The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Matthew 1:1-17
Last night we watched a program about celebrities and their ancestors hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. called Finding Your Roots. It was a fascinating study juxtaposition of the idea of who one is and where one comes from and the truth about who one's ancestors truly are. The program used both genealogy and DNA science to produce incredible results. Both stars had Jewish ancestors and were able to trace back, not hundreds but thousand of years. We live in a marvelous age, when we can understand more deeply who we are than ever before, and simultaneously can get lost and cut off from our roots more completely than ever in the past also.
The Gospel of Matthew begins with this family tree, because the Gospel was written for a predominantly Jewish audience in the early life of the church. Proving that Jesus was a legitimate heir of the faith was incredibly important to the early Christian converts and their detractors. It was also written as a defense of his followers, in that, because of his family tree, they were following the right Messiah and not the wrong one. One can only imagine the challenges, anxieties, fears and frustrations the early church leaders had trying to inspire the faithful while dealing with real political pressure and physical dangers all around. They wanted to be authentic and accepted by their families, not shunned and abused for their faith. We all do at some level. We all search for meaning and home in our present family, as well as from our ancestors, our forebears, our holy ones - the ones who came before. We all seek to be acceptable, belonging to a family and clan rather than an outcast, set apart and isolated.
Today, I ask God to help us all respond to the need for home and roots in all of us. We Americans are a fast moving culture, a high stress and high demand people, who are often overwhelmed and often isolated in the midst of a crowd. May we see the pain and hope in every person we meet, greeting them as a brother or sister, with love and welcome in everything we so. May we be the people who know family and home to be a safe and formative place, where strength and faith grow day by day, and where there is time to be both wise and tender. May God give us all the strength and faith to build communities of home and support for all the people we find ourselves with this day.