31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
December 5, 2021
Rev. Kristen Kleiman
What a boring scripture passage. It was like reading a dictionary or a cookbook. Actually, it was exactly like reading the recipe in a cookbook. Each name in this long list of people, fourteen generations in all, each person is like an ingredient for the most wonderful treat the world could ever imagine – Jesus the Christ.
Some of these names in Jesus’ genealogy, like Abraham, Isaac, and King David might be familiar to you. Some of them might be completely unknown like Zerubbabel and Zadok. It doesn’t matter though if we know who these people are. It doesn’t matter if they were great heroes or lived simple lives in relative obscurity. Just as it is with baking, each and every ingredient is important. The sugar, flour, chocolate chips might be the star of the show; however they wouldn’t be any good if not for the baking soda, baking powder, or eggs. Each one enhances the other.
Quite simply, some ingredients and people are better together and better for being together, which is the point of a good recipe and the body of Christ. This one brings the sweetness. That one brings the substance. Someone else is the yeast that lightens the whole. We are always better together.
From the beginning when God was baking up this plan to show the world God’s unconditional love, God knew what God would need; God knew who God would need. And as it always is with God, it was a combination of faithful steward and bold leader. Each and every one of these ingredients was needed, was essential to God’s plan.
Even the surprising ingredients. I am going to call these people cardamom. I have no idea what cardamom is however I’ve been watching a lot of holiday baking shows and you would be surprised how many bakers put cardamom in their cakes and cookies.
What is also surprising is that in this long list of fathers, there are also four mothers: Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba, who is only listed as the wife of Uriah, and Mary. They were surprising because they were women, and they were surprising because of who they were. Ruth was a foreigner, not one of God’s chosen people. Mary was a young unmarried woman from a nothing place, and Tamar and Bathsheba’s stories are some that would get the Bible banned.
So why are these surprising women included in this long list of men? Perhaps to remind us that God’s ways are not our ways. I might not be adventurous enough to include green tea, coffee beans, or cardamom in my cookies, but God isn’t afraid. God knew what God would need; God knew who God would need. And that included people others thought were outsiders, people others thought were unimportant, people who had experienced injustice and who had fought for justice.
These surprising women weren’t just tolerated in Jesus’ family tree. From their inclusion in this list, we know that they are just as important, just as essential to God’s plan as the revered patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These women also made the arrival of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace possible.
Their inclusion in this list, as well as all of those fathers who we have never heard of, all of them are good news to us – because they remind us that just as they were all important to God’s plan, we are all important to God’s plan. We don’t need to be a flashy, bold leader. We don’t need to have a perfect history, a perfect life. God works through ordinary people. God works through our messy, imperfect lives. God even works through our mistakes.
Over and over again in the Bible, we discover that God might actually prefer it that way – because when God works through imperfect people, when God works through our messy lives and our mistakes, we are reminded who the baker is.
God was, is, and will always be the baker of our lives, combining these ingredients and those ingredients, in new and surprising ways to accomplish God’s mission of peace and love on earth. And just as God chooses just the right ingredients to accomplish God’s plan, God also bakes in God’s time.
Some call this chronos versus kairos. Chronos has to do with the accurate human measurement of time: seconds, minutes, hours, days. Kairos is that moment when conditions are just right. For each of those fourteen generations, the people of God had measured time and perhaps thought that they had waited long enough for the Messiah. For fourteen generations, God’s people had likely thought that this, this was the right moment. But if it had been up to them, they would have gotten raw cookies.
It’s like with Advent. I want to rush Advent. Some of you really want to rush Advent. We are not the bakers though. This is not about our time. This is about God’s time, and when we acknowledge that, we discover amazing gifts like patience, trust, and hope along the journey, gifts that only come in the fullness of time, in God’s time, when we are actually ready, instead of when we think we are ready.
For fourteen generations, through enslavement in Egypt, through forty years in the wilderness, through Babylonian captivity and exile and Roman occupation, the people of God waited for the Messiah, their Savior, the Prince of Peace, and in God’s time, when all of the right ingredients were brought together, God gave to us the most amazing gift, God’s unconditional love in human form to show us that each and every one of us, no matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey, no matter whether we feel like an insider or an outsider, no matter whether we are a bold leader or a faithful steward, each and every one of us is important to God. No, we are all essential to God and God’s plan of joy for the world and peace on earth.