For the last two Sundays I’ve been taking you all on a metaphorical van ride toward Christmas. We’ve assessed where we are and where we’re going, and we’ve made sure we didn’t overstuff the van with… well stuff…
Now it’s worth looking and seeing who our fellow travelers are.
Look to the person next to you.
Interesting… they’re people you know—people you care for and who care for you—friends from close by or maybe far away, or maybe they’re family—people who have shaped your lives, people you’ve traveled with for a long time, or maybe a new acquaintances.
You’ve already spent two Sundays with these fellow travelers—you’ve already honored them with your presence—honored them by giving some of your time to them, by being with them here in this place.
And, on this journey toward Christmas, that’s what I want to talk to you about—last week I talked about spending less, this week I would like us to consider giving more… more of our time—being fully present with those who are on this journey with us.
This time of year is filled with tons of obligations—obligations which tax our time and obligations toward our friends and family.
From Thanksgiving to New Years we have opportunities and obligations to congregate with our loved ones more often than we do the rest of the year.
And that can be wonderful thing, or a missed opportunity. It can be filled with superficial small talk while looking at the clock, or can be a time dedicated to a deepening of connections and exploration of our inter-dependence with these people.
Remember for a moment the gospel reading for the day—that long list of names, that Genealogy of Jesus.
It’s main point is to remind us that Jesus is a child of the promise—the promise God made to Abraham, and that Jesus is also in the line of King David—that while his kingship is radically different that that of King David—as those of us who just finished up our 23 week journey through the Books of Samuel can attest—Jesus is in the line of David.
That is the primary message of this genealogy—Jesus is the Davidic child of the promise—but there is another, subtler message going on.
Jesus’ family tree is not only filled with in-laws, but outlaws as well. Interesting folk who shape his story and his heritage—
The rage of Jacob’s sons,
Rahab without whom Jericho would not have fallen,
Boaz and Ruth, who transformed widowhood into welcome,
the unnamed Bathsheba the wife of Uriah who was taken by David and forged a dynasty out of his defilement of her.
The tragedy of the deportation and the smallness of the return from Exile…
all there in these familial connections.
All these just under the surface
—all these people who shaped who Jesus was and is and will be.
What I’m trying to point to, is that Jesus’ genealogy, and our own as well, is like a Mangrove Forest.
Mangrove forests are forests in name only
… you see they are a grouping of what appear to be trees growing in marshy areas—hundreds of them sometimes, but the thing that you don’t notice unless you go under the surface, is that all those trees are in fact the arms, the branches, of one great tree.
All these individual trees are connected to one another—they are interdependent to one another—they shape each other and form each other, receiving nourishment from the same roots.
I know at least some of you have a passing familiarity with the website Ancestory.com—well you are not alone, millions of people are on that website…
with good reason I think…
its not just that they want to find out about people in the past
—they are in fact, finding out something about themselves.
They are looking for their roots
—they are peering down into that brackish water to see how all these mangrove trees are connected
—how they are connected. How we are connected.
As you know lately, I’ve been doing more funerals and memorials than is the norm, and as I visit with people, and listen to Eulogies, and all of that, I have to say, the things people remember about one another is the gift of time,
of being with one another,
not idle chit chat or small talk or gifts,
but the meaningful time they spent with each other that shaped each other’s lives.
And in this season of Advent and this season of Christmas parties and Christmas cards and all kinds of extra time with others, it’s worth using that time well.
It’s worth giving of your time in such a way that you cultivate family trees and friend forests.
It’s worth learning the stories you never knew, and hearing with fresh ears the stories you hear every year.
Yes, as we journey on this Advent road, we should get to know our fellow passengers.
So today, as we reflect upon Giving more of ourselves, I would like to leave you with a few questions and some time to sit with those questions.
1. Who would you like to spend time with?
2. What would you like to learn about them?
3. What would you like to do with them or for them?