Kinship and Kingship
By: Grace Killian*
“An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” Matthew 1:1
As I walk the streets of Bethlehem and explore Palestine and Israel, Biblical stories come to life for me. I walk past the Church of the Nativity everyday on my way to work or take a short cut down Star Street, the historic path of the Magi. Yet, walking Bethlehem streets simultaneously reveals the urgent need for people who will work towards peace and justice. Daily life in Palestine includes economic oppression, restricted travel, loss of land, and segregation.
The genealogy in Matthew 1 presents Jesus as a direct descendant of Abraham, following a line of ordinary people who were made extraordinary through God’s presence in their lives. We see Abraham, Jacob, Tamar, Ruth, David, and Solomon. None of these people were perfect, yet this genealogy offers them as symbolic and real change agents who brought about God’s will. Despite their imperfections, God did not hesitate to use them. We, like the people we find in Matthew 1, need to put aside our fears of inability and inadequacy and submit to God’s will. Mary herself submitted herself with joy to God’s will saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48). God can use us for change in this broken world.
We also see in the genealogy that Jesus was a descendant of King David. Yet, Jesus redefined kingship when he stepped down from the throne of heaven. He was born in a lowly place in a small town as a vulnerable child. Throughout his life, he did not reign on a throne with earthly power but rather associated with the poor and dwelled in the margins of society. He offered a new kind of power that opted for compassion, peace, and love. This Advent let us prepare ourselves to be like Jesus, seeking justice and peace in today’s world by service and solidarity with the poor and oppressed.
*Grace Killian is a Global Mission Intern currently serving in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Global Ministries is launching the Global Mission Fellows program in 2014 building on the strengths of the Mission Intern Program. Applications are being accepted through January 15th for young adults 20-30 interesting in serving with communities around the world. Apply now and learn more at www.umcmission.org/gmfellows.