This week begins the season of Advent which leads up to the birth of Christ. While Jesus isn’t born each year, it’s still a special time to celebrate life and the amazing gift that He gave us when He came to earth. You know, every story starts somewhere. Usually it starts in the beginning. So today I thought we’d talk about the least favorite beginning of the story of the birth of Jesus: the list of people in Matthew 1. I know, as a kid you probably skipped over the chapters you had to read in the Old Testament of people who were born, died or were just being counted. Endless lists of names don’t really seem to have a purpose, or do they? So as I was thinking about this and about Christmas, it got me thinking.
The beginning is where people always start. We can’t skip to the middle of the story of our lives, we have to start at the beginning. And as Jesus’ story in Matthew reminds us, the beginning technically starts before our true beginning: someone had to come before you in order for you to exist and they had a story. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with history, mostly because some people have decided that the only way you can talk about history is to make it drier and more boring than an old wild west town during a dust storm. The truth is that each and every period of history was exciting! But it was only exciting if you knew where to look, talked with the right people or started looking for the stories behind the people of those times. Jesus is no different: there are people with amazing stories who come before Him. Those stories we’re familiar with: Ruth the courageous widow, David from shepherd to king, Josiah the boy king, and Zerubbabel of Nehemiah’s time just to name a few.
However, the truth is also that there are some people with stories in Jesus’ line who aren’t that great: like Ahaz and Manasseh. Their less-than-stellar lives could lead some people to raise eyebrows or think less of Jesus (or anyone else who came after them). Think about people in our time who look funny at you just because you’re related to a Kardashian or Cyrus? But you cannot do anything about who came before you, just like you have no control over who comes after you. Unless God decides to end the world, there will be people who come after you who may have things to say about your life.
My point today is very simple: everyone starts in the beginning. How the story ends isn’t set in stone yet. You’ve got the power to choose not only which ancestors you see as role models as well as where your life takes you. Even better, just because your past is not so great it doesn’t mean that your future can’t be amazing. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says “Don’t think that I have come to destroy the Law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have come not to destroy their teachings but to give full meaning to them.” You can’t destroy the past, all you can do is create the future. What will you do with your future?