard angelic greeting, “Do not be afraid.”  He’s got some good news: the promised Messiah was born and the shepherds weren’t too far from where he was. The angel offers them a “sign.” Signs were very much a part of Judaism and the culture as a whole, so the mention of the babe wrapped in bands of cloth (or swaddling cloth, as some prefer) would have been significant to their understanding of the event that just transpired. 

Then, the story gets really good. Upon announcing the gospel of Christ’s birth, there was a heavenly flash mob of sorts, filled with a multitude of heavenly host. Admittedly, I’m no angelologist, nor do we know exactly what is meant by “heavenly hosts.” What I am certain of is that it must have been a sight to behold. I imagine it was so much more than an ordinary choir of angels all standing up in the heavens in nice, neat rows. It must have filled the heavens with countless beings all engaging in worship and praise, glorifying God and singing his praises. Talk about an epic party. Finally, God sent a savior. The Light had entered the world and our Creator assembled a welcoming party like no other.

Jesse Tree Devotional: December 21

Luke 2:15-21
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them. When the eighth day came, it was time to circumcise the child, and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

This past week, my family and I were playing a new western themed board game called Western Legends. It’s a “sandbox” game, which means you can move your character around the board at your own leisure in order to do western type things a certain locations. For example, you can wrangle cattle, prospect for gold, play poker at the saloon, or rob the bank (if you’re so inclined). While we were playing, I was reading some of the text on the back of the card, which is meant to add a story element to the gaming experience. I casually noted that these little western themed paragraphs were “flavor text” for the game. 

Shannon looked at me with a furrowed brow and asked what I meant. It was term that she hadn’t heard before that afternoon. I proceeded to explain that in the tabletops gaming world, when game designers and publishers include a narrative facet to a game that doesn’t actually have any bearing on the competitive or strategic aspects of the game, it’s often referred to as “flavor text.” In other words, text is added as “flavor” to the game. They make the gaming experience more interesting or flavorful for the players, but in the end, they don’t add anything mechanically substantial to the game itself. 

Over the years, I’ve come to the perspective that when people read our passage today that they see it as flavor text. When you read the whole story of Jesus’ birth, we have strong main characters like Jesus and Mary. The center of the action is around their dilemma. Joseph and the inn keeper are the supporting cast, as you need both of them for the story to progress. The wise men or Magi (who shouldn’t be at the birth in the first place, due to the distance they would have travelled to get to Bethlehem) are kind of cameo characters who serve their role at the end of the story to validate it for a wider audience. They are important to the story line, but have an auxiliary role that when removed doesn’t distract from the main point. 

Then there are the shepherds and their sheep. Aren’t they cute? We put them in the background of our nativity scenes with their sheep. They are often leaning on a staff and look like teenage boys. We lean our wobbly sheep figurines next to them for support, and that’s pretty much what they become–flavor text to support the larger scene of Jesus’ birth. 

But they are so much more than that in this story. When we consider the humble nature of Christ’s birth and how it’s meant to represent the larger “upside-down” kingdom that Jesus brings into the world, the shepherds’ role in the story takes on a new meaning. They were the locals, who symbolize the common everyday folk that Jesus came to seek out. The shepherds weren’t important. They were laborers who worked for the flock owner and got stuck with the night shift. They didn’t have money, fame, or power. Both the shepherds and their flocks are symbols for the very people Jesus would minister to in about thirty years. In many ways, they are “us” in that story and their presence on the first night of Jesus’ earthly life is significant, because it means that “we” were represented in the story. We didn’t provide safe passage, housing, or honor the new born babe with gifts, but were not just flavor text. We were the ones who marveled, and continue to marvel to this day, at the miracle of God’s birth that night. And, just like the shepherds who, after seeing the Christ-child, went out and shared the news of his birth. In this holy season, how much more are we called to share of Christ’s birth to all those whom we encounter.

Christmas is Finally Here!

Hey Everyone,

Merry Christmas Eve! I trust you are all doing well as we approach the end of the holy season of Advent and enter into the bliss of Christmastide. We get twelve days of Christmas to be reminded of the joy of our salvation in Christ Jesus. In order to help you celebrate, we’ve got two services this weekend that we want you to know about.

First, join us tomorrow night, Saturday, December 24th for our ecumenical Christmas Eve Service in the yard of CPC. With a liturgy of Scripture and song, we’ll join together with the Lake City community to usher in Christmastide by lifting our voices and candles to welcome in the new born King. The service will begin at 5:30pm and last around 30 minutes. This service will be available via Zoom, and the downloadable worship bulletin can be found below.

Next, don’t forget that we’re still having Sunday morning worship this Sunday, December 25th at our usual time- 10:00am. On Christmas, we’ll celebrate Jesus’ incarnation as we light the Christ candle and sing our favorite Christmas hymns. The lectionary texts are included in the downloadable online Order of Worship below.

Here are your announcements for the week:

Intergenerational Study of the Bible for Youth
No Intergenerational Study of the Bible for the next two weeks. We’ll return on Epiphany Sunday, January 8, 2023.

Games Up Here
No Monday night games for the next two weeks. We’ll return on Monday, January 15, 2023. 

Wednesday Bible Study
No Wednesday Bible Study for the next two weeks. We’ll return on Wednesday, January 11, 2023.

Men’s Prayer Breakfast
No Men’s Prayer Breakfast until 2023.

Communion and Monthly Potluck
Don’t forget, on Sunday, January 8, 2023, we’ll celebrate the Eucharist and have our first-of-the-month potluck directly after the service. Our theme will be noodles, a symbol of life and health for they year ahead. 

Here are your links for the weekend services:

Saturday Christmas Eve Service (5:30pm):

Sunday Christmas Service (10:00am):

Jesse Tree Devotional: December 20

Matthew 1
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, who bore Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to divorce her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife but had no marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son, and he named him Jesus.

I’m willing to bet that most people just jump to the beginning of the story in the first chapter of Matthew. They may skim over the names listed in Jesus’ genealogy, just to see if they recognize any of the people. But in less time it takes for a sports car to accelerate to 60mph, they are reading the words “Now the birth of Jesus…” And why wouldn’t they? The names of who begat whom isn’t very exciting, at least not at first glance. 

If we take a closer look, however, I think we’ll discover that there is a rich treasure trove of stories and figures found in that genealogy. Some of these stories we’re familiar with, while others, not so much. The lineage begins with Abraham and carries through to Isaac and Jacob. Of Joseph’s brothers, Judah’s tribe would give rise to the earthly King David. His son, the wise King Solomon would build a dwelling place for the Living God. These are stories we’ve read this season, all about great heroes of our faith. But this genealogy also holds some lesser known figures that had an incredible impact on Jesus’ lineage.

Consider the role the prostitute Rahab had on Israel’s history. Not only did she dramatically save the Jewish spies, she ended up mothering Boaz, the righteous man who married Ruth, the Moabite. Two women who were both foreigners to the Israelites, whom God used as part of Christ’s ancestry. They both bear witness to God’s plan for the salvation of all humanity. While not all of those names in Jesus’ linage have stories around them, the list tells the larger story of God’s redemptive plan for Israel. God’s faithfulness is seen in this seemingly boring list of names. Each figure having a small role. If you’re inclined, scroll back up and see for yourself.