On the first Sunday of Advent when the first candle is lit in church, we light our own fire of hope. We sit together after the feast and he tells me how he is suffocating, how life is pressing down hard and the unhappiness is like a wedge between us. That’s when he says it: “Let’s run away for the weekend. Just you and me.”
It’s right in the middle of laundry day and my thoughts worry to the beds stripped clean and the mattress topper sits wringing wet in the washer. There are other things that need settled but one look at him and I know they will wait, I know they must. So we run away together and the long drive works its beauty and we dream together again for the first time in a while.
All weekend long I feel Christmas coming down each time he takes my hand in his. We are linked together at our souls and I wonder why I’ve felt so alone lately. We are a waiting people—that’s what Advent means, right? I’ve been reading the book of Matthew in the mornings, taking it slow, letting this scholar’s words accompany me. He talks about the genealogy that begins the book, how it’s divided into three sections. One reason for this was to make it easier to remember since this was a pre-book society, but the other reason is far more complicated. The three sections, Barclay says, represent the three great stages of Jewish history.
The first section takes us down to David—Israel’s greatest king.
The second section takes us to the exile in Babylon—the nation’s great tragedy.
The third section takes us to Jesus Christ—the Savior and liberator.
Barclay goes on to say that these three sections of Jewish history correspond to three stages in the spiritual history of the world.
1) Human beings were born for greatness.
2) Human beings lost their greatness.
3) Through Christ, Human beings can regain their greatness.
Barclay says, “In his genealogy, Matthew shows us the royalty of kingship gained; the tragedy of freedom lost; the glory of liberty restored. And that, in the mercy of God, is the story of all humanity, and of every individual.”
The fact that this scholar gleans so much from this list of names at the beginning of the book of Matthew sits heavy in my chest. A bit of that old sadness creeps in—the feeling like a kite in the wind. Who am I if not part of the blood line that runs through my veins?
In her beautiful Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp says, “[I]n the time of prophets and kings, the time of Mary and Joseph, it wasn’t your line of credit, line of work, or line of accomplishments that explained who you were. It was your family line. It was family that mattered. Family gives you context, and origin gives you understanding, and the family tree of Christ always gives you hope.”
Hope is my hand in his. This love that is interwoven into the Greatest Love. This is my family context, this my lineage.
And so I enter Advent with this cloud of witnesses; grafted into a story that speaks redemption into every pore, every fiber.