Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CMEP Fourth Week of Advent: Forefeast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ

A record of the genealogy of
Jesus Christ the son of David,
the son of Abraham: Abraham
was the father of Isaac, Isaac
the father of Jacob, Jacob the
father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and
Zerah, whose mother was
Tamar, Perez the father of
Hezron, Hezron the father of
Ram, Ram the father of
Amminadab, Amminadab the
father of Nahshon, Nahshon the
father of Salmon,Salmon the
father of Boaz, whose mother
was Rahab, Boaz the father of
Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse, and
Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of
Solomon, whose mother had
been Uriah's wife, Solomon the
father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam
the father of Abijah, Abijah the
father of Asa, Asa the father of
Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the
father of Jehoram, Jehoram the
father of Uzziah, Uzziah the
father of Jotham, Jotham the
father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father
of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father
of Manasseh, Manasseh the
father of Amon, Amon the father
of Josiah, and Josiah the father
of Jeconiah and his brothers at
the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of
Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of
Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the
father of Abiud, Abiud the father
of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of
Azor, Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim, Akim
the father of Eliud, Eliud the
father of Eleazar, Eleazar the
father of Matthan, Matthan the
father of Jacob, and Jacob the
father of Joseph, the husband of
Mary, of whom was born Jesus,
who is called Christ.
-Matthew 1:1-16 (NIV)

In this scripture reading describing Christ’s birth, Matthew first gives Christ’s genealogy. This listing of names reminds us of the importance of connections, especially the deep connections we have with both the Jewish people and the Christians who live in the Holy Land today.

Abraham was the father of the Hebrews, and David was Israel’s greatest king. Christ was descended from them through his mother Mary. Today Christians in the Holy Land live among the Jewish people in Israel and in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation. These verses remind us of the original connection between our two faiths and the importance of maintaining that bond from both religious and practical standpoints. Our Christian heritage includes Jewish people, and the fate of Christianity in the Holy Land greatly depends on their government. Our prayer for peace should include healing the frayed connection between our two peoples.

We must also pray for the strength and patience of the Christians in the Holy Land today who represent our connection to the land where Christ was born and are the living witness of our faith there. Because of the difficulties caused by living under occupation, many Christians are leaving. We pray for peace so that they may stay in their homes and jobs and continue to be the living stones in the land of Christ’s birth.

-Marilyn Rouvelas, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Holy God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Church: the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior’s coming and looks forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts and remove the sin that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope that his presence will bestow. May we rediscover Your image within our hearts and live in its peace for all days. Unto to You be all honor and glory now and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

-Greek Orthodox Prayer of Preparation for the Nativity

For Meditation
Am I praying for healing in the hearts of all the people in this conflict? Does that prayer include asking that all parties will be able to forgive as Christ asked us to do? Do I understand and respect the common, positive religious connections the Abrahamic religions share?

Advent Reflections are reprinted with permission from Churches for Middle East Peace

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