I start with a confession. I’m a genealogy geek. I’m fascinated with the line of ancestors that have gone before me, the people they were, the places they lived, the decisions they made, and how all of that forms the foundation from whence I came and on which I stand.
I’m also a storyteller. Stories are a vital part of who I am, of how I make sense of things, of how I discover and refine what I know as truth. Stories are part of my identity.
And I’m a Christian. (Perhaps that’s more of a confession than the genealogy bit…!) And by that, I don’t mean that I’m religious, that I go to church every week, that I believe good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. I mean that I believe in God, I believe that creation and the people who inhabit it have enormous potential and I long to see that fulfilled, and, in an attempt to play my small part in fulfilling that potential, I take inspiration from Jesus and the Bible.
That’s the story I find myself in (to quote Brian McLaren).
As a storyteller, I’m always looking out for things I’ve not spotted before in well-known Bible stories, the gaps that haven’t been filled – the hidden spaces. At this time of year that can be quite a challenge, going through the ever familiar Christmas passages. So I thought I might do something a bit different…
In the same way that I’m fascinated by my own genealogy, I find myself increasingly drawn to that of Jesus. The long, boring list of names at the beginning of Matthew – that interests me! When I read it, I find myself wondering who the people were behind the names? What’s their story? And how might that shed a new and different light on how I understand Jesus?
So, in time-honoured genealogical tradition, I thought I’d do some research! I start this journey without really knowing where I’m going – I don’t know how many of the names listed in Jesus’ ancestry appear elsewhere in the Bible or whether I’ll find out anything I didn’t know before. The results probably won’t be earth-shattering or life-changing. But they might be a little bit interesting…
Here, I’ll be retelling some of the stories that interest me – some may be overwhelmingly familiar, others may be as yet unknown to you – alongside thoughts and questions that pop up as I go.
This is my advent, my waiting, my preparation for Christmas. Join me?