Advent Devotion for December 17   11 comments

Above: The Jesse Tree Window at Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France

Jesus, Our Sovereign with a Mixed Heritage

DECEMBER 17, 2023



Gather round me and listen, you sons of Jacob;

listen to Israel your father.

Judah, your brothers will praise you;

your hand will be on the neck of your enemies.

Your father’s sons will bow to you in homage.

Judah, a lion’s whelp,

you have returned from the kill, my son;

you crouch and stretch like a lion,

like a lion no one dares rouse.

The sceptre will not pass from Judah,

nor the staff from heaven his feet,

until he receives what is his due

and the obedience of the nations is his….


God, endow the king with our own justice,

his royal person with your righteousness,

that he may govern your people rightly

and deal justly with your oppressed ones.

May hills and mountains provide your people

with prosperity in righteousness.

May he give judgment for the oppressed among the people

and help to the needy;

may he crush the oppressor.

May he fear you as long as the sun endures,

and as the moon throughout the ages.

May he be like rain falling on early crops,

like showers watering the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish,

prosperity abound until the moon is no more.


The genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac of Jacob, Jacob of Judah and his brothers, Judah of Perez and Zarah (their mother was Tamar), Perez of Hezron, Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab, Amminadab or Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, Salmon of Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Boaz of Obed (his mother was Ruth), Obed of Jesse; and Jesse was the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon (his mother had been the wife of Uriah), Solomon of Rehoboam, Rehoboam of Abijah, Abijah of Asa, Asa of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat of Joram, Joran of Uzziah, Uzziah of Jotham, Jotham of Ahaz, Ahaz of Hezekiah, Hezekiah of Manasseh, Manasseh of Amon, Amon of Josiah; and Josiah was the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

After the deportation Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, Eliakim of Azor, Azor of Zadok, Zadok of Achim, Achim of Eliud, Eliud of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, Matthan of Jacob, Jacob of Joseph, the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus called Messiah.

There were thus fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David until the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen from the deportation until the Messiah.


Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


At this juncture the Episcopal Church’s Advent lectionary begins its final phase:  readings grouped according to date.  The final countdown to Christmas Day commences.

The Book of Genesis begins with mythical tales of divine creation then continues with stories of human procreation–hence genealogies.  Creation is the theme running through the early chapters of that book.  Matthew, the most Jewish of the canonical Gospels, opens with a genealogy of Jesus.  This is no accident, but a profoundly significant fact.  It indicates the dawn of a new age in history.  Along the way, one reads about kings (both good and bad), whose names establish Jesus’ credentials as a member of the House of David.  And one reads about Bathsheba (who cheated on her husband, Uriah, with King David), Ruth (a foreigner), Rahab (a prostitute), and Tamar (a young widow who pretended to be a sacred prostitute so she could trick Judah, her father-in-law, to impregnate her).

What are we supposed to make of all this?

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the incarnate Son of God, was descended genetically from upright men and women, shady characters, kings, commoners, adulterers, at least one adulteress, a prostitute, a Gentile, and a widow who had to resort to deception to become pregnant and establish security for herself in a patriarchal society without a social safety net.  Jesus’ pedigree was not entirely socially respectable.  And that fact was ultimately irrelevant to his greatness.  He was much more than the sum of his ancestry.

So I invite everyone to look upon others for what is inside them, not for their origins.




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