Advent greetings friends,

 

The countdown to Christmas is back on! OK, I’ll admit the truth: many of us, myself included, are constantly planning what gifts we might give to others, and predicting what gifts we might receive from others this Christmas. As I look back on this year I think on what remarkable gifts I have learned to appreciate this past year, one unexpected gift stands out. It’s the gift of a genealogy or a family history.

After my great-grandmother Ethel Boostrom died at 97 last month, I learned that throughout her retirement, she had compiled 14 different notebooks by last name for hers and her late husband’s ancestors as well as all of her descendants. Her research yielded results that went back as far as the American Revolution with our colonial ancestors. She surprised our family when she had left behind historical evidence that she was related to the 19th U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes. She was a tender yet tenacious woman. She helped to win WWII as a “Rosie the Riveter” at John Deere making the same B-24 bombers that her mechanic husband kept repairing for aerial battles. Now, I look forward to reading through copies of her family history detective work. Her legacy is undeniable for my family.

I am grateful and impressed by our current church historian, Karen Pfeiffer’s 80+ pages of meticulous research of our local church. She presented a large historical scrapbook at our last church council meeting for the 2018 charge conference. Alpha UMC has been gifted with a legacy of generosity and stewardship from faithful disciples who gave God their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness in their lives and even left a legacy for the next generations upon their deaths (like the late trustee N.J. Spivey gifting his estate to the church so that they could build a new church by 1963). I am enjoying reading about how in times of great change or dire need, our church ancestors prayed to God for revival, started new ministries to reach new people, and shared Christ with the world. I read these stories and I pray: Do it again Lord!

So this Advent season, we will hear from God’s Word about five incredible women of faith who are highlighted in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah in Matthew 1:1-16. These courageous women were honored by God for their faithfulness to become the matriarchs of the Jesus’s family tree. I want us to see their legacy like five gleaming jewels in Christ’s heavenly crown. Tamar’s persistence brought forth justice. Rahab’s hospitality brought forth deliverance. Ruth’s loyalty brought forth redemption.  Bathsheba’s patience brought forth prosperity. Mary’s obedience brought forth salvation. All of these hopes are fulfilled in the advent of Jesus Christ the Messiah. He brings forth the justice, deliverance, redemption, prosperity, and salvation that we all need now more than ever.  “Come thou long expected Jesus!”

Christ transforms our lives so our community can thrive. Pastor Zack