Written by Brian Johnson

Today in worship, we will be reading the opening verses of the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 1:1-18).  These are verses that we often overlook – because, mostly, it’s just a list of names.  This section of the Bible is called “Matthew’s Genealogy” – it’s where Matthew lists the ancestors of Jesus, going all the way back to Abraham.  God had promised Abraham, ages before the birth of Jesus, that through his descendants, Abraham would be a blessing to the entire world. We Christians believe that, in Jesus, that promise is fulfilled.

It took more than a millennium for God to bring that promise to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus (although, God used Abraham’s descendants, the people of Israel, to bless the world and shine God’s light long before the birth of Jesus – just as God continues to use God’s people to shine God’s light even today).  Abraham never really saw this promise fulfilled – he had to trust that God was going to do what God had said God would do.  One of the reasons that Abraham is held up as a model of faith – the New Testament frequently refers to him as an example for us to follow – is because he trusted in God without any proof.  The only evidence he needed was God’s word.  Abraham and Sarah (Abraham’s wife) changed everything – turned their whole lives around – following God into an unknown future, based on nothing more than trust in God’s promises.

We tend to want instant gratification – immediate wish fulfillment – but that’s not how God tends to work.  God’s work is often slow.  God’s transformation of the world often takes time.  We are invited to be like Abraham: to trust in God’s promises, to follow God faithfully, to keep showing up for God’s work – even when we can’t see the results.

And, here’s the thing: Abraham didn’t always get it right.  Sometimes, he failed to trust God.  Sometimes, he tried to make it on his own strength – and, inevitably, when he did that, he failed.  He stumbled and fell over and over again – but God was faithful to Abraham, even when Abraham was unfaithful to God.  And, even after he wandered from the path, Abraham consistently returned to it – found his way back to faithfulness.  The story of Abraham’s life is a story defined by faithfulness – by his amazing faithfulness to God and by God’s even more amazing faithfulness to him.

This Advent season, may we learn to trust and follow God like Abraham.  And may we know that, even when we fail, God remains faithful to us – no matter what.

If you miss any of our daily readings, you can find them archived here. (Readings will be added each day.) We hope these readings will help you encounter God this season!