Hello friends and happy happy day! Today begins our first day through the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. Just when you thought you were done with those pesky genealogical records they hand us one final one, haha. Matthew is a GREAT starting place after completing our journey through the OT because it is considered the most "jewish" of the gospels. Matthew, like a grad student writing a research paper, often cites the Old Testament (as you will note today) in an effort to prove to his contemporaries why Jesus is valid as the Messiah. Further, I personally think Matthew is great to read after the Old Testament because it does connect the two so much and can help eliminate any feelings that the "New" has replaced the "Old" (Another reason I don't like the nomenclature old and new but that's neither here nor there) With that said, let's jump into the gospels and smile along with me as we read these familiar tales in a whole new light.
Also, a special welcome to any new readers we might have joining us for the New Testament! We're so glad to have you on this journey and we hope you discover God's unique love just for you through your time of reading, meditation and reflection. If you have any questions, concerns or comments you can leave them below in the comment section or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
Why is the genealogical record necessary?
What is your favorite part of the Jesus infancy narrative? Why?
- My Thoughts -
I'm going to keep this brief today and the next few days as we have some Bible Project video's to consider and I want to maximize your time with those rather than my ramblings. But I wanted to give special attention to the fact that women are included in Jesus' genealogy. This is massive, especially after all of the other ones we have read before in the OT. The women who are listed are not pretty perfect church girls either if you recall. Tamar was a prostitute who solicited her father-in-law for a child. But Tamar was also a woman that took matters into her own hands to carry on the lineage of Judah's lines in a era where women would have little other options. Rahab is also included, and she too was not only a prostitute, but she was a foreigner! A gentile! Matthew is sending a subtle, but clear message that the proclaimed messiah's kingdom has room for all, even those the church had previously shunned. But it's also a humble message that shows that Jesus did not come from a line of angels to save the world, he came from sinners, ordinary folk like you and I who are trying their/our best and getting it wrong along the way. And yet he remains sinless and still saves. Thanks be to God.
I invite you to take just a few extra minutes and watch this video from the Bible Project which does a great job (as always) on tips on how to read the Gospels.
Praying the Hymns
If you are new, we always end our time of meditation with prayer, and a way that most of us have found meaningful is to pray the corresponding hymn in our United Methodist hymnal. Each day I encourage you to participate in this however you feel most comfortable. Hum along to the tune, sing with gusto, meditate on it or recite the words of the hymn like a traditional prayer. Whatever works as long as you are intentional about being with God for a moment and opening your heart to God's will. Fittingly, we are also in a time where we are meditating on the advent hymns where Jesus is a little bitty baby. So by reading the narrative today and singing the hymn you can really feel like you are there with the wise men seeing him in his most fragile state. It's a pretty neat feeling. Let's pray :)
Today's hymn is 236 "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" and today's recording a more contemporary version of it. The lyrics can be found beneath the video.
1 While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, an angel of the Lord came down, and glory shone around.
2 "Fear not," said he for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind "glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind.
3 "To you, in David's town, this day is born of David's line a Savior, who is Christ the Lord; and this shall be the sign:
4 "The heavenly babe you there shall find to human view displayed, all simply wrapped in swaddling clothes and in a manger laid."
(5 is omitted from the video)
6 "All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace; to those on whom his favor rests goodwill shall never cease."