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DAWNINGS: Those who made a way for Jesus - Odessa American: Columns

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DAWNINGS: Those who made a way for Jesus

The Rev. Dawn Weaks is the co-pastor of Connection Church in Odessa.

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Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2019 5:30 am

The beloved nativity story we celebrate this time of year is actually three stories. The gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John each tell different versions.

The gospel of Mark just leaves it out all together, making Jesus’ baptism our introduction to him. John gives us a theological poem to start it all off. Luke tells everything from Mary’s point of view, while Matthew gives us the nativity story according to Joseph. And Matthew’s telling of the story is downright countercultural.

Matthew begins with Jesus’ genealogy. It would be easy to just skip over all those names and get to the good stuff, the part where Mary is pregnant and it’s not Joseph’s baby. But wait.

In the first chapter of Matthew, the author establishes that Jesus is related to many great men of Jewish heritage. And, surprise! We also learn about four women who are a part of Jesus’ ancestry: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and “the wife of Uriah” (that is, Bathsheba). In a patriarchal society, it was unusual to include women in a genealogy in the first place. So why include them? And why these particular women?

All of these mothers in our faith have scandalous stories in their backgrounds. You can read about them in Genesis 38, Joshua 2, the book of Ruth, and 2 Samuel 11.

Three of the four were ethnically and religiously different from the families of which they became a part, something that would have been unheard of at the time. Three of the four also had painful sexual histories, including prostitution and rape.

The picture Matthew paints is that God has been at work through all of these difficult circumstances, bringing a gift to the world through these wounded, wonderful women. God did not bypass the human condition to become one of us in Jesus Christ. The incarnation came through real life heartaches and heroes.

So, when Joseph finds himself in the situation of Mary’s seemingly shameful pregnancy, Matthew’s message in the genealogy is that he is not alone. God is with him, and his mothers in the faith are with him, too.

A messenger of God comes to tell him, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because her child is conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph takes courage and becomes the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. When his and Mary’s names are added to those who made a way for Jesus, they are making a way for you, too.

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