Reflections on Matthew 1-3

Motherhood has radically changed my view of the gospel.  I both welcome and am overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking my beliefs and sharing them on a 4-year-old level.  I also find that some passages which I never thought much of before leave me wondering how and why when viewed through a mother’s eyes.

I have a New Year’s baby, and one of my favorite pregnancy moments was attending a midnight Christmas Eve service during which Andrew woke up and danced 🙂 the whole time.  (I should have known then he was a music lover too!)  Anyway,  I spent that Christmas season before he was born thinking of Mary and her journey to (and then through) motherhood.  The more beloved “Christmas story” comes from Luke, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it when we get there… but today I am wondering about those 2 years or so between the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2.  Chapter 2 opens with Joseph, Mary and toddler Jesus living in a home… and it is there they are visited by the wise men (sorry, nativity set manufacturers).  I wonder of those years between Jesus’s birth and the relative stability of having a house & home in Chapter 2.  Joseph was from Bethlehem… did he still have family there or were Joseph and Mary left alone to cope with the first few years of parenthood?  What were those years of transition like?  Were they accepted or ostracized by the town (because somehow I am sure gossip spread even in 1st century times!)?  Did they expect these wise men to arrive… and what did they make of their gifts?  What was it like being visited by angels so often after centuries of silence? If Mary were a friend of mine, would I have believed her story?  (I’d like to think so…)  And, although I know that Matthew’s Jewish readers wanted to hear of fulfilled prophecy… why oh why is Herod’s murder of babies necessary?

18″A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

I marvel when I see women who have come through to the other side of child loss. Not that they have “gotten over it”, but that they have accepted it as part of their life and part of how God is working and has worked in their life.   I know that it is surmountable… I know that humans can get through unthinkable tragedy with intact (and stronger) faith… but I struggle with passages like this one.  Moses’s birth… Jesus’s birth… both accompanied by such tragedy.  It just hit me that two of God’s greatest works have that parallel.. and yet I wonder about all of those parents in both instances who lost all of those children… (no answers here… just questions!)

Matthew 3 opens with a reminder for me that confrontation can be a good thing!  I wonder how taken aback Matthew’s Jewish audience was with his depiction of John the Baptist and even more so with John’s assertion that the “children of Abraham”… God’s chosen people… were perhaps not quite as irreplaceable as they believed.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the Israelites (and Jews of today) are very close to God’s heart… it just strikes me here that John points out to them that their salvation and forgiveness is not found in being children of Abraham but in doing God’s will… and foreshadows early Christians’ outreach to the Gentiles later on.

Just some musings for the day… 🙂

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