Sara and I just got back from our vacation. It was a "road trip." Nine states. Fourteen days. From here to San Antonio to Washington via Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Oregon and back home again down the west coast. One thing I learned on this trip is we have the BEST Mexican food right here in El Centro! Another thing I learned about was my family. You see, our visit to Washington was mainly to see two of my relatives, my 97 year old Aunt Betty and my 98 year old Uncle Wayne. We also saw cousins I haven't seen in decades. It was great to see them all. We told lots of stories about the family, and along the way I learned a little more about my genealogy, about where I'm from and who I am. For example, my Great Grandfather Alfred felt a calling from God, and became a Methodist minister in his forties. That is what happened to me too.
Genealogies are very popular right now. I've read that web searches on genealogy are second only to porn. (I'll leave it to you to comment on that factoid)
There are many genealogies in the Bible. Many would say they are the boring sections of the Bible, but I’m not so sure about that anymore. The very first genealogy we read is in Genesis and is called the "generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created." (Genesis 2:4) This genealogy makes perfect sense when you consider that the heavens and the earth are all made of the same basic "stuff" and that we are all made of that same "stuff." Joni Mitchell was right. We are “stardust."
And think of the way generations is understood. There is a connection, a continuum, rather than simply a historical record. Time has a different meaning. Past and Future are connected in the Present. We are connected to the past and future, as we live out the present.
There are two genealogies in the New Testament. One in Matthew and one in Luke. They are the genealogies of Jesus. And they are each quite different from one another. Not to be taken literally, they are introduced in these Gospels so to help identify who Jesus is, which is the primary question of the New Testament.
A careful reading of either of those genealogies reveals a cast of characters that certainly do not match our understanding of Jesus. One is a prostitute, some are terrible Kings and another not even a Jew. Three were women in a patriarchal system.
So, what is the point of all of this?
If we go back to the very first genealogy, we might recognize it is the overarching reality of our connectedness with and to all creation. In this context Jesus’ genealogies become reflections on who WE are, and that the humanness of Jesus connects us to one another.
It is called the "web of belonging" and we're all part of it.
The humanness of Jesus' genealogy reveals the good and the evil within humanity. Being human means we can choose to do good or evil. And we have done both at one time and another. Scripture says that when we do evil God will curse us to the 4th generation, but when we do good God will bless us to the thousandth generation. Biblical genealogies tell us that God wants us to do good, to know that we are part of the whole creation, that our differences are really a beautiful diversity within a beautifully diverse creation.
In our culture of division and polarization, wouldn’t it be interesting if we came to see that our genealogies are actually one?