When the Gospel recalls the ancestors of Christ on the Sunday before Christmas, we are not only hearing of the ancestors of Christ, but our ancestors as well. When we hear the list of names found in beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, we are reminded of how God has fulfilled His promise to save us. In reminding us of this history, we are comforted hearing that even the righteous ancestors of God didn’t always get everything ‘right’ in their decisions. Despite all the mistakes of our ancestor, God still came and saved us, and despite our sins and mistakes, He will never abandon us, and save us.
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
My brothers and sisters, in this morning's gospel, it is very tempting to limit this morning's gospel to nothing more than a list of names. The gospel of Matthew begins the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. It tells us the human history of Christ, our Savior. It tells us the human history of God himself because Jesus Christ becomes man and he has both human and divine. And so, when we hear the names on this Sunday every year, the Sunday before Christmas, we hear the names of the ancestors of God, we are hearing about our ancestors, because we are children of God. Yes? And because we are children of God, his ancestors are our ancestors.
But we're tempted to just skim through the names. To save you today, I read them only in Greek because they're the same names in Greek and English. There's no reason to read them twice. However, don't allow that to think that we're just skimming over them, because in all of these names of the Old Testament, it is to bring our consciousness to this entire history of Christ, the human history. Ever since, in this case, it starts with Abraham, and God's promise to Abraham that we were going to be saved. When we read the Old Testament, sometimes people want to read the Old Testament as if it's the history of the people of God, but it is the history of the savior. It is Christ's history that is laid out in the Old Testament and how God has fulfilled his promise for us. This is why as we are now preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, the church reminds us of this long history of God always rescuing his people.
If we think, the story's broken up into three sections, right? Up until David, the deportation to Babylon, and of course from Babylon to Christ. This reminds us that the history of Christ's ancestors was full of turmoil. They had good Kings. They had not so good Kings. They were tortured by other kingdoms. They were victorious over some kingdoms. They went through an entire history, never abandoned by God. That should give us some comfort because we have some good leaders and some not so good leaders. Our people, especially those of us who have history in the old country, our people have been oppressed by other kingdoms and we have been victorious over other kingdoms. We're sharing the same history.
And so, this story of the Old Testament brought to life to prepare us to receive Christ. Because even though the Old Testament is filled with stories of people who didn't get it right ... I'm thinking, for example, poor Moses. Moses was a great figure, right? Come on. He led the people out of Egypt, and yet because of his disobedience, what happened? He did not see the Promised Land. That's one of our ancestors. How about King David? The great King David, right? He was a murderer and an adulterer, but he's still a prophet and his picture is up in our church. This is our history. And despite those people, despite the mistakes that they may have made in history, God still came to save us.
In fact, if you look at the history of the Old Testament, you could say that every time right before it was too late, God rescued us. I'm thinking for example of the flood of Noah. It says in the scriptures that wickedness had gone out through the entire world, right? And lest there be no one righteous left, God tells Noah, "Build the Ark. The flood is going to kill everybody, but you're going to continue the lineage. You're going to continue so that there is a savior for the world." So even though the world was filled with sinful people making mistakes, God still came to save us.
And now let's get to us. We make mistakes, we sin, and sometimes we might think, "Is God going to come save us?" This morning’s gospel reminds us he will never abandon us, and before it's too late, he will always come. It says in the scriptures when the fullness of time had come, he sent his only begotten son into the world, so at the exact right moment, Christmas took place some 2,000 years ago, and now here we are. We are remembering that day. We are remembering God's promise. We are remembering his forgiveness, his salvation for us, and now we look to the future. Are we going to live the life of the righteous ones from the Old Testament? Are we going to learn our lessons from the people's names that we read today? Are we going to be prepared to experience and to welcome Christ when he returns?
Keep in mind that 2,000 years ago as we're going to hear in the next couple of weeks, the people did not universally accept Christ, yet they were waiting for him. We are now waiting for him. It is my prayer that we will accept him and that we will welcome him, and that we will actually desire to spend time with him when he comes. As I mentioned last time, it's our choice to make, and the time has come for us to put God first in our life. Not third and fourth, and if we have time; but first. I pray that your Christmas preparations are complete. If they are not like, mine, they are not complete, take care of business so you can come to church for Christmas. Don't find yourself at the last moment and not enough time to come to church. If you're the one cooking, make the preparations in enough time so you can come to church. We have that blessed opportunity to welcome Christ into the world at Christmas and our church, by God's grace, is going to be filled.
And so now I have one final invitation for you. We are going to have a whole lot of visitors for Christmas. People we may not have seen since Pascha. You know like on Christmas, epiphany, Pascha they're here. So they're going to be here in a couple of days. Don't fight them for a seat. Let them have your seat. Let them have a place to sit in Christ's church, because this is the day they're choosing to come. We're already here. We've already accepted Christ's invitation. Let's welcome the others into our church and let's make room for them. We will stand in the aisle so they can have a seat in the pews, because they're coming to see Christ and we don't want to get in their way to see Christ. History has a long way behind us and probably has a long way ahead of us.
Let us pray, my brothers and sisters, that our names will also be remembered as the family of God, as the names that we have read today, and that despite our shortcomings, God will still save us and rescue us from death. Have a blessed Christmas. I'm going to see all of you and more as we gather together for his feast. Glory to God for all things.
Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe online donation when you visit our website, liveanewlifeinchrist.org.