“Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Jesus who was called Christ. There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, another fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and yet another fourteen from the Babylonian exile to Christ.”–Matthew 1:16-17 (The Message)
Do you know where you come from? What your lineage is? I know that I come from German ancestors who immigrated to the United States via Russia. Our lineage and history tells a lot about who and whose we are.
In the story of Jesus’ birth, it becomes quite clear to us that Jesus is a descendant of David. David is a descendant to Abraham…fourteen generations between them–a long line of faith followers. Jesus is born to Mary and Joseph; Mary an unwed mother and Joseph who believes that Mary has been unfaithful to him. As a single woman, I can see the scandal in Mary’s news. Hypothetically, what if I were to become the one chosen to bear this holy child? The glances and the stares would tell me how this is not appropriate.
The story of Jesus’ birth is extremely scandalous. Joseph could easily have had Mary stoned to death since he believes she has been unfaithful to him. Mary doesn’t expect to be the one chosen to carry this Messiah; the one who comes to save the world. This story unfolds in a lot of ways like a daytime soap opera.
One of the things that gets me every time I hear or read this story is that Joseph is returning to his hometown. Yet no one has room for him. Shouldn’t his family be able to open their doors to him and a pregnant Mary? Because this is Joseph’s hometown, it would appear that they are aware of this scandal and do not want to be a part of it at all. They would rather lean into their comfort, then be wrapped in the uncomfortable beauty of this holy child’s birth. To them, Joseph is no longer one of them, but rather is an outcast; a refuge.
Who are those outcasts and refuges in our midst today? Will we open our home to them so baby Jesus can be born in the warmth of our home and not in the stench and stealth of the manger? When we are able to truly do that, I believe we begin to live out mercy, justice, and kindness in our broken fractured world.
I am going to lean into my own discomfort, prepare my guest bedroom and open the door when I see Mary and Joseph standing outside it. Will you join me?