category: Advent

Advent Devotion: Day 25

Wednesday, December 21

Genesis 37:2-11; Matthew 1:1-17

I am a fan of the documentary series on PBS, Finding Your Roots, produced and hosted by American literary critic, professor, historian, and film maker Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. I enjoy ancestral stories of fascinating people. Some of my favorite personalities over the years have been Leslie Odom Jr. and Nathan Lane (I’m also a fan of Broadway), Nina Totenberg (NPR correspondent), Christopher Walken (actor), John Leguizamo (actor/comedian), and Shirley Ann Jackson (physicist). Since 2012, Dr. Gates has featured 86 people representing a great deal of family history, which left enduring impressions on each of those featured. I am also a subscriber to, where I have found fascinating personalities particularly in my own Pack family. Without protesting too much, I have discovered reasons why some of the contemporary Packs turned out the way they did, myself excluded, of course.

In Genesis 37:2-11, we read about Jacob’s family line, focusing on Joseph the youngest son. In fact, the focus on Joseph is a major point of contention in the family, especially with his half-brothers. They are jealous of the exorbitant display of affection bestowed on him by their father, and they hate him for “snitching” on their slack work ethic, or possibly worse. Later in the chapter, the brothers’ “worst” is on full display when they plot to kill Joseph, even though they eventually sell him to Midianite merchants (37:28). If we look back into our family’s history, we could account for trauma experienced by our relatives that impacted that generation and future ones. Joseph and his family experienced many hardships, but they persevered to represent the most pivotal person in their lineage, Jesus the Christ.

In Matthew 1:1-17, we see a long list of names depicting the full ancestry of Jesus. Unlike Finding Your Roots, we cannot tune into a weekly interview to discover their backgrounds, but like the guests on the television series each has a life story, many of which are documented in the Bible. The “list” in itself is a bit boring, but if you’ve read their stories, the names jump off the page. Looking at the Pack family tree, I gain a better idea of what I’m made of, or as one promo for Finding Your Roots put it, I “meet the ancestors who laid the groundwork for their success.” Jesus had a distinct, diverse, and determined human ancestry. As Christians, however, we know His background is far greater. Jesus descends from the One who is True and Holy, from God who loved us humans so much that God offered Him as payment for the penalty of our sin. And by this demonstration of grace, we are included in the eternal Family of God. How wonderful, how marvelous this ancestry of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Elizabeth Pack
Dean, Adult and Distance Education

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Advent Devotion: Day 27

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